3 developer career paths and how to hack them (2022)

Be honest. Have you ever really thought about where you want to be in five years’ time? Are you worried your development career might be going down a road which you know probably isn’t right for you? If so, it’s important to take control now.

First up – don’t panic. As a developer in today’s market, you’re in an amazing position. Thanks to the widening digital skills gap, professionals with your technical and non-technical expertise are more in demand than ever before. But, when you’re in demand, you have choices – which can be both confusing and overwhelming especially when you’re trying to decide what direction to take your career in.

Consider and evaluate these three career path options

To focus your thinking – it helps to understand that there are broadly three career paths that developers typically follow:

  1. The Future Chief Information Officer (CIO), or leadership/managerial position
  2. The Coding Chameleon, or a professional who chooses to specialise in a particular technical field
  3. The Entreprogrammer, or a professional who decided to branch out as a contractor.

As a first step, I would strongly recommend you consider each of these key options and make a decision in your mind in terms of which route suits you best. To help with your decision making, I’ve provided more information on each of the three options for you below.

Career Path 1: The Future CIO

Do you have your sights firmly set on one day becoming a CIO – a hugely influential, senior IT professional whose sole responsibility it is to drive forward business growth through technology and continuous innovation?

If so, making this become a reality will require a great deal of planning, determination and perseverance. Here are a few things to consider, which should help you come to a decision:

You’ll have less time to code:

When considering whether this option is exactly right for you, I’d strongly recommend that you reflect on how important coding really is to you. As a CIO, or even a professional in a managerial position, you’ll have far less time to actually write code – so, think about whether or not your heart lies in coding. If it does, this could be a deal breaker for you.

You’ll need a combination of business acumen, soft and technical skills:

Like any executive position, the CIO is concerned with strategy, influence and collaboration. If you’re blessed with business acumen, strong soft skills and an unrivalled technical understanding, then this could be the right career path for you.

(Video) Ethical Hacking Roadmap | How to Become an Ethical Hacker | Cybersecurity Training | Edureka

The first steps to becoming a CIO:

As I said earlier, it’s a competitive market, so you must have the unrelenting ambition and drive needed to climb the highest echelons of the career ladder.

To help you on your way, I’ve outlined a few of the first steps I would recommend to help you get to where you want to be:

  • Build a solid technical foundation: You need the right educational credentials (including a degree and additional IT qualifications) and technical experience to work as a CIO. There is no exact science here, while almost half of current CIOs have always worked in IT, the rest started out in another role before spending most of their time in IT.
  • Develop your soft skills: This is a big area – according to our DNA of a CIO report, soft skills are considered more important than technical skills, as you can see from the charts below.

  • People skills are key: The best CIOs are passionate about encouraging the people they work with. One CIO said: “Technology can be innovative, clever and fun but, without the people who are motivated to give their all and do their best, it’s a bland job.” If you know you are a team player, then build this crucial attribute. The internet is awash with soft skills training; set your mind to it and you will find a short online course or a more extensive training programme that suits you.
  • Focus on your ongoing professional development: Such as attending networking events, keeping up to date with industry changes and completing technical training.

Career Path 2: The Coding Chameleon

If you’re happiest knee-deep in code and are always obsessively on the look-out for the next big development trend, then you may want to focus on building your technical experience.

For the majority of developers, this typically tends to be the path they choose. In fact, according to the latest Stack Overflow report, more than half of the respondents said they want to be in the same or a different technical role in the future, while one-third of developers want to work in a different or more specialised technical role in the next five years. These roles include: DevOps specialists, data scientists, engineering managers and machine learning experts.

So, if you think this path might be for you, I’ve provided a few considerations below, which should help you come to a decision:

You’ll need to be committed to staying bang up to date

As the heading implies, becoming a software developer is a moving target. While the daily tasks of architectural design, code writing, software testing and bug fixing remain constant, the tech market is in a constant state of flux and you will need to stay bang up to date to satisfy demand. It is always more about pleasing the end-user than indulging in tech-led fantasy.

So, you’ll need to be consistently using both formal and informal learning, swotting up on the best programming languages, practising how to structure code, understanding algorithms, mastering platform development, as well as developing, testing and debugging, in order to ensure your skills are relevant and are those which are most in demand.

(Video) Growth Hacking - How To Become a World-Class Growth Hacker

But it’s not just your tech skills you’ll need to be committed to improving – it’s your soft skills too. Particularly around communication – as a coding chameleon you’ll need to be adept at explaining your work to others in a way that they can understand.

