Developer Skill Levels As Told By The Lego Movie
In 2014, The Lego movie was met with critical acclaim and positive reviews by all (myself included). It was hard not to love the movie with its play on the trope of an uncommon hero being guided by experts to become a hero. That, and the variety of relatable characters we met along the way.
So in writing this, I felt it would be a natural parallel to how we look at skill levels in the web development field.
The distinction between junior, intermediate, and senior developers differ across different company landscapes. It doesn’t have anything to do with age: I’ve seen senior developers at age 30 who have been coding since their teens, and beginner developers in their late 40s. It has everything to do with your level of experience and comfort in being able to both understand and manipulate the languages you know in favor of the client.
The Junior Developer
The junior level web developer is as you thought, the newbie. Emmet, when we first meet him, is a construction worker who stumbles onto a power he had no idea he held. He is at first very clumsy, not understanding why some things work, and some things don’t. Junior web developers are similar. Whether fresh out of college or newly self-taught—the beginners universally need the most direction. Usually with only 0-3 years of experience, junior level developers have all the potential in the world, but currently, have a very small scope of how languages work.
As a junior developer, you are what Matt Briggs describes as, "code focused, not development focused." You can be trusted to take on known tasks that contribute to overall projects set out by senior developers. However, if something breaks you will more than likely be confused as opposed to knowing why. You understand that if you input one thing it will output another, but may not be sure why it does. And in fear of breaking the code, you don’t typically venture into unknown alternatives. In short, you have got some skills but are still needing more experience under your belt to really grow into a Master Builder.
The Advanced Developer
The advanced web developer has about 3-5 years experience and is finding their stride as a web developer. Wyldstyle is a Master Builder who, under the guidance of a superior, guides Emmet into becoming a skilled Builder. Like her, you can handle small projects on your own, but still require mentorship and guidance before venturing on your own. When code doesn't work, you know when to ask for help and when to use Google. This is also around the time you begin to dig into alternative tools to make your code better.
You’ve written some of your own vanilla code and feel comfortable submitting to GitHub projects. Senior developers can rely on you to implement project decisions based off of their framework, and trust you to have some face time with the clients. And while you understand your importance in the company, you aren't comfortable yet with creating flexible solutions for clients.
The Senior Developer
The sage, the experienced, the (mostly) all knowing. Vitruvius is a source of knowledge for the Master Builders and helps guide Emmet and Wyldstyle in their quest. Like Vitruvius, senior web developers usually have around 6-10+ of experience and are seen as the resources to their team. You dream in code and have developed a 6th sense in implementing the best practices and how to improve them. You have a deep understanding of your craft and are comfortable trying various code alternatives in order to see which is the most effective.
Often put in charge of projects, you work with clients to get personalized solutions to the end user. Speaking at conferences is nothing new to you, and you serve as a guide to the junior and intermediate developers.
With CancanIT now rolling out Junior, Advanced, and Senior development level certifications, use these guides to help yourself get the correct certification!
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