Understanding Every Role in Software Engineering

Understanding Every Role in Software Engineering

I'll walk you through the different roles in software engineering, from the basics to the top. I'll tell you what each job is about and what you need to do to get there. But remember, what you're expected to do in each job can change depending on where you work.

Many people struggle because they don't really know what each job involves. They might miss out on growing or aiming for the wrong goals because they're not clear on what's needed.

Knowing these roles matters because it shows you how to move up in your career. It lets you set goals and work towards them.

Junior Software Engineer / Developer

This job is for beginners or people with a little experience. You will spend your days getting to know the coding base, tools, and how things are done. More experienced colleagues will watch over your work. You'll fix bugs, write bits and pieces of code, and maybe even get involved in bigger projects.

Software Engineer / Developer

With some experience behind you, you can work more independently as an engineer. You will make a significant contribution to design and development. You spend most of your time coding and debugging. Furthermore, you are involved in code reviews and contribute to technical documentation.

Senior Software Engineer / Developer

As a seasoned professional, you work on more complex tasks. You can lead projects and mentor team members. You will make architectural decisions, optimise performance and ensure best practices are followed.

Staff Engineer

You are in a highly experienced tech role with the ability to solve complex problems. You are also focused on setting technical standards and leading major initiatives. Likewise, you often work across multiple teams, by providing deep technical expertise and guidance. Formal management responsibilities are not part of this role.

Software Architect

You design the structure of software systems. You create blueprints for applications, ensuring they are scalable, reliable, and efficient. Your role involves understanding requirements, making high-level design choices, and setting technical standards. You bridge the gap between technical and business needs, focusing on future development.

Tech Lead / Lead Developer

You are still very much hands-on. You focus on guiding the technical direction of project(s) or team(s). Technical planning is one of your main tasks. You also supervise the work of other engineers to ensure code quality and coherence. You also talk a lot with both your team and the management to keep everyone on the same page.

Technical Program Manager (TPM)

You focus on managing the technical aspects of complex projects. You ensure alignment between project objectives and technology solutions. Not only that, but you will also work closely with engineering teams, stakeholders, and project managers. You will define project requirements and schedules. You have a strong technical background to understand the complexities of projects. Furthermore, you have excellent communication skills due to coordination between different teams.

Engineering Manager

The focus is shifting from technical to managerial tasks. You will supervise teams or entire engineering departments. You are responsible for recruitment, mentoring, performance reviews. Likewise, you'll also be responsible for ensuring alignment between projects and business objectives. You are not involved in day-to-day coding. Yet, you have a solid technical background to make informed decisions.

Director of Engineering

You are responsible for strategic planning and setting the technical direction. You will also manage teams or projects. The engineering department must serve the company's goals. You will work with other departments to achieve this.

Vice President (VP) of Engineering

Executive role focusing on the broader strategy of the engineering function. You ensure the scalability and reliability of engineering results. You will manage senior leaders. Not only that, but you drive the technical and product strategy in line with the company's objectives.

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

You are in a top executive role responsible for the technological direction of a company. You make high-level planning and strategic decisions and discover new technologies. Furthermore, you often represent the company in technical forums and meetings with partners. You act as a bridge between the technical and business sides of the organisation.


We just looked at different jobs in software engineering, from the start to the top. It's good to know what each job does so you can plan your career better.

I know it might seem tough sometimes. Your journey will be unique, and that's perfectly fine.

Think about what you've learned and how it can help you in your career. Find a mentor, join communities and learn from trusted sources to make faster progress.

Keep your spirits up and believe in yourself. You're on the right track to a great career in software engineering!

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