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What does the career path of a Software Development Manager typically look like, in terms of years of experience, education, professional background, and so on?

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Better suited for: programmers.stackexchange.com –  Tim Cooper Jan 30 '11 at 3:31
In my experience it's usually just tenure and being a "yes man" to senior management. Technical skill doesn't matter as much as complimenting the boss(es). Yes, that's a broad generalization but I can count the number of "good" managers I've had on one hand, and would need both hands and feet for the number that only were manager only by virtue of being the first programmer hired/longest programmer there/always says "Yes, we can do that" to the CEO –  Wayne M Apr 11 '11 at 16:31

3 Answers 3

If you have someone backing you, you can be there in no time at all. Just need to know the right people.

But seriously, if you are envisioning that as your career and wish to know what path to follow, the same rule applies to almost any job: start where Software Development Manager lower subordinates are.

Some good education is the place to start... a Computer Sciente course, for example.

And forget about "years of experience" and such portfolio stuff... as time passes, you'll see awesome people being programmers for 20 years, and absolutely incompetent individuals as software architects, senior consultants and managers.

Do your job, be competent, keep learning and show what you can do. Everything else is politics.

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+1 for mentioning the politics and needing to know the right people. –  Bernard Oct 30 '11 at 16:35

It mostly depends on the organization.

In the job postings that I've seen, people in managerial roles (including technical leads) have at least 5 years of industry experience, often in the domain that the company operates. Most have upwards of 10 years of experience, however, with a subset of that being in the domain where the company works. In larger companies, many have post-graduate degrees, with technical managers having degrees in engineering or engineering management and program managers having degrees in engineering management, business management, or an MBA. In smaller companies, the experience is the driving factor.

Generally, you have proven yourself "in the trenches", so to speak. You have some kind of development work on project teams to show for yourself, either in the organization, in previous jobs, or in other personal projects. I've never seen a manager without a degree of any kind, but in the places I've worked, a degree is a prerequisite for any position and I can't speak to start-ups and smaller mom-and-pop software companies.

Someone who is a manager or leader, from my experiences, has proven themselves to be technically competent and a top individual performer. They might or might not have formal leadership, business, or project management experience, but have demonstrated the ability to learn on the fly and would be expected to learn the skills needed, either on their own or by seeking out company sponsored or funded training sessions.

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Software manager? I'm in the same situation. The way I see it is years of experiences and perhaps knowing how to database design. Taking project manager courses will impress those PR people. I know how to manage code monkeys! What you basically need is skills in leading people and project manager courses is a selling point for interviewer, years of experiences in related industry, and if you know how to plan abstractly (ER diagram, UML, etc..). Stuff like oh I was a senior programmer and I mentor some jr and mid programmer helps too.

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