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A Google search for "how to become a tech lead" reveals titles like:

Four Things I Wish I Knew When I Became a Tech Lead

5 Tips for Being an Effective Tech Lead

How to be a good technical lead

It's ended up being a lot harder than I expected to find anything about how people typically become tech leads in the first place.

Virtually all of the job descriptions I read request prior experience leading a team (often 3 - 5 years), so it seems to be very difficult to get hired into another organization to fill that role.

That being the case, how do people typically become a tech lead in the first place? What did they usually do to get the job in the first place? Are there general strategies people tended to follow or specific training, certifications, or skills people tended to acquire to help them "move up" faster?

Note: I'm not asking for personalized career advice (which I realize is excessively opinion-based and/or too localized for this site) - I'm asking how people become tech leads "in general."

closed as too broad by Dukeling, gnat, SaggingRufus, Mister Positive, mcknz Aug 9 '17 at 20:04

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Show the skills required and get promoted? – Dukeling Aug 9 '17 at 16:52
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    The same anyone gets a promotion in any field, show that you are capable of doing the work and you will get promoted – SaggingRufus Aug 9 '17 at 16:55
  • Out of curiosity, why the downvote? (I'm still pretty new here). – EJoshuaS Aug 9 '17 at 17:19
  • Hi @EJoshuaS I edited your question so it is more readable (probably why de DV). Feel free to edit it further. If you want to improve your question writing please take a look at How to ask. Hope you have a great day – DarkCygnus Aug 9 '17 at 17:24
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I agree with @motosubatsu 's answer: it is achieved through hard work and showing above average skills in both technical and management contexts. Also, not just showing those skills in theory but rather in tangible results, like excellent project results or mayor contributions.

From personal experience I consider there is another way one can become tech lead, and that is to be "made" one. It is possible that you start working in a small company or startup, being the only developer or only a few coworkers. When that company grows you will most likely have people under your lead, as you are now the one with experience in the subject.

Again, this only means that you worked hard enough so that the projects you made enabled the company to grow and new people to join your team, so it is back to hard work again. Do notice that even though you "have more time working there" doesn't mean you will be a tech lead. If you lack other skills or are just an average/below-average worker you will probably be stuck in that position a long time.

  • I work for a big company right now and am planning to stay there for awhile - can you accomplish something similar by getting involved in a new project? – EJoshuaS Aug 9 '17 at 17:24
  • It depends on how your company is but most probably yes, it should be possible. Specially if that "new project" has the potential to become a new product, service or similar of the place you work in the future. For example, a big company trying to update themselves by introducing Business intelligence and Machine Learning to their internal processes, in the close future a need of a tech lead in charge of developing the algorithms and products in that area will probably be needed. – DarkCygnus Aug 9 '17 at 17:28
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It mostly boils down to "hard work" but more specifically you need to show above-average skills in your chosen technologies as well as some basic managerial-type skills such as time management, task prioritization, communication (and other soft skills as well). All of these are things you can demonstrate as a "regular" team member. It's not something you can just do overnight though. If opportunities come up to take on any additional duties or responsibilities (within reason obviously - you still need to get your core tasks done) then volunteer. Did I mention work hard?

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