What’s the difference between a junior and senior developer?

What’s your designation? Are you a junior or a  senior developer? But how can one be sure about these titles? Is it the salary that differentiates a senior developer from the junior? Do experience plays a major part in deciding the developer’s position? If not experience, Is it possible for a junior developer to climb faster up the ladder to seniority? 

In this article, we will try to cover the aspects that differentiate junior developers from seniors and other important factors that help in deciding the role. 

One of the utmost questions that will hit a developer’s mind is ‘Why do these titles exist?’

Everyone hates to be a part of this hierarchy but whether you like these titles or hate being called junior or senior, these titles are of foremost importance to managers to ensure the fair division of pay and responsibilities.  For example, As an engineering head, you don’t want to assign the responsibility of designing a brand new critical system upon which the survival of the company depends. 

At the same time, hiring managers do not wish to hire a team full of senior developers who do not wish to share their knowledge, ideas and learning within the company and create the ambiance of knowledge silos, that hamper the growth of the organization and reduces efficiency. For all these reasons, it becomes necessary for hiring managers to create a balanced team of senior and junior developers that promotes learning, cooperation, and positivity within the team. This also saves the hiring expense of the company. 

There are many differences between a junior developer and a senior developer. These differences play a vital role in defining job roles & responsibilities. It is completely fine to be a junior developer in the initial part of your career. In fact, junior developers have more chances to learn & experiment. Remember, every senior was once a junior.  Smart hiring managers understand the stature of junior developers within the team. Junior developers bring a spirit of freshness & passion with them. 


Junior:  Junior developers are generally inexperienced, with few internships. This role is offered to people with 0-3 years of experience. These recently graduated developers are usually hungry to learn. They are not able to clearly distinguish between working software and good software. Junior developers approach the work with the intention of ‘making it work.’ They are passionate about coding but this over-enthusiasm makes their logic blind and they end up writing ‘fancy codes.’  You may recognize a junior developer with quirky one-liners and their complex abstractions. Junior developers usually take more time in coding complex codes than other levels as they are new to the work and are generally dependent on others. 

Mid-Level: Mid-level developers are usually more experienced and skilled than junior developers. This role is offered to people with 1-3 years of experience. One of the worst aspects of mid-level developers is “developers can usually get  stuck in this position for a longer time and it is quite frustrating.” Mid-level developers can be considered technically strong in one or more areas. They are regarded as ‘senior’  by junior developers but there is a huge difference between mid-level developers and senior developers. They might be senior from junior developer’s perspective but there is a huge difference between mid and senior-level developers. They may solve complicated technical problems but there is a lot for them to learn and experience. 

Senior: The journey of senior engineer begins with the realization that there is still much to learn.  It takes a lot of hard work & effort to reach this level. Senior developers have a clear understanding of what corners to cut & what corners should never be cut. This understanding comes with the level of maturity & this maturity comes with making errors. 

The role of the senior developer is not to get the job done but how to scale up the development. Senior developers don’t think in terms of individual classes, methods, functions or low-level technical particulars. They think in terms of object-oriented and application design patterns. 

Senior developers know the difference between working software & good software and this difference sets them apart. 

Principal/Architect:  A principal or architect is responsible for the complete technical stewardship of an application, software or main components of any project. Participate in requirement analysis, design, development, testing, and implementation activities. A principal engineer possesses the skills to lead the team of developers, manage deadlines and other technical problems. They should have the experience to make prompt decisions depending on the project and circumstances. 

How to climb faster up the ladder to seniority? 

Every industry follows its own hierarchy and decorum but no one can deny this fact that learning is the path to success. Hard work & skills raise you to higher levels. It’s not about doing coding, it is about making good software rather than just working software. Good work not only makes your work better but also boosts productivity. 

College degree from IIT or other recognized universities won’t make you a senior. It is your skills that will set you apart. There are many leaders who excel in tech without a college degree. 

What can you do to reach higher positions? 

Practice:  Steve Job, greatest tech tycoon said: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” The whole of our life is short to learn everything that exists.  A good developer’s journey starts with self-learning. It starts with learning coding from someone’s help, reading books, blogs, articles, watching online videos. At first, it’s difficult to remember the syntax, built-in functions, and other basic things but you manage to get hold of things. Finally, you muster enough courage to appear for an interview and luckily you get hired (We skipped to mention the job search process because that’s another STORY.) 

Now, the most difficult challenge on your first day is the job itself. You lack confidence amongst others. Finding your own codebase and learning to deal with other people’s code is hard in initial months. Slowly and gradually, you make your own way and become a competent developer. Eventually, you get hired as a senior developer, not because you have exceptional skills but you invested your time in a company. 

If you have completed your third year as an engineer but still stuck in a junior position, there is something you are missing on.  A good software developer does not create long and complicated codes but creates codes that add value to an application. Success in software development is not weighed in terms of code but how much you contributed to the success of overall application that further helps in making life easy. 

Important Learnings

Learn current syntax:  The recruiter may ask you to write code or about the new syntax. Keep your facts updated. 

Learn to compose software:  Developers are much like writers. One composes to bring emotions and others compose to bring power. No one can come up with a smooth application in the first go. It is important to break complex technical problems in small problems and then composing solutions to solve small problems and finally making an application. 

Learn functional programming basics: Functional programming is another important aspect of computer science. Functional programming focuses on simple, composable blocks, that is an excellent fit for today’s web architecture. 

Learn how to work with objects: Learn aggregation, delegation, concatenation, and encapsulation. 

Learn the Standard developers tool: Learn about git and Github. Visual studio code is a new option for programmers in 2020. 

Soft Skills: 

A good developer is a lot more than just a ‘technical guy’.  Junior or senior, whatever your position is, it’s important to possess certain soft skills; 

Kindness: The best way to speed up your growth is to show kindness to your colleagues and seniors. Always learn whatever is taught to you. 

Support the team: Building applications is a creative process and disagreement is bound to happen in creation. It is good to put your opinions by weighing the pros and cons, depending on the situation. But if your team reaches a decision that you disagree on, support your team and show the team spirit. 

Show empathy & compassion: Every software or application is built to solve a human problem.  Rather than just coding, first, understand the problem and pain behind a specific feature or product.  Empathetic developers become better developers as they are conscious of their users’ concerns, less self-centered and more humane. 


Prepare yourself for practicality.  Get ready to become a part of the competition and raise up your level. Do coding in an empathetic fashion and succeed in your career. If you want to work with the best product and tech companies, register with BigShyft and achieve your BIG shift. 

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