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A software developer roadmap can lead to any direction depending on your interests and skill set. Engineers can either choose to level up in a preferred job role or change to multiple paths as per their interests. For example, you can prefer to become a senior-level developer in front-end development or you can prefer to switch to back-end development and become a full-stack developer. Different engineers also tend to work on different kinds of projects. From creating a user interface to building robots, there are a plethora of jobs they can opt for. Some even choose to go to management.
Sounds confusing? Yes, you can opt for many technologies and can choose different paths, but what exactly should you choose? What skills are required for each of them? This blog will answer all these questions by providing you with a software development roadmap for some of the essential careers you can choose. Let’s get started.
What Exactly is a Software Engineer's Job?
Software engineers code and design software applications. Part of their responsibility includes working with a team of quality assurance analysts, product managers, and software developers to test the quality of the software and identify any errors. Software engineering is not just about knowing how to program. It also requires strong problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and an affinity for learning.
Regardless of whether you are a good fit for software engineering, there are many career paths within computer science to choose from. Each software developer roadmap would require knowledge of different technologies. Let’s learn about them.
Software Engineering Roadmap
One important note in regard to the different titles you will hear: is that in the tech industry, the terms developer, engineer and programmer are often used interchangeably. Some will contest that there are clear differences between titles with these distinctions, but generally speaking, these 3 terms mean roughly the same thing.
Learn to code in any language of your choice with a strong focus on foundations. You should aim to become extremely comfortable in coding. If you’re told the high-level logic, you should be able to code it without much thinking.
A good practice while learning to code is to think about everything logically rather than in terms of code.
For many developers, their software developer roadmap starts as an intern. Software development interns typically are given a 3–6 month window in which they get to work with other developers on a small to mid-sized project that gets them experience in the languages and technologies that a company uses. Often these internships occur over the summer months, may-august, while most students are out of school and spring job-recruitment season for new developers is wrapping up.
Most companies use these internships for finding developers that are a good fit for their organization. Many interns are also given the same job title as a company’s entry-level developers such as Associate Developer or Junior Developer.
Junior Software Developer Roadmap
Junior (or Associate) Software Developer is a title that’s typically used for developers who are just starting out and require additional resources and time to get up to the same quantity and quality of output as a normal developer.
The term Junior Developer is used quite regularly in companies to define their entry-level positions for software development. This title can vary slightly depending on the company, but the other commonly used title is Entry Level *Insert Language or Framework* Developer.
The beginning of your computer science career is Junior Software Engineer.
Junior engineers are usually fresh graduates or candidates with little previous experience.
Nevertheless, your job duties as a junior engineer will still involve software development according to particular requirements.
Junior Software Engineers typically report to an Engineering Manager or a Tech Lead.
While this beginning stage may be entry-level, it is often the most important for career advancement down the line.
Junior Software Engineers enjoy countless opportunities to develop new skills, work on real-world problems, and gain the invaluable experience necessary to move forward in their engineering career.
Despite the lower expectation of output, there is a high expectation that over the course of your first year in this position you will gain the skills needed to progress to the next role: Software Developer.
A Software Developer is someone who has one or more years of professional software development experience and is able to handle tasks independently of others.
Usually, the barrier between Junior developers and regular developers is their ability to handle “most” tasks, independently. There will be times when pair-a-programming or advice is needed to move things along quickly, but most often, software developers can handle their own tasks independently of outside help.
Some other common titles used to describe this role are: Software Engineer, *Insert Language or Framework* Developer, or just Developer. Some larger corporations will assign a numerical value to their devs to signify how experienced they are within their dev teams such as Software Engineer I, Software Engineer II, etc.
There is some minor debate over the significance of differentiating Software Developers from Software Engineers, but most will agree that these titles typically carry the same weight.
Senior Software Developer Roadmap
Senior Software Developer is typically the main role that most devs aim for in their career. Although the titles often vary greatly from company to company it signifies that you are a highly skilled developer. In most cases, Senior Developers have 5+ years of professional software development experience.
You’ll often see titles defined as Senior *insert language or framework* Developer.
Once you’ve reached the role of Senior Developer, there are two different career paths you can take should you wish to progress your career even further, both of which you can learn more about in the next sections: The Individual Contributor Career Path and The People Management Career Path.