You won’t necessarily spend all day coding

It’s important to be realistic here. Depending on where you work, you won’t necessarily spend all day coding. This is particularly true if you work for a larger organisation; life being what it is, you will need to attend your fair share of meetings, interacting with clients and mentoring juniors.

The financial benefits could be more than you were expecting

By choosing this career path, you won’t lose out financially as expertise in some technical fields is valued highly. For example, the Stack Overflow report reveals developers using languages such as Go, Clojure, and F#, are paid more than those with the equivalent level of experience in languages like COBOT, PHP and Visual Basic 6.

The first steps to becoming a coding chameleon

If you’ve decided that this is the right path for you, you must start now by building your knowledge in one technical specialism across multiple industries and projects to give you a broad range of experience. There are different ways to achieve this:

  • Develop your knowledge and experience with external learning opportunities, including courses and hackathons
  • Practice across different development environments, maintaining a strong interest in your industry so your skills remain relevant
  • Make a lateral move to another department to build your experience with different teams
  • Consider technical contracting to work on projects that will help build your technical skill set

Career Path 3: The Entreprogrammer

Do you think it might be time to leave the world of permanent employment and start your own business? IT contracting enables you to take greater control over the projects you work on and, because you become responsible for your own learning and development, how your skills progress.

While there are some amazing positives to contracting, it’s important to realise that this career path isn’t for everyone. So, here are a few things to consider:

You’ll actually be running your own business

One of the huge perks of contracting is that you’ll have the freedom to choose projects that appeal to you, work with people you like and avoid office politics. If you want to take an extended holiday between contracts then, assuming you can afford it, that’s your choice.

However, despite such flexibility, you would be running your own business and with that comes additional responsibilities and risks that you just don’t have to deal with as an employee. You’ll have to market and sell yourself – your ‘product’ – to generate new contracts, account manage your clients, handle your own financial affairs (or find someone to do it on your behalf) and there’s no guaranteed wage or next contract, or even getting paid.

(Video) Should You Go To Hack Reactor In 2022? (3 REAL Reviews)

Therefore, you’ll need to be highly self-motivated, adaptable, and organised in order to find work and maintain momentum with day-to-day work. While you won’t have a traditional boss, you do have to manage client expectations and will need self-discipline and commitment to your work. A huge part of this comes down to the strength of your people skills, and indeed your own self-belief.

You won’t always feel like part of the team

This can be a hard adjustment for some to make, especially if you’ve previously been in permanent roles and part of a tight-knit team. As a contractor, you’ll find that your relationships with your co-workers will change – so it’s important that you’re able to hit the ground running from day one and are willing to work hard to build and maintain strong relationships.

So, while contractors typically build solid networks and connections from project to project would you, in reality, feel happier to continue to be a permanent member of a team?

The first steps to becoming an Entreprogrammer
  • Is there demand for your expertise? Establish that there’s a market for your skills and expertise – you need to be certain there’s a large pool of clients out there who are looking to hire for your skills. Try searching on job boards and recruitment websites, and speak to a recruiter who can provide their expert perspective.
  • Proactively upskill in areas you are lacking: Will your role still be hot in two years’ time or are there other skills you need to pick up to make sure you stay ahead of the curve? Continual investment in training is critical to being a successful IT contractor.
  • Look into setting up your own legal entity: All things considered, most contractors choose to set themselves up similarly to a UK ‘limited company’ model, as this usually gives them a number of tax benefits. You will need to register your company with the relevant national agency and provide information, such as your company name, address, director(s), shares and shareholder(s) etc. You will also need to act as an independent company, even when using a recruiter like Hays, and market yourself appropriately e.g. creating your own website to promote your services and updating your LinkedIn profile accordingly.

What next?

I hope the above has helped you to crystallise in your mind which career path really is right for you. This is often the hardest decision of the entire career planning process – but do always remember that there’s no right or wrong career path for a developer. If you don’t enjoy a certain path, you can do something else. Nothing is set in stone if you take a proactive approach to your working life – just don’t waste years journeying aimlessly throughout your development career without a plan.

Read more careers advice and industry insights to develop your career:

  • How to boost your career with a sideways move
  • How the best developers overcome their dev demons
  • Want a new job? How to plan your attack
  • 10 tech job markets that will explode in 2018
  • Automation: job killer or temp job cultivator
  • How to develop the rights strategy and find the right people for your cloud migration


(Video) Breaking Into Tech - Career Paths, Resources and Tips
David Brown CEO, Hays US, Hays

David is responsible for leading all Hays staffing operations in the US and is a 20 year veteran of the staffing industry. Prior to his role as head of Hays US, David worked in various roles in sales, sales management and executive management.

David lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children.

(Video) The Role Of A COO: Insider Advice On How To Hack Your Own Career Path


What is developer career path? ›

Developer, Team Lead, Architect, Manager and can even move into senior management. The road to the highest paying senior positions can take anywhere from several months to several years depending on multiple factors.

Is developer a good career path? ›

Software development is an excellent career choice by any measure. It's a high-paying and growing field, there are plenty of jobs, and workers report positive job satisfaction.

How can I improve my career in software development? ›

8 Ways to Reboot Your Software Development Career
  1. Invest in cloud and containers. ...
  2. Study for the test. ...
  3. Remember that software is about more than coding. ...
  4. Create your ideal job. ...
  5. Learn what your coworkers do. ...
  6. Don't just write code, assess its quality and performance. ...
  7. Find your team. ...
  8. Embrace (some) trends—it's OK, really.
4 Jan 2017

What is a career in coding? ›

Computer programmers create new software, websites, and other applications, and they ensure that applications and software run smoothly. In addition to writing new code, programmers also test code for errors and spend time updating and enhancing already developed programs.

Is software developer hard? ›

Software engineering is challenging to learn from scratch — but with a bootcamp, even industry newcomers can build a strong knowledge base and ready themselves for an entry-level role quickly if they are willing to put in the time, hard work, and dedication.

Can girls software engineer? ›

Even with more than 50 years of software engineers to its credit, this industry is still heavily dominated by men. As of today, the industry is still only 25% female. It's vital to encourage current students, especially young women, to pursue a career in software engineering.

Are software developers happy? ›

Software engineers are about average in terms of happiness. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, software engineers rate their career happiness 3.2 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 46% of careers.

How do I become a successful developer? ›

7 Habits of highly successful developers
  1. Writing clean code. The first good habit that has the potential to make you a successful developer is to write a clean code. ...
  2. Learning continuously. ...
  3. Discipline and Persistence. ...
  4. Knowing their forte. ...
  5. Open for new things. ...
  6. Paying attention to details. ...
  7. Having end product in mind all the time.

How do I become a better developer? ›

8 essential tips to become a better coder
  1. Remind yourself how much you have to learn. ...
  2. Stop trying to prove yourself right. ...
  3. “The code works” isn't where you stop; it's where you start. ...
  4. Write it three times. ...
  5. Read code. ...
  6. Write code, and not just as assignments. ...
  7. Work one-on-one with other developers any way you can.
21 Jul 2021

How can I improve my technical skills? ›

How to improve your technical skills
  1. Dedicate time to reading around. ...
  2. Identify your favourite tech-related media outlets. ...
  3. Curate your own public profile. ...
  4. Use tools to increase your own efficiency. ...
  5. Analyse what you consume. ...
  6. Start building your skill set. ...
  7. Experiment, experiment, experiment.

What are the 4 types of coding? ›

There are four types of coding:
  • Data compression (or source coding)
  • Error control (or channel coding)
  • Cryptographic coding.
  • Line coding.

How hard is coding? ›

Programming has a reputation for being one of the most difficult disciplines to master. Considering how different it is from traditional forms of education, including college degrees in computer science, it's not hard to see why some people have difficulty learning how to code.

Does coding require math? ›

While some fields of programming require you to have extensive knowledge of mathematics (such as game development and machine learning), you don't need advanced math skills for most coding jobs.

How do I become a app developer? ›

How to become an app developer
  1. Decide how you want to develop.
  2. Brainstorm your ideas.
  3. Consider profit options if pursuing independent development.
  4. Learn to code.
  5. Pursue certifications.
  6. Diversify your coding skills.
  7. Create your app developer resume.
  8. Apply for app developer positions.

How do I become a HTML developer? ›

How to Become a Web Developer: A 3-Step Guide
  1. Front End Web Development Skills. ...
  2. Back End Web-Development Skills. ...
  3. Start with the Basic 3: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. ...
  4. Find a Web Development Community for Feedback and Advice. ...
  5. Take on Test Projects to Build Up a Portfolio—Even If You Don't Have a Web Developer Job.

Are developers smart? ›

Software engineers are smart, the average software developer sits in the top 25% on the IQ scale. Software engineers are also excellent problem solvers and are good at quickly learning technologies and concepts. The demands of the role require that most developers are at least somewhat intelligent.

Is being a developer fun? ›

Yes, being a software developer is a fun job.

This is because the job allows for variety, both for your projects and your schedule. Software engineering can be creative and cutting edge. For example, you can work on projects in anything from mobile development to web applications, or even make video games all day.

