by Quincy Larson

Insights from Stack Overflow’s 2018 survey of 100,000 developers

This week Stack Overflow released the results of their annual developer survey.

This year, they had more than 100,000 respondents, making this the world’s largest developer survey.

I’ve read through the results of the Stack Overflow survey and compiled the most interesting results right here in this article. (Just like I did in 2016 and 2017.)

So without further ado, here’s a lightning-fast snapshot of what the software development profession looks like in 2018.

The software development field is dominated by passionate newbies

Most professional developers are relatively new to coding. 55% have been coding for less than 8 years, and a 1/3 have been coding for less than 5 years.

And most developers have less than 5 years of professional experience coding.

Nearly half of all professional developers also contribute to open source.

And almost all professional developers enjoy coding as a hobby as well.

A quarter of all professional developers don’t have a bachelor’s degree.

And of the professional developers who have a bachelor’s degree, 1 in 3 have a major unrelated to computer science or software engineering.

Virtually all professional developers learn new skills informally — most commonly through online courses and teaching themselves using the documentation.

About 1/4 of developers participate in hackathons — mainly because they’re fun.

Many developers attend coding bootcamps AFTER they already have a full time job, for the purpose of expanding their skills.

Careers

Most developers work full-time for somebody else, and about 10% of them freelance. Only 5% of developers who want to work are currently unemployed — much better employment stats than pretty much any field.

They work in a wide range of industries — many of them outside of what we traditionally think of as “tech.”

And most of them at small-to-medium-sized companies. The more experience a developer has, the more likely they are to work at a large company.

They’re an ambitious lot. Only 1 in 5 developers wants to be working in the same capacity 5 years from now. A quarter of developers aspire to start their own company.

73% of developers are satisfied with their choice of careers.

Tools of the trade

JavaScript is the most widely-used technology for the 6th year in a row.

And JavaScript frameworks and libraries remain key tools for most developers.

SQL databases are still the most commonly used. Document store database MongoDB and key-value store database Redis both surged in popularity this year.

The State of Diversity in Software Development

Software development is still overwhelmingly dominated by young…

Childless…

Men…

Who have college-educated parents. (Only 1 in 3 Americans has a bachelor’s degree, so this suggests social mobility issues.)

These numbers are disappointing. It’s important to acknowledge where things are, and that a lot of work remains to be done here.

A lot of organizations are working toward making software development a more inclusive field — including the freeCodeCamp community and many of the nonprofits we support.

Other interesting insights about developers

They aren’t as vampire-like as Hollywood would suggest.

They do spend more than half of their waking life on a computer, though.

This said, most developers make time for regular exercise.

Developers are overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence.

But they acknowledge that it is ultimately developers who are responsible for AI safety.

Most developers said they would refuse to write code that they perceive to serve an unethical purpose.

Still, they say the blame for unethical code rests on management.

Developers overwhelmingly believe they are obligated to consider the ethical implications of their code.

I’m thrilled that Stack Overflow included questions about developer ethics in this year’s survey. This is an increasingly important issue — one that the freeCodeCamp community has discussed a lot this past year.

If you’re curious about developer ethics, take a moment to read this article:

What do Uber, Volkswagen and Zenefits have in common? They all used hidden code to break the law.
“No ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional…medium.freecodecamp.org

And Bill Sourour — a developer who’s written software professionally for over 20 years — has created a series of guide articles on ethics:

Developer Ethics
Developer Ethics describes the field of ethics as it is applied to the behavior of software developers.guide.freecodecamp.org

Thanks for reading. If you have time, you can read through the full 2018 Stack Overflow survey results and share your insights in the comments section below.

I only write about programming and technology. If you follow me on Twitter I won’t waste your time. ?