What does the industry think about Tech Leads?

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

But how can we know? The easiest way to get an insight of what the companies expect from their Tech Leads is to have a look at their job postings. So off we go to create our data set of job postings for Tech leads !

Data set

My data set consists of 50 (hopefully) different job postings that I collected from 4 different job posting websites. The criteria I used for my search:

  • Title: Technical Lead
  • Location: London (10 mile radius)
  • Date published: Last month (from 2019-04-07)
  • Type: Full time / permanent

I tried to exclude jobs that were published in more than 1 of the sites or by more than 1 recruitment agencies. Finally I only included job postings that had a clear reference of the salary on offer.
For each job advertised I collected the following data points:

  • Exact title
  • Salary range
  • Technologies
    • Back end
    • Front end
    • Databases / Infrastructure
  • Principles and other traits

Salaries

One of the first things that one notices is the wide range of salaries on offer. Have a look at the chart below.

If a job had a salary range of 65K to 80K then it would count as 1 for all the 5K ranges in between ie for 65K, 70K, 75K and 80K

From the 50 job postings there was 1 that referred to a Technical lead role that started at 40K, which sits on the far low side of the spectrum, and only 3 that referred to salaries of more than 125K. The majority of the posts were in the 65K – 100K range.

Area of development

I divided the roles based on the technologies that they mentioned, with jobs referring only to front end technologies as being Front end, only back end technologies as being Back end, when they contain both as Full stack and finally if they contained none as (oh well) None 😄.

Number of jobs per area of development

First up it was surprising for me to see that there were 4 job postings that mentioned nothing about the technologies that the Tech Lead would work with but there you have it. Overall the majority of the jobs are looking for either Full stack or Back end focused technical leads with only 14% looking for purely Front end leads.

Back end technologies

Java seems to dominate the job postings at the moment, with Python and C# following in the distance. Also very interesting to note that 12 of the 39 Back end / Full stack roles required knowledge of more than 1 of these languages.

Front end technologies

Here things are a lot more fluid with many roles just requiring knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript where others dive a lot more into the specific frameworks that are going to be used. Framework wise React is the clear winner, with Angular falling not far behind.

Principles and other traits

There is a diverse set of skills listed in the job postings that are not directly related with Back end or Front end technologies. Some appear in only a few of them (like Machine learning, AI, distributed or real-time systems) whereas others are common across a number of jobs.
In the chart below I have only included skills that appeared in 5 or more job postings to avoid clattering the chart with any unique traits.

Skills that appeared as desirable in 5 or more of the job postings

It’s very interesting to note that there are 2 types of skills mixed here. The first set of skills refers to designing scalable, reliable software and pipelines and it includes things like experience in building APIs, microservices, TDD / BDD and CI/CD pipelines.
The second set of skills have to do with the management and growth of the team and the projects that the team is working on. This set of skills includes having Management experience, good communication skills, ability to mentor less experienced engineers and act as a coordinator for projects. This split set of responsibilities is something I have seen in the past as well where the role of a Tech Lead appears a bit overloaded and often includes the Team Lead and Manager responsibilities as well.

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