A guide for all entry-level junior engineers to figure out the ideal pathway ahead.
Working in the tech industry is one of the interesting career paths compared to various other fields. A software engineering career path eventually leads to various diversifications as the engineers move forward. This journey will obviously be full of career challenges that shape and mold all junior engineers to develop their expertise. One of the prominent opportunities here on this career path is the on-the-job training facility where junior engineers gather plenty of practical experience. Along with this valuable exposure, junior engineers are capable of choosing the ideal path that interests them the most out of the diverse areas in the tech industry.
The Job Ladder in Software Engineering
Let’s take a look at the job ladder for software engineers. Junior engineers normally come across an abundance of opportunities while they improve their practical experience. Likewise, the job ladder in the software development industry is known to be wide and highly diversified. Quite similar to every other role in different fields, the software engineering career path divides into two main pathways of individual contribution and team leadership. The individual contributors keep continuing to thrive with their technical expertise focusing on code work of multiple technology stacks. The career path will gradually develop from Software Engineer to Senior Software Engineer until the level of a Software Architect. Whereas, the team leadership path is divided again into two subcategories namely managing engineering staff and administration of software systems and services. These subcategories are chosen based on the engineers’ preference of mentoring juniors to help them thrive or to lead teams with software projects and services. The below infographic briefs the pathway of the two subcategories of leadership path. The leadership track is prominently focused on the development of effective strategies that will help the company achieve its objectives.
The ideal timelines of the navigation plan
Let’s look into the appropriate timelines that are required by each step of these paths. The juniors who start from the role of the Software Engineer spend about 1-3 years developing their skills building software while getting trained from the seniors. The next step would be getting promoted as a Senior Software Engineer where this particular role develops software products while providing pieces of training to assigned juniors. The level of experience in this stage would be 4-6 years. To become a Lead-level Engineer or an Engineering Manager, one must complete 7-10 years of software development along with the capability of overseeing development teams and executing successful solutions. The final levels of this hierarchy, becoming the Chief Technology Officer or heading the overall engineering department requires about 10+ years of engineering experience in total because these leadership roles will be aligned with the execution of technical processes to engineering departments and providing technical leadership to the entire company.
Challenges that need to be embraced
One of the greatest challenges in the software engineering industry is to make sure that you allocate a sufficient amount of time to train yourself on new coding skills and emerging technologies. Engineers tend to fall back in learning new skills once they develop enough experience to continue their assigned job roles. Therefore, exposing yourself to career-oriented training and development opportunities on emerging technologies should be considered with appropriate importance. On the other hand, the employers of the tech industry should focus more on the allocation of abundant training sessions wherever required with the intention of having a skillful workforce. The next challenge that should be addressed is the lack of mentorship for junior engineers. The personal experiences of senior engineers can make drastic changes in juniors mentoring them to achieve their career objectives. The two aspects of efficient training measures and mentorship go hand in hand in an effective strategy of developing a skillful workforce.
Significant steps to be taken
If you are a junior engineer who is new to the tech industry, the simplest and foremost step that you should take is to find the area that interests you the most. Once you join a particular company, you will get exposed to various aspects of software development under the supervision of seniors. This would be the ideal opportunity to get an appropriate amount of knowledge to figure out which path you should take to proceed with your journey. These paths can vary from front-end development to back-end development and full-stack or even the development of mobile applications. Once you decide on the path that interests you, the next step would be to load yourself with relevant skills. Make sure to take all the training and development opportunities that are coming your way. Regardless of what your role is, always be hungry to learn something new. The third step would be to find a suitable mentor around your work. Practical experience that you can gain from a senior in the particular field that interests you will be effective in clearing your code-level doubts; in other words, they are your guardian angels. Therefore, make sure you choose the right mentor where you can comfortably seek advice whenever you are in doubt. The fourth and last step would be to define your career objectives. List down a few key milestones that you wish to achieve as you proceed with your software engineering career path and keep a track of all the achievements with relevant timeframes.
Software engineering happens to be a well-desired job where everyone once wished of being in the future. Worldwide reporting firms emphasize that the software engineering job market continues to thrive every year. By the year 2030, the rise of the global software engineer population is expected to exceed 45 million. Almost all the industries in the world including aviation, banking, and finance, education, government sector, healthcare, and hospitality, or even non-profit organizations rely on the workforce of software engineers. Software engineering will be the only career path that would allow you to solve real-world problems based on your interest.