All articles

Staff competences. Junior, Middle, Senior – what’s the difference?

Career growth in IT

There are many approaches to evaluating the competence level of programmers in 2023. Sometimes the developers are not sure how to determine their level or the level of colleagues. Let’s compare the stages of growth and the important qualities and competencies that indicate completion of the next stage of career.

What are the qualifications of programmers?

Basic grading of software engineers:

  • Trainee 
  • Junior 
  • Middle
  • Senior

This terminology helps in communication, division of responsibilities and accountabilities. It gives the understanding to the different participants of the project, what should be expected: the employer from team, the customer from the company, the employee – which tasks to do and what results are expected from him. At first sight, these terms are obvious, but in practice everyone understands them differently.

Developers qualification in common words

The differences between trainee, junior, middle, and senior developers in simple words.

A Trainee developer is a newbie, who is just starting out. The Trainee has no practical knowledge, but has basic understanding of the theory. It begins with mentorship.

The Junior developer needs to learn to write «easy» for perception code. Junior can be compared to an artist who, in search of his style and understanding. Ideas and curiosity are expected from him. He can be wrong, because mistakes are experience, and experience is a career movement.

Middle developers do 95% of the work. They should fully master their technical stack and strive to develop soft skills as well as hard skills. Middle specialists try to help their colleagues become more competent and pass on experience. Therefore, mentoring is often an important stage for development. After all, the purpose of the team is to help, support, communication and, of course, the creation of a first-class product!

Senior developers with deep specialized knowledge and exhaustive experience, who allow them to mentor their colleagues, are called Senior. Such developers have developed Soft Skills: they know how to communicate with the team and always stay in the trend of development. The Senior’s experience will help to predict the development risks and find solutions in any situation.

Is there any official growth criteria?

How to determine your level of programming? Are there any standards? Unfortunately, there are no formal criteria for quickly and clearly determining programmer rank. 

Requirements for the developer may vary from country to country and even from company to company. Basic criteria for determining the grade of programmer:

  • work experience 
  • quantity and quality of hard skills
  • knowledge in the programming languages
  • developed soft skills
  • education

For example, you are unlikely to meet Senior with 2 years of experience, but there are many Junior with more than 5 years of experience. It is worth building on the soft and hard skills of the developer. Dry theory is not a key difference, but only one factor. Experience with different technologies, stacks, and frameworks can outweigh education without practice! And some companies are ready to hire specialists without actual experience on projects, but with appropriate education, counting on learning.

The New Line Technologies team also relies on recognized standards of competence. In more details:

Trainee is the early period in developer career. New Line Technologies has internship programs that employ entry-level engineers who mostly have theoretical knowledge without practice experience. In this case, the position of beginner is called Trainee.

Junior is the initial stage of professional development. Requirements are:

  • Ongoing growth and development of new skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Involvement in real commercial projects under mentor monitoring
  • Energy and curiosity

Junior generally gets one-type and easily projects formalized with a predefined archetype or the least complex tasks, which have little impact on the process.

Middle specialists achieve functionality based on the best practices and patterns of current technologies. Responsibilities:

  • Coding
  • Responsibility for the independent part of the integrated solution to be prepared for further use
  • Study and integration of standard solutions
  • Developing solutions that have standard approaches and do not require special research

Middle actively collaborates with team members including designers, analysts and architects. They manage to identify a typical problem well in advance, are able to draw conclusions, analyze and avoid this problem in the future.

Senior: “solving a problem”. Senior specialists have a good understanding of the business they support. They can be extended to facilitate marketing and global business development. Senior will always think about what he does, the good that it does to business.

Main responsibilities:

  • Decision planning, research and support for emerging issues
  • Brainstorming on finding the right solutions to complex problems
  • Responsibility for the team, coordinating its work process
  • Value and risk assessment


  • Project audit and experience in developing recommendations and solutions
  • Developed soft skills for client-team coordination and balance
  • Long-term vision

His job is to provide the best solutions to issues. As project manager, Senior makes informed decisions about the development and implementation of software and methodologies based on a wide range of knowledge of best practices and approaches in this field. A prerequisite for Senior is self-criticism and self-improvement – they must evaluate and analyze the mistakes made and look for ways to solve them, in order to avoid repetition.

Is there any life after Senior?

The starting point of the programmer’s career is Trainee. What to strive when you take up the post of Senior?

  • Senior Engineer
  • Product Manager
  • Architect
  • Senior Leader

There are also CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CTO (Chief Technical Officer).

Responsibilities include management and representation of the company at the highest level, top management. At this level, you have to be able to manage people as well as technology – be a great manager and innovative engineer.

For example, CTO New Line Technonologies Sergey Medintsev. Sergey came to New Line Technologies for the position of .Net Developer in 2010. Due to active self-development as a technician, strong project management skills and analytical mind Sergey succeeded in growing from .Net Developer to Chief Technical Officer.

What can stand in the way of the developer’s development?

“The goal of all is development” – Bernard Werber in the book “The Empire of Angels”.

First, and the most unobvious, at first glance, that can hinder the further growth of you as a specialist – it is yourself. Many experts fall under the Dunning-Krueger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an imaginary and deceptive self-confidence in one’s own expertise in any field.

Many engineers cannot imagine better methods and practices than those they are currently implementing. Sometimes the reason can be a lack of experience, when a novice specialist, without proper practical experience and not working in a team, is not able to adequately evaluate their skills. Fidbeck from the team, in this case, plays an important role!

In the opposite scenario, when an engineer realizes how little he knows and how much remains to be learned, then the transition to a higher level begins.

What’s gonna keep a specialist out of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

  • Work as a team and collect reviews from different parts of the project and business domain, about your work and skills;
  • Improve your skills, broaden your horizons and knowledge;
  • Find time to analyze your progress;
  • Learn from experience, including mistakes
  • Constantly strives to improve, to monitor innovations and trends of your field of activity, not to stop on achieved result.

In conclusion

Taking into account all the above, our recommendation – take interviews, rely on requirements, take the habit of scrolling vacancies to assess the market and the demand of your knowledge and experience.
New Line Technologies invites you to an interview. Check our vacant positions. Our recruiters always give feedback on interviews 😉