Why Non-Linear Tech Careers Are the Future

Why Non-Linear Tech Careers Are the Future


4 min read

Gone are the days when a tech career meant following a linear path from entry-level to senior or management positions.

Today's tech industry is evolving rapidly, and with it, the career paths of those working there.

Non-linear tech careers are becoming increasingly common, offering professionals more flexibility, variety, and opportunities for growth.

This article will explore why non-linear tech careers are the future and how you can benefit from them.

What is a linear tech career path?

A linear tech career path is a traditional career path that follows a transparent and predictable progression from entry-level to management.

For example, let's take the career path of a software engineer.

A linear career progression for a software engineer typically looks like this:

  1. Junior Software Engineer.

  2. Mid-level Software Engineer (also known as "Software Engineer").

  3. Senior Software Engineer.

  4. Principal Engineer.

  5. Technical Lead.

  6. Staff Software Engineer.

As you can see, it's pretty long.

Most software engineers go through at least the first three steps. And after that, they may decide to pivot into a management role.

While this path can be rewarding for some, it can also be limiting and may not offer the flexibility or variety many professionals seek.

Why is the traditional linear tech career path becoming outdated?

Traditional career paths are becoming outdated for different reasons:

  1. The tech industry is constantly evolving and, therefore, creating new job opportunities.

  2. The demand for tech talent is growing faster than the supply, so employers look for candidates with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.

  3. Many professionals look for flexibility and variety in their careers, and the linear career path may not offer opportunities for growth and exploration.

  4. Some people realize that the traditional career path doesn't bring fulfilment.

Often (but not always), following a traditional career path can mean working extra hours and taking on more responsibilities to receive a promotion.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people have shifted their mindsets, priorities and goals.

There’s more to life than work and sometimes we need a career that allows us to acknowledge that.[CareerFoundry]

What are non-linear tech careers?

Non-linear tech careers are paths that do not follow the traditional linear progression from entry level to management positions.

Instead, they offer more flexibility and variety regarding job roles, skills, and industries.

Non-linear tech careers may involve switching roles within the same company, changing company and job roles simultaneously, working for multiple companies in other industries, or starting your own business.

Related:Non-Technical Careers: An Insider’s Look Into The Tech Industry

How can you benefit from a non-linear tech career path?

Non-linear tech careers offer several benefits for professionals looking to advance their careers:

  • You can explore different areas of interest.

  • You can develop new skills and adapt to the changing nature of the tech industry.

  • You're more likely to pursue a job more aligned with your passion.

Individuals are forced to adapt to new environments, learn new skills, and navigate different challenges by changing industries or roles. This adaptability can make individuals more resilient and equipped to handle change, which is becoming increasingly important in today’s uncertain economy.[The Benefits of Non-Linear Career Development].

Examples of non-linear tech career paths

I've gone from being a software engineer to a technical writer.

Many software engineers pivot into engineering management, product management, sales engineering, project management, UX design, etc.

The key is to be open to new opportunities and continuously develop your skills and knowledge.

Related:5 Alternative Career Options For Software Engineers

Key Takeaways

After reading this article, you know:

  • What a linear tech career path is.

  • Why traditional tech career paths are becoming outdated.

  • What are non-linear tech careers.

  • How you can benefit from a non-linear tech career path.

Do you know anyone who's considering a career change? If so, share this article with them.

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