High Demand: The Occupational Outlook for Developers

Published:06/05/2013   Last Updated:06/05/2013

An enterprising company recently posted that they would give a whopping $30,000 bounty to anyone who could refer a software developer for hire:

“Today, HubSpot, the inbound marketing software company, announced a $30,000 incentive program to reward individuals who refer developers and designers to the HubSpot team. HubSpot, which grew 82% in 2012, is rapidly expanding their team and expects to add significant development, design, and engineering resources within the next six months.” – “HubSpot launches referral program for developers and designers”, Hubspot.com

Good time to know code

Whether you look at this as a gimmick or a smart marketing move, there’s no denying that this speaks to how favorable the current economic landscape is to someone who really knows their way around code.  Occupational statistics seem to bear this out; for example, in 2010, there were over 900,000 available jobs for software developers, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to grow by 30% between 2012 and 2020. How does that compare to expected job growth for all other U.S. occupations? According to the same source, software developers will outdo the average growth curve by 16%:

“Employment of software developers is projected to grow 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of applications developers is projected to grow 28 percent, and employment of systems developers is projected to grow 32 percent.

The main reason for the rapid growth is a large increase in the demand for computer software. Mobile technology requires new applications. Also, the healthcare industry is greatly increasing its use of computer systems and applications. Finally, concerns over cyber security should result in more investment in security software to protect computer networks and electronic infrastructure.” Software Developers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

According to another study by Wanted Analytics, more than 128,000 jobs were advertised on the Web for software developers in the United States, which showed a 16% growth over the previous year and a whopping 190% growth from four years previous. Developers were the technology occupation showing the most demand (according to the measured amount of job ads for this particular career field), with the following software developer job titles being the most in demand out of all others measured:

1. Software Engineer 
2. Senior Software Engineer 
3. Software Development Engineer 
4. .NET Developer 
5. Java Software Engineer 
6. Applications Engineer 
7. Senior Software Developer 
8. Principal Software Engineer 
9. Senior Software Engineer Java 
10. Application Developer


Top skills in demand

As you can see from the list above, Java is a language that is high in demand; other software development skills that are mentioned most commonly in job advertisements are SQL, C#, .NET, and JavaScript. The West Coast seems to post the most ads for software developers, with Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose leading the way geographically.

How about the software development skills that are highest in demand? Here they are for 2013 according to CyberCoders:

1. Mobile Development (iOS, Android)
2. Cloud Computing (AWS, Azure)
3. Front End Development
4. UX/UI Design
5. Big Data (Hadoop, MongoBD, NoSQL)
6. C#
7. Ruby on Rails
8. Java
9. PHP
10. Linux

More from CyberCoders:

“A common theme among these technology skills is the need for open source, mobile, cloud or big data technologies, like iOS, Azure and Hadoop…..This is an incredible time for those who have tech skills or are willing to learn them. Unlike the dot-com bubble of the last decade, our need for continually improving technology is constant due to our improved processes and every day enjoyment of our smart phones and big data,” says Matt Miller CTO of CyberCoders. – Top Ten Tech Skills of 2013


We all know that the economy continues to struggle, but it seems that the field of software development keeps moving from strength to strength. US News and World Report recently posted their list of the top one hundred occupations, with software development at the top of the list:

“While jobs are still scarce in many industries, software developers are in "absolute explosive demand," says Bryan Cantrill, vice president of engineering at the San Francisco-based cloud computing company Joyent, and a member of the advisory board of ACM Queue, a computer magazine for software engineers published by the Association for Computing Machinery. "We're seeing a gap between the number of software engineers we need and the number the education system is generating ... this is a terrific area to invest oneself."  - Best Jobs, US News.com

Polishing skills

The plethora of “learn to code” websites and initiatives seems to reflect this recent rush towards software development. One of the most visible Code.org, a non-profit foundation with the primary aim of getting more people coding. Their basic aim is this: they want to help kids, parents, and schools learn how to program.

The organization was founded by Hadi Partovi to address the fact that we simply have a shortfall of talented coders, and the gap is getting bigger all the time.  In fact, there are very few schools that offer any kind of programming classes. The video and the organization are an attempt to address both of these issues, making coding a more ubiquitous core skill that is taught in more schools, right next to other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes.

As we’ve seen in the statistics referenced in this article, software programming/coding is one of the fastest growing segments of jobs in the country with fantastic salaries, but the demand is much higher than the supply. It’s estimated that one million more jobs than students by the year 2020 are possible, which is an astonishing number.

Code.org offers several different ways that interested parties can get involved: you can sign a petition to ask for computing classes be taught in your local school, you can volunteer to teach kids how to code, or you can start with simple lessons found on their site from notable online services that offer free coding classes and get going yourself.

Share your experience

As a developer, what’s your experience been in the job field: are you being wooed with offers on every side, or is the environment decidedly less hyped than these statistics seem to be talking about? What are the top skills that you would suggest a mid-career coder might want to tackle in order to make their C.V. a bit more appealing? Give us your thoughts in the comments. 

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