Career Progression from Software Engineer to Lead Engineer

In the software development industry, there’s a common denominator of employment going to fresh graduates, and eventually there’s little room for older software engineers to find work.

There is actually work for all age groups available, but taking students who have just graduated, ensures that the company are hiring staff with the most up to date coding knowledge and best practices in the industries.

The only way to stay in the career is to progress and you do that with continually learning the modern coding languages to develop the best software that benefits businesses, or consumers depending on a company’s target market.

You’ll find that in larger software development firms, the positions can start out as a software tester. If you’re struggling to find work in an engineering role, then even as a tester can open the doors for you into permanent employment to get your career started. Before you get into the industry though, you should get ready for the most common question that an employer will ask you and that’s going to be… Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years from now?

It’s a difficult question to answer due to the complexity of software development and the fast changing coding that you’ll need to keep up with. It’s also a question you should seriously consider when you’re training, or before you even enter the industry. There are different areas that software engineers can work on, and those can be in…

  • Mobile app development
  • Gaming software
  • Accounting software
  • Analytical software
  • Tracking software
  • Graphics software engineering

Those are just some of the industries you could work within, and due to the fast-paced growth, you could specialise in one, making you more attractable to companies in the same field as your speciality.

The more experience you get though, and continue learning as the programming language develops in the future; your employers are going to want you around more, promoting you internally, to pass on your skills to fresh software engineers coming through their doors. If this is something you can see yourself doing, then you’ll need to know what to expect when you transition from a software engineer, to becoming a lead engineer.

Transitioning from a software engineer to a lead engineer position

While the work you do as a software engineer is going to have you working with other departments, where you will be communicating with other colleagues involved on the project you’re working on…when you become lead engineer, the team is yours to take the lead of projects. That will require you to take on the following responsibilities:

  • Team building to achieve consistent productivity

A lead engineer is required to build a team of professionals, and keep them motivated. For some software engineers they can find nothing duller than sitting working with code for long periods, so you’ll need to be able to keep the spirits of your team, to keep productivity up.

  • Time management

You will find much of your time is spent liaising with other colleagues on different parts of the project. You need to be around to give direction and words of advice if there are any problems, which quite often there are. There will also be time wasted when you have to attend meetings, dealing with management to keep them up to date on the progression of the software, through the various stages.

  • Give and take with responsibilities

A lead engineer will naturally have more responsibilities, given that they’re responsible for a team of software engineers, developers, testers, quality control analysts etc. That’s a given, but you also have to take a step back and assign responsibility onto your team too. The knowledge you have to get the job the done is one thing, but letting go of the engineering side of it is another.

Some people struggle with this shift, finding it difficult to trust others with the coding, as a simple error can set projects back by weeks. Trust is a major thing you’ll need to have in your team, in order to be efficient in your job. Success in your career isn’t just down to your knowledge and how much code you can write. Successful developments come from the success of a team working well together, as it’s going be measured on the overall team performance.

Career progression will keep you in this career

Part of the generation gap in the software engineering field is down to keeping up to date with the coding languages. That requires ongoing time commitments, to learn and test different codes.

As people age from being a student, life happens. Families come into the equation and you will struggle for time eventually. Lack of time to continue studying different coding languages, can set your professional abilities back.

Younger people come in with a fresher knowledge and you can find yourself wondering where things went wrong. It’s the human brain and it is only natural. As we all age, we lose the ability to learn at a fast rate. It takes longer to understand different concepts, whereas in younger people, their able to learn at a faster rate, gives them a more in-depth knowledge of new developments.

It’s for that reason that you should consider the career path you’ll take when you train to become a software engineer, so you can build up a rapport with companies, setting yourself apart, and work your way up the chain, starting with taking on the responsibilities of the lead software engineer.