It is deceptively easy to paint a picture of productive software developers – they probably love free t-shirts, double space after a period when sending email, and have a notorious disdain for marketing. But look a bit deeper and a more nuanced picture emerges. Here are 11 stats (and perspectives) to keep in mind when considering developer team productivity and progress.
1. Developers spend a remarkable amount of time waiting on people and machines, according to the 2022 State of Engineering Time survey
Perhaps surprisingly, developers are spending a lot of their workdays waiting, according to Retool’s 2022 State of Engineering Time survey. Fully 38% of individual contributor developers report they have to wait on other people while 42% are waiting on machines. Other bumps in the road include trying to find documentation or “context” (37%), dealing with merge conflicts (34%), and handling flaky tests or broken builds (41%).
2. The annual 100 Best Job Rankings named software developer as the #1 profession in 2023
The need for devs to constantly move quickly, pivot as needed, and continually upskill were just three of the reasons cited for US News & World Report’s decision to move software development into the top career choice for the first time. According to the annual 100 Best Job Rankings, software developer is the number one profession in 2023. Rounding out the top 5 spots were nurse practitioners, healthcare managers, physician assistants and information security analysts.
3. Developers report lower rates of neurodiversity than the average worldwide population in the 2022 Stack Overflow Survey
Although not strictly a productivity measurement, neurodiversity data is critical because development teams aren’t made up of the same skill sets. In 2022, Stack Overflow asked respondents about neurodiversity: over 10.5% said they experience memory or concentration problems (one example is ADHD), while 10.3% reported having an anxiety disorder, 9.7% said they have a mood disorder (such as depression or bipolar disorder), over 4.2% said they have autism or an autism spectrum disorder, and slightly more than 2.7% reported learning differences such as dyslexia. For comparison, rates of neurodiversity are estimated to be between 15% and 20% worldwide.
4. It takes 1 to 2 weeks for devs to make code ideas a reality for customers, Retool found
Just shy of 40% of developers need between one and two weeks to get code out of their brains and off to customers, according to the latest Retool survey. Is that fast or slow? Only your organization can answer that question.
5. In 2021, developers had a median salary of nearly $121K, according to the US BLS
Like it or not, productivity and paychecks are linked, at least for most of us. Devs aren’t likely to be an exception to that, so here’s a look at compensation trends. Developers had a median salary of nearly $121,000 in 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there’s a lot more to unpack when it comes to salary. Devs in the greater San Jose and San Francisco areas are pulling in the highest paychecks ($167,000 and $158,000 respectively) but remote work salaries are also on the rise. According to employment service Hired.com’s 2022 State of Tech Salaries, remote roles are actually paying up to $3,000 more than “local” roles.
In fact, developers wanting a more rural life aren’t doing badly at all. The BLS found devs in southern (non-rural) Vermont had a median wage of just over $133,000, followed closely by those in eastern Oregon at slightly more than $125,000.
But salary is also about more than location. Stack Overflow’s Survey found devs with Clojure experience to be the highest paid at almost $107,000. Overall, the survey found salaries jumped 23% between 2021 and 2022, based on responses from 70,000 people, and said the biggest increases were for developers with experience in Flow, COBOL, Couchbase, and IBM Cloud/Watson.
6. The United States won’t be the leaders in software development forever, predicts Evans Data
Supply and demand have an impact on productivity, and software developers are already in short supply. Although the United States currently has more software developers than any other country, that’s expected to change. Evans Data is forecasting India will have more developers than the US by 2024, no doubt reflective of the nation’s overall population trajectory.
7. Do developers *really* spend less than half their time coding? Infragistics says yes
A March 2023 survey from Infragistics found devs spend just 43% of their time coding applications, though the survey did note that almost 60% of respondents had more time to finish projects thanks to remote work.
8. The number one collaborator on Stack Overflow is Jon Skeet
Meet Jon Skeet, the all time number one contributor/collaborator on Stack Overflow with 1,398,636 “reputation” votes. Teams wanting to build a culture of collaboration and communication might want to take a look at how he’s achieved the top spot.
On Hired.com, experience with Go is the most requested skillset, followed by Ruby on Rails and Scala. Expertise in those three languages results in twice the number of interview requests.
10. On the developer “want to learn” list: web & game development and AI/ML, from the State of Tech Hiring in 2023
CodinGame-CoderPad’s State of Tech Hiring in 2023 found developers would like to beef up on web and game development as well as AI/ML.
11. Developers want to work on projects that matter, like public health and climate change, according to Hired.com
Perhaps more than in other professions, developers want to be the change. In fact, according to Hired.com, devs are most excited to use their skills to improve public health, access to education and climate change. Engineering productivity experts stress the importance of regular one-on-ones with development teams – perhaps that’s the right time to explore what *else* gets devs enthusiastic.
Bonus stat: Ex Machina is the best movie featuring software development, says Chillopedia
Chillopedia said Ex Machina, from 2014, was the number one movie with a software development theme, but there are 15 choices in total, so feel free to pick your own favorite.