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I have no idea what level developer I am ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is my first time posting on this site, but I really love reading about what everyone else is sharing so I thought I would share as well.

I have been writing code since I first started as a computer science student and to be perfectly honest, I was......terrible at it. I had a lot of friends who immediately picked it up, making me think that I was not cut out for it. I considered dropping out of the program because I was already failing. For some strange reason, I went to my professor and begged her to let me stay in the program. To my surprise, she gave me another chance, and I worked hard to get on track with the other students. Eventually, as the result of many sleepless nights, lots of tea, and some great people on YouTube, I was able to pick up the concepts and graduate with some damn good grades.

Once I did graduate, I quickly learned that everything I learned in school was not all I needed to know to get a career as a junior developer. I had always thought that junior developer meant that you had some school projects, maybe some passion projects under your belt, and a willingness to learn. I was not expecting to see job postings requiring 2-4 years of experience, mastery of a framework, and the ability to walk on water.

Confused person

I have been out of school for almost 2 years now working at a SaaS company doing software support (writing 💩 tons of SQL, CSS, debugging JS), and I feel like I have grown a lot a developer, though, I still feel like I have no idea what level of developer I am. I read/watch lots of tutorials online and I feel like many of them are directed to teach the basics of programming and I feel like I am having a hard time understanding what really is the difference between a someone who knows the basics and someone who can be the most junior of the developer.

In the last two years, I have built some projects, I even sold my very first website (available at, which I was very excited about. I picked up some cool new tools and frameworks. My favorites being Netlify and VueJS. Though after everything, I still feel like I am still not at the level Junior Developer needs to be. At this point in my career I know I am not a beginner, but I still don't know what really is a "Junior Developer".

Top comments (7)

scott_yeatts profile image
Scott Yeatts

I wouldn't worry about it. I tell a lot of people to avoid jobs that even have the junior developer title. You were a qualified junior developer the minute you finished your first programming class in college (maybe not... but definitely before you graduated).

"Junior Developer" is a somewhat controversial title. In many cases it's an excuse to pay you less than software engineers that are doing the exact same work you are, and unless the company has a defined progression system (no longer junior after X months) it will also be a title they could keep you in, and the raise you get when you graduate to "developer" won't be as much as they would pay you if they had directly hired you into that role. Titles in software are very vague and don't mean the same thing from company to company. Don't get too tied up in them.

That said, I understand the anxiety. We all have it (most of us at least!). Don't worry about titles and look at it this way: If you have somewhere between 60-80% of the requirements listed on the job post (from personal or professional experience) then you're in the running. Look for a company that can setup a good mentor support (smaller teams tend to be very good at this) and prepare to spend the rest of your career learning a ton of stuff they don't (and can't) teach in school.

And don't worry about the number of years experience. A ton of those posts are written by people in HR and they ask for things like 5 years of experience in a 2-year-old framework!

bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

This is really helpful

abdulisbomb profile image

Yeah, I found this to be really comforting. Thanks!

dknezevic profile image

Hi there,
there is this programmer competency matrix i stumbled upon long time ago. It could probably answer some of your questions.
I suppose that a junior developer should be at least at level 1 acording to the matrix.

amorganpd profile image

Depending on what questions you are trying to answer, I would say it is just as good to understand how you can provide value for the company you work at and / or the company you want to work at. Instead of comparing yourself against some type arbitrary metric.

What do you want to get better at?
What skills, languages, or fundamental knowledge do you want to improve?

As long as you are doing work, you will most likely improve, especially if you have a mentor.

Try to understand how you specifically can provide value.

sarafian profile image
Alex Sarafian

The industry is full of subjective terms. It's a chaos. Especially when discussing seniority at a developer all I can say is that they exist only to define salaries and are different pretty organization and countries. I'm so strong about the cost because I've seen often "juniors" doing so much more than "seniors" while earning proportionally less. And it is not just about delivery about perception as well. The only seniority for me is the years and depth of knowledge with a product or an industry, especially when the topic is legacy and complicated. But then imagine a 10y season developer joining a bank. Would you pay him like he is 20y old?

kewah profile image
Antoine Lehurt

It's a familiar feeling amongst developers and mixed with the imposter syndrome that makes a great cocktail. Almost all developers go through that type of reflection, and that will continue throughout your career. Such as, "am I a senior developer now?". But, You should not stress too much about it.

Some companies have their engineering levels available online. It's a great resource to see what kind of hard/soft skills they expect and to evaluate yourself to know where you think you would fit in that company.

I find that more helpful than job offers because it focuses more on what you do rather than how many years of experience you need.