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What are some lesser-known roles and specializations within software development?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

What titles beyond "senior software engineer" are there? What are the different specialized paths within software and IT. Let's name them!


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Yuan Gao

devops robotics engineer. I didn't have this title, but I've definitely filled this role before. A lot of robotics stacks for larger distributed systems are dockerized for ease of deployment. It's done for the same reason it's done in the backend - good for avoiding dependency hell; makes it easy and consistent to deploy.

And as it happens, because they're dockerized, they can be built and deployed by a CD system in exactly the same way as backend stacks. While CI is not so easy, CD does make sense as far as pushing those new images to the robot's computer cluster, though you obviously don't want to try to reboot the robot while it's in the middle of doing something; but the images are there for the next experiment or next run.

So we have this weird cross-over position where this job requirement is a combination of traditional devops skills as well as robotics experience.

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Mike Bybee

"John the Mod" (from SLC Punk, the guy who "freely moves among the tribes") - The person who can empathize and communicate with all of the silos (though this already terrifyingly accurate meme doesn't cover the all-too-common inability of frontend and backend devs to even empathize or communicate with each other, or senior devs' all-to-common tendency to forget what it was like to be junior):

Too-real depiction of viewpoints

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Dave Parr

I've never heard that term, but it references one of my favourite films so now I'm going to use it all the time!

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Mike Bybee

I just thought of it after seeing that meme on LinkedIn today in a post about empathy. John the Mod immediately came to mind as the sort of person we need more of in tech.

scroung720 profile image

Desktop frontend engineer. A computer graphic related job. They are the people that create UI kits and interfaces using technologies like OpenGL.

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Ben Halpern Author

Yeah, seems like very few people consider anything except web in terms of frontend dev work these days.

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Michael Fasani

So after senior you decide if management is perhaps your thing and you can move that direction. If you want to continue coding, the 2 more common roles are tech-lead developer and above that principal developer. Then above that in very large companies you may have the title senior principal then distinguished developer and then fellow developer at companies like IBM.

A title I saw recently which I quite like was “Data Visualization Engineer” skill set was querying big data and making charts from that data.

Then in the 3D/Web GL space you have “3D talent” which often means you code but also you can work with 3D modes etc.

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Vesa Piittinen

I've been thinking about my own position on this whole web development thing and I think I've found myself to be in the middle of frontend dev, design, and the user. I don't have a good title for this ability to mix these various concerns, to specialize around it, but at least it does appear to be more than you expect from a typical "pure" frontend developer. Maybe this is where a senior frontend dev ends up being at, but so far I have not met "an equal" in real life.