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Software Developer Career path

I work for a very small company which really dosnt have a career path for software developers because of the size (< 5 employees)

I am trying to find out what is the typical career path offered by established software companies.


The Tennis Fan
Tennis Fan Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
1. Work your ass off to death at company A.

2. See some idiot get promoted, so you don't have another chance for a few more years.

3. Move on to another company:
3-a. Either company B (lateral move, more money);
3-b. OR, company C (to a higher position, with better pay of course).

Basically, this is it.
I haven't seen any other options in years.
Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
Oops, sorry, I forgot the best option:  :-)

Once you have enough experience and are sick and tired of corporate "politics", start your own software company.
If you don't have a product idea (yet), start a consulting company.
Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
One of the things newbies don't understand about the industry is that being a developer is actually a low-level position for the most part.  Even in mid and large companies.  Promotion become stagnate very fast unless you are willing to go into management.

True there are such titles as "software architect", but that generally doesn't mean much unless you are in a biggie or multinational.  Not to mention most of them don't get paid much more than a senior developer.  And at that there are generally very very few of them.  You'd be more likely to land a job as a management track director than as an architect.

This is one of the primary factors in creating the major age discrimination problem that has been seen in software development.
Friday, October 24, 2008
This has been my experience, for the most part. Many of the better developers get promoted to management, but don't enjoy it because they end up spending all of their time in meetings rather than developing software. Then there's a group of folks who want to be managers badly because they dislike the "technical stuff". But then they don't get respect from the developers they manage. Steve Yegge has a great post on this:


I think the best path for a developer is to end up eventually making the tools and frameworks that the rest of the developers use to be more productive.
Larry K. Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
You have to divide the companies in two groups:

1. Business - You don't develop a product here.  They have business people to promote above you.  The people doing the promoting don't believe you can every learn the business itself and thus you aren't on a promotable track.  This kind of person works on *projects* and costs money.

2. Software - You make the goods that make the company money.  Knowing how to make those goods and being able to direct/mentor/guide similar efforts provides a way up.  You produce products and if your contribution is significant enough, you can be the one making the decisions on what to produce.  This person works on *products* and brings in money.

If you're going to work for a company, you want to be in group 2.

That said, if your company is only 5 people, there is certainly room for growth even if you don't move up relative to those 5.  A group of 5 is highly leveraged and any small amount of success should be able to find its way to you.  Demonstrate your value, buck for equity or profit sharing and grow the company. 

Unless you're a service company that makes money in proportion to the hours spent working, then you don't have anything to look forward to except perhaps better rates.
Lance Hampton Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
In reply to Starts comment - Can you elaborate a bit more on the age discrimination in software development? I have not of this and may is a good warning heads up


The Tennis Fan
Tennis Fan Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
Lance and Larry thanks for your post.

In reply to Lance:

I agree with you on the two groups of company. I would like to think I work for a company more type 2 -Software. however and I started as a developer 5 years ago and currently have a senior level title, however I dont have anybody under me. We've made very slow progress over the years due to the lack of strategy and vision by the C-level officers and not to mention they dont get along. Recently the company has hired a new officer who is showing promise, but wants to demote the existing senior staff (including me) to a developer. I have equity in this company but feel like i am at square one. Is this normal when companies undergo a big change at the executive level ?


The Tennis Fan
Tennis Fan Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
There generally is no career path. You keep doing it until you are too old, then you hopefully saved up enough money to retire early, or you become one of those sad old ex-programmers who are now doing technical writing or QA for less salary than the young kids using the supposedly latest and greatest development tools.
The Contrarian Software Developer
Friday, October 24, 2008
Don't mean to rant on Tennis Fan but I've seen lots of these question on "Career Path" bullshit.

Why do you expect someone to provide you with the career path? What that even means?

"Career path" is just different way for people to ask for more money. Just ask for it and drop the bullshit.

Real Career Path is anything YOU want it to be NOT what someone tells you. In my company there is NO Career Path for anyone. If you come to me asking what is career path I tell you there is none.

I will tell you that YOU decide what you want to do and where YOU want to go. Don't expect someone to lead YOUR life for you and gives you anything... Earn it and you'll get it... Decide where you want to go and what you want to do... Basics really...

Rant over :-)
Friday, October 24, 2008
+1 theVendor
Friday, October 24, 2008
In Reply to the Vendor:

I beg to differ with you on certain aspects of your opinion.

Career path is subjective to a certain degree. if you think deeply about it..its about what a person did over a period of time or their life, and every individual can interpret the same thing 10 different ways, and come to a conclusion if it was some over hyped bull crap metaphor or something really meaningful.

 Another way to think about it is that it is simply the general stages of progression in a field. And these stages simply position people to get the opportunity to earn their stripes and grow as individual by learning from failures.


The Tennis Fan
Tennis Fan Send private email
Friday, October 24, 2008
Why do need a career path? If you love programming and the pay is good why would you want to be a manager? Do the woodshedding and then create your own company...
Johnny Moondog
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Andy Brice Send private email
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Excellent post Andy ! Thanks.
Tennis Fan Send private email
Saturday, October 25, 2008
1. Work your ass off to death at company A.

2. See some idiot get promoted, so you don't have another chance for a few more years.

3. Move on to another company:

You forgot the part where you are forced to train your h1b replacement, then can not find another job because of the fubar economy.
Sunday, October 26, 2008

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