Software Career Seniority Levels and Why You Might Deserve a Promotion

Junior, Senior, and Principal Developer Critical Qualities

Abdu Taviq
3 min readSep 13, 2021
Photo by Arian Darvishi on Unsplash

Software engineering seniority is frustrating because, unlike other fields, it isn’t standardized and it's hard to say someone is a senior or not.

And you might be looking to get promoted at one point because you think you are very experienced and deserve it but not sure if you should ask or what you need to do to deserve this promotion.

In every company, the HR department should have a policy on determining the seniority level for the tech department.

Although it may have different requirements and expectations for a certain level different than another company, they tend to have similar critical requirements that really separate certain levels.

Let’s discuss every one of them and you will know what is considered critical to differentiate between them

Junior Developer

They are fresh graduates from a software college or studied the curriculum by themselves. They how to build applications and write good code. They know how to write proper tests and build basic CI/CD pipelines.

But mainly they lack experience in real-world applications within a team.

They know how to build a new app from scratch but might find it challenging for example to deal with a legacy application or how to build something to last. They need guidance and mentorship from senior developers.

They still need to build up their skills and accumulate experience from many mistakes and how to increase their productivity.

This level is where it’s critical to have eager to learn a lot!

After they gain experience, some companies give them the title of “Mid-level Developers” because they can already write good code but they still need support from senior developers to avoid increasing technical debt in a project.

Senior Developer

They are the powerhouse of companies and they love to hire them because they can get the job done with little to no support.

They already have written a lot of code and experienced many mistakes. They follow the trend of the latest technologies to write better code.

But their top quality is good communication skills and the ability to guide others especially Juniors.

Understanding is one thing but trying to teach others is a whole new skill. Seniors are mentors and help create the future senior developers for their company. That’s why they have a bigger impact

They also have good communication skills which help when hiring new developers and also when translating business requirements to their technical implementation.

Principal Developer

They are senior developers that have gained deeper knowledge in a certain area that they can extend to help other teams and support in designing the software architecture.

But their critical quality is influence even without formal authority.

They are not just developing or writing code but also influencing and guiding other teams and sometimes other companies to achieve business goals through their technical expertise.

They can also be book authors, open-source repo owners, speakers, or content creators.

They can help in the technical branding of the company to attract talents and help grow the company as a technical lead in their field.

Final Thoughts

Seniority is very different from a company to another but they have a similar pattern; the higher the title, the bigger impact you should have on the product.

Hope you enjoyed this article and it has added value to you!

Social media: Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GitHub



Abdu Taviq

Web Application Developer. Knowledge hungry always learning. Aspiring to become a Web Unicorn. Find me @abduvik on social platforms.