⚖️ Software Engineering Levels at Skutopia

⚖️ Software Engineering Levels at Skutopia

At SKUTOPIA, we use Engineering levels to remove the ambiguity of job titles. Every software engineer is either a product engineer or a platform engineer with an associated level from IC1 to IC7.

By using levels, we can clearly understand where engineers are in their careers, and importantly, set expectations for their roles.

Why We Use Levels

Having clearly defined software engineering levels allows SKUTOPIA to have transparent guidelines for hiring and promoting engineers. This brings consistency and fairness across product verticals and an even playing field across managers as we scale our engineering teams. Levels work to remove unconscious bias as assessment is made against a consistent framework.

Another advantage of these levels is that they allow SKUTOPIA to build a culture of learning new skills and foster a growth mindset for engineers. The growth trajectory is a clear and digestible for engineers, allowing them to focus their energy in the right place. This provides an iterative approach to becoming more influential, gaining key leadership skills along the way.

Applying Levels

SKUTOPIA's levels are applied via our detailed Scorecards. The scorecards provide the expectations of each level. We break down our scorecards into four key levers.


Impact starts with quite a narrow scope. Engineers, early in their careers, will focus on impact via code. As an engineer grows, the impact becomes broader and moves into leading projects, squads, verticals, and working across verticals.


When we look at growth early on in your career, you are the one who needs a lot of nurturing. We like to see you develop an eagerness to learn and seek out feedback. Over time the balance changes and you help individuals grow, help squads grow, help verticals grow, and then help organisational growth.


Culture starts out very much within the team culture and follows a similar path. It then moves into cross-squad culture, cross-vertical culture, and then cross-business function culture.


Craft once again evolves from focussing on your own craft through to the wider areas. This evolves into writing quality and understandable architecture decision records, getting buy in for new technologies, understanding and driving service level objects, and being aware of and improving the developer experience.

Each Level Summarised

To see a detailed summary, you can visit SKUTOPIA's roles canvas. We've made it public to be transparent with our candidates. The titles in the canvas link to the detailed scorecards. I've added them to each summary below as well.


IC1 is largely around entering the workforce. Starting to learn your craft, proactively seeking input from other engineers and management around improving and developing as a software engineer.


IC2 is around becoming more independent within your career. You know and understand your role and the role of your key stakeholders (product and design). You become more vocal about your thoughts and ideas, and you start to show off your work to business stakeholders.


IC3 revolves around becoming more competent at a higher level. You actively take responsibility for running projects, helping other engineers grow, and building key relationships within the business.


IC4 is when we start to give out informal titles; You become known as a squad lead. You are accountable for being the engineering representative in the product trio. You help the entire squad grow and develop. You have a much greater organisational impact, working with key stakeholders in your domain.


IC5 is what we call a vertical lead. You are working across multiple squads within a product vertical. You are working towards having technical alignment and direction with the squads that you oversee. You focus on the bigger picture in order to efficiently scale the vertical.


IC6 is what we call our staff software engineers. The role is to work across verticals, having an extremely deep understanding of the business and the customer. You are able to assess new softwares or architecture, and the business and customer value they could bring


IC7 is what we call our principal engineers. The impacts are similar to that of a staff engineer, with the real difference being the focus on multiple strategic business objectives in parallel, and balancing the priorities effectively.

Wrapping Up

To wrap it up, we use levels from IC1 to IC7 to allow our product and platform engineers to constantly evolve and grow. It allows Skutopia to bring a fair and level playing field to promotions and hiring.

The skills vary from hands on engineering, through to growing engineers, forming relationships within the business, and establishing engineering excellence. We take an iterative approach to growth to ensure targets are achievable.