Just chatting with a SDE about hiring someone from the SDET organization. Two comments I found interesting:

  1. Some (more senior) SDE positions are not good fit for SDET to transition to.
  2. There is a mindset shift between writing test code and product code that calls for mentoring.

I guess I have never been in a SDE's shoes but I wonder if these opinions stand examination.

  1. Both have the same educational trainings for SDEs and SDETs. As far as I can tell, they are both either Computer Science or Computer Engineering. The training is always focused on software theories, design, implementation, and testing.
  2. Both write code. Both need to write great code, with proper design and implemenation.
  3. SDEs need to write good test code (unit tests, test-driven development), SDETs need to write good product code (including tests, tools, and infrastructures that are shipped to internal and external partners).

Some SDETs might argue that SDETs have better test skills. But is that just another way of saying most SDEs lack test skills? And is that even healthy? I think not.

So from my point of view, they are the same kind of animals in different uniforms. Some organizations within MSFT also have all-SDE model. So, are we making them different just because they look different, or are they truely different animals? Maybe if you have made the transition before you can share?