Living in the Information Age means being surrounded by and using software on a daily and hourly basis. Estimates put the number of devices in active use at 9 trillion! Behind every technological product we use are people who create and maintain it – software developers. To keep the modern world running, it takes an army of developers. So, how big is it?

The State of the Developer Nation report puts the number of active software developers at 26.8 million at the end of 2021. Compared with the early 2010s, the number has grown by one third (from 18.2 million in 2013). According to experts’ predictions, it will double and reach the mark of 45 million by 2030. The growth is accelerating as the world is getting more and more reliant on technologies.

Who they are

The majority of software developers – around 80% – are men, and women make just 19% at the moment. However, the number of women in the industry is growing fast – from 9% in 2019 to 19% in 2021! – and projected to increase further as education and knowledge in software is becoming more available to women through university and other courses. India and Italy have the highest percentage of female developers currently, and Belarus, China, and Russia are reported to have the best.

The age of over 60% of developers is below 35 years old – the driving force of tech industry is young, and in general, female developers are younger than their male counterparts.

Developers from Poland, China, Taiwan, Romania, and Ukraine are reported to be the best, according to outsourcing ranking for 2021. The list also includes India and a recent member of the top 10 club, Egypt. Polish software companies and developers have earned this title by offering a price-to-quality ratio that beats everybody else’s.

How they learn

It does not take a university degree to learn software development and find a job in the tech sector. Some courses take only a few months, and developers can apply for work even before they finish the course. Higher degree of education is expected in bigger companies, which are fewer. Smaller companies frequently employ self-taught experts. According to the Developer Nation report, over 65% of developers are actually self-taught.

Another tendency in the education of software developers is the use of other sources of knowledge like tutorials on YouTube, or coding bootcamps. On-the-job training is widespread as well, with over 30% of developers using that method, although it is generally preferred by older developers.

How they work: the languages

JavaScript is the most popular and common programming language used by software developers. Currently, around 16.5 million engineers worldwide are active users of JavaScript. Python comes second with 11.3 million users. This language is generally used in data science and machine learning. Top 3 wraps up with Java, which has over 9 million developers actively using it. Java’s popularity has increased in the Android mobile app ecosystem.

Concerning web apps, PHP is the second most popular language (after JavaScript), and it has 7.3 million users. The fifth biggest programming language among developers is C#, used by 6.8 million developers, mostly for desktop apps, ARV/VR, and game development. Other popular languages, which employers also seek, include C++, Language Agnostic, C, GO (this language leads by the number of developers interested in learning it), and Ruby.

The fastest growing language community is Kotlin, which along with Rust has grown more than two-fold over the last three years: Kotlin now has 2.6 million users.

Interestingly, most developers have either up to 2 or over 6 years of professional experience, with the 3-5-year experience in the minority (20%). Generally, software developers are involved professionally in a few fields and working on projects in other areas for learning or as a hobby.

*Speaking of education and employment, we can’t ignore one of the most significant developments of the last two years – yes, the “plague”. The COVID-19 pandemic has cost jobs to 7% of developers, and 9% were forced to drop out of their studies.

A change we have all become familiar with is the shift to the remote: classes, work meetings held over Zoom, not going to the office for months on end. Nevertheless, less than 30% of developers expect to continue working remotely after we are done (hopefully) with the coronavirus.

Expanding the scope

The mainstream sector is the web, with almost 60% of developers creating web applications.  Machine learning, AI, and data science have seen a rapid increase of interest in the past years. The Industrial Internet of Things and AR/VR are emerging sectors, attracting around 10% of developers.

Certain fields have been receiving more attention. More than half of developers are learning or interested in robotics (design and construction of robots mimicking human behavior and assisting humans), computer vision (analysis of digital images, videos for valuable data extraction), and mini apps (tiny apps, which require a mega app to run). Around 49% of developers are involved in cryptocurrency sector, and almost 48% learn to build blockchain apps (except cryptocurrency).

These fields are more of a matter of the future, however, as the interest in them is currently more at an academic level. The adoption rate of the mentioned technologies is such that around 10-15% of developers are actually work on projects in these areas.

In high demand

The demand for developers is experiencing as big a growth as the number of developers. The obvious reason is the continuous expansion of technologies and the need for experts to secure it. Other reasons include production of multiple versions of the same software to adjust it to different regions, the need to constantly update and alter the existing codes, growing complexity and scalability of projects, and the increase of the number of coding languages.

Software development industry has been making quick and confident steps forward. With the high demand for specialists and the range of opportunities present in the field, the industry stands as one of the most dynamic and promising, and the prediction about 45 million has good chances to come true!

Annisa Icha Setiawati
Annisa Setiawati
Icha’s dedication to the tech industry has led her on a transformative journey from her previous expertise in hospitality. She has developed a strong specialization in people management and development, as well as experimental human resource practices. As a part of the technical recruiter team, Icha successfully helped Slash extend its Indonesia team in 2021 during the start of the digital transformation era. Her love of human connection has enabled her to create a great candidate experience and enhance talent potential while staying true to her principles of diversity, inclusivity, and equity. Her attention to detail and empathy in her work serve her dedication to cultivating a positive workplace culture.
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