Key Takeaways from the Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Survey

Stack Overflow 2017 Survey Results

The Stack Overflow Survey is one of the most comprehensive polls undertaken every year since 2011. Before we discover more, there are …

The Usual Caveats

Forty million people visit Stack Overflow every month, and an estimated 42% are professional developers or university students. The survey is detailed and was completed by more than 64,000 respondents (51,392 were usable). It’s an impressive sample size, but be wary about making assumptions when demanding your next pay rise! …

Worldwide results

Stack Overflow is used worldwide, but will be heavily biased toward western English-speaking countries. Respondent country proportions are generally comparable to Stack Overflow’s user demographic:

countrysurvey proportion

Almost 75% are of white or European descent. 83% attained university-level qualifications with 74% of those in an IT-related discipline.

Proportionally few developers came from Africa, Asia and South America. China accounts for 0.5% and Russia is 1.7%.

Developer awareness

The survey could only be completed by those who use Stack Overflow, were aware of the survey’s existence, understood the questions, and had the time to complete it.

The satisfaction spectrum

Surveys appeal to those at either end of the satisfaction spectrum:

  • you’re willing to share your experiences when you’re happy with your job, salary and skill-set
  • you’re willing to complain about your company, remuneration and working conditions when you’re dissatisfied.

The 80%+ of people who think “meh, life could be better but it could be much worse” may be less inclined to comment.

Regional salary differences

The survey collates salaries based on US dollar amounts. The US is typically better paid than elsewhere which can skew results. However, salaries are not re-based according to taxation and purchasing power in the country of work. For example, a developer may struggle on $30,000 per year in the US but live comfortably in India.

Past surveys are not indicative of future trends

The results highlight what developers have been using and their general level of satisfaction. Their opinions will change over time.

Developer Profiles

Previous surveys asked for occupation titles, which can be a little ambiguous. In 2017, the majority of respondents identified themselves as web developers:

Web Developer72.6%
Desktop Developer28.9%
Mobile Developer23.0%

63.7% of web developers claim to have full-stack experience. This seems high, but it’s difficult to avoid switching disciplines …

  • a back-end developer will have to write HTML at some point, even if it’s purely for logging purposes
  • a front-end developer will become involved in back-end work if they’re making Ajax calls or optimizing server performance.

Despite this, 24.4% claim to be back-end only and 11.9% were front-end only.

70.3% are employed full-time and 10.2% are freelance. Only 6.7% of US respondents are freelancers, which is noticeably lower than Canada, the UK and Germany. Almost half work in a software or a web-related sector with fewer than one hundred employees.

Experience levels vary, but almost 92% of respondents had been programming for more than two years and 80% are doing so professionally. 17.2% had been developing code for more than 20 years.

Stack Overflow dispels the misconception about developers starting to program during childhood. There is a wide range of experience levels, and you can start at any point in your life, but most developers I know were bitten by the programming bug in their early years.

32% of developers stated formal education had not been important to their career success. 90% considered themselves self taught. I’m surprised it wasn’t higher; you can only learn to program by doing it. Half of us will also cut code in our own time.

88.6% of respondents identified themselves as male. Female participation has risen a few points in the US and Europe, but industry diversity remains a concern for 89% of people.

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Source: Sitepoint