Introduction: From Junior to Senior

Let's learn how you can get a role as a senior developer.

What counts as a senior developer?

As you become comfortable as a junior developer (and an intermediate level Developer/Software Engineer, if your company has one), you will naturally start looking toward the next level: senior developer.

What counts as a senior developer is not standardized, and everyone has strong opinions about it. To some, it is three years at a high-growth startup. For others, it can take anywhere from two to eight years. Still, some companies say they don’t care about the number of years (and may or may not mean it).

What other people think only counts so much. What really matters is what your company (or the other companies you interview at) looks for in a senior and whether they pay you commensurate with the market rate for senior developers. After all, a senior title without the pay is meaningless!

If you’re lucky, the company will have an engineering ladder where you can see their requirements for a senior. If not, you can check our discussion of engineering ladders in the Strategy section.

Getting a role as a senior developer

Ultimately, getting that role as a senior developer is a two-step process:

  1. Getting enough (not all) of the prerequisite skills and accomplishments specified by the company.
  2. Successfully marketing yourself as meeting enough of the requirements to be hired into that role.

This means that you often have to act like a senior engineer before you officially become one. Fortunately, this is much easier than the chicken-and-egg problem of getting your first job; most places will be happy to let you take on more responsibility while in your current role!