One of the most appealing aspects of software development is career progression. One could begin as a tester or in customer care and find themselves moving up before they know it. Here is a look at possible career milestones, evolutions and progression for software developers.
These are guidelines, so your own experience might differ, depending on the career path you choose, who you work for and how the industry evolves. However, it’s important to note that software career progression can be fast-moving. It’s not unheard of for a junior developer to become a senior within five years. It’s about taking your opportunities, and it helps to always be learning.
Junior Software Developer
Starting as a software developer can be scary, and apart from the barrier of impostor syndrome, the focus is on finding your first role as a software developer. Regarding impostor syndrome, unfortunately, it’s something that has to be dealt with. But know this, you are not alone.
However, when it comes to finding your first career as a software developer, many junior roles are available. In addition, with new technologies coming on stream all of the time, there are many programming areas to choose from, and it sometimes helps to know which area of programming you want to start in. For example, if you are interested in data analytics, start making the right connections on your LinkedIn and keep an eye on openings in that role on your favourite job site.
Titles and areas that new developers should keep an eye out for include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Junior Web Developer
- Junior Software Developer
- RPA Developer
- Front End Developer
- Back End Developer
- Test Developer
- Tech Support Engineer
- QA Tester
- Data Analyst
- Database Developer
Many of these roles require between 0 and three 0-3 years of experience, and the great news is that the vast majority of tech companies, big and small, promote from within.
At the risk of sounding redundant, the first promotion for a Junior Software Developer is to the role of Software Developer. The average salary for a mid-level Software Developer is generally healthy around the UK and Europe. In general, you would need more than three years of experience for this role. However, as already stated, it’s not uncommon for junior developers to progress quickly to the next level.
Along with a better salary, the promotion should prove more gratifying too, as a Software Developer’s daily duties are more creative than that of a junior one. They also have a more significant say in what happens during a project. This makes for a more enjoyable and challenging working day.
Senior Software Developer
Following mid-level software development, the next step in the career ladder is a Senior Software Developer or Architect, which once again means a nice salary increase. It’s not entirely uncommon for a software developer to turn senior after five years, but it’s not like it automatically happens because you have that many years of experience. Like with any level, you have to work hard for career progression in software development. A senior developer might be in charge of a team or several projects. They might be required to develop entire products or applications, write complex code, and likely supervise staff below them and help them problem-solve.
Many senior software developers are happy to stay in that role for the rest of their careers. It’s varied, challenging and fast-paced. Plus, the salary is healthy and often rises in increments as experience accumulates.
However, should this person want career progression or to change direction, they are faced with a number of choices, for example:
- Lead Developer
- Lead Architect
- Business Intelligence Manager in analytics
- Development Manager or Director
- Technical Lead
- Project Manager
- Programme Manager
- Chief Data Officer
- Chief Information Security Manager
- IT Director
- Head of IT (or Head of any IT-related department)
- And much more.
Like many trades, management is a logical trajectory for software developers.
The more you progress, the less you code
Generally speaking, the more you progress, the less actual programming and coding you’ll do. Your duties become more people-oriented (building and managing teams) and macro (project management). Regardless of what level you are at, software developers are generally well paid, and as you progress through your career, the money increases, as do the perks.
Experience software development