Job title for high-level software developer
March 10, 2011 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose my job title. I'm a software engineer and I'm transitioning from a position where I both manage projects and write code, to a post-management position where I'm not directly responsible for any particular projects but provide overall ideas and advice for the architecture, coding practices, features, and anything else about the system. In addition, I'll still be hacking code on whatever parts of the system I find interesting. It's both more and less than a "software architect" since I'll be doing other things as well and I won't actually be responsible for directing the software architecture, but any ideas and advice I have will be listened to. It's kind of a "do whatever I want" dream job. The CTO proposed "principal software engineer" which is good and conveys the general idea and seniority, but I'm hoping you can help me come up with something better. I'm looking for a professional sounding title, rather than something quirky (although if you have a really great idea for a quirky title, go ahead and post it because I'll enjoy it).
posted by Emanuel to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Senior Member of Technical Staff?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:02 PM on March 10, 2011

In the companies I've worked in, your duties as you describe them are called "principal software engineer".
posted by theKik at 4:06 PM on March 10, 2011

VFX work calls those people "pipeline engineers."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:06 PM on March 10, 2011

"Engineering Director", or "Staff Engineer" are similar titles I've heard a lot. It does sound like you're describing an "architect" family-position though. In the quirky world, there's always "Guru".
posted by zvs at 4:25 PM on March 10, 2011

I worked for a small business that had clearly defined roles, but no titles. I liked that a lot. Made the the group feel like a real team. I was the team leader, I think it helped with making me and my manager seem approachable.
posted by dantodd at 4:38 PM on March 10, 2011

Yahoo! used to name such positions, "Producers", borrowed liberally from Hollywood back when Terry Semel was in-charge.
posted by jchaw at 4:42 PM on March 10, 2011

BTW don't get ahead of yourself... :)

All software engineers are code monkeys.
posted by jchaw at 4:43 PM on March 10, 2011

All software engineers are code monkeys.

What's bigger and better than a code monkey? A code gorilla!
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:51 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Senior fellow?
posted by Simon Barclay at 4:56 PM on March 10, 2011

Ramp up the CTO's suggestion to "principal software architect"

Just a thought.

Good Luck !
posted by sandpine at 5:21 PM on March 10, 2011

If you're the top ape, you're the Code Silverback.
posted by bonehead at 5:25 PM on March 10, 2011

We have a Chief Architect.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:50 PM on March 10, 2011

Also, he's not c-level; he just happens to have chief in his title.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:51 PM on March 10, 2011

That definitely sounds like some variant of "architect".
posted by colinshark at 6:05 PM on March 10, 2011

I would suggest thinking about how you are going to explain this job and title the next time you are interviewing. I like the suggestions that have architect in the title, like Chief Architect or Principal Software Architect, because those seem to be the closest mainstream job titles to what you are going to be doing. One of my acquaintances did the quirky job title and business card in San Francisco (aka "ransom note") font in a startup environment. It was a great icebreaker until the company was seriously looking at getting bought, then it became a liability, at least for him.
posted by kovacs at 6:10 PM on March 10, 2011

not directly responsible for any particular projects

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:10 PM on March 10, 2011

Vertically integrated syngeristic outside-of-the-box agenda process management control process design engineer.
posted by BrooksCooper at 8:30 PM on March 10, 2011

I perform this role and my title is Applications Manager
posted by the noob at 9:04 PM on March 10, 2011

Code Czar
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:20 AM on March 11, 2011

Depending on the scope of your role and the size of your organization, Enterprise Architect is one to consider.

If your organization follows the old Bell Labs model, there are a lot of shades of the MTS title, including Lead Member of Technical Staff or Principal Member of Technical Staff. That set would make more sense if the work is research related and others have MTS titles in the organization.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:29 AM on March 11, 2011

Your role sounds like one of Software Architect to me. I'd stick with that.
posted by PsuDab93 at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2011

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