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How to become a senior JavaScript developer

Demand for JavaScript developers is enormous, and new opportunities arise every day

JavaScript is one of the most in-demand programming languages currently in use and is often among the first suggestions in the conversation when recommending the first language to learn for prospective developers.

A highly versatile language with many different frameworks used for building different types of software and for the web, indeed, JavaScript is a crucial component of today’s tech landscape. Research suggests that JavaScript is present in nearly 97% of all websites and the rate of uptake is showing no signs of slowing down.

It’s no surprise, then, that those with their foot already in the door of the JavaScript job market will undoubtedly be looking to climb the ladder and make the most of the plentiful job opportunities there are out there.

Reaching a senior developer position can bring with it a sense of fulfilment that comes with increased responsibilities, as well as the potential to move into bigger, more influential companies. JavaScript developers also enjoy one of the best paying job roles in tech and a seniority boost would naturally also include a bump in salary too.

To reach a senior position, developers first need to fully understand the role’s requirements and expectations and we’ve unpacked everything you would ever need to know in order to plan the next leap in your career.

How to become a JavaScript Developer?

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There is no need for any formal qualifications or IT certifications to land a job in JavaScript, although some employers will favour those with a computer science background - especially the bigger companies.

There are a number of options for prospective JavaScript developers to get their first job:

  • Earning a degree in computer science, one with a focus on software development is a strong qualification to have that can open up many programming job opportunities, including for JavaScript. A degree in software engineering or any other degree with a focus on coding is also a good option
  • IT apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular routes for careers in tech. Forgoing the traditional university route for hands-on experience can accelerate career development and be more financially attractive too
  • Pursuing the self-taught route by taking advantage of the myriad online courses and boot camps available can also be a time and cost-efficient way of fast-tracking a JavaScript career. Online courses can be found for every field, from JavaScript to data science - there is no shortage of learning opportunities available

JavaScript development career ladder

Before we dive any deeper, let's take a look at the various rungs in the JavaScript development career ladder. Between each rung is a transition phase that requires building knowledge and experience in a specific area.

Junior JavaScript developer

A junior JavaScript developer is someone who has just entered the field and works with a team of professionals to solve problems for an organization.

Since JavaScript is primarily for front-end development, the JavaScript developer will most likely work on web applications to add additional functionality to the existing codebase or fixing an existing application.

Intermediate JavaScript developer

An intermediate JavaScript developer is a competent team member and contributor who’s learned the skills to build a basic system, like web applications or apps. At this stage, the developer will learn other skills, including:

  • Basic system architecture
  • Professional tooling use
  • Design patterns, analysing code smells, etc.

Senior JavaScript developer

The senior JavaScript developer is highly skilled and knowledgeable to the point that other developers look up to them as a mentor. They usually possess a good track record of solving advanced problems and building more complex systems using advanced techniques.

A few other traits of senior JavaScript developer are:

  • Knowledge of design patterns, refactoring etc.
  • A solid understanding of architectural paradigms
  • Experience with server deployments and infrastructural maintenance

How to become a senior JavaScript developer

We’ve highlighted the various stages of your JavaScript development career. Now, we’ll look at the transitions through a developer’s career. 

From newcomer to junior JavaScript developer

A coder is a hobbyist who isn’t paid for coding but does it for pleasure in their free time. Essential traits of a coder include good knowledge of JavaScript, an in-depth understanding of syntax and a love for solving problems that arise in various smaller projects.

The transition from coder to junior JavaScript developer occurs when you enter the IT field and land your first paid position as a JavaScript developer. As a junior JavaScript developer, you will turn business requirements into applications and use tools to solve real-world problems.

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If you are at this stage, you’re working with a team and an excel by becoming a great team member and learning as much as you can while on the job. Here’s what you should do to become a great team member and move forward in your career:

  • Clearly communicate your goals each workday instead of jumping right into technical specifics.
  • When working in codebases, which can be quite overwhelming, develop a strategy before touching the code. For example, try breaking down problems into small steps.
  • Keep an achievement log that allows you to document what that you’ve learned or complex problems you’ve solved. This log will be something to look back to if you have a slow or disappointing day. It will also help when it's time to revise your resume.
  • Read a wide range of books in your field, including subjects outside your comfort zone. Even senior JavaScript developers perform daily research.
  • Join a developer community, which are forums, Facebook groups or websites where you can interact with fellow Java developers to learn more about Java or seek help for a specific problem you are facing. You will also get to contribute to open-source projects and eventually attend conferences. A few Java forums you should visit regularly are StackOverFlow, Oracle Java Forum and Coderanch.

From junior to intermediate JavaScript developer

The boundary between junior and intermediate JavaScript developer is a bit blurry. A telltale sign you’ve reached this level is when you feel like you know everything you need to know to architect a system. You may also feel like JavaScript is the only programming language you’ll ever need.

This feeling isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it marks your growth as a JavaScript developer.

Intermediate developers take junior developer knowledge and skill to the next level, gaining more experience in the process. Some tips that’ll help you in this career point include:

  • Joining a high-visibility project to gain experience fast and build a reputation within your company.
  • Being ready to pounce on challenges that lie beyond your comfort zone to help build trust, confidence and a reputation.
  • Finding a good mentor who can reel you back when needed.
  • Continuing to learn and test new ideas and concepts. 

From intermediate to senior JavaScript developer

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A senior developer is fluent in JavaScript and can handle high-level architectural concerns and designs. A senior JavaScript developer possesses years of experience building real-world web applications and mentoring other developers on their team.

To become a senior JavaScript developer, you need lots of practice and experience to get accustomed to a variety of real-world problems and their solutions.

Here are some tips to being a successful senior JavaScript developer:

  • Find the tech stack, the list of all the technology services used to build and run a single application, you want to be skilled with and learn it in depth.
  • Have the courage to take on challenging projects offered to you.
  • Step outside your comfort zone and work on varied projects — even those outside your expertise.
  • Keep track of your growing skills and determine the ones you’d like to expand upon.
  • Have a good understanding of design patterns and know what problems each pattern solves.
  • Ensure you’re always learning new things at your job. If it becomes stagnant, it may be time to move on.

Senior JavaScript developer salaries

A JavaScript developer falls under the greater web developer umbrella, and according to to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for a web developer in the U.S. is $73,760 per year or $35.46 per hour.

Keep in mind that this rate varies with experience and by location. Per the BLS, the lowest 10% of web developers earn $39,550, while the highest 10% earn a whopping $142,080.

Final thoughts

Developers are in higher demand now than ever before, and opportunities for senior JavaScript developers are rich and plentiful. According to the Top IT Skills Report 2020: Demand and Hiring Trends, JavaScript is the most in-demand IT skill and 72% of companies are looking for JavaScript developers. With surging popularity, there is plenty of need for JavaScript developers now and in the future.

Now’s the time to start planning for JavaScript developer career and working toward it. Depending on your determination, you could find yourself climbing the career ladder and becoming the senior JavaScript developer you’re striving to be quicker than expected.

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