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Alternative Career Paths for Software Developers

Alternative Career Paths for Software Developers

Just like in any other field, it’s possible to hit a dead end or, in simpler terms, “get stuck” in IT. Everyone has their own pace of development, and during long years of working with code, the question often arises: “How and where can an IT specialist grow?” Let’s consider possible options for career growth and development in IT: how to choose and evolve without staying in one place.

Do you get bored of programming?

Definitely. To stay in the loop and enjoy your work, it’s important to constantly evolve and embrace new challenges. In today’s IT field, there are multiple paths for growth, with two main options being vertical and horizontal career advancement. Both paths involve increasing expertise and acquiring new, relevant skills.

It’s important to remember that a DevOps specialist or a Java specialist always develops gradually, step by step. It’s crucial to understand that the growth and development of each specialist are individual processes. The time and effort invested by each of them may vary.

How to advance your career in IT

If we talk about vertical career growth, it refers to progressing through the professional path, starting from Trainee or Junior positions. The main stages include:

Trainee / Junior Developer

Many future IT specialists become Trainees or Junior professionals while still studying since companies often have less strict requirements for candidates. For example, higher technical education can be incomplete, or a candidate can pursue education while interning/working in a company. At this stage, the choice of programming language is determined, and hard skills are honed. Additionally, many companies hire specialists as Trainees after completing relevant courses.

Middle Developer

The next stage entails proficiency in programming languages, deep knowledge of databases, and understanding with practical experience in web or mobile development.

Senior Developer

Typically, for the position of a senior specialist, it is necessary to have at least 5 years of experience as a developer with a strong command of Software Engineering Processes and one or more programming languages. How to enhance developer skills? Effective methods include constant practice and involvement in projects of various domains, learning new technologies, reading technical articles, attending meetups, and more.

Team Lead

As you progress in your career and take on the role of project leadership and team management, you can become a Team Lead. Their responsibilities include project management, creating presentations, negotiation skills, problem identification, and timely resolution. Online resources provide answers on how to become a successful IT manager, along with advice and recommendations from renowned project managers.

Software Architect

If you feel that you have acquired enough knowledge and honed your professional skills, both hard and soft skills, in your career, then the role of an IT architect is a great opportunity to further develop your capabilities. The responsibilities of this specialist include developing a technical specification for a system based on customer requirements and the professional capabilities of programmers.

Chief Technical/ Technology Officer

This is a Chief Technology Officer, a Top Manager whose responsibilities include developing a technological strategy with the implementation of innovations in the field of IT.

Chief Information Officer

The Chief Information Officer ensures the technical infrastructure of the company, including hardware, materials, and equipment, and is responsible for software development and implementation. The IT Director is part of the company’s top management and can work not only in IT but also in any corporation with a well-developed IT department.

For any IT specialist, when it comes to career growth and development, it’s important to focus on learning English. It’s an essential part of self-improvement as a professional, and communication skills in English need to be practiced and enhanced.

Promising directions for a tech career

You can improve and develop not only through vertical career growth but also through horizontal growth. In contrast to the former, a developer gradually acquires hard skills and expands their functionality. Where can a developer develop? Current trends and directions include architecture, mentoring, design, and analytics.

By honing their professionalism, a developer can choose the field of architecture. All the experience accumulated up to that point becomes a solid foundation and allows the specialist to see the entire system, its modules, and their interactions. System design is the main task of an architect.

Mentoring is a great development path that allows you to become an expert in training technical professionals. It can involve managing a small group of programmers within a project or supervising a virtual team of specialists from different parts of the world. Additionally, one can become a trainer at an educational center.

If you’re tired of application programming, consider career development as a web developer. Following best practices will save time on learning and quickly acquire the necessary knowledge. Another option for horizontal development is specializing in mobile development.

When it comes to analytics, it is a relatively uncommon choice for programmers. However, experienced developers who have transitioned into this field are highly valued because their role is to bridge the gap between clients and developers. But to excel in this specialization, it’s important to develop soft skills.

What social skills will help in the career of an IT specialist

Soft skills, unlike hard skills, are not specific to a particular professional field. They encompass a set of competencies that enable effective communication, sound decision-making, and the ability to work as part of a team. When choosing between two employees with similar levels of hard skills, the one with stronger soft skills is often preferred.

Career Success in IT: how to be successful at work

Basic social skills that will be useful in the career:

  • The ability to think creatively and outside the box
  • The skill to articulate ideas and convincingly defend them
  • Being responsible and not afraid of it
  • Collaborating with a team for effective work
  • Being proactive and flexible
  • Possessing mentoring skills
  • Taking a comprehensive approach to problem-solving
  • Being resilient and stress-resistant

Career growth in IT is filled with opportunities and challenges, and your skills, both technical and soft, determine how far you can climb.

If you’re interested in the topic of professional development in the IT field or if you’re in the process of enhancing your skills, we recommend reading our article “Staff competences. Junior, Middle, Senior – what’s the difference?” In this article, we compare the stages of career growth and discuss the important qualities and skills that indicate advancement to the next level.