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Career Development Paths for Senior Tech Specialists

A career development path provides professionals with an ongoing mechanism to improve their knowledge and skills that can lead to progression in their current jobs. But how does career development look for senior professionals who have achieved the top of the career success ladder? This question frequently arises when a senior specialist, who's come a long way in their career, starts to think about what's next. 

There is a pattern in many industries that successful senior tech professionals when reaching a certain stage in their careers, decide to go to the business side of the company. However, this does not always have to be the case. There are many more career development paths available to senior programmers, and it is worth considering different options. The final decision should depend on multiple factors, including long-term goals and overall job satisfaction. Here are various career paths for advancement as a senior tech professional:

Individual Contributor

The first possible career development path for a senior tech professional is the individual contributor career path. Senior developers who genuinely enjoy coding and would like to continue progressing in the pure technology path should consider one of the following career development options:

Senior Software Architect

A senior software architect is responsible for developing new software for technologically based companies. This position involves making the technical decisions within the company, such as deciding on platforms, tools, and coding standards. A software architect works with a team of individuals to identify the goals of the software, develop an implementation plan, and oversee the development process. 

Specialized Software Engineer

A senior tech professional can also decide to become a more specialized software engineer. Some examples include payment banking engineer, chemical industry engineer, and geographical information systems engineer positions. Such specializations often require learning more about a particular field. Senior tech specialists can choose the industry they're most interested in and become IT experts in this field. 

DevOps and SRE

Other popular career path options for senior engineers are DevOps and SRE. SRE teams are responsible for proactively building and implementing services to make IT and support better at their jobs. While SRE concentrates on keeping services running efficiently and available to users, DevOps aims to cover the entire product life cycle, from operations to design.


The management route is another option for senior professionals who seek further career development. Management is often the only option that some tech professionals consider, mainly because it's typically the only path their companies offer as a career progression. Unlike the individual contributor path, management involves a very different skill set - less about technology and more about human and asset management. Below are a few career paths you can consider:

Senior Project Manager

A senior technical project manager is responsible for providing technical project planning, management, and oversight for key initiatives and implementation projects, ensuring that these projects closely align with the company's strategic goals. They lead project managers, ensuring their budgets, resources, plans, and timelines are on track. 

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

A chief technology officer (CTO) is an executive-level position in a company whose role is focused on the technological issues within an organization.   CTO is in charge of a company's IT and computer systems with duties including assessing current processes, directing the executive team on the best processes, and recommending software upgrades. Since it's an executive-level position, it may be challenging to land a CTO role at a large start-up or even a scale-up. However, the CTO of a small startup is a realistic option.

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