Natalia Shpitula

Edited at September 04, 2022

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How Much Time Does It Take For a Middle Developer to Become Senior?

According to The Future of Jobs Report, presented at the World Economic Forum, the need for software engineering is growing. Experts predict this trend will last in 2022. The demand for developers creates supply, and many people direct their careers into software engineering. For middle software developers, 2022 provides a good chance to level up their skills and take leading positions over teams of novice developers.

The Edge between Middle And Senior Software Engineers

Assessing your seniority level will help you better understand your professional fit for open vacancies, form your salary expectations and decide your readiness for the position.

Middle and senior software engineers’ differences lie in their technical skills, everyday tasks, managerial responsibilities, and level of independence in work. Look at the table below to compare middle and senior software engineer roles.

ExpertiseMiddle DeveloperSenior Developer
Technical Skills– fast coder
– tech-savvy in the main programming language of their expertise
– understands functional programming
– can design database schemas
– has vast experience with main frameworks
– has deep tech expertise
– can optimize workflow
– can create frameworks and libraries
– understand database maintenance processes
Day-to-Day Responsibilities– designing parts of applications
– creating solutions
– estimating tasks
– assigning tickets
– solving complex problems
– deciding on the right solutions
– team management
– providing business value
Supervision– requires less support from senior colleagues
– performs moderately routine tasks
– supervise subordinates
TeamworkHighly engaged in working with fellow developers, designers, business analysts, etc.Manages teamwork, providing the team with everything required for achieving work goals.
Professional outlookUnderstands the development cycle well enough to use agile approaches in work.Can see the business goal from a long-term perspective. Understands key pitfalls and can provide solutions for them.

After reaching a senior position, developers may continue their career path to engineering manager, software or tech director, etc.

The transition from a middle engineer to a senior requires the development of hard and soft skills, but how long will it take? We asked a qualified developer about this, who told us how quickly a Middle can become a Senior.

Gradation of It-Specialists: What the Applicant Should Pay Attention To

Concerning software engineer positions, employers usually stick to the most common seniority classification: Junior, Middle, and Senior. The ranking is mostly based on the years of experience:

  • Junior – 0 to 3 years of experience,
  • Middle – 1 to 3 years,
  • Senior – 3+ years.

However, these boundaries may blur in each situation. For example, you can work for 8 years as a middle specialist but still not gain the necessary experience to move to the next level. Or, with hard work and systematic self-education, in 4-5 years, “take off” from Junior to Team lead. But such cases are the exception rather than the rule.

We asked an experienced developer to share his opinion on how long it takes to become a senior:

“In my entire career, I have met only one person who managed to advance in programming from an intern to a manager in a short time. So I should say that it all depends on the level of ability, motivation, and talent,” he said.

How Long Does It Take To Get To the Senior Level

Employees’ practical experience may exceed the standard requirements for their current position in the company. If so, they start looking for a new promising vacancy. On average, applicants for the Senior engineer position are specialists who have worked as engineers for at least 4 years. But at the same time, employers are often focusing directly on the experience, acquired skills, talents, and desire for the candidate’s training, not just on the years of their experience.

Despite your career span, the real situation may be slightly different because each person is unique and has individual talents. The amount of knowledge acquired and your curiosity may help you boost your career faster. To become a valuable employee in a company, you need to practice all the time and monitor the emergence of “fresh” technologies or tools on the market.

Keep in mind that the definition of “professional” is quite extensible. If we take an average beginner who has just entered the development field, it will take them from three to five years to become a good Middle-level specialist. However, working under the guidance of more experienced colleagues, they have a great opportunity to improve knowledge and, together with the team, complete a full course in software engineering faster.

To move to a Senior role, it may take approximately 10,000 hours that you need to spend on improving skills, gaining new experience, and learning additional materials, technologies, or languages. Experienced programmers should focus on a specific skill and sharpen it as much as possible to reach a new level. And only then move on to the next tools. By directing your forces in several directions at once, you risk mastering them superficially, which is not enough to secure the Senior position.

The transition to the next stage cannot be quick. You need to gain extensive experience and understand what distinguishes a well-implemented product from a poorly-made app. It’s also desirable to understand other nuances: refactoring costs, why patterns are needed, endless levels of abstraction, etc.

Benefits of Getting Promoted as a Developer

In the digital age, almost no business can do without programmers. High-class workers can easily find a job with a good income. Professional abilities will ensure the transition from rank to rank and wages increase. The programmer who has received the “title” of Senior will delegate interesting projects and independently make decisions for the best development paths. They also become a mentor and assistant for the Middle colleagues. It’s an attractive prospect for those who want to try themselves in a new role.

“I’ve talked to colleagues who hadn’t yet reached the top in their jobs, but they continued to work in one place because of the fear of the new and the unknown. Such a routine doesn’t have the best effect on you and your performance. Constant work with repetitive tasks can lead to emotional overload and decrease interest in activities.”

middle web developer

How Long Does It Take To Become a Senior?

Speaking of qualified Middle employees working approximately for 3-4 years, they may need another 2-3 years to gain more experience and skills to move up in the hierarchy of IT specialists.

What Skills Does a Middle Need to Get Promoted?

The transition to the next position requires from the applicant:

  • experience in practical development;
  • mastering hard skills;
  • deep understanding of the structure of libraries, frameworks, tools;
  • organizational skills and high communication skills;
  • striving for continuous learning and improvement;
  • a personal view on the processes for optimizing development.

How to Properly Describe Skills on a Resume?

When looking for a new job, it’s essential to write a competent resume so that the Applicant Tracking System doesn’t miss it. It scans resumes for keywords for a specific job posting. For example, in the technology field, the keywords include SaaS, database, SQL, JavaScript, Scrum-master, Agile methodology, and the like. Use them when describing your skills. You can also indicate the completed courses, training, or seminars as additional evidence of your competence. Above all, describe your skills honestly and concisely.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Senior?

  • Curation of workflows – “develop-deploy-launch.”
  • Compilation and distribution of tasks.
  • Identification of possible difficulties at the beginning of work and making decisions to minimize them.
  • Mentoring activities for other team members.
  • Reviewing the code of subordinate employees and providing assistance so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes;
  • Performing various tasks related to the creation of IT products, based on previous experience;
  • Implementation of managerial responsibilities in the development team;
  • Eliminate arising problems with design patterns.

Wrapping Up

Growing from middle to senior developer requires effort in developing hard and soft skills. Advanced middle software engineers need approximately two years to take a more responsible senior position. However, years of experience aren’t key criteria in assessing your candidacy for a senior role. You can always apply for the role, if the list of requirements in the job description corresponds with your skills and experience. If you’re looking for a senior software engineer position, you’re welcome to check open vacancies at Talentica.

September 04, 2022

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