After a Junior SWE has a few years under their belt, they can be promoted to Senior Software Engineer.
Some organizations may even have a senior engineer working as a team leader in lieu of a Tech Lead or Engineering Manager.
In most cases, you will learn or have learned several other programming languages and become deeply familiar with software development as a whole at this point.
As was the case when they were junior engineers, Senior Software Engineers will usually help train or act as mentors for entry-level engineers on their teams.
They will also become familiar with additional company concerns or objectives, such as overarching goals or engineering budgets — things you can’t learn with just a computer science degree!
Principal Software Engineer Roadmap
After working for some time as a senior engineer with some measurable success, you will need to make a choice.
You can either remain an individual contributor (IC) or join management.
Suppose you want to remain an individual contributor as you have been throughout your career. In that case, this doesn’t mean you need to stay at the same stage.
Instead, in many companies, Senior Software Engineers can be promoted to the role of Principal Software Engineer.
Principal Software Engineers have many of the same duties as others on the software engineering team. These duties and responsibilities are just scaled up, of course.
However, they are also expected to be significant role models for their development team.
Principal Software Engineers are often some of the most valuable members of an engineering team, given their extensive coding knowledge.
Self-Taught Software Developer Roadmap
Becoming a self-taught software engineer won’t happen overnight. Before you land your first software engineer job, it can take months to years to learn all of the necessary skills (i.e., programming languages, tools, API design).
Here are four steps you can take to become a software engineer without entering a formal computer science degree program.
1. Learn a Programming Language
Java: is a high-level, open-source programming language to create applications that run in browsers and virtual machines.
Python: Python is a high-level programming language often used by data scientists and business analysts. There are various Python frameworks that are used in 2022.
“For beginners, I would suggest Python to start with. It is an easy language to pick up, highly productive, and also is useful in many practical situations such as data analysis.”
However, if you aren’t really sure what you want to specialize in, you may want to explore Python. “For beginners, I would suggest Python (or similar scripting languages) to start with,” said Dr. S.M. Yiu, a professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Hong Kong. “It is an easy language to pick up, highly productive, and also is useful in many practical situations such as data analysis.”
2. Learn Data Structures and Algorithms
Once you’ve mastered one or two programming languages, the next step is to familiarize yourself with data structures and algorithms.
Data structures improve the efficiency of storing, fetching, and organizing data. Algorithms, which you can think of as sets of operations and instructions, are applied to data structures to get a desired output. Several top tech companies such as Google and Microsoft often have data structure and algorithm questions in their coding interviews.
“If you look at every master’s or graduate degree in computer science or cybersecurity in our country and other countries, they all require the knowledge of programming and data structures,” said Aspen Olmsted, an adjunct faculty member in the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in the Computer Science and Engineering department and instructor for the Microbachelors® Program in Programming and Data Structures. “If you want to do computer science, [learning data structures] is how you know you can do computer science.”
3. Build a Portfolio on Github
If you lack experience, you can demonstrate your abilities with a portfolio. One of the most popular ways to do this is to contribute to open-source projects on platforms like Github, which is often used by startups and large tech companies. With open source projects, you can get a taste of what it’s like to work with other developers and refine your technical abilities.
4. Ace the Coding Interview
A coding interview allows potential employers and recruiters to evaluate your technical skills and problem-solving ability. The best way to prepare for a technical interview is to practice solving technical questions using resources like LeetCode, which crowdsources thousands of interview questions.
If you’re interviewing for a role with a specialization, you’ll also want to review concepts and frameworks related to that specific technology or stack.
Lastly, it helps to have a partner to help you practice explaining your thought process when solving problems.
5. Expand Your Knowledge
There are many avenues of study available to learn software engineering. From enrolling in a coding boot camp to obtaining a course certificate or even a master’s degree, only you know which is the best path for you
Finding new opportunities or new jobs is to network.
So, I do consider myself self-taught, but I did start in university when I graduated high school (SHS) and while I was at University, I attended a coding club and I also attended. Every networking or career fair that my college offered that I was aware of anyways, getting your first programming job is definitely the hardest, especially if you’re self-taught, make a LinkedIn reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn and attend tech events and tech conferences and I get with the current state of the world that it is hard to meet up with people or attend conferences, but in the meantime try to build up your online presence and again try to do some networking virtually somehow and make a plan for when things do open up so you can attend conferences and tech events in the future. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, which leads me to my next point.
