What kind of experience do I need to become an automation QA engineer/ SDET?
I have a degree in an unrelated science from a great school. I didn't have enough interest to go on for my PHD, and I really enjoyed the CS electives I took, so I went into QA. I've been doing this for over a year, and my job is pretty much just writing up test cases and test plans for a team of QA. Sometimes i'll assist in the actual QA work, but the majority of my time is spent writing up the cases and handling issues that come up with things taking too long and defects being found. This has become very time consuming and not very rewarding. The pay is low and i'm not learning much more at this point. I'd really like to get into automation, but i'm not sure how. I've spoken with the head of the automation team at my company, and they are currently not hiring anyone, so i'll need to look outside of my current company. I'm familiar with the basics of Python and HTML(finished code academy for both), and have gone through the tutorials on Selenium's site. The next thing I want to learn the basics of is SQL. I've been writing test plans for the last year, so i'm familiar with blackbox testing. I'm having a very hard time finding job postings (what title should I even be searching for?), and the ones I can find don't have very good requirements. What do I need to know before I can apply for an entry level position? I'm not positive if i'm even focusing on the right stuff, or if my focus should be somewhere else. If anyone here has experience with this stuff, I would really love to hear some advice and suggestions.
I am an SDET by trade. 7 years ago, I was in the very same position that you are now. I have always loved manual testing but I started becoming disillusioned with how little your job as a tester changes from project to project. What I did was start learning the ins and outs of automation in my free time. I started identifying things in my day-to-day work that would be good candidates for an automated test and started doing low-level tests against those pages. I used C# and WatiN. As to your question about where you should be looking and what you should be looking for, I have used StackOverflow Careers and Craigslist to a great deal of success. The terms you should be searching for are "SDET", "Automation Engineer" and/or "Software Development Engineer in Test". Best of luck!