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This blog content aims to explain career path in Software Engineering. Although companies’ leveling systems could be slightly different, the basic idea will remain the same. You can develop your best strategy to advance your career by understanding it.

"The content in this blog series was originally intended to inform my agile team. Then when the intense demand came from my environment. I made it into a blog post. Unlike my other articles, this series contains exact quotes from the sources I have researched. You can find all the resources at the end of the article series."

Junior Software Engineer


Juniors are likely to have joined the profession after graduating with a degree. Depending on the level of learning and focus they give to what they do, they can quickly move forward to becoming a mid level developer within a year or two. A junior developer usually has the following skill set. 

  • Usually 0 – 3 years of experience. 

  • Eager to learn new things.

  • Works on more simple features with senior team members .

  • Can fix low level bugs and rudimentary problems.

Further insights

  • You’ll be spending your time, reading requirements, understanding the codebase you’re working in, and creating these changes within a specific time frame. They require support and mentorship.

  • Entry-level engineers should understand the fundamentals of the technology they are working with, alongside the environment they are in.

Mid Software Engineer

Those at mid level are usually those who have had enough experience working on the development process that they understand the full development cycle, and are able to self manage. A mid level developer has the following skill set.  

  • Usually 3 – 5 years of experience. 

  • Able to fix more complicated bugs.

  • Able to mentor junior developers

Further insights

  • A company’s going to expect that you have a good understanding of the software development life cycle and are able to take on work without much direction a majority of the time. It’s totally acceptable to ask context questions around your work and clarify the work.

  • You won’t require much hand-holding or guidance, and you’ll have experience across multiple projects in a professional setting.

  • These levels of engineers should be able to receive a feature of higher complexity and complete it in a reasonable amount of time.   

  • A mid-level engineer should also be able to implement completely new features from scratch and work through the integration of these features with the rest of the codebase.

Senior Software Engineer

A senior is a developer who is able to see the bigger picture. The developer is able to plan, lead and oversee the implementation of the development process. The person is able to provide the team with a vision and the requirements of the tasks they will be working on.  

  • Usually 5+ years of experience 

  • Plans and implements the full development cycle

  • Has creative solutions and the experience to fix rare bugs

  • Provides leadership to the whole team on best ways forward 

A senior developer can continue to advance if they keep growing their skill set. Beyond technical skills, a senior developer has soft skills that include leadership, teamwork, communication and mentorship. Following this path help and prepare them for staff, lead engineer and other high level roles.

Further insights

  • Be able to design, breakdown, and complete a project of a large scope with high-level productivity.

  • Proactively find problems of existing system/product without guidance and offer solutions.

  • Be able to lead a project with a small group of people, such as hosting weekly meetings, communicate with other partners in written forms.

  • Make contributions to improve the engineering team. For example, activities like interviewing, or mentoring.

  • Be able to give on-point and actionable feedback to peers.

  • Be able to build X-teams and XFN relationships which will facilitate ongoing projects.

  • Be capable of presenting multiple solutions, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each, and finally, be capable of articulating which solution is the best for the team.

  • Will have experience and foresight to see where team members may run into roadblocks and proactively remove them.

  • Find opportunities for improvement within the organization or business. Ex: They may begin to support shared code libraries for other teams to consume and support these codebases.

  • Knowing how to communicate with fellow teammates, respectfully discuss challenging topics, and interject to prevent conflict. By building relationships and soft skills within a team, a senior engineer can use these skills to help engineers who may be struggling with an issue. 

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

We will continue Career Ladder in Software Engineering writing series with Staff, Principle, Distinguish Software Engineer.

Follow the series, see you.


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