So you've finished your computer science bachelor's degree or Bootcamp education and are ready to jump into the software development job market, but it seems like every developer job needs 3-5 years of experience.
How does that work?
Don't worry. Junior Software Developer roles are here to help.
These jobs are designed for fresh developers like you to get practical development experience on the job. They're essentially entry-level paid apprenticeships that can get you those crucial years of experience that'll jumpstart your career. There is the standard Junior Software Developer role, but there are also many adjacent jobs that you might not think of.
Today, we'll go over some of the unexpected jobs to finalize your transition from graduate to full-time software developer.
Here’s what we’ll cover today:
- What is a Junior Developer?
- 1. Test Developer
- 2. QA Tester
- 3. Technical Support Engineer
- 4. Web Editor
- 5. Web Content Manager
- 6. Technical Writer
- 7. Junior Web Designer
- 8. Junior Mobile Developer
- 9. Junior Data Analyst
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A junior developer role is an entry-level programmer position that allows you to get familiar with your company's codebase and build your software engineer skills at the workplace. You'll start off doing smaller tasks like troubleshooting, applying bug fixes, and updating existing code, but you will quickly build up to developing minor features.
Employers expect Junior developers to be avid learners, not experts off the start. They want you to do your best, ask questions and make mistakes. You'll usually work with a mid-level or senior developer in a cooperative or pair programming environment. Your mentor will help answer your questions and will give you feedback about how to improve.
Most Junior Developers come in with knowledge of:
- Popular languages like PHP, Python, or Java
- Standard web development tools like Node.js or Ruby on Rails
- Back-end tools like SQL databases and MySQL
- Industry concepts like Agile development or DevOps
Picking a Junior dev role in your target field or technology is a great way to start building your career. Junior Developer is a springboard to other roles because it lets you build technical skills, experience with the company, and proves your ability to work in a professional environment.
While Junior Developer jobs are most common in large FAANG companies, you can find them in surprising places and fields.
Let's take a look at some Junior-level jobs you might not think to apply for.
Test Developers focus on creating tests to evaluate current or upcoming features for bugs and performance. In some jobs, you may also be in charge of developing a solution to small-scale bugs that you find. Your day-to-day work will be recognizing test conditions, building automation tests, and preparing reports on the product's performance.
Test Developer is a great role for someone who enjoys working with the nitty-gritty elements of a system. You'll need a good understanding of troubleshooting techniques, test script creation, and some experience with debugging/testing tools like Jenkins or Reflect. The Test Developer role is a great way to get experience applicable in both feature development and support roles.
This role is very similar to a Quality Assurance (QA) Tester but requires more hands-on developer knowledge of the internal code rather than just the user-facing portion. Test Developers make a median annual salary of $70,000 in the U.S.
- Experience writing automation tests and test scripts
- Familiarity with testing tools like Jenkins, Reflect, and Git
- Attention to detail
- Familiarity with popular programming languages like Java or PHP
- Comfortable diagnosing and solving bugs by yourself
Similar to Test Developers, Quality Assurance (QA) Testers measure product progress by generating, running, and analyzing product feature tests. The QA Tester differs in that they test the product as the final step in the development process to ensure all features meet the original design expectations.
In Agile Development structures, QA Testers develop tests before any work begins and are a pivotal part of the process at every step. While Test Developers may sometimes come up with solutions themselves, QA Testers are focused on extensively testing the product before it reaches users.
QA Tester will be a good fit for you if you have attention to detail but would rather focus all your attention on testing and documenting results. All companies that ship a product need a QA Tester, so it’s a great foot-in-the-door job to get you started.
QA Tester is a widespread role available across all industries and makes a median annual salary of $47,000
- Experience writing automation tests and test scripts
- Familiarity with testing tools like Jenkins, Reflect, and Git
- Attention to detail
- Analytic skills to measure product performance
Technical Support or Technical Support Engineers diagnose and resolve technical problems experienced by either fellow employees or end-users.
Internally focused Technical Support roles are often in non-technical environments like schools or hospitals. You usually work on-site to solve problems with company devices.
User-facing Technical Support is often a desk or remote position that involves discussing technical issues with customers and solving or explaining a solution to the customers.