Anyways, that is my advice for those who are thinking about becoming a self-taught programmer. Being self-shot can be a lonely road, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you go out of your way to network with individuals. Don’t overthink things and most importantly. Just take action, you’re going to get a lot of things wrong at first. That’s totally OK. I mean, it’s part of the process of being a dev.
Full Stack Web Developer Roadmap
This is the most popular and interesting field one should work on. You can also become a web developer provided you know why you want to learn it. According to a study, there are approximately 23 million software developers worldwide and the population growth is going to increase day by day. Now if you don’t know about web development, no worries! All your doubts will get cleared here.
Who’s a web developer? Those websites which you scroll to are created by none other than web developers. A person who creates amazing websites for businesses and startups. A full-stack web developer looks after both the front-end and the back-end parts. The front end deals with how the websites look when delivered to the customers while the back end stores and processes all the data safely.
Also, to bring to your notice, web developers are highly paid professionals. Most Software Developers work as Web Developers. MNCs also hire professionals/freshers based on their interest in web development. No matter what the situation would be web developers will always be in demand and for this, you don’t have to care whether it’s WFH (Work From Home) or WFO (Work From Office). This job requires dedication, patience, and eagerness to learn every day and play with technology. From Big MNCs to startups, everyone needs web developers to see growth in their business. But before we start this journey, you all should have a clear idea of why do you want to be a web developer?
1. Full Stack Developer Roadmap
Full-stack development comprises front-end, back-end, and database management. Choosing a technology on which you want to work depends on individuals, requirements, and applications. Few technologies on which you can work and are trending:
A) MERN – The most popular and trending technology.
MongoDB – A NoSQL database that deals with data.
Express – A framework for NodeJS and handles GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE functions.
NodeJS – An open-source server environment.
2. Frontend Developer Roadmap
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – Start with the basic application of HTML by creating a small website that includes all the elements. Play with tables, and forms, and try adding images and links to the website to make it more eye-catching which in return makes your work efficient. Click here to read about the conventions and best practices of HTML.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – If you’re a person who loves creativity, you must go through CSS. Using CSS, you can add colours to your website, give borders to the headings or paragraphs, build the navigation bar, play with the icons, font, and text, and many more things like that. Make the website responsive i.e., how it looks on different screen sizes. The most popular CSS framework used is Bootstrap.
Frameworks – It is a platform for building software applications. It includes programs, code libraries, and compilers which when brought together enable the development of a project or system. These frameworks make components reusable. Examples of frameworks are – React, Angular, Vue, etc.
3. Backend Developer Roadmap
The code that runs on the server, has logic to send the appropriate data from the client and receive it from the server. Also, it includes the database which stores all of the data of the application. It consists of three parts: a server, an application, and a database. Here, the code written by developers transfers information from the database to the browser. Code written by back-end developers communicates information from the database to the browser.
Skills you need to have to back-end developer: programming languages, frameworks, databases, servers, and API (Application Program Interface).
Frameworks – Frameworks are generally components or functions that are implemented to improve the performance of development. It includes the library of tools and modules that builds the architecture of a website. Several popular back-end frameworks are Express, Django, Ruby on Rails, etc.
Database – Various DBMS technology should be known such as MongoDB, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, etc. It handles with storage and management of data.
Server – A system providing data, services, or programs is known as clients over a network. They share (send and receive) the data/information between client and server.
API (Application Program Interface) – It is a set of defined rules that enables communication or acts as an intermediary between two applications. Request from the user is completed by the response from the server.
Client-Server Architecture – This architecture is designed to understand the request made and the response received. Whenever there’s a request from the client-side for data, the server responds to that request. There comes, the picture of a database which is explained in the next step, that stores the information needed to be retrieved.
You require three things to succeed in any career: Perseverance, Hard work and the Right direction. I hope this article helped you in understanding what your software developer roadmap will look like and provided the right direction. You need to understand that software development is an interesting career but is very demanding as well. Without hard work and perseverance, it will not be easy to excel. But with proper discipline and a learning attitude, you can achieve your dream career.
If you are a developer looking for opportunities, then Optymize can help. We are a remote-based platform that connects skilled developers with global companies and gets you hired. Interested? Click here.