Ever thought of a career in both Software Engineering AND Testing?

Join DVLA as a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) and you’ll help build world class digital services that pave the way for future business transformation. In this dynamic role, you can be part of an engineering team responsible for continually driving all aspects of quality improvements.

What is SDET?

SDET is an IT professional who can work equally and effectively in both development and testing roles. SDETs take part in the complete software development process as well as the software testing process. An SDET professional’s knowledge is entirely focused on testability, robustness and performance of the software testing and development process. They are also able to play a contributory or reviewer role in the creation of designs for production software.

In simple terms, this role is that of a Software Engineer with testing skills. SDETs are skilled professionals in both quality engineering and software development.

When do you need an SDET?

Today, organisations are looking for a professional who can take part in software development. At the same time, they should also handle testing of the developed software. That’s why hiring SDETs helps them, as they can work for developing high-performance code or designing the testing framework.

Benefits of an SDET Professional:

SDETs professionals can:

  • automate the acceptance test by leveraging their coding skills
  • deal with end users or customers and their experiences – they already possess engineering skills, so they can also think like a developer
  • contribute to the application codebase from time to time
  • build, deploy, run and manage the application individually
  • influence the development, programme management, and design teams on technical implementation and user scenarios

How do SDETs fit in at DVLA?

“The software development process at DVLA is genuinely cutting-edge. There’s nowhere else I would be able to get exposure to all the different technologies we’re using here. All engineers are open and supportive if you want to learn from them or if you want to demonstrate something new. I’m really encouraged to learn and to bring new ideas constantly. It’s hard work but very enjoyable.”

– Nigel Brookes-Thomas (Principal SDET)

What personal traits should an SDET have?

The ideal person would:

  • be a confident self-starter with a curious mind
  • possess high attention to detail
  • not be afraid to challenge when needs be
  • be a team player

What do SDETs do day-to-day?

SDETs work alongside developers as well as business stakeholders and strive to automate the acceptance criteria. They must first understand the requirements from an acceptance or customer perspective and then the way the product is developed, for example, in terms of coding language or databases. Following this, they plan a strategy to automate the maximum number of scenarios possible.

An SDET is responsible for building robust and high–quality test automation solutions for functional, regression, and performance testing. They create reusable scripts or tools wherever required and contribute to both functional and non-functional areas of testing.

Functional testing includes testing from a functionality or requirements perspective and is largely driven by acceptance criteria or user stories. However, non-functional testing is equally important too. Using this, an SDET can learn how performant an application is and if it is secure enough. They can ensure that there are no hacks left in the app that could hamper its security and cause a great loss of data to both customers and the organisation.

SDETs also participate in design and architectural design discussions, and provide effective feedback in code reviews.

How can I become an SDET?

Our SDET development programme is part of the Centre of Digital Excellence, set up in 2018 and aimed at recruiting and developing talent in many digital areas, allowing us to progress with our digital transformation. A primary ingredient in the development programme is real-world experiences that enable students to practise and experiment with new tools and techniques. 

Government Digital and Data Profession Skills Snapshot

The table below shows the skills required at each level:

SkillJunior SDETSDETSenior SDETLead SDETPrincipal SDET
1Availability and Capacity ManagementAwarenessWorkingWorkingWorkingWorking
2Development Process Optimisationn/aAwarenessWorkingWorkingPractitioner
3Information SecurityWorkingPractitionerPractitionerPractitionerExpert
4Modern Standards ApproachWorkingPractitionerPractitionerExpertExpert
5Programming & Build (Software Engineering)WorkingPractitionerPractitionerExpertExpert
7Service SupportWorkingWorkingPractitionerPractitionerPractitioner
8Systems DesignAwarenessWorkingPractitionerPractitionerExpert
9Systems IntegrationAwarenessWorkingPractitionerPractitionerPractitioner
10User FocusAwarenessPractitionerPractitionerPractitionerPractitioner