These roles are great for people that want to work with people and enjoy variability in their daily tasks. You'll gain experience with technologies across all segments of the company and master problem-solving techniques that's usable throughout your career. As more non-technical companies begin to adopt modern computer infrastructures, this role will become increasingly sought after.
Technical Support Engineers make a median annual salary of $71,000 in the U.S.
- Effective and concise explanation of technical concepts
- Experience with Mac, PC, and Linux operating systems
- Computer networking knowledge in servers and database management
- Experience with the company's main technologies or devices
Web Editors edit and format any content for their company's site or mobile application. This role combines skills in web development and copywriting to ensure content is delivered to users in its best possible state. You may also be responsible for creating daily or weekly content of your own such as blog posts or new product pages.
A Web Editor is ideal for people who have expertise or interest in both writing and technology.
You'll need a baseline level of technical knowledge in programming and web development to fully understand the content you're editing. It's also helpful to have experience with search engine optimization (SEO) tools but usually not required off the start. Web Editor sets you up well to transition to either technical development or brand-related marketing later in your career.
Web Editors are often hired at tech companies or startups and make a median annual salary of $52,000 in the U.S.
- Beginner experience in computer science topics
- Some experience in popular programming languages
- Expert writing and editing skills
- Some experience with SEO tools/concepts
Answer all of your Junior Developer questions in one place. Educative's text-based Career Handbook ensures you're never in the dark, no matter what stage of your career you're at. This handbook will answer your questions, offer insightful tips, and carry you through to the next stage.
Similar to Web Editors, Web Content Managers have a hand in all digital content released by the company. The difference is that Web Content Managers are more administrative and rarely write content. Instead, they serve as the endpoint for content generated across multiple teams, acting as a final check for style, formatting, and SEO before publishing. You'll also check the performance of each piece and come up with solutions to increase customer engagement with content.
Web Content Manager is ideal for people that have an interest in analytics and public relations careers. It's also one of the few entry-level positions that include the "Manager" title, which can make a big difference to future recruiters.
Organizational skill is important for this job since you keep the content pipeline moving on time. You'll also need experience with organizational tools like Excel, content management tools like WordPress, and strong editing skills.
Web Content Managers are most common in large eCommerce companies that regularly generate lots of digital content and make a median annual salary of $82,000 in the U.S.
- Excel, WordPress, and Office proficiency
- Strong editing and proofreading skills
- Excellent organizational reasoning and planning skills
- Ability to recognize and replicate the style
- Familiarity with SEO is a plus
Technical Writers write clear and concise documentation for newly developed product features.
You'll be responsible for learning the key components of each product to write user instructions, FAQs, and internal 1-pagers. While not writing code directly, Technical Writers need extensive knowledge of coding and development to help them accurately describe a product. Essentially, technical writers translate the developer-side product logic into a user-friendly form.
Technical Writer is a good role for those that have some education in technical concepts but would prefer to work in writing rather than code. This role is one of the highest-paying entry-level jobs for developers and can be a viable career path from start to finish. You'll need strategic communications skills and ample examples of your concise writing. Most developers get this experience from writing documentation for open-source projects on Github or other online platforms.
Technical Writer roles are available at all sizes of the tech company and make a median annual salary of $61,000.
- Extensive skills in concise written communication and editing
- Strong background in computer science
- Skills in product functionality research and exploration
- Analytical mindset able to deconstruct products into their most important parts
Junior Web Designers work as apprentices to more experienced web designers, designing asset templates and handling formatting tasks. You'll be responsible for creating minor elements of a site, testing different UI styles, creating mock-ups for design presentations, and overall helping to reduce strain on senior web designers.
Once you've worked there for a while, you can expect to become more independent and will have the opportunity to design your own pages from scratch.
Junior Web Designer is a great job for more artistically inclined applicants that want to focus on the UI/UX side of web development. Junior Web Designer is a more design-focused version of Junior Web Developer. You'll be able to experience a wide variety of tasks helping across the design team and develop your own professional portfolio.
Most Junior Web Designers work at mid to large-scale eCommerce companies and make a median annual salary of $48,000.