Do you have to be smart to code? ›

Programmers use their knowledge to solve problems, not to do criminal acts. In fact, you don't have to be smart to be a hacker. You don't even have to be a programmer to be a hacker. Just like anything else, you can learn how to hack deficient programmatic systems.

Which job is best for girls? ›

Top 10 Best Career Options For Women And Girls In India 2022
  1. Human Resources. A highly sought-after corporate job in the present-day world is the Human Resource Manager. ...
  2. Doctor. ...
  3. Data Scientist. ...
  4. Fashion Designer. ...
  5. Journalist. ...
  6. Banker. ...
  7. Career Counselor. ...
  8. Interior Designer.

Why do girls like software engineers? ›

When asked about the reason behind this answer, it was learned that girls prefer software engineer boyfriends because almost all young tech entrepreneurs are from this field. Young founders of tech companies attract women towards male software engineers. After all money matters a lot!

What is the happiest job? ›

The 10 Happiest and Most Satisfying Jobs
  • Dental Hygienist.
  • Physical Therapist.
  • Radiation Therapist.
  • Optometrist.
  • Human Resources Manager.

How many hours do software developers work? ›

Key Takeaways. On average, software engineers work 8-9 hours a day or 40-45 hours a week. However, this can vary depending on multiple factors. For example, if you're working for a startup, you might need to work 50-60 hours per week to quickly launch the product or service.

Do software developers write code? ›

Software developers must have a healthy balance of hard and soft skills. Not only are software developers in charge of outlining and creating the code and design for a program, but these types of careers generally involve a lot of collaboration between various stakeholders.

What are the top 3 things that make a successful developer? ›

3 Must- Haves in a Successful Software Developer
  • Writing Clean and Reusable Code. “Anyone can write code that a computer can understand. ...
  • Understanding of a Business Idea. ...
  • Open for New Technologies & Solutions.
10 Jul 2019

What makes a good developer? ›

Good developers often have excellent technical skills and write clean, neat code. Their code is frequently well commented and can be easily understood by other team members, allowing it to be easily debugged. Good developers also show an awareness of their limitations and the technologies they haven't yet mastered.

Can I become a developer without a degree? ›

You can learn these skills in college or out of it, but the most valuable thing you can do to make yourself employable as a developer is to do the work. Prepare for the job you want. Build things, all the time, and never stop. With or without a degree, employers will want to see what you can do.

Can anyone become a developer? ›

Anyone who wants to *can *learn to code and reap some real benefits from it. Coding skills are used every day by many, many people who aren't full-time software engineers. And despite what you might have heard, you don't have to be a “math person” or a “STEM person” to learn to program.

How do I start coding from zero level? ›

9 tips for learning coding with no prior experience
  1. Learn the basic concepts of coding first. ...
  2. Choose the right language. ...
  3. Pick a language that demonstrates low-level concepts. ...
  4. Avoid popular languages if possible. ...
  5. Choose a language based on your goals. ...
  6. Learn by hands-on coding, not just reading.

What skills are required for coding? ›

Here are six important skills used in computer coding:
  • Language acquisition.
  • Innovative thinking.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Patience.
  • Communication.

How can I grow my knowledge? ›

What else might you do to gain knowledge?
  1. Read. The essential way to learn about anything is by reading quality literature: books, articles, and blogs. ...
  2. Listen. ...
  3. Watch. ...
  4. Use Microlearning. ...
  5. Follow the “one thing a day” rule. ...
  6. Socialize. ...
  7. Explain things to others. ...
  8. Рlan out your learning journey.
20 Dec 2021

What is the best computer skill to learn? ›

Essential IT skills
  1. Security. Security should be foundational to any IT team. ...
  2. Programming. Being able to program will be a must for those who want to develop software, web applications, and websites. ...
  3. Systems and networks. ...
  4. Data analysis. ...
  5. DevOps. ...
  6. Cloud computing. ...
  7. Machine learning.
2 Sept 2022

Which is best technology to learn for future? ›

Listed Below Are the Top New Technology Trends, 2022.
  • Computing Power.
  • Smarter Devices.
  • Quantum Computing.
  • Datafication.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
  • Extended Reality.
  • Digital Trust.
  • 3D Printing.
23 Sept 2022

What are your career goals for web developer? ›

Here's a list of 15 examples of career goals a software developer may have:
  • Get certified. ...
  • Learn a new programming language. ...
  • Learn a new technology. ...
  • Lead a team. ...
  • Improve soft skills. ...
  • Increase your professional network. ...
  • Complete a coding project. ...
  • Complete a system design.

