Don’t be a Junior Developer: The Roadmap From Junior to Senior

Andrei Neagoie
Andrei Neagoie
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Don’t sell yourself short.

Seriously, don’t be a Junior Developer. A Junior Developer puts this title in their resume, emails, and LinkedIn… They announce it to the world. Don’t.

When you do that, this is what recruiters and companies see:

“Hi, I’m desperately looking to get hired as a developer.

I’m still new at this, but can you please please please place a bet on me and hope that I turn out to be an asset and not a liability for your company.

Oh, and I’m also going to need a lot of help from your current employees for the first 6 months!”

But, I AM a Junior Developer!... you say.

If that is the case, then you will have better long-term success if you focus on improving your skills to become an intermediate developer.

Only then should you start applying to jobs.

Dedicate yourself full-time to learning proper skills. This way, you don’t pigeonhole yourself to the “junior” developer role that you brand yourself as.

Remember, first impressions are important.

By getting hired as a junior developer, you will have to spend a longer time getting out of that role than if you would have spent a little more time getting comfortable calling yourself an intermediate developer and getting hired into that role right away.

But how do I know when I’m not a Junior Developer?

You won’t. You will always feel like you don’t know enough. You will always feel like others are smarter than you. This is called impostor syndrome. It’s normal and every developer feels it.

But here is a simple test for web developers:

  1. Can you explain to your family members how the internet works?
  2. How a computer works?
  3. How websites work?
  4. Do you have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and Javascript to the point that you can build your own websites?
  5. Do you know a little bit of React?
  6. Have you built a few projects on your own on Github and are comfortable putting websites and apps online?

Yes to all the above? Good. You are not a junior developer.

But I need a job right now!

Stop that short-term thinking.

Unless your job involves you working with really smart people that you can learn from every day, on technologies that are relevant and current (few junior developer roles offer you this) then your time would be better invested learning skills to get out of the junior mindset.

Long term, you will earn more money, be working with better developer teams, and you will be more likely to work for a company that teaches you and let’s you work with up-to-date technologies every day.

Don’t work on updating a Wordpress plugin as the resident junior developer of a law firm.

That won’t help you long term.

If you apply for junior developer roles, the best case scenario: you get hired as a junior developer.

If you apply for intermediate developer roles, the best case scenario: you get hired as an intermediate developer.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Great pep talk Andrei. But I still have no idea what I’m doing. I’m definitely still a Junior Developer!

Fair point. That's why I created The Complete Junior to Senior Web Developer Roadmap, the ultimate resource to get people out of the “junior mindset”.

The best way to do that is to understand the whole developer ecosystem on the web and even the selective knowledge known by only senior developers.

This course teaches you the things that nobody else teaches you in one go. At best, you could learn fragmented parts of what I'll teach you from vague and outdated tutorials online.

Here are the topics I cover:

  • SSH
  • Linux Servers
  • Performance (from minimizing DOM updates to Load Balancing)
  • Security
  • State Management
  • AWS lambda and other server-less architectures
  • TypeScript
  • Server Side vs Single Page Applications
  • Testing
  • Docker
  • Sessions with JWT
  • Redis
  • Progressive Web Apps
  • Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery

These are the topics that will make sure you are not a junior developer.

The course is focused on connecting the dots between all of these so that the next time you are in an interview, you can speak intelligently about current tactics for building projects, architecture, and setting up developer environments.

It is the follow-up course to my complete web developer bootcamp.

If you're not ready to fast track your journey, then here's the exact topics and skills you need to learn to go from Junior to Senior in the next 12 months, using mostly free resources.

The 14 things you need to learn to go from Junior to Senior Developer this year!

To become a Senior Developer, you will need more than just technical skills. I have written extensively about the other “peripheral” skills (i.e. people skills) in my article How To Become A Senior Developer.

Ok, enough chatter. Let’s get started and have a look at what skills you need, and how to get you out of being stuck as a Junior Developer in 2022.

You know HTML, CSS and Javascript. You have built a few projects yourself. You understand how to work with Github, and perhaps you also know how to create a simple Node.js server (if not you should learn all of this here).

But you still feel like you know a tiny bit in a giant universe of skills. Where should you get started? What happens if your boss asks you to be in charge of a project? How will you know how to make good architectural decisions?

As with most of my articles, we want to focus on efficiency. We all have the same hours in a day, but some people are able to learn and do more than others.

Why is that?

Well, some people are more efficient than others at learning and doing.

I hope this guide will at least give you a roadmap so you don’t have to figure out what you need to learn (I already did that for you) and you can get started right away in an efficient way.

Here is my recommended path to take and some of the (mostly) free resources for you to use to acquire the skills that will make you stand above a Junior Developer role:

1. Learn About SSH

2. Learn Advanced Javascript

2022 Update: All these above are still great resources but if you want to learn everything above and more, all in one place... you can also check out my Advanced JavaScript Concepts Course.

3. Learn How to Improve Web Performance

4. Learn About Progressive Web Apps

5. Learn a Popular Frontend Library + How to Manage Complex State

2022 Update: Already a member of ZTM? You can learn React, Redux, and more and become a top 10% React developer with our Complete React Developer Bootcamp. You'll get to implement your knowledge by building a massive E-commerce app with Redux, Hooks, GraphQL, ContextAPI, Stripe, Firebase.

Want to learn Vue or Angular instead? No problem, take our Complete Vue Developer Bootcamp or Complete Angular Bootcamp instead!

6. Learn About Testing

7. Learn About TypeScript

8. Learn About Client Side Rendering vs Server Side Rendering

9. Learn About Securing Your Applications

10. Learn About Docker and Containers

11. Learn About Different Types of Databases

12. Learn How to Manage Sign In + Sessions In Your App

13. Learn About Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service

14. Learn About Continuous Integration, Delivery, and Deployment


Does your head hurt yet?

This will take a while for you to go through but at least you have a roadmap of what is important for you to learn in 2022 to go from Junior to Senior Developer.

Being a developer is a never ending journey of learning as technologies always change.

In order to keep up with the industry, your best bet is to be efficient and be wise about what you spend time on because it is impossible to learn and know everything.

Focus your efforts on connecting the dots.

  • Why do these technologies and solutions exist?
  • What problems do they solve?
  • What are the pros and cons of using them?

By learning the fundamentals, you are more resistant to change.

This is the theory behind all of the courses that I teach.

And just in case you're wondering... yes, I do have a course that teaches all of the topics mentioned above. It's called The Complete Junior to Senior Web Developer Roadmap.

It has over 37 hours of professional, HD video lessons and gives you everything in one place to guide you along your journey to becoming a Senior Developer.

You don't have to take my word for it either. Check out the screenshot below which is from a post by a ZTM graduate.

Junior to Senior Web Developer

Will 37 hours be enough for you to call yourself a senior developer?

No! Of course not. That's just silly. But it will guide you along the right path.

If you take away one thing from this article…

Stop calling yourself a Junior Developer. But always keep a Junior Developer mindset.

What does that mean?!

This means that you are constantly looking to learn from others and improve (junior mindset), no matter how senior you are but you never settle for a junior developer role.

Apply for roles for which you are underqualified, not overqualified.

Remember that if you never ask (or in this case, never apply to the intermediate role), the answer will always be no.

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

All articles in this 3-part series

These days, my full-time job is to teach people to code, get hired and advance their careers in the most efficient way possible as the Lead Instructor of the Zero To Mastery Academy. You can see a few of my courses below or see all of our courses by visiting the courses page.

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