User Andrey Gorkovenko
Andrey Gorkovenko
Frontend Engineer at NFON AG

What It’s Like to be a Mid-Level Developer. A Short Guide to the Role

Published in the Random group
Traditionally in the tech industry developers are divided into four gradations based on their qualification levels: Junior, Middle, Senior, and Team Lead. Or five, if you include coding Interns as the lowest-ranked “soldiers” of the software development industry. In the previous article, we already covered what it’s like to be a Junior developer. So let’s just start where we left off last time and go through the next stage in the programmer’s career gradation, which is Mid-Level Developer. What It’s Like to be a Mid-Level Developer. A Short Guide to the Role - 1

Who is a Mid-level Developer?

Mid-level Developer is a relatively experienced programmer who has already spent at least 2-4 years in this profession. These years should have turned an inexperienced and uncertain fresh coder into a strong fully-functional programmer able to write his own code and come up with solutions without the need to ask for help from senior team members. Mid-level dev typically is a central unit in pretty much any software development “army,” as mid-level coders are the ones who do the main part of programming work on pretty much any project. Unlike less experienced Junior developers, Mid-level coders do not need much help or supervision, are able to do everything autonomously, and, having a clear understanding of the code and technologies used in the project, have more responsibilities. For example, if Junior’s main focus is on writing code that would work, plain and simple, Mid-level coder also needs to think about things like making sure the code is clearly understandable and written in line with quality standards and project requirements. Typically, the majority of the code base of pretty much any software is written by Mid-level programmers. Of course, as always when talking about professions and specializations in the tech industry, it is worth mentioning that Mid-level coders (just like Juniors or Senior devs) can have quite a different experience and responsibility depending on the company they are working in. “From the outside perspective, 3–5 years of experience makes you a mid-level. From within an organization, you are at the point of being trusted with coding but little to no client interaction and ownership of small to medium-sized projects. I have seen cases where Senior-level developers would prefer to stay at Mid-level because you’re basically coding without need to deal with project managers and clients,” says Lewis Nakao, an experienced software developer and coding career consultant.

What are the responsibilities of a Mid-level Developer?

Now let’s talk in more detail about some of the most typical and common responsibilities of a Mid-level Developer.
  • Writing and maintaining the code.
  • Analyzing and implementing best coding practices into the project code.
  • Analyzing technical requirements of the project and adapting the code in line with them.
  • Identifying and developing areas for revisions in current projects.
  • Executing and implementing software tests.
  • Developing quality assurance procedures for software projects.
  • Analyzing the needs of users, as well as designers’, QA testers’, and other software development team members’ needs.
  • Developing quality assurance procedures.
  • Coordinating the efforts and cooperating with other developers, designers, system and business analysts, etc.
  • Documenting every part of the development process for further work and maintenance.

Requirements for a Mid-level Developer

Here is a list of the most common and typical requirements for a Mid-level Developer that you should meet in order to get this job. Of course, the requirements would vary depending on a company hiring policies, technologies used on the project, and the programming language of the developer. Obviously, we will focus on typical requirements for mid-level Java developers.
  • At least two-three years as a Java developer and experience of working on at least several different software projects.
  • Full knowledge of how to design, program, implement, and maintain Java applications.
  • Knowing how to program high-volume and low-latency systems meant for large scaling.
  • Solid knowledge of the frameworks for building web projects (Maven, Gradle), frameworks for enterprise projects (Spring, Hibernate, Spring Boot), tools for unit testing (JUnit, Mockito), etc.
  • The ability to contribute in all phases of the development lifecycle.
  • The ability to write high-quality, efficient, and easily testable code.
  • Being well-familiar with conducting software analysis, testing, and debugging Java code.
  • Experienced in managing Java and Java EE application development.
  • Able to come up with alternative approaches and implement newer technologies.
  • Ability to clearly and concisely communicate with both technical and non-technical customers.

How much Mid-level Developers make?

What about mid-level developers’ salaries, and how much higher they are compared to the wages of Junior devs? Let’s see. In the U.S., the average salary for a Mid-level Developer is $71,000 a year, according to Glassdoor, versus $63,502 a year for Junior devs. ZipRecruiter says the average annual pay for a Mid-level Software Engineer in the United States is a bit higher — $88,725 a year. “While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $131,500 and as low as $49,000, the majority of Mid-level Software Engineer salaries currently range between $70,000 to $100,000 across the U.S. The average pay range for a Mid-level software engineer varies little (about $30,000), which suggests that regardless of location, there are not many opportunities for increased pay or advancement, even with several years of experience,” ZipRecruiter reports. In Germany, according to PayScale, a mid-level software developer with 5-9 years of experience earns a total average compensation of €54,778. In France, the average salary of a Middle is €41,342. Generally speaking, Mid-level developers earn 10 to 30% higher salaries than Juniors, so getting more money definitely should be one of your motivations to grow from Junior to Middle developer as quickly as possible.

Career perspectives

Obviously, the main career development path for any Mid-level developer is to reach the Senior level, which is basically the highest gradation among ordinary software developers and the only straightforward career growth destination. It would take time though, as Senior dev has to have over 10 years of professional experience. There are other ways for a Mid-level developer to grow as well. Positions such as Team Lead and Tech Lead would be among the main options to look forward upon reaching the Senior level.

What it’s like to be a Mid-level Developer. Opinions.

To wrap it up, let’s look at what old and experienced coders have to say about being a Mid-level developer. “The best way to get to Mid-level is to gain experience, at least a couple of years, and possibly more. The idea is that you really know how projects, directors, managers, accounting, meetings, deadlines, politics, etc. work in real work, rather than just what you were told during school. They also need to learn from their mistakes and regularly misidentifying the highest priorities in many situations. This generally only improves with experience. You will have to start in an entry-level developer position. A “rock star” might be able to bypass that with an excellent showing in an internship that flows directly into a full-time position, but this is much more of an exception rather than the rule,” shares his views Dwayne Towell, an experienced software developer for the U.S. “Ultimately, all that really matters is what a particular company (who you’re applying for a position at) thinks a Mid-level Developer is. You can call yourself a Mid-level Developer all you want, but if you apply for 10 Mid-level Developer jobs and never get hired, then maybe it’s time to re-think it,” says John Morris, a Senior programmer with over 10 years of experience. What It’s Like to be a Mid-Level Developer. A Short Guide to the Role - 2“This role is for folks who can contribute to a project with only a small amount of supervision. They can be relied on to make the right decisions in implementation with more senior members of the team doing the architecture. They're expected to turn tickets into solutions, provide estimates on tasks and assist in decomposing larger sections of work. They may be in conversations with clients but not expected to lead them,” this is how William Hurley, expert developer and software architect, summarized the role of a Mid-level software engineer.
What else to read:
  1. What It’s Like to be a Junior Developer. A Short Guide
  2. To infinity and beyond: how long does it take to learn Java?
  3. Junior Java developer looking for work. How to upgrade your skills and gain practical experience
  4. A small tip for your educational plan
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Andrei Level 41
27 August 2020
Nice details, thank you for sharing.