What is a senior developer, and when can you start calling yourself one?

4 skills that are common to senior developers and that make them standout from less experienced developers.

Unlocking tech talent stories

September 12, 2022

You’re a software developer or engineer, and you don’t know when you can start to add that “senior” to your title. When can you start considering yourself a senior developer? 

What is a senior developer?

The one thing I know for sure is that whether you call yourself a senior developer or not just depends on your own self-judgement. Being a mid or senior developer is a subjective concept. 

No process gets you access to that career level-up. No certification, no test to pass, no challenge. Rather than being something you achieve, perhaps I would say it’s something that you feel. 

However, having disclaimed that, there are a few good skills that a senior developer does have. 

Strategic thinking

Usually, a junior developer is too busy learning how to code and doing that well. When developers first enter the market, a whole new world opens up, and there is little to no time to be mindful of anything other than executing.

On the other hand, a senior developer takes the time to know the business and asks why? With the business goals in mind, senior developers have the ability and responsibility to decide which things are a priority and which are not beneficial for the team and the company. 

Coding

You would think that what makes a senior developer would be their stellar and perfect coding skills. From a junior developer’s perspective, who is mainly focused on writing code, that would be the assumption. 

However, being a senior developer doesn’t necessarily mean you write super clean code. In fact, some might argue that coding is definitely not the main skill that grants them their seniority. 

Rather than that, senior developers often have a much broader scope of skills related to coding that juniors wouldn’t grasp just yet, like implementing design patterns, making architectural decisions, and writing proper tests.

Mentoring

Perhaps the most important skill a senior developer can have and definitely something that sets them apart from their less experienced counterparts. 

Generally speaking, a senior developer is someone you go to for advice and when you’re stuck with something. Mentoring can come in many forms, like informal code reviews or more formal forms of mentorship. 

This mentoring is done by senior developers to juniors and new team members and is what makes them great teachers. A good mentor helps junior developers learn from their mistakes and improve their skills. Mentoring by a senior developer is also a faster and more impactful way to learn since it would take longer if you were to learn on your own on a trial-and-error basis. 

Autonomy

In contrast with less experienced developers, senior developers spend more time analysing whether what they are doing makes sense and if there are more efficient ways to do them. Not to say that junior developers are not completely conscious of this, but generally speaking, they are busier following guidelines. 


These are just 4 signs a senior developer usually shows. Do you agree? Would you mention others? 

If you’re looking for senior developer job vacancies, head over here!

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