The difference between a junior and senior level software engineer?

I dislike titles. Keep reading to find out why. 


I was recently asked a series of questions and decided to create blog posts from the answers. 

Everything herein came straight from this horse’s mouth. I didn’t once flex my Google-fu or Bing-kwondo except to determine the best way to spell Bing-kwondo. My goal was to respond to the proposed questions solely with the knowledge I’ve gained from experience over the years. When reading my response, please remember – with passion comes opinion. I value your opinion, even if it is different from mine, as difference breeds understanding and growth.

My opinion

First, to set the stage, “Senior” does not necessarily mean “great developer,” “leader,” or “management material.”

I like to think we’re all junior level engineers with varying experience and stack mastery; “Senior” is, therefore, either marketing fluff or a title handed down by an employer to signify organizational hierarchy or seniority.

While employers have donned me Senior in the past, I self-label as a senior developer because it aligns me with the types of jobs I want most. I.E., architect, mentor, leader, mystic code wizard, etc.

Plus, if “senior” grants me the opportunity to hitch a ride in the corporate helicopter, I’m cool with that.

If you want to get technical, some say it requires 10,000 hours to master something. By my rough estimate, I’ve logged more than 20,000 hours since I began passionately writing software in 1999. The key element here is passion. 

Passion is what makes a great developer. I’d rather have a passionate new developer on my team than a stodgy old developer with 20,000 hours of passion-free experience. The latter can, in fact, be quite toxic to an organization.

Writing software is an art and my passion. It is my job and my hobby. It is a never-ending learning process wherein one simply cannot know everything. It ranks super high among the things I think about most when I’m not at work, almost to a fault if you were to ask my wife. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I never plan on working my way so far up the corporate ladder that I’m no longer typing teh codez.