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Lead Developer vs. Team Lead: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

In the tech industry, there are many different types of leadership roles. Two common positions are that of a lead developer and a team lead. Both of these positions are important in managing a team of developers and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget. However, there are several key differences between these two roles.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a lead developer and a team lead, and we provide additional information on other types of tech industry leadership roles.

What is a Lead Developer?

Lead Developers are responsible for heading up development projects and managing a team of developers. They collaborate with other team members to create a development plan and schedule, and then oversee the execution of the plan. Lead Developers also review code changes and provide feedback to developers. They may also be responsible for interviewing and hiring new developers. In some cases, Lead Developers may also be responsible for training new developers on company processes and best practices.

What is a Team Lead?

A Team Lead is responsible for guiding and overseeing a team of employees to ensure they are productive and efficient. They assign tasks to team members, provide feedback and support, and resolve any conflicts that may arise. Team Leads typically report to a manager or supervisor and may be responsible for training new team members. They also may be responsible for creating and implementing team-wide policies and procedures. In some cases, Team Leads may also be responsible for the team’s budget.

Lead Developer vs. Team Lead

Here are the main differences between a lead developer and a team lead.

Job Duties

Team leads manage the day-to-day tasks for their team, while lead developers create the project goals and oversee the entire development process. Team leads often perform some of the same duties as their team, such as coding, designing or testing. Lead developers may perform some of the same duties as team leads, but they also complete other managerial responsibilities, like creating schedules, assigning projects and providing feedback to the rest of the development team.

The main difference in job duties is that a team lead performs more daily tasks with their team, while lead developers provide direction for the entire department.

Job Requirements

Lead developers and team leads often need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. They might also need to have several years of experience working as a developer before they can be promoted to a lead role. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many lead developers and team leads pursue certifications through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the Project Management Institute (PMI). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use development software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Lead developers typically work in an office setting, often for a large company. They may also travel to different locations to meet with clients and collaborate on projects. Team leads usually work in an office environment as well, but they may also visit the construction sites where their teams are working. This allows them to monitor progress and ensure that deadlines are met.


Both lead developers and team leads need to have excellent communication skills. They will often be responsible for communicating project updates to their team, as well as communicating the team’s needs to other departments or stakeholders. Lead developers and team leads also need to be able to motivate their team and help them stay on track.

Lead developers typically need to have strong technical skills. They should be able to code and be familiar with multiple programming languages. They may also be responsible for developing technical specifications for projects. Team leads do not necessarily need to be as technically skilled as lead developers, but they should still have a basic understanding of coding and be able to troubleshoot simple issues.

Organization is another important skill for both lead developers and team leads. They need to be able to keep track of deadlines, assigned tasks and progress reports. They may also be responsible for creating project schedules and ensuring that the team adheres to the schedule.


The average salary for a lead developer is $114,692 per year, while the average salary for a team lead is $69,148 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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