Industries

Grades in IT - what does Junior, Middle, Senior stand for?

By PlaysDev
Published: May 03, 2024

Grading of employees is a key process in personnel management, which allows you to structure career growth, define clear criteria for assessing competencies and establish a fair remuneration system.

In this article we will talk about the advantages of the grade system for candidates and IT recruiters, and compare the grades of different companies – Google, Amazon and Meta. We will also focus on how an engineer or developer can assess their level.

Grades in IT – what is it?

Grades in IT are a term used to divide specialists according to their levels of skills, experience and responsibility. In practice, each company itself determines what to expect from a Senior and a Newcomer. In addition, even within the same organization, technical leads of different teams may have their own ideas about the division of levels in IT.

The grading system ensures the effective functioning of the team, allowing you to distribute tasks among specialists in accordance with their skill level and complexity of the tasks. Also, grades influence the salary range of a specialist.

Where did the grading system come from?

Grading arose as part of a broader practice – human resource management and the structuring of organizational hierarchies. The origins of the use of grades for job evaluation can be traced back even to early labor management and compensation practices, which sought to standardize job evaluation and ensure fair distribution of salaries.

Грейды в IT — Как Devops инженеру оценить свой грейд?

The grading system in its modern form emerged in the United States in the early 20th century, when organizations were looking for ways to streamline and standardize the management of large numbers of employees. This issue became especially relevant in the framework of the development of international cooperation – it was necessary to create a standardized system for managing a large number of employees, their career growth and wages.

It was a time when industrial growth and the development of corporate structures required new approaches to human resource management.

What grades are there in IT?

Grades in IT are usually structured to reflect differences in levels of experience, responsibility and complexity of work. While each company may have its own unique grading system, there is a generally accepted framework that is often used throughout the industry. Here are examples of typical grades in IT:

  1. Junior
    Juniors typically have limited work experience (minimum 1 year of experience). They require mentoring and guidance, perform simpler tasks, learn the basics of the profession and work in a team.
    Work experience for a novice specialist may not be necessary – companies are often ready to hire a graduate if his portfolio includes relevant projects.
  2. Middle
    Middles have more in-depth knowledge and experience (usually 2 to 5 years) and can work independently. They take an active part in the development of projects and can already determine their specialization.
  3. Senior
    Seniors are specialists with significant experience (often more than five years) and deep knowledge in certain technologies or products. They can lead projects, mentor junior employees, and make key technical decisions.
  4. Leading positions
    Tech Lead/Team Lead: Technical leads or team leaders who not only perform complex technical tasks, but also manage small teams of developers, organizing workflow and project coordination.
    Software Architect: Software architects are responsible for designing systems architecture and integration, and they determine structural and technological decisions at the highest level.
  5. Leadership and strategic roles
    Engineering Manager:
    An engineering manager responsible for broader aspects of technical development within an organization, including managing an entire engineering team or department.
    Chief Technology Officer (CTO): A member of a company’s management team who is responsible for leading all technical aspects and strategy of the organization.

You can learn about C-level positions in our article “2024 C-Suites: CEO, COO, CTO, CMO”.

Each grade in this hierarchy reflects increasing complexity, work autonomy and level of responsibility. Companies may have additional or modified titles and levels depending on their needs, corporate culture and industry characteristics.

Who is higher than Senior or Lead?

The main difference between Senior and Lead is the level of responsibility and focus of work. Senior specializes in technical implementation and solving complex problems, while Lead is responsible for team coordination, project management and overall technical direction. Lead can also mentor and develop the skills of team members.

Грейды в IT — Как Devops инженеру оценить свой грейд?

In some organizations, there may be overlap between these roles, especially in small teams and startups where people may perform multiple functions at once. However, in large companies and in structured development departments the differences are usually clearly defined.

Google

Google uses a fairly detailed grading system for its technical employees, ranging from “Software Engineer” to “Senior Fellow/VP.” The system includes the following levels:

  • Software Engineer I (L3) – Typically for college graduates or aspiring engineers.
  • Software Engineer II (L4) – for engineers with several years of experience.
  • Senior Software Engineer (L5) – for more experienced engineers.
  • Staff Software Engineer (L6) – expert level, requires deep knowledge and experience in a specific area.
  • Senior Staff Software Engineer (L7) is one of the highest technical ranks, usually involving the management of large projects.
  • Principal Engineer (L8) and above – These levels include strategic planning and development at the corporate level.

Microsoft

Microsoft also has a tiered system for its employees, indicated by numbers from 59 to 80:

  • Levels 59-60 – beginners (Software Development Engineer).
  • Levels 61-62 – full-fledged developers (Software Development Engineer II).
  • Levels 63-64 – senior developers (Senior Software Engineer).
  • Level 65-66 – leading specialists or chief engineers (Principal Software Engineering Manager).
  • Levels 67 and above – various levels of management and technical directors, including corporate vice presidents.

Amazon

Amazon uses a level system from L4 to L12, with each level representing different roles and responsibilities:

  • L4-L5 – entry levels for graduates and junior specialists.
  • L6 – Senior Software Developer, specialists with significant experience.
  • L7 – Principal Software Developer or Senior Manager.
  • L8 – Director.
  • L10-L12 – various levels of vice presidents and above.

Facebook (Meta)

Facebook (now Meta) uses levels E3 to E9 for technical roles:

  • E3 – Junior Engineer.
  • E4 – Software Engineer.
  • E5 – Senior Software Engineer.
  • E6 – Staff Software Engineer.
  • E7 – Senior Staff Software Engineer.
  • E8 – Engineering Manager.
  • E9 – Director of Engineering and above.

As you may have noticed, each company has its own level conventions and even the wording of job titles varies slightly. When looking for a job, it is of paramount importance to understand your competencies, possible areas of responsibility and, of course, your technology stack and the amount of commercial experience.

Grading system from the IT-Recruiter perspective

  1. Junior – supervised training, limited experience and small area of responsibility;
  2. Middle – independent work, stage of development of specialization, expansion of the area of responsibility;
  3. Senior – deep expertise, project management, mentoring of colleagues.

How can a Devops engineer evaluate his grade?

Грейды в IT — Как Devops инженеру оценить свой грейд?

Junior DevOps Engineer

  1. Skills
    Basic understanding of system administration, basic knowledge of scripting and coding, basic knowledge of automation.
  2. Experience
    Little or no practical experience; theoretical knowledge or education in the field of IT is possible.
  3. Tasks
    Perform simple configuration and monitoring tasks, working under the guidance of more experienced colleagues.

Middle DevOps Engineer

  1. Skills
    Good command of automation tools, confident use of scripting languages, understanding of the principles of CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery).
  2. Experience
    2 to 6 years of hands-on experience in DevOps or related field.
  3. Tasks
    Development and optimization of CI/CD processes, infrastructure management using tools such as IaC (Infrastructure as Code), active participation in automation projects, creation of Docker containers, participation in setting up and supporting monitoring and logging systems, consulting developers on CI/automation issues CD.

Senior DevOps Engineer

  1. Skills
    Deep knowledge in automation, monitoring, security, and infrastructure management. Professional knowledge of DevOps tools and methodologies.
  2. Experience
    More than 5 years of experience in DevOps, ability to work independently and make technical decisions, experience using various DevOps tools.
  3. Tasks
    Management of DevOps projects, strategic planning of system architecture, implementation of best practices in the field of security and reliability of systems, mentoring junior engineers.

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