Software engineering is in high demand and offers a lucrative career path. This is demonstrated by the fact that, in 2021, the global business software market revenue was about $507 billion. As an aspiring software engineer, you must know the different roles and responsibilities of junior vs senior software engineers. This will help you with your career development.
So, how long does it take to become a senior software engineer and how much do software engineers earn? Continue reading to find out, as we take a detailed look at the real differences between junior vs senior software engineers, their salary range, and the professional experience you need to progress in this field.
What Is a Software Engineer?
Software engineers apply mathematical principles and programming skills to design and build functional computer software products. These designs depend on business and consumer needs. For example, software developers may integrate chatbots in customer relationship management (CRM) products to respond to customers’ requests or complaints.
Junior vs Senior Engineering: Areas of Responsibility
The responsibility of a software engineer usually depends on the company that they work for. For example, startups might employ junior and mid-level developers to maintain the backend of their web applications. Larger companies will employ senior developers to oversee and manage the entire software development process or a development team.
Junior Software Engineering Job Description
- Write and test code for bugs. Junior software engineers not only write code, but they must test them for bugs. They can use basic knowledge to debug code if bugs are present but they will report back to mid-level engineers or senior engineers.
- Troubleshoot software. Junior engineers use various techniques to troubleshoot software and identify errors. This can be a time-consuming job and as such, senior engineers delegate this role to junior and entry-level developers.
- Collaborate with a tech team. Junior engineers collaborate with the tech team to develop, launch, and maintain software systems. They must be willing to do whatever job is necessary and complete their tasks within the time frame given to them by senior engineers.
- Generate reports. They use simple designs to present the progress or completion of a task to senior engineers. These reports are written in plain and easy-to-understand language so they can be presented to stakeholders and board members by senior software engineers. Communication skills are essential for this.
Senior Software Engineering Job Description
- Develop software systems. Senior software engineers develop, maintain, and scale advanced software systems based on business and client requirements. As experienced developers, they may delegate certain aspects of this development to junior software engineers.
- Train junior programmers. Senior developers mentor, coach, and train junior engineers. They are also involved in the hiring process of entry-level engineers. By working closely with a senior engineer, junior engineers will be able to learn the necessary skills to advance their careers.
- Function as a technical lead. Senior developers utilize soft skills such as leadership, communication, and team-building. This helps to efficiently coordinate internal and external software engineer teams.
- Update software. Senior software developers must make sure their tech stack is up to date. They must be familiar with emerging technologies and have a passion for learning to do this and may, for example, attend computer programming language events to gain this knowledge.
- Cross-functional team collaboration. Senior engineers must be able to collaborate with other teams of software developers and other teams within the company. For example, working closely with business and product development teams will help them achieve the company’s goal.
Junior vs Senior Engineering Salaries
The salary of junior and senior software engineers differs due to years of experience, technical skills, and responsibilities. Senior programmers will have advanced coding skills and management skills. Junior engineers may be fresh out of college or a coding bootcamp and will work as part of a junior team, where they work under senior engineers.
Junior Engineering Salary
According to Payscale, the average salary of a junior software engineer is approximately $63,000 per year. Factors like skill, work experience, and location cause variation in salary. On the higher end of the scale, junior software engineers earn about $78,500 per year.
Senior Engineer Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a senior software engineer is about $119,651 per year. With enough experience, senior engineers can earn an average wage of about $144,500 per year.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Junior Engineer?
If you are new to programming, it takes about six months to become a junior engineer. The best way to do this is to enroll in a top coding bootcamp. You can also find tutorials and self-learning learning platforms online. An experienced coder or someone already working in the tech industry should be able to advance to the level of junior engineer in a few months.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Senior Software Engineer?
Senior software engineering is a high-level role that requires at least five or six years of work experience in the tech field. This varies, as some organizations require ten years of experience in software engineering. Apart from expert technical skills, a senior engineer also needs advanced management and people skills.
Career Path and Progression from Junior to Senior Software Engineering
1. Build a Solid Tech Portfolio
2. Be Open to Learning
Software engineering is a field favorable to lifelong learners and asking questions is a great way to advance your career. Junior developers tend to avoid asking crucial questions, exposing them to repeating the same mistake frequently. By engaging with senior developers you will learn from your mistakes and be better prepared for a senior role.
3. Engage in Code Reviews
Code reviews help engineers spot technical issues like errors and bugs that might be present in lines of code. Many organizations encourage code reviews as it helps improve code efficiency. Junior engineers should review senior engineers’ code and put their own up for review.
4. Embrace Pair Programming
Pair programming involves working on the same machine with another programmer. This is a great opportunity for juniors to learn from senior software engineers. Aside from working with other engineers at your company, you can also pair with other developers on side projects.
As a junior software engineer, you need to upskill for career progress. You must keep in touch with new developments like blockchain and artificial intelligence. You can do this through the company you work for via mentorship or by enrolling in online tech courses and programs.
Should You Become a Software Engineer?
Yes, you should become a software engineer if you are looking for a rewarding job, a high starting salary, and extensive career opportunities. Furthermore, software engineers are in-demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a job outlook of 22 percent for software engineers, which is much faster than the average rate.
Junior vs Senior Engineering Salaries FAQ
Junior software engineers take on routine tasks with some supervision while senior software engineers handle complicated tasks like overseeing a software development process from start to finish.
Yes, a senior software engineer is more skilled and can handle more complex tasks than a junior software engineer. Senior engineers delegate tasks to junior software engineers and oversee the work that they do. They also mentor junior software engineers to prepare them for mid-level developer and senior developer roles.
A tech stack, sometimes known as technology stacks, is the combination of all the technologies a company uses to create an application. This includes programming languages, tools, frameworks, operating systems, and programs.
A mid-level developer or engineer has advanced technical and programming skills as well as years of experience in the tech industry. While their technical knowledge is close to that of a senior engineer, they don’t possess the management and soft skills for a senior role.
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