I've been a software engineer for a little more than 3 years, and am currently in a Junior role at a 100 employee software company.

On graduating, I completed a grad scheme at a software giant, then did a quick contract job before going back to university for a software masters.

My job is as a junior software engineer, and I am paid a little less than the average fresh graduate starting salary (£24k vs £27k norm, and £35k at 5 years).

My day to day work is developing native android code in a self organizing 3 person scrum team, the others being 3 year juniors. No one leads the team, but I do the stakeholder / planning work because the others prefer just coding. I also decided on and made the infrastructure (repositories, build servers, etc), and planned the software architecture. I don't feel like this is junior work.

I do like the company, and enjoy having a lot more impact than at a larger company. I can talk to the management and they implement my ideas, which I would expect at a big company. But I feel like I need to get promoted or leave to avoid damaging my CV.

There are a lot of good junior engineers at this company, with up to 5 years experience, but I don't think this is the industry norm.


  • Am I being naive - should I expect a promotion from junior to 'normal' software at 3 years and doing this type of work, or should I see this as normal?
  • Given others in a similar position have not been promoted, what do I need to do to achieve a promotion?
  • Is zero career progression in 3 years and a low salary going to impact me (i.e. do I need to go get another job), or would it be accepted given my young age?
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  • Hey LongJohnson, welcome to the Workplace! The best questions on this site inspire long answers that explain why or how. This question is asking more for opinion on your specific situation and may not get the highest quality answers. It may be better to edit your question to focus on a broader issue, for instance, "How do employers view an employee who has worked in a 'junior' position for 5 years?" – jmac Jul 30 '13 at 23:18
  • For guidance, I understood Workplace questions should be situation specific. Is that no longer the case? – LongJohnson Aug 1 '13 at 23:52
  • They should be specific to a situation, but asking about something that will be helpful to more than just your situation. Your question is asking about what to do in your specific situation, which won't be too helpful to other people. Instead it would be better to explain your situation and ask a question that will help you judge one aspect of it. For instance, "Will employers overlook a Junior Engineer title if the work I did was Senior Engineer type stuff?" or even better, "Do job responsibilities trump job titles in a resume?" – jmac Aug 2 '13 at 0:29
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    Hi LongJohnson, 3 years is far too long, especially given your quals, to still be paid and designated "Junior" dev. Unless you simply do not perform adequately (which I am sure is not the case) you should be considered mid-level and simply called "Software Engineer", or in your case perhaps "Java Developer" or "Android Developer". It is important for your CV to get this designation changed. If you're in London I would simply move jobs. There is very high demand for Android devs atm and if you interview well you can add 30% to that salary in one move. – eyaka1 Mar 7 '17 at 23:07

Have you asked the company what is their policy? Junior positions can range from 2 months to 20 years depending on how one wants to view things as the term itself isn't quantitative. The company should have a specific plan of how you'd get promoted and what it would take.

If the company has regular performance reviews, then that is the time to bring this up. "What would be take for me to be considered an Intermediate Software Engineer" here? If the company doesn't have those reviews, then I'd probably suggest asking management what are the rules on being promoted is something to discuss in a private meeting.

As for your specific questions:

  • In not discussing this with the company, yes you are being naive. Each company will have its own definition and it is up to you to ask and find out what are the terms here.

  • Ask your boss and HR to give you the list of what is required to move up the ladder.

  • This is a rather loaded question as I don't know the software engineering culture in England. I know when I worked in the US, I had a "Software Design Engineer" title for all 7.5 years as it was required for my work visa. Thus, I couldn't easily be promoted without it being OK on the visa. My question is how well are you connecting with other technical folks and seeing what else is out there. Have you built up a network? This would be the time to make sure you have connections and contacts so that you could explore a new job possibility while still employed rather than trying to build the network when you need a job and don't have one.

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Nothing you're doing is 'junior'. That designation in the software world would last about 18 months - the development cycle of a typical project. If the employer has kept you around 3 years its time for them to remove any 'junior' designations and bring your pay up to that of the other people with similar titles.

People do tend to get typecast in organizations, and you're 'junior' because you've always been 'junior'. It's time to get assertive and get it fixed.

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