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What New Coders Should Know About Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey

by Dan Pickett

Are you considering a career in web development? What if you could get inside the heads of thousands of practicing developers to learn more about what it’s like? Every year, the popular coding community website Stack Overflow conducts their annual Developer Survey, and it’s chock full of good information for those that might be new to coding. Like most things when learning to code, at first glance, it can be pretty overwhelming. So, let me take a few moments to share the highlights for future coding newbies as well as Coding Bootcamp graduates and alumni.

What’s Life Like as a Dev?

Most respondents really enjoy coding, and computing in general. In fact, 81% of professional developer respondents said they enjoy coding as a hobby, and 65.9% spend more than 9 hours per day on a computer. This indicative of an industry and workforce that is fueled by passion and enthusiasm towards the craft of software development. Ask yourself the question, can you picture yourself spending 9 hours per day on a computer? 

What are some of the current trends in Software Development?

When it comes to trending programming languages and frameworks, JavaScript and JavaScript frameworks reign supreme. Because most web browsers include a JavaScript interpreter, we refer to it as a client-side language. We use JavaScript primarily to create rich user experiences after a web page has been loaded. Interestingly, because of the popularity of JavaScript on the client-side, NodeJS, a server side adaptation of the language is also widely used. 

On the client, AngularJS and ReactJS are both known as frontend frameworks because we build client-side applications with them. While AngularJS is quite popular, it’s also listed as one of the “most dreaded” frameworks. This may be due to the rapid changes that are happening with the framework, making it difficult for developers to upgrade their apps and to develop a proficiency with the framework.

Meanwhile, 21.3% of respondents conveyed that ReactJS is a framework that they want to learn. Backed by Facebook, ReactJS has really surged in popularity, and we believe it to be the most approachable to newcomers when comparing it to AngularJS or Ember.

From a tooling standpoint, the most popular coding editor appeared to be Visual Studio Code, with ~38% of web developers sharing it as their preferred tool. A whopping 88.4% of Professional Developer respondents indicated that they use Git for version control. With such strong usage,  newcomers to software development should become familiar with this powerful and useful tool.

On the hardware side, 65% of respondents indicated that they use more than one monitor. As a web developer, you’re often moving from the command line, your code editor, and a web browser. Having more screen real estate can really help to boost productivity. The survey also indicates that about half of respondents prefer standing desks and ergonomic equipment. With 65.9% of respondents spending over 9 hours a day in front of a computer, it’s great to see that so many developers that are avoiding prolonged sitting while caring for their hands and wrists.

What’s the job market like?

First off, and most importantly, the majority of developers are satisfied with their career and their current job.

While satisfaction is high, frequent job changes are common for developers. 52% of respondents in the US shared that they’ve been in their current role for 2 years or less, while the national median is 4.2 years (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). This correlates with our observations that there is a strong interest among developers to keep their work environment new fresh, along with an active recruiting industry that opens up new possibilities for gainfully employed developers.

According to the survey, Ruby developers are paid about $18,000 higher than the median salary of all respondents. The survey also indicates that Go, Groovy, Scala, Clojure, and Erlang developers  outearn the norm. This indicates there is a strong job market for developers familiar with these technologies.

Interestingly, 4.8% of US respondents indicated that they are unemployed and looking for a job. With January’s national unemployment rate of 4.1%,  this is fairly in line with current unemployment trends. 

The Data Shows a Diversity Problem, yet It’s Not Prioritized in Making Career Decisions

So, while we have been working to make strides with diversity, the data tells us that Software Engineering is still dominated by white, childless, straight dudes. Let us illustrate below with some intentionally drab pie charts.

While it’s clear that this is an ongoing problem, the survey shows that most developers are not prioritizing diversity as an issue in their job choice

As someone learning to code or as a prospective bootcamp student, what else should I know?

Coding Bootcamp Graduates Get Jobs

It was great to see a question on this year’s survey oriented towards bootcamp graduates, but the responses were a bit contradictory to what we’ve seen in the market. Mainly, we were surprised to see Stack Overflow’s results indicating 45.5% of bootcamp graduates already had full-time jobs as developers. Based on Course Report’s demographics survey, a survey geared towards bootcamp graduates, only 7% of 2017 grads indicated they were experienced programmers. Course Report’s findings are more consistent with our observations: most bootcamp attendees enroll with the objective of changing their career. So, this question threw us for a bit of a loop. If we remove the already employed developers, though, we find that most respondents find their first job within 6 months of graduating:

Most Developers Have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, but only 65% of Professional Developers have a Computer Science Degree

About 75% of respondents indicated that they had a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. Interestingly, only 65% of Professional Developers that studied at a College majored in Computer Science. We know many successful developers that did not study it in school, so this lines up well with our observations. 

Get Ready to Contribute Right When You Get on the Job

Regardless of your background, according to this survey, 74% of your peers will expect you to be a productive contributor within 3 months of your start date. In fact, we know of many software development teams that have you deploy a feature on your first day of work. This is indicative that you have to be willing to hit the ground running in web development.

With this data, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for developers and those considering a career in software development!

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