So, I’m a Senior Software Engineer and I’ve been one for quite some time. I will tell you a few things about getting that title and what it actually means.

What Do Job Titles Mean?

First of all, titles are basically made up and fashionable. They do have meanings, but those meanings don’t mean much across organizations like you think they would.

For example, I’ve worked in small companies where there were one or two software developers and no “senior” software developers. Yet, probably all of the team could have been senior developers elsewhere.

At the same time, I’ve worked with some senior software developers (or higher level than that) who were terrible coders and awful managers.

Sometimes a title is just a title and sometimes it means something.

Just Get Hired As A Senior Software Engineer

With that being said, the way you become one is to work long enough to accrue the appropriate experience level (5+ years at least I’d say), and then to get hired in a senior developer role.

That’s it.

Now, if you are stuck in a non-senior role and you really want the title and you have the appropriate experience, you might need to change jobs. That might sound harsh, but it’s true.

Changing Jobs Makes This Easier

Many organizations tend to solidify and people get stuck at a title and level without any hope of moving up or improving their situation. The answer is to change jobs most of the time.

Sometimes talking to your manager helps. Usually it doesn’t.

There is a whole psychology around things you know well having an established value and things that you don’t know having a higher value. It’s like, anyone you’ve known for a while gets a set value in your brain, but the people you don’t know you can make up all these stories about how awesome they probably are and you can value them higher.

Thus, in those situations it’s easier to change jobs than to change minds.

A Word Of Advice…

So, my advice to you is to get the experience, build up your skills, and then go get a job with a senior title if that’s your thing. That’s how to take that next step.