Key Signs You’ve Reached Developers’ Seniority

Developers working in an office

You’re probably dreaming of the day you can proudly add “Senior Software Developer” to your résumé, no? If you’ve already reached developers’ seniority, doesn’t that feel good? 

Wherever you are in your promising software developer journey, here are a few key signs you’ve managed to move away from a start in your engineering path to a more senior developer position.  

We hope a full grasp of all the elements making up what’s termed software developer seniority help you comprehend how to become a senior developer in today’s tech market. For that, we’re quickly moving away from the very obvious to move on to seven clear signs a person has reached software programming seniority. 

First, let’s define what seniority is — and what it isn’t — so you can better understand where you stand.  

What A Devs Seniority Is 

Defining programmers seniority can be seen as a rather subjective choice, to be honest, which is precisely why we’re here today. The fine line of what makes a senior dev fit that mold is something every software firm allocates according to their own internal hierarchy.  

Companies normally define their own programmers seniority based on their structure, talent, and business needs. A key lesson to take away here is: Not every senior developer title is the same across all tech companies. A senior developer in one firm may not have the same status in another. 

At the root of it, however, senior developers are essentially people who can do their jobs without close supervision from others. They’re members whose skills go beyond just programming.  

In addition to their depth of knowledge and experience, they’re also good leaders, people who take risks and always think about their work’s big picture. Overall, it can be said that a senior developer is someone who embraces at least the next few seven big signs in their work life: 

Grandest Sign: A Note on Software Developers’ Salaries 

A senior software developer salary is perhaps the first and greatest sign you know you’ve reached a promotion stage where you’re officially considered a senior. Of course, this is a more than obvious statement.  

Being professionally moved to a senior job title can be seen as the official achievement of a few added steps up the software engineering ladder. Yet, before we mark this off with a clean green check in our list of goals met, remember you can always compare and contrast software developer salaries across the globe. Doing so will unveil a varying pay scale and different pay rates that might be worth your time — and vision.  

But say money isn’t everything and/or you’re also just not there, yet. How can we tell if we have reached a true programmers seniority beyond measuring compensation? 

Second Sign: Moving Away from A Normal Coding Start for Junior Developers 

Part of the main distinction between a devs seniority and junior engineers normally has to do with the amount of coding being executed as part of a full-time role.   

As a starting position, having junior developers code right off their first few days on a programmer’s chair typically helps others in the team determine how that person handles responsibilities while also being able to monitor performance.  

This may perhaps just be an unfortunate rite of passage in the industry, but we can also promise an equally normal advancement away from this position after several months.  

Okay…this might sometimes take a few developers years to achieve, actually. So…how else can you tell if you’ll be climbing up the ladder to a point where you’ll definitely not be considered a junior anymore? Let’s move on to a few more leading signs on this.  

 Third sign: Being Highly Proficient in the Field 

In the beginning of their careers, software developers usually need to rely on manuals, instructions, and other documentation as back-up. As they gain more knowledge, however, they depend less and less on those resources. This doesn’t mean developers seniority depends on not using references! Not at all! Senior developers certainly rely on maybe the same helping docs sometimes. 

Yet, a senior developer is normally proficient every step of the way concerning a project. They master skills that can take a project anywhere from A to Z. In the process, they also commonly manage other junior and intermediate developers who solely work on a very specific part of the overall project.  

We like saying this is somehow similar to being a film director. To create a great final movie, someone is driving the entire film project. In that sense, rather than being an actor or writer, this filmmaker understands how all the pieces of acting, writing, lighting, sound, camera, and other aspects of filmmaking work to constantly be directing the entire set. In tech, that stage is our project.  

Fourth Sign: On Being Experienced 

This one may be a bit tricky because experience doesn’t necessarily mean working a certain amount of years in the same role. Developers seniority isn’t just about the time we’ve spent in the field, which is a highly valuable argument newer generations constantly make.  

What matters is the knowledge you possess for the role. A developer may spend years doing routine work, never being able to add much to their knowledge because they don’t encounter new pitfalls.  

Errors are also a key part of our learning process, by the way, which is why we at Nearsure embrace them as part of our humanity.  

Preaching on the side of the younger generations here, we may easily find another developer with much fewer years under their belt but a lot of experience coding. Those people normally experiment with new tryouts and expose themselves to new areas, updates, trends, talks, conferences, languages, tools, new resources, and absorb so much information all at once!  

Ironically, perhaps, recognizing pitfalls and overcoming them is an established sign of devs’ seniority, as well.  

Let’s Not Confuse Experience with Maturity In Programmers’ Seniority 

When we speak of experience above, bear in mind we distance that from maturity. Neither are necessarily age-related.  

The question of how to become a senior developer includes a seniority that can be made up by all sorts of diversity, backgrounds, and experiences. So, if we neither center maturity nor experience on age, what are we talking about for devs seniority? 

Particularly in software engineering, a mature developer is someone who goes about their work in a way they can equally stand up for their shortcomings and mistakes to learn from them as they are about focusing on tasks at hand, and, like we said, the bigger picture.  

A so-called mature programmer is a team player who wants to ease the burden for other developers and help their teams grow, enhancing their product results, processes, and everything in between. For this kind of a job profile, projects and team health are absolute priorities, going well beyond the individual to focus on the greater pictures at hand.  

Fifth Sign: You’ve Got A Great Problem Solver 

With experience, maturity, and knowledge, a senior developer can more easily identify risks. They thus avoid pitfalls. Seniors can order up work from the get-go to focus on the greatest team solutions that make all the difference for a company.  

Being able to overcome most common and major problems, senior devs commonly manage any associated risks as part of their professional duties. More importantly, their soft skills have gotten them to a point where they can communicate well, under pressure or out of it, with all stakeholders to a large project. They are able to communicate effectively with team members as well as clients, and lead everyone through successful start-to-end development cycles as part of their everyday norm. 

Sixth Sign: Yet, You’re Still A Student 

So far, it seems like a senior programmer has everything figured out with that big fat senior software developer salary, right? Let’s think again. A key part of reaching dev seniority has to do with an understanding that they’re constantly learning.  

In an era where new tools, solutions, and platforms are right around the corner, no developer can depend on their single existing source of knowledge. A senior developer understands this and is always studying the market and their sector to learn – and practice – new trends, technologies, and approaches. They’re always looking to add new skills and tools to their portfolio, whether it’s related to coding or not. So, part of what seniority isn’t, is a static position you reach to stay at the same level of wisdom forever.  

Nowadays, many driven, and ambitious developers continuously improve themselves precisely to achieve and withhold their seniority. Therefore, no senior dev can really get complacent in today’s market. They easily risk no longer being their company’s go-to senior for varied reasons. 

Finally, the Seventh Sign: Here You Have A Leader 

All of the prior signs we’ve mentioned bottle up to give someone the natural position of leadership that we find in devs seniority.  

As we’ve seen, senior developers normally have the ability to lead a team past a mistake, monitor a codebase, and support teammates as part of their daily chores.  

Senior developers don’t just focus on their personal duties. If others (junior developers especially) struggle with a task or any area of their work, a person who’s achieved programmer seniority should be fully capable to quickly step in and solve what’s needed. They’re commonly responsible for their entire team’s first roadblocks or more. 

All in all, senior developers allow team members to avoid mistakes for the entire group. They understand the chain of command, the impact everyone has on a project as a team, and help others grow with them. 

What kind of developer are you? 

Let us know in the comments.  

Nearsure is always looking for talent. If you’re seeking growth in your software development journey, here’s a wealth of material for you to check.  

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