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December 6, 2023 - 6 minutes

Tech Career Growth Roadmap: From Entry-Level to Senior Position

The tech sector has incredible opportunities for mobility, but how will you actually advance? 

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One of the biggest reasons people choose tech careers is because of the room for growth and upward mobility; the sector is constantly advancing and more and more professionals are drawn to the practically limitless scope of the field. But there’s a big gap between your first day as a junior developer and becoming CTO of a major company; the journey isn’t always linear, either, and can be quite complicated, depending on your exact field.

So what can you do to improve your overall career prospects? And how can you even plan for something so far ahead in the future? We have the answers to these questions and much more in this article.

Planning Your Tech Career 

Listen, we don’t expect you to accurately plan out your entire career from your very first day on the job; in fact, it’s better you don’t. The tech sector is constantly evolving and your dream job in 20 years may not even exist right now! So when we talk about planning your career, we don’t mean a strict plan with little to no flexibility; we encourage you to take time to reflect on what you want to achieve and then continue making adjustments as your career progresses. 

Before we dive into the details of planning out your career, let’s review why planning out your career is such an essential step:

  • Career planning helps you see different paths: in a field like tech that’s expanding practically constantly, there may be entire branches or jobs that you don’t even know exist! And while you might be tempted to stick to the beaten path or your original career plan, learning about the different paths out there may help you find your true passion and explore new opportunities for success.

  • Career planning helps you set yourself up for success: one of the most crucial parts of career planning is helping you learn what you need to master to move forward in your career: imagine thinking you’re poised to land a new role and finding out that you need to know a certain programing language or posses a specific certification. By planning out your intended path, you’ll make sure you’re preparing yourself for success.

  • Career planning helps improve your chances for actually liking your career: job satisfaction is a crucial part of both your overall wellbeing and taking the appropriate steps beforehand to set yourself up for success gives you a better chance of liking where you end up further down the road. 

  • Career planning helps you plan for unforeseen circumstances: you never know what’s going to come up next–with an updated and recent plan for your career, you’ll be caught up on continuous learning and the newest happenings in the field, allowing you flexibility if something unexpected arises.

Creating a tech career plan 

Now that you know the importance of creating a quality career plan that will help guide your professional journey, let’s cover some of the major points to keep in mind when you’re working on creating your tech career growth roadmap:

  • Do your research: it’s impossible to choose a path without doing your research and to create an accurate and realistic career goal, you’ll need to research roles in your chosen sector, requirements for different jobs, and anticipated trends. 

  • Ensure your background matches your goals: if your goal is to become a fullstack developer, you should make sure that you’re learning new programming languages, focusing equally on the front and back ends, and following sector trends to see what hiring managers are looking for. 

  • Create a continuous learning plan: as we mentioned above, certain roles will require specific skills or certifications and creating this outline will help you guide your continuous learning in the right direction. 

  • Be ready for changes: tech moves at a dizzying pace and what you decide to achieve at the beginning of your career may change completely if a new technology is released or you simply find something else you like. Be open to change and check in with your plan periodically to make sure it’s still accurate. 

The Tech Career Roadmap 

Your exact career trajectory will depend heavily on the field you’ve chosen and your specific goals. And we can’t write a post for every area of tech (we’d be here all day!). Therefore, we’ve collected a generalized list of the journey in professional tech roles, helping you see the overall path your career will take from your very first day on the job.

Entry level role

This is most likely the first tech job you’ll have; this role is designed for people with limited experience, such as intern or volunteer experience and are typically recent graduates (of bootcamps and universities alike). This role is straightforward and will have a direct supervisor who will help develop your skills over time, checking your work and removing any blockers that may arise. 

The exact amount of time you’ll spend in an entry level role will depend heavily on your chosen field and the company, but most new techies spend one to three years in this role before moving up to the next level. 

Mid-level role 

With a few years of experience under your belt and increased confidence in your ability to individually carry out your responsibilities, you’ll move up to a mid-level role (either via promotion in your current company or by switching jobs) where you will experience new duties and increased responsibilities, in addition to employees who report to you. 

You’ll still have a supervisor to report to and to help you with any problems, but you’ll experience more freedom and responsibility in a mid-level role. 

Senior role 

With five to seven years of experience in a role, you’ll be ready to take on a senior level role, which follows the same pattern as the jump from entry-level to mid-level roles; you’ll experience more responsibility with more employees reporting to you, but you’ll be expected to know even more about your chosen area and work independently. 

You’ll be able to spend a long time in senior roles, but don’t fret: there’s still room for upward mobility. 

BUTTON: Beginning a Career in Tech: Benefits of a Bootcamp

Specialized role 

After you’ve been in a senior role for a while, you’ll probably have more than ten years of experience in the field and might have found the very niche area in which you’d like to focus; once you’ve reached this level of seniority, you’ll be able to choose a specific specialization and focus your career on this high-level skill, allowing you to dive even deeper into what truly interests you. 

It may be hard to find roles in your specific niche and there probably aren’t tons; be patient, however, and in no time you’ll be a leading voice in that area. 

Leadership roles 

After you’ve reached a senior role and have spent some time in that role, you’ll be suited for leadership roles across the company, which would allow you to take on a more supervisory and managerial role, which may be right up your alley. When you’re evaluating the decision to take on a leadership role, make sure you think about what being a leader really means and think if it’s best for you. 

Tips for advancing in your tech career 

With a clear understanding of the general progression of a tech career, you’re probably eager to get started and transform your future. If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place! We’ve collected some tips and tricks for you to advance your tech career:

  • Find a mentor: finding a mentor in your chosen field can be an incredible resource; you can get first-hand information and details about what you should be learning and doing. You can also learn what it’s really like to be in the field, which can help you get a taste of it before fully committing. 

  • Schedule periodic updates: your roadmap will probably change quite a bit over the course of your career and that’s totally fine! Just make sure you check in with your career plan every once in a while to redirect it and ensure you’re still meeting your goals.

  • Commit to continuous learning: as new tools and technologies are released practically constantly, continuous learning will become an essential part of your professional life; stay updated on updates in your chosen sector and make sure you don’t fall behind. 

  • Be open to new things: your chosen career path may not seem realistic anymore once you’ve actually tried it out; you could also find that a completely new field has captured your interest. These are both normal parts of professional advancement and staying open to new opportunities can help you make the most of everything the tech sector has to offer. 

  • Take it one day at a time: it’s tempting to plan out your entire career in one moment, but both you and the industry will change and it’s best to create a simple overview and add more details once you’re completely sure of what you want. Be patient and take it slow: your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thinking about your future career can be quite the challenge; luckily for you, the future of tech is bright and every single career path will be full of new things to learn, diverse obstacles to overcome, and many options so that you can find the perfect fit for you. 

At Ironhack, we’re committed to preparing our graduates for the workforce and pride ourselves on opening the door to enter such an incredible sector. If you think your next professional step is into the tech sphere, why wait another moment? Check out our bootcamps and make your tech dreams become a reality. 

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