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The role of a senior developer

Last year, around August/September, I got the chance switch my role at work. I became a Development Manager, which is something similar to Engineering Manager in some places. It is not a technical possition such as “technical Leader” or “Development Lead”.

Since I got to this role, I heard sometimes the question “What do I need to do to become a senior developer?”. I do not know if I have a real answer to this question since it depends a lot in different factors.

What it means to me being a senior developer?

Being senior in something means you have experience in something, you have been exposed to many situations that you had to figure out on your own. I do not mean just technically, I also mean having worked in different roles in different projects, having to deal with conflicts, having to deal with having to eventually help others in matters that you are not an expert, but you wanted to help and learn so you both grow together.

It is not related to having more knowledge of a technology domain (expert in the libary usage), but knowing how to browse for solutions or whom to ask for help.

It is not about “knowing better” than the junior colleagues, but listening to all ideas and learning from others.

It is not about being the one who always will deliver on time, but to have maturity to say: “I will not be able to deliver in time, but I will be able to deliver up to X point in time”.

It is not about being more aligned with you management structure, but the one who can warn management when something is not right.

It is also not about being the role model or the one that takes administrative tasks. But it is about being involved in more than just code, for example discussing with stakeholders, mentoring peers, helping in interviews for other engineers, etc.

It depends a lot

The truth is that it depends on a lot of factors, and it is different everywhere. Some criterias that maybe are useful in many places are: years of experience, knowlegde in the domain you work, interpersonal skills, technical skills, the overall perception you cause on your other peers, how you got into your organization and your initial negotiation.

There are organizations where is common to see a lot of people with the senior title. In this case, what it really means to be senior?

In other places, being senior is a way of recognizing a person.


It really depends a lot and to have a real answer for your own situation, you must analyze your organization.