Which degree is best for software developer? ›

Computer Science

Computer science is the most common degree that software developers choose when starting their career. When you get a degree in computer science, you will primarily study the exact skills that you will use on a daily basis as a developer.

What is the highest position for a software developer? ›

Chief technology officer. Chief technology officer (CTO) is the highest executive position within the technology or engineering department of a company. This person often has a bachelor's or master's degree in software engineering or computer programming.

What is the career path of a data analyst? ›

You might start out as a data analyst before advancing to senior-level analyst, analytics manager, director of analytics, or even chief data officer (CDO). If you're interested in pursuing this path, you'll want to focus on developing your leadership skills alongside your data skills.

What are the 5 smart goals examples? ›

5. SMART goal example for increasing sales
  • Specific: I will learn new sales techniques to increase sales at work.
  • Measurable: My goal is to double my sales in four months.
  • Attainable: I've been a sales associate for two years now. ...
  • Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills.
5 Aug 2022

What makes a good web developer? ›

Good communication skills

Web developers must work with multiple members of an organization to ensure everyone's goals are being met through the website. It's important to maintain open lines of communication and be able to translate technical jargon into layman's terms for other team members.

Is web development easier than programming? ›

Web Development is generally easier to get started with as the tools and techniques are not complicated to learn. Software Development requires an in-depth understanding of tools, methodologies, and philosophies that govern good software.

Can Software Engineer become hacker? ›

Yes, a software Engineer can become a hacker by learning about Networking and Hacking.

Do software engineers use math? ›

Despite its name, software engineering does not require math. At least, it doesn't require as much math as you might think. There are numbers and problem-solving, but you won't have to break out your AP Calculus certificate or trigonometry textbook to program—or engineer—software.

How can I become a developer without a degree? ›

Use these steps as a guide to help you become a software engineer without a degree:
  1. Review what you already know about software engineering. ...
  2. Enroll in a software engineering certification course. ...
  3. Get a job in IT or tech support to aid your learning. ...
  4. Take additional certification courses for different programming languages.

Which IT job is best for future? ›

Here are some of the highest paying IT jobs in 2022:
  • Big Data Engineer.
  • Software Architect.
  • Blockchain Engineer.
  • DevOps Engineer.
  • Cloud Architect.
  • Full-Stack Developer.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer.
  • Product Manager.
22 Sept 2022

What is the best developer job? ›

Here, we will look at the top 10 developer jobs in 2022.
  • Web Developer. ...
  • Front-End Developer. ...
  • Back-End Developer. ...
  • Full-Stack Developer. ...
  • Data Scientist. ...
  • DevOps Developer. ...
  • Data Analyst. ...
  • Machine Learning Engineer. A Machine Learning Engineer is a type of programmer, therefore, falls under the developer category.

What kind of developer makes the most? ›

Here's a list of the 10 Highest Paying Jobs For Software Engineers in 2022 which are the best ones in the tech industry:
  • Full Stack Developer. ...
  • Data Scientist. ...
  • Software Architect. ...
  • SQA Engineer. ...
  • Android Engineer/Developer. ...
  • DevOps Engineer. ...
  • Backend Engineer. ...
  • Application Security Engineer.
5 Jun 2022

Is data analyst an it job? ›

A data analyst is an IT Job. IT jobs typically involve the use of computing technology. Data analysts use programming languages and databases in computing technology for business insight. However, data analysts work only with software and do not handle hardware computer IT support.

Is data analyst a hard job? ›

Data analysis is neither a “hard” nor “soft” skill but is instead a process that involves a combination of both. Some of the technical skills that a data analyst must know include programming languages like Python, database tools like Excel, and data visualization tools like Tableau.

Which is better data analyst or data engineer? ›

Data Analysis or Data Engineering—Which Pays Better? Data Analysts make $69,467 per year on average. Depending on your skills, experience, and location, you can earn anywhere between $46,000 and $106,000 per year. The national average salary for a data engineer, on the other hand, is $112,288 a year.


1. Growth marketing career paths // Does your career have to be linear?
(Elena Bezborodova)
2. Cybersecurity Career Roadmap
3. Top Coding Career Paths
(nicole . young)
4. Coding for money | New techs open new career paths while GPT3 AI stalks software developers' income
5. 2022 Cybersecurity roadmap: How to get started?
(David Bombal)
6. Ex-NSA hacker tells us how to get into hacking! (2022 Edition)
(David Bombal)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated: 09/05/2022

Views: 5795

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.