Feel a bit lost right now - from manual QA to SDE or SDET?

Hi guys,
Apologies in advance if this turns out to be a long read. I’m 28 years old and I have been working in IT as a QA engineer for the past 6 years. I’m a university dropout, have no computer science degree.

I started as a manual tester of mobile games, then moved to banking and now I’m working for Amazon, so you could say I’ve done reasonably well. A decent chunk of my responsibilities now include automation (Java + Selenium), however, I still feel like I am somehow going for the easy route and I could be doing better. I also feel like I’m going to hit the ceiling fairly soon in terms of earnings.

My understanding of Java was fairly basic, enough to write tests but not much else. I’m reasonably skilled in Java+Selenium, enough to use the framework someone else has written and add new UI tests.
I’m doing a Java course now to be more advanced and I’m happy with the progress.


The more I learn, the more I am overwhelmed by how much I would have to catch up with to switch roles - either to an SDE or an SDET. It’s not just Java. You have to know lots of other things, algorithms, databases Git, Jenkins, build automation tools (Maven, Gradle), CI/CD, development patterns, HTTP,… And probably thousands of others I’m forgetting. What about maths? Mine is at high school level.

I’m overwhelmed and kind of losing motivation. You don’t have to be exceptional with all of this to be a QAE, but no one will let me cut corners in a development job. At times I feel like I lost my window a few years ago and should have done this by now. What do you guys think? Anyone else who was in a similar spot and managed to pull through?

Yeah, there’s a lot to learn. More than you can possibly know before going into your first developer role. You’re trying to look into your own future and you’re seeing this massive landscape of hills, valleys, and strange, dark forests. For sure, you’ll be going through all of it over time and you’ll amass a huge amount of skills, provided you keep exploring. Your problem is two fold:

  1. You’re fixing your gaze too far ahead. You don’t need to master everything to get into the industry. Figure out where you want your first job to be and start tailoring your skills to an entry level position there. You don’t need to know how to setup CI or every single build tool. Show that you know how to learn and that you’ve got the grit to try. Your actual destination isn’t too far ahead of you.

  2. You’re not looking behind you. You’ve already learned a lot, so give yourself more credit. Start building projects. Get a portfolio together. FreeCodeCamp won’t help you out too much if you want to do mobile or embedded development, but you can focus on full stack Java, which is in demand. You’re already familiar with software testing, which is a significant challenge for many developers and looks great on a resume.


So many buzzwords and acronyms there I don’t know where to start.
It’s off putting to me to be honest. :roll_eyes:
If you think your maths is poor try Khan acadamy.

Javascript is not Java so I would recommend you trying to learn Javascript.
That is what FCC mainly focuses on.

Luckily there some great folks out there that put together Job Ready checklists.

If you are going for Java try these:

But if you meant JavaScript I recommend this one:

I really like this last one. It covers so much and gives you lots to work on. I put it all in Asana so I could check off the items as completed them.