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Tips for Moving into Senior Roles in Software Development

by | Feb 19, 2018

As you gain experience in software development, writing the code itself may become less challenging. You’ll start to think about bigger issues like code structure, design approaches, and technology choices. This is a good sign that you’re comfortable in your technology stack and ready to move on to more complex roles in software development. Becoming a senior developer or manager requires technical expertise, people skills, and new ways of thinking.


Becoming a Senior or Lead Developer

Sometimes, gaining responsibility doesn’t come with a clear promotion and a new job description. Often, you’ll find as you gain experience you start to take on more of a leadership role within the projects you’re assigned. That’s what happened to Keanan Kopenhaver when he became a lead developer quite by accident.

In the process, he learned the differences of being a junior developer, experienced developer, and lead. Each stage requires that you learn new skills. Over time, as you progress, you’ll write less code and spend more time dealing with people. Matt Briggs has an excellent overview of what to expect at each stage in your career and how to transition between them.


The Skills You’ll Need

Gaining more senior positions requires you to learn new skills. Of course, technical skills are only part of the package, a baseline for what you’ll need to be a good leader. You’ll also need to learn how to inspire or coach a team, practice empathy when people make mistakes, and avoid micromanaging your team. You’re also going to increasingly meet with clients, new customers, or users, so learning how to translate technical expertise into clear benefits for your audience will be key.


Avoid Pitfalls

Becoming a senior developer isn’t simple, and some career mistakes can keep you from getting there. You might stay at a stagnant company too long, or you might job hop too much. Not expanding your knowledge with changing technologies or not knowing what you ultimately want can also cause you to stall. You’ll also need to hone the soft skills noted above and make a conscious effort to evaluate and improve your communication skills.



Moving up in your software development career takes time, knowledge, and soft skills. You can gain some of those skills with experience and good mentorship. Other technical knowledge will require diligent study and practice.

We help software engineers expand their technical knowledge, deepen their understanding of their stacks, and learn new techniques with our training programs. Check them out today and see if learning new skills can help you get ahead!

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