Senior and middle (also called regular) developers are those many young people look up to when dreaming about successful careers in the industry. They are the best-paid and the most sought-after ones. They may choose the company to work for, as well as the cooperation type, and it’s employers who must adjust to them and try to grab their attention.
But how does the reality of experienced software developers and other IT professionals look in detail? How much time and effort does it take to become a mid- or senior-level IT professional in Poland? What is their current situation and prospects? What changes can we observe due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Junior, mid, and senior IT specialists – in search of identity
But before we take a closer look at their situation in Poland, let’s define who middle and senior-level IT specialists actually are. Although there are no strict rules or qualifications set for particular roles, we may try to draw lines between those three common stages software developers usually go through. What sets regulars and seniors apart from juniors is, of course, the experience they may benefit from, and, thus, be more useful for software houses or other organizations they work for.
Being a junior, you usually perform simple tasks set by your supervisors and, first of all, learn a lot from more experienced colleagues, e.g. how to look for answers to problems, and get accustomed to the workflow and cooperation within the team.
There is no stiff timeframe when a software developer of a certain type becomes a mid- or senior-level professional. Typically, the whole cycle doesn’t take longer than 10 years. Sometimes it takes as little as 5 years to switch from a junior to a senior role, so, in theory, you may do it even in your 20s.
By the way, feel free to check out our blog article featuring a round-up of useful coding resources for beginner software developers >
Mid (regular) developers
It’s different within particular organizations, too, and what may be enough to become a senior in one may only suffice for a middle or even junior level in another. Also, the willingness to learn is something that should not leave developers at any stage, and they certainly can’t reach seniority without it.
Along with the more advanced knowledge of particular frameworks or programming languages, mid-level IT professionals should be able to manage a team on one hand and be self-assured to talk to the client on the other. Due to their experience within previous projects, they enjoy more independence and self-reliance. It’s because they can both write high-quality code and solve technical problems, as well as identify and fix more complex bugs.
And seniors do all those things even better, and faster, plus they get the ability to view things from a broader perspective, including the business one, and… often teach and guide juniors.
Senior-level developers are to be more proactive and assertive than middle ones. They design solutions and, in general, are doing great, on their own. Of course, seniority doesn’t come with age or years of experience per se. It’s just getting more in-depth and proficient in performing duties.
Typically senior developers would also be highly-specialized in one chosen technology (for example, they’d develop top-notch skills in Java). Nowadays, we’re seeing a shift to what is called being technology-agnostic. This means software developers, including senior-level specialists, are more open to working with different technologies. This way, they’re becoming far more versatile and flexible. As I’ve mentioned above, willingness to learn is a key quality in developers – here, it’s confirmed.
For career path tips, take a look at the blog post by our HR & Recruitment Director on how to become a senior software developer >
Earnings in IT: no gain without pain
After several years in every industry, we may expect to earn more. But what are the differences between IT people with barely any experience, and those working in the industry for at least a few years? How can you monetize your experience being a software developer in Poland?
In financial terms, it’s definitely worth being a middle or senior-level IT specialist. As the No Fluff Jobs report for 2020 shows, while juniors could only earn 4,000-7,000 PLN (+VAT) on B2B contracts (median value range), mid-level specialists earned between 9,000 and 14,000 PLN + VAT, and seniors – between 16,000 and 21,000 + VAT. In the case of other types of cooperation, the differences in pay were similarly high.
The data presented on Sedlak & Sedlak’s Wynagrodzenia.pl website confirm those discrepancies. Let’s see how it looks like in the case of a few popular IT positions (gross median values for junior / middle / senior specialists):
- DevOps (6,280 / 9,700 / 13,610 PLN),
- Front-end Developer (4,930 / 7,550 / 12,000 PLN),
- IT Quality Assurance (5,380 / 7,320 / 9,880 PLN).
The pandemic’s shift
It’s worth mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic put software developers in a new position. Interestingly, they started to earn more, but more has been expected from them, too. In the new, uncertain times and circumstances, many people were trying to lower the risk by looking for stability and seniority.
This had a direct impact on the IT job market where, in the year 2020, we saw a greater interest in the more experienced specialists as well as a decline in the number of job offers for juniors. As for job offers published at No Fluff Jobs, as much as 49% were dedicated to senior-level specialists (rising from 36% in 2019), and mid-level ones (46%). In 2020, in turn, only one in 20 job offers (5%) were meant for junior-level IT employees (a sharp decline from 12% in 2019).
This trend was especially visible within such categories as DevOps, Testing, and Fullstack, where the number of offers for senior specialists almost doubled in 2020 compared to 2019. One of the reasons for the shift towards the more experienced employees was that they were simply more accessible at that point as some had lost their previous jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Middle and senior-level IT professionals also enjoy a greater choice concerning the cooperation type offered within a given position. For instance, B2B was one of the options in the case of 87% of job offers for seniors, 66% for mids, and only 45% for juniors. The latter, in turn, were offered predominantly (73%) full-time employment contracts, the possibility present in 60% of offers for mids and 36% dedicated for seniors, No Fluff Jobs data show.
Middle and senior developers in Poland – prospects
Most job offers within the IT world are dedicated to middle and senior professionals. The trend to look for and appreciate experienced IT professionals will, most probably, continue in Poland, so it’s worth trying hard to reach that level. There are more and more juniors entering the market so regular and senior-level professionals are simply necessary to guide them. But to be able to do it, experienced developers need to communicate with others smoothly, and just be open and eager to get the more responsible role instead of just code.
But, turning more responsible and self-reliant may mean, of course, working longer hours. As we read in StackOverflow’s 2020 Developer Survey, there are developer types who tend to work longer per week than others. These include Senior executive/VP (47.4 hours per week), Engineering manager (43.9), and Product manager (43.6). Those positions are, obviously, associated with seniority.
The report on middle and senior specialists in Poland by NoFluffJobs unveiled that as much as 70% of respondents said they felt they were not prepared for those roles by their employers. So there certainly is a big space and need for training and knowledge transfer in the years to come. Another challenge that may arise is simply preventing the burnout of regular and senior IT professionals.
If you have any stories to share from your career path as a software developer or tips for others on their way, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section! Meanwhile, take a look at job opportunities for software developers at Codete – there's plenty of them on our Career page >