- Experience with Photoshop or similar illustration software to make mock-ups
- Strong design and style
- Front-end framework experience is a plus
- Experience with reactive design is a plus
Junior Mobile Developers are full-stack developers that assist a small team to develop all aspects of a company's mobile application on iOS, Android, and beyond. Your responsibilities are to learn the codebase, attend design meetings, write basic app features, fix bugs as they arise, and help the development manager in design tasks.
Once you earn some experience, you'll be assigned to create more complex app features or contribute to design decision-making.
Junior Mobile Developer is right for you if you're interested in working on every part of a product and have split-interest between front-end and back-end development. Most companies these days have a mobile app. This job prepares you to work at any number of companies designing and finetuning their applications. Experience with front-end skills like UI design and back-end tools like API integration are both essential.
You'll need experience with Swift if you work with iOS and Kotlin if you work with Android. Since this is such a broad job, you'll need a portfolio of some previous work to demonstrate your skills and style.
- Experience with UI design and front-end tools
- Experience with back-end skills like database and API integration
- Familiarity with Swift, Kotlin, or other mobile application development tools
- Experience implementing common mobile application behavior like Push Notifications
- Versatility and adaptability
While data scientists work on creating machine learning models and presenting data-driven findings, Junior Data Analysts work closely with raw data. You'll be responsible for collecting data from multiple sources, cleaning initial data, recognizing broad trends, and creating visualizations.
You'll often work with a senior data scientist who will handle complex tasks and will communicate the findings to appropriate stakeholders. In smaller or less technical environments, you'll be responsible for communicating findings.
Junior Data Analyst is good for highly detail-oriented workers that aspire to become data scientists. Your time as a Junior Data Analyst will allow you to work closely with existing data scientists and familiarize yourself with how data is used in modern business. You'll need to have knowledge of Python, some experience with visualization tools like D3 or Matplotlib, and data research skills.
Most Junior Data Analyst jobs will be in tech or finance companies and make a median annual salary of $64,000 in the U.S.
- Experience with one or more data cleaning techniques
- Strong research skills and attention to detail
- Experience with recognizing data trends
- Ability to communicate findings in an approachable manner
Junior Solutions Architects help senior Solutions Architects in their duties as an intermediary between a development team and executives. You'll help translate abstract goals into incremental, actionable steps and frequently monitor progress. You and the Solutions Architect essentially act as translators from business goals to the technical team developing the solution.
Junior Solutions Architect is a great role for those that have split expertise in planning and foundational technical skills. This position sets you up for similar leadership roles like Product Manager or Technical Product Manager.
Companies are always looking for candidates who have a computer science degree or equivalent education to ensure they're highly connected to the developer team. You have to intimately understand your developer team and the broad problems facing the company.
Most Junior Solutions Architects work in large tech companies and make a median annual salary of $108,000 in the U.S.
- Foundational computer science knowledge in popular programming languages and tools
- Problem diagnosis and solution building skills
- Intune with the developer culture and needs
- Leadership, interpersonal, and business communication skills
- Experience with progress tracking software like JIRA
Now that you know some more entry-level Junior Developer jobs you can apply for, it's time to plan your application process.
First, create an application plan. It's important to create incremental goals rather than just "get hired" to avoid burnout and keep yourself on track. Set deadlines for each goal that is tight but not unreasonable. It's also important to set a target number of applications you want to do per week to keep you on track.
Here are some additional steps you'll want to include in your plan:
- Compile a list of all the positions/companies you want to apply for. Try to organize jobs by company or job type.
- Update your resume, Linkedin, and Cover Letter
- Include official titles and measurable results
- Remove any vertical columns to avoid errors with the company's resume scrapers
- Tailor your resume to match the company or job type of the particular job using the categories you made. Include keywords from the job description and company values.
- Spend 30min to 1hr per day expanding your Linkedin network
- Reach out to people you know working at the company you're interested in. Whether entry-level or a senior developer, they can tell you about the company and give feedback on your resume.
- Keep practicing your skills and expanding your portfolio with freelance or open-source projects.
Having a clear plan is key to advancing your career at any stage. To ensure you always have the info you need at any step of your career, Educative has created The Coding Career Handbook. This career roadmap includes tips for junior, mid-level, and senior developers as well as in-depth sections on major stress points like pay negotiations, upskilling, and avoiding burnout. Having this invaluable resource at your disposal will ensure you make optimal choices for your career at every stage.