Not all software developers are interested in being promoted to higher levels in the ranks of an organization. Climbing the career ladder can be a risky and scary move. If you are not ready for it, you might land in a position that you are not qualified to take. Unless you have a good mentor, promotions can be daunting.
Most software developers I know want to code; that is what they love to do, and what makes them happy. Higher level system architecture, technical leadership or management are not for everyone. However, if a promotion is something you want, remember this one piece of counterintuitive career advice:
Work yourself out of your job
I know, sounds crazy, right?
The fallacy of being indispensable
Imagine that you are the only developer responsible for maintaining a vital piece of software. You are the only person who understands it and can fix it or improve it. Being in that situation might look like a good place to be. Some people call it “job security,” and makes you feel indispensable. Knowing that the company needs you gives you a sense of security because you feel like you can’t get fired. But, think about it, is your goal not getting fired? Or making career progression?
If you are interested in a promotion, you don’t want to be unreplaceable in your current role. Share your knowledge and train somebody to take your place when you get promoted. You must work yourself out of your (current) job by helping someone else grab your seat.
Help your boss help you
Your boss needs to see you as someone who can take more responsibilities, and who can pave the road for a smooth transition. If you are accustomed to keeping your responsibilities close to your chest, protecting your code as if it was a prized possession, letting it go might feel like giving away the keys to your kingdom. However, if you want to get a promotion, you need to let it go. You cannot expect your boss to manage the transition for you. Make it easy for him or her. Help your boss by working yourself out of your current job as a way of pushing your career to the next step of the corporate ladder.