Developer

Stack Overflow surveyed 56,000 developers and you won't believe the results

Want the inside information on developers? Stack Overflow's latest survey sheds light on average age, salary, favorite programming languages, and more stats on developers across the globe.

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Image: iStockphoto/StockRocket

Stack Overflow recently released the results of its 2016 developer survey. More than 56,000 developers participated in the research, answering 45 questions running the gamut from most popular language, to whether developers prefer dogs over cats.

Developers from 173 countries participated in the survey and, while that large sample size does help make it more objective, there are still some challenges. For example, Stack Overflow wrote, "it's still biased against devs who don't speak English, or who don't like taking English-language surveys."

Despite potential bias, there is still a lot that businesses can learn about the developers they employ from this survey. Starting with who they are and where they're from.

SEE: Job description: Platform developer (Tech Pro Research)

There were around 18 job titles represented in the survey results, but the top five broke out like this:

  1. Full-Stack Web Developer - 28.0%
  2. Back-End Web Developer - 12.2%
  3. Student - 11.4%
  4. Mobile Developer (Android, iOS, WP, and Multi-Platform) - 8.4%
  5. Desktop Developer - 6.9%

However, these titles were not how respondents defined themselves, per se. Most of the respondents identified as simply a "developer," at 71.6%. "Programmer" was the identity for 60.3% of respondents, and "engineer" was represented by 41.8%.

It's also important to note what languages and technologies these developers are using. For full-stack, frontend, and backend developers, JavaScript takes the lead by a long shot. Android leads the mobile developer ecosystem, while Python holds the crown in math and data, and Java is most popular with students. Although most respondents were comfortable with multiple languages.

"On average, full-stack developers are comfortable coding with 5 to 6 major languages or frameworks (vs. 4 for everyone else). Executives are comfortable using more languages and frameworks than any other developer occupation, which is most likely a result of having more experience," the report said.

The report also looked at the age of developers using Stack Overflow. The average developer age among respondents was 29.6 years old, while the median was 27. Only 7.1% were younger than 20 years old, and 0.8% were older than 60 years old. In terms of average age by country, the United States had the highest average age at 32, while India had the youngest average age at 25.5.

On average, respondents have 6.5 years of experience, including non-professional experience. Most (32.1%) have 2-5 years of experience, while 23.2% had 6-10 years of experience and 26.5% had 11+ years of experience.

Unsurprisingly, men far outnumbered women.

  • Men - 92.8%
  • Women - 5.8%
  • Other - 0.5%
  • Prefer not to Disclose - 1.0%

Additionally, the roles women fill as developers break down differently than those filled by men. Women are far more likely to be machine learning developers or QA developers than men are, and they "appear to be about equally as likely to be either an Executive or Engineering Manager," the report said. The top role reported by women was designer, with 12.4%.

The experience gap between men and women differs by geography and age range, with each one taking the lead in some respects. The number of women with only a few years of experience seems to suggest that the number of female developers is increasing.

Education also varied by field, but on average, the top three responses from non-student professionals on how they were educated were:

  1. Self-taught - 69.1%
  2. On the job training - 43.9%
  3. B.S. in Computer Science (or related field) - 34.8%

In terms of employment, 67.8% were employed full time, while only 1.8% listed themselves as unemployed. The majority of people looking for work were students, and 28.3% of respondents said they got their job through a referral. Across the board, salary was the top consideration for jobs.

SEE: Stack Overflow founder Spolsky: The three skills every software developer should learn (TechRepublic)

Salaries varied by experience, industry, and locale, but the mean salary of US developers based on their occupation ranged anywhere from $67,000 to $132,000. In the US and UK, Executive was the top paying role at $150,314 (US). Engineering manager took second place with $143,122 (US) and enterprise level services developer got third with $121,908.

The tech that developers worked with also affected pay. Cloud, React, and Redis will all net you $105,000 in the US if you're a full-stack developer. Mobile developers familiar with iOS make about $10,000 more on average than Android developers.

The developer survey from Stack Overflow also looked at a few lighthearted stats as well. For example, most developers prefer dogs to cats, unless they're in Germany. Perhaps the most important additional statistic was the debate between Star Wars and Star Trek. Star Wars won out for all developers under 50. Developers 50 and older were mostly Trekkies. The top write-in choices were Firefly, Stargate, Doctor Who, and Babylon 5.

If you want to see the rest of the results, check out the full survey here.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Stack Overflow's latest developer survey found that only 1.8% of developers were unemployed, and developers who knew tech like F#, Dart, Cassandra, and Spark made the most money worldwide.
  2. Rust is the most loved programming language, Visual Basic is the most hated, and JavaScript is the most popular.
  3. While 93% of the respondents were men, the number of female developers may be growing based on listed experience levels.

Also see

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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