Traditionally in the tech industry developers are divided into four gradations based on their qualification levels: Junior, Middle, Senior, and Team Lead. In two previous articles we have already covered all the basics of what it’s like to be a Junior and Mid-Level Developer. Now it’s time to move to the next gradation. Senior Developer, what it’s like to be one and how Senior is different from a Mid-Level coder? Let’s find out.
Who is a Senior Developer?In such articles on professions and specialisations in software development we always have to make some sort of a disclaimer, explaining that the perception and understanding of a certain position can vary a lot, depending on the company, the industry it’s operating in, and other factors. Some people, mostly the ones who tend to be somewhat conservative, believe you are only allowed to call yourself a Senior if you have over 10 years of coding experience, which is accountable. Meaning, only years when you were actually coding as a full time employee count, you can’t start counting from when you first tried to program on Basic at the age of 12 (as many young coders tend to do, pissing off real Senior programmers). Being less conservative, many people believe more than five years of full time work as a software developer allows you to call yourself a Senior. On the other hand, years of experience is just a number, what really matters is knowledge, skills, and applicable experience. This is where you have to really deliver to deserve the Senior title, because Senior Developer is often seen as an all-knowing, almighty coding wizard. In management’s perception, Senior is normally the one who knows how to solve any project-related task or how to write the required code. But one of the most important functions of a Senior developer on a specific software development project is the knowledge of the project itself with all its issues, needs, nuances, and so on. Being able to work autonomously is an important quality of a Senior. This means that the Senior knows what and when to do, and needs no supervision to deliver the work he’s expected to do. And this is quite a valuable quality in the eyes of any employer, as it means you can give this developer a project-related task and leave all the rest to him/her. With “all the rest” being: figuring out needs, requirements, and limitations for the task to be completed, coming up with the right approach, finding proper instruments, dividing the big task to smaller tasks and giving those to Mid and Junior-Level Developers, etc. There is another major aspect that differentiates Seniors from Mid-level and Junior coders. It’s in the code they write, and the way they do it. Senior normally is and should be the one who writes the most clear, simple, and concise code. Sometimes to the extent when this code looks overly straightforward and primitively basic. This is because Senior has to consider not just the completion of the task as the final result, but the overall effect of the new code to the project’s code base. Senior developers write their code having maintainability and scalability in mind, and this is their major strength, which can only come with experience and nothing else.
What are the responsibilities of a Senior Developer?Now let’s talk in more detail about some of the most standard and common responsibilities of a Senior Developer, naturally focusing on responsibilities typical for Java programmers.
- Identifying and analyzing user requirements;
- Prioritizing, assigning and executing coding tasks;
- Developing Java applications;
- Reviewing code work for accuracy and functionality;
- Analyzing code segments regularly;
- Staying up to date with new technology and teaching Junior developers how to use it;
- Generating ideas and solutions related to the development cycle with other team members;
- Taking general responsibility for all development work and project’s code.
Requirements for a Senior DeveloperHere is a list of the most common and typical requirements for a Senior Developer that you should meet in order to get this job. Of course, the requirements would vary depending on company hiring policies, technologies used on the project, and your programming language.
- Extensive general knowledge of software development and its technologies;
- Strong knowledge of Java;
- Experience in designing, building and testing enterprise applications;
- In-depth knowledge of popular Java frameworks like Spring, Spring Boot, or Java EE, JSF and others;
- Experience with Object-Oriented Design (OOD).
- Good delegation and time management skills;
- Problem-solving abilities;
- Good communication skills;
- Strong written and verbal communication skills;
- The ability to meet deadlines and think strategically.