Whether you are choosing your first career or are contemplating a career move, software developers are in high demand and that demand is expected to grow. Not to mention the salary you could earn is impressive. If you were to progress to a Chief Technology Officer in London, for example, you could expect a base salary of around £87,821.
We’ve outlined the career opportunities junior developers can take so that you can set goals and start planning for your future.
What is the career path of a software developer?
There are three main career paths a software developer can take:
- Management – where the top job role is a Company Director of CTO (chief technology officer).
- Non-management – where the highest job title is Technical Architect.
We will focus on the first two career paths as freelance work has many variables to consider.
Software developer career option 1 – Non-management route
If you love coding and want your entire career to revolve around that, rather than segwaying into leading a team or climbing to director level, then a non-management pathway is what you want to be aiming for.
You’ll start your career as a junior developer where your workload can be anything from writing simple scripts to doing the same level of work as a senior developer.
The next step will be as a software developer and, eventually, a senior software developer, where you’ll be building entire applications. These roles will likely take up the bulk of your career.
The next and final step in the career ladder is to become a technical architect. You should only take this step if you are comfortable moving away from writing code every day. While you will occasionally dabble, the majority of your time will be spent creating complex systems for other developers to implement.
The average base salary of a technical architect in the UK £57,523.
Software developer career option 2 – Management route
If you want to play a role in helping others learn and move up their own ladder, or you have your sights set on a higher role within the overall company, this is the route for you.
The management route looks similar to a non-management route to begin with. You’ll start as a junior developer and move into working as a software developer and then a senior software developer.
It changes at the next level, though. Instead of moving into technical architecture, you’ll aim to become a lead developer, which is the role that is typically viewed as transitional into management positions. This role will still involve some level of code writing but your days will generally be spent coordinating work and actioning decisions.
The next step is as a software development manager or a development team lead and is where you will take on management responsibilities. You’ll have your own team of developers (keeping track of productivity and workflow) and manage large-scale projects.
The final step in your career path, if you wish to progress this far, is to become a director or chief technology officer. In this role you’ll be involved in the company’s long-term strategy and be accountable for entire departments.
The route you take depends on whether you want to lead a team and make decisions that heavily impact the company you work for, or whether you want to make coding your main career, focusing on that rather than on team leadership.
Neither decision is wrong and you don’t have to aim for the highest level job role. Your career is what you make of it, and you need to weigh up what will make you happiest.
We recommend not just considering where you might want to end up when you begin your career, but over the years too. What you want now may change in future, which makes the journey even more exciting.