What’s wrong with just being a solid programmer?

I’m sure we’ve all seen the job adverts for “rock star developer” or “programmer ninja”. I’m sure (hope?) like most of my peers, we’ve sighed with exasperation as such silly, ego fuelled job titles. Thankfully this article[^] instils some much needed sanity on such job titles.

I particulaly liked this quote.


I’m more akin to a librarian, scientist, artist, and carpenter.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. He sums up perfectly the blend of skills needed to be a good software developer.

As a professional software developer, I completely divorce myself from such job titles. I take what I do seriously and carry out my work with due diligence and pride. What I don’t do is give myself overblown job titles which do absolutely nothing to enhance my reputation or my profession. Can you imagine seeing an advert for a “rock star airline pilot” or “ninja brain surgeon”? These sorts of titles do our industry no favours whatsoever. How can we be taken seriously when we have adverts for facile roles such as these?

Do you really want a “rock star developer” designing the security component of your enterprise application? Or heading up the implementation of your safety-critical flight navigation system? Or near your business critical on-line payment system? Hell no! These are roles where you want a safe and experienced pair of hands. People who have spent years in the trenches and got their hands dirty sorting out complex programming problems, designing software that works in the real-world, keeping screaming customers happy (or trying their best anyway).

Let’s be honest, software developers love doing what we do anyway. We’re a passionate lot and enjoy developing software for its own sake. We’re geeks. We don’t need to be enticed and seduced by silly job titles. And to those that are, stay clear of them. They’re more concerned with stoking their egos than doing great work.

A personal plea to any recruiters or head-hunters who may be reading this. Please stop using these job titles. They’re silly, unnecessary and trivialise the work that we do.

Our industry doesn’t need “rock star programmers” or “programmer ninjas”. Seriously, if this is how you see yourself, then please find another career. Our industry doesn’t need you. It needs people who are dedicated, passionate, hard-working and take their work seriously.

If this article was helpful to you, please do hit the 💚 button below. Thanks!

A father, cyclist, vegetarian, atheist, geek and multiple award winning technical author. Loves real ale, fine wine and good music. All round decent chap.

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