What the heck is a junior developer, what is a senior developer?

The most current version as of .

Did you ever come across the terms junior developer and senior developer?

Why I am even asking – sure you did, that’s why you are reading this, right?

In this article, we will learn about both, junior and senior developers.

We will not only check both of those out, we will also compare them and see how they differ in detail.

At the end of this article, you know exactly what a junior developer is and what she/he does, as well as what a senior developer is and what kind of jobs senior devs are into.

How to compare

Before fully diving into the comparison, I would like to give you an overview, what aspects we will use to analyse.

We will also make use of those aspects to create profiles for junior and senior developers.

Profile aspects

Here is the list of the aspects we will focus on in our comparison:

  • Mindset/Motivation

  • Knowledge, experience

  • Coding (style/philosophy)

Junior vs. Senior

Let the great comparison begin:

First off, we will analyse with what motivation a junior and a senior developer is coding.

What’s their spirit?

What they are thinking about, when producing code?

Since junior developers are most times fairly new into the business, they are often feeling like they have to impress somebody.

This results in a coding style, in which they are hardly trying to write the very best code, the best code ever written!

But this is kind of a misunderstanding of what excellent codes is.

Junior developers often try to solve their programming tasks with as few lines of code as possible.

In most cases that’s not a good idea, because very short coding solutions are fairly hard to understand while reading, even reading them is not that easy.

You have to think a lot while reading such shorten code.

Sometimes it’s that hard that you have to run the code to get an idea of what’s happening.

The same goes for abstracting code more than necessary.

Writing functions and classes to make code blocks reusable is great – it’s truly awesome, but junior devs sometimes go that deep into abstraction to make every single functionality 100% reusable, which is practically not what you are looking for.

Again, it’s hard to maintain and understand such code.

Sure, for machines, who will run the code – definitely no problem, but for us humans, especially for those, who are not the author of the coding work, it’s more than hard to get behind such codings.

Because of that, senior developers are playing a different game here.

They are experienced in working together in a team and sharing a codebase in a team, collaborating and bringing their code into production together.

That’s why the philosophy of senior developers is more orientated in human-readable code instead of short and abstract and crazy.

Senior developers don’t feel that motivation to show everybody how great they can do.

They think more realistic.

Senior developers are looking beyond their contribution to the codebase, they code as a team member on the shared codebase.

Beside the general mindset and motivation and the resulting way to code, knowledge and experience are other points to mention.

Senior developers have more knowledge than junior developers, they can look back to years of experience and gaining knowledge.

While junior developers come with a good amount of knowledge, they often have a lack of practical proofed experience in "real word" programming.

Because of that, junior developers are in some cases not able to express the problems in their code in a way, a senior developer does.

Senior developers are that deep in the game, they know how to express their problems and put them into an understandable question or search query, they will definitely find answers for.

But that’s not a problem at all, as senior developers are there to be asked by junior developers.

Conclusion

We all start our coding journey as a junior developer – no exception here.

It’s totally on us to increase our knowledge, gain experience, look around us and lean from our senior developers how to write maintainable code and think practical orientated, code in a team, and so much more.

So, have a great time becoming and being a developer!

— David Wolf