Simple ways to distinguish between engineering levels

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Lately I've been thinking about the simplest possible ways to distinguish between different levels of engineers, which are typically something along the lines of:

  • Engineer
  • Senior Engineer
  • Lead Engineer
  • Engineering Manager
  • Engineering Executive (ie, VP or CTO)

While I can very easily come up with at least a dozen bullet points that speak to qualifications and qualities of each of the above roles, I think there's value in keeping things simple. Keeping things simple helps me focus on what's most essential and cut out much of the noise and the fluff.

Anyhow, here's my take on it. Please keep in mind that I'm concerned with coming up with simple ways to distinguish between these positions.

  • Engineer: Do what you're asked to do and do it well.
  • Senior Engineer: All of the above + Be proactive about identifying shortcomings & doing things that go beyond what you're asked to do.
  • Lead Engineer: All of the above + The ability to consistently lead and complete projects that consist of other engineers.
  • Engineering Manager: All of the above + Delegate by "multiplying" him/herself. People first, technology second.
  • Engineering Executive: All of the above + Able to lead people--both in and outside of the technology organization to achieve objectives of the company.
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