I have been working on PHP and MySQL based web application for more than 5 years now. I started my career as an Intern, and worked my way up through Jr Developer and Software Developer to Sr. Software Engineer (Team Lead), and that's what I am nowadays.

I was looking at the link at Wikipedia regarding who is a lead programmer. The link states the following:

A lead programmer is a software engineer in charge of one or more software projects. Alternative titles include Development Lead, Technical Lead, Senior Software Engineer, Software Design Engineer Lead (SDE Lead), Software Manager, or Senior Applications Developer. When primarily contributing in a high-level enterprise software design role, the title Software Architect (or similar) is often used. All of these titles can have different meanings depending on the context.

My current job responsibilities are more or less like a Development Lead and to some extent near Software Architect because I usually design the core structure of new products, and manage 2-3 project simultaneously while assisting other teams regarding the structural design of their projects. I am usually on call with clients along with project managers. I code most of the time when my team is stuck somewhere, has a heavy workload, is integrating some third party API, etc.

Does what I do qualify for a Development Lead title in accordance with my above mentioned job descriptions?

  • 6
    You qualify for whatever title they will give you. I'd go for VP of Engineering myself. Jun 27, 2012 at 10:44
  • 2
    I always thought of "Lead Programmer" as being a role within a project, rather than a personal job description. E.g. I could be "lead" on one project, but not on another, even though the people are the same on both.
    – tdammers
    Jun 27, 2012 at 11:02
  • 3
    don't get hung up on job titles - its all about the job spec - can you do it? then you can get the job, or get the raise. Jun 27, 2012 at 12:53
  • 5
    CIO in a startup = Junior Programmer at IBM Jun 27, 2012 at 13:03
  • 2
    @Junaid 20+ years of empirical practical experience and statistical facts tell me that what I stated is true, not a feeling or an opinion.
    – user7519
    Jun 27, 2012 at 14:42

5 Answers 5


I found myself in the same situation, as I got promoted rapidly from normal developer to development lead, because sometimes, bus factors may be very large. If the former lead leaves and you're the one who knows the application best, you become responsible for it.

This given as an entry statement, but to be clear: Titles are not much worth, as everbody may give himself a fancy title as senior chief development lead (in a one person project). Some companies even say "Make up the coolest name ever for your card as long as you're comfortable with it"...

It depends more on the jobs you do and how good you do them.

IMHO, there are two types of developers: Executioners and Designers. Both classes may overlap.

In a binary 1/0 world, executioners only do what they are told (by other developers), designers do (or delegate) what customers told them. But even executioners may delegate work to others.

The point in "lead developer" is, that there is someone you can lead. Know your team, know what they can do and delegate work to them (and jump in if somewhere the roof is on fire).

All other titles (Senior, Junior, Prehistoric) may be nice, but they don't say very much about what your abilities are. That's the 7*1 year vs. 1*7 year experience thing. A senior java developer who never did anything else than working in a single framework for seven years may not be as good as someone, who worked with different framesworks over a shorter period of time.

  • lol, prehistoric, we use to call in my previous job the developers of mainframe apps in cobol! nice reply
    – user50236
    Aug 6, 2012 at 16:00

Well, the job titles do not matter if you are not doing executive work.

What matters is how well you know your subject area and are you aware of the current trends. Are your skills in demand and how good you now the technology that you use everyday?

Another point is - most small to medium software development companies do not care about "job titles". What they look for is reliable and dependable person with ability to accomplish work, be able to learn quickly and have experience to handle complex situations, as well as a good team player for team development environment.


Job titles are often very specific to the politics of the company. I have worked places that have as many as 11 tiers of titles with suffixes describing what the focus of your work is and I have worked other places that only have jr dev, dev, sr dev because they don't want more titles in IT than there are in other departments. I have done more architect work with titles from the latter set than the former.

If you are choosing a title you can probably come up with something more descriptive or not if you don't care to, if your company has that position and you are wondering if you should go after it you may be close to doing that task as you describe your current work now.

The architect role usually has more internal politics/management interaction that you are describing in my experience. That is the one thing that sounds different.

  • Titles are so meaningless that I've seen companies having the same titles but promoting through them in different order. Jun 27, 2012 at 13:26
  • very true - and if everybody in the org acknowledges that this is what is going to happen I would encourage making up different titles that didn't imply that there should be an order or describe the order that exists. In a small org the titles are pretty useless. You ask whoever you think has your answer. In a big org sometimes they are useful for certain positions to denote who can make certain kinds of decision or who has more experience.
    – Bill
    Jun 27, 2012 at 13:59

Summarizing your job into 2 words is usually not a good idea. If you are writing a CV, write what responsibilities you have, not only a job title.

  • Responsibilities are not interesting to hiring managers Accomplishments are. The first shows what you claim you were supposed to do, the second what you did.
    – user7519
    Jun 27, 2012 at 13:59
  • You are right but usually you have to list both in your CV.
    – Sulthan
    Jun 27, 2012 at 16:21
  • 1
    This question has does not imply that it has anything to do with resumes.
    – user7519
    Jun 27, 2012 at 18:09

Well, Everybuddy can give their own explainations for definition according to their duties. But I understood one thing "ITS ALL DEPENDS ON ORGANIZATION WISE HIERARCHY LEVEL"

Level 1 Software Trainee

Level 2 Software Engineer/Software Developer

Level 3 Sr. Software Engineer/Sr. Software Developer (lead programmer is here around word)

Level 4 Team Lead

Level 5 Project Manager

There can be more levels in between according to organization. But these main layer normally seen in all organizations.

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