Job function or job title: Which one do you go by?
By Jason Tee
When I get asked about what I do for a living, I simply say that I am a software developer. Most folks, if not all, follow up with “So you’re in to computers then?” I say “Well, not exactly.” I go on to explain what I do in lay terms and most walk away with the impression that I do “computer stuff.” My family also thinks I’m a computer troubleshooting guru and often calls me for technical support with their home computer problems.
Which leads me to a simple question: When asked about your job as a Java developer, what do you respond with? Your job function? Your fancy job title? The 2012 TSS Java Trends survey has some interesting data regarding these very questions.
Within the Java community, the phrase “Java developer” has a variety of meanings, from entry level Java code testers, to experienced Java development project managers, to software architects that specialize in Java, to software vendors that provide business or consumer software created with Java. When asked which title best describes their job function, 40% of respondents said that they were in application development management or staff. Probably not what you would respond with when asked by new acquaintances.
But when asked about their respective job titles, the data shows that most identify themselves as an “architect,” which is even more confusing to explain to friends and family. Architects design buildings right? 14% responded as architects with “senior software engineer” a close second with 13%. The category of “Other, please specify,” which in my view would be easier to explain to my mom, came in at 8%.
We could simply conclude that there is no easy way to explain what you do to the lay person. What about when you are asked by another technical person though? How do you respond? I tend to be as technical as possible without being arrogant about it. After exchanging titles, the conversation tends to go deep in to the weeds anyway, as we size each other up on our professional skills.
In the end, I like plain old “Java developer.” I don’t mind explaining that I don’t grow coffee or work at Starbucks. I say that I make websites like the one you use to book a flight or buy a product. That seems to help most folks relate. So how do you respond?
Edited by: JDenman on Mar 9, 2012 12:13 PM