Busting 4 Common Myths About Tech Careers With Data

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We all know a friend who works in tech. And they are usually doing quite well for themselves, probably started coding since the beginning of time and often seem to be spoilt with career choices. Or are they?

Here are some common myths about careers in tech and how they hold up against data. The data used here comes from a developer survey by StackOverflow, a website that a of developers frequent regularly. It’s a pretty comprehensive survey, with more than a hundred thousand responses from all over the world. Let’s get started!

1. You either have to have a computer science college degree and/or be a coding genius from an early age to be in tech

Enrolment in computer science majors have spiked in numbers in the recent years all across the globe. At the same time, there’s tons of bootcamps mushrooming everywhere, promising you to get in the field in just a few months, at a fraction of the cost of college. But what kind of education do you really need to become a software developer? Let’s look at our respondents to get a feel what kind of educational background they come from.

It looks like a huge portion of the developers in the survey at least have a bachelors degree. Looking at the types of major for their bachelors, it’s not surprising that most of them come from a computer science/engineering background. So what about those from other educational backgrounds? It’s quite interesting to note that, 9.5% of the developers only have a secondary school education. And even a higher percentage, 12.4% of developers are college dropouts.

Let’s explore the bootcamp avenue, and find out how long it typically takes to get a job after graduating:

The percentage of people responding to the bootcamp question was a rather low 6%, and one of the interesting observations that can be made is almost half of them already had a full-time developer job when they began the program. But the good news is, almost all of the other half found jobs within 6 months of graduating.

Analyzing the largest developer age groups in our survey, the 25–34 years age bracket, a quarter of them started coding between 6–8 years ago. Since we don’t know the exact age, making some assumptions, in the worst case scenario, we can safely say at least a quarter of them did not start coding till they were 17.

20% percent of them has been coding for 3–5 years, which also facilitates in debunking the theory that you have to be coding since the very early teens.

Myth or Fact?

Although majority of the developers in the industry hold at least a college degree, there’s still a good chunk of them who don’t. So it’s not entirely true that you have be a CS major or start coding since 10.

Verdict: Myth

2. You can easily earn a six figure salary

The fascination with earning six figures is also another thing that made jumping into software careers quite lucrative. But exactly how easy is it to make that amount of money?

From the plots above, looks like if you are in the US, expecting a 100k is not entirely unreasonable. Adjusting for currency exchange rates, we can see making six figures is still common in other countries like Australia. Canada comes in second at a median of roughly 85k CAD.

But how much does the salary vary by the developer type? Or experience?

If you are in the US, the distribution of salary across different types of developers are actually quite similar. There is a great deal of overlap between the median salaries of the developer types. For example, mobile developers and full-stack developers enjoy pretty much the same salaries.

Things are slightly different down under. Although the medians for the different specializations all hover around a narrow range, the difference is more distinct compared to the US. Engineering managers seem to enjoy the highest median salary amongst the others.

When taking experience into matter, we can see a very clear trend towards the median increasing quite steadily with experience. In Australia, the jump seems to be bigger for Data Scientist or machine learning specialists compared to back-end developers although they hover around the same range once you reach a decade of experience.

Myth or Fact?

If you are in the US, making 100k as a software developer is definitely not an unreasonable expectation. Even in other countries, such as Australia, it’s still common to get paid six figures. Although you might start off with a much lower salary, the data tells us you’ll be making six figures in no time!

Verdict: Fact

3. There are more jobs than people out there so software developers can move jobs frequently

If there are so many jobs out there, developers probably would be moving from one job to the next whenever they feel like. In order to get an idea of that, let’s take a look at when they last joined a new job:

Looks like majority of the developers in the survey have just joined a new company. Does this really prove our theory? Let’s take a look how many of these newly hired developers are already hunting for their next gig:

Even though over half of the newly hired developers are not actively looking, they are still open to the idea.

Myth or Fact?

While a large portion of the developers in this survey seem to have just joined a new role less than a year ago, they are still open to the idea of finding something better. Although this tells us quite a bit about the job searching behaviours of developers, it doesn’t really help us prove that there are more jobs than people out there.

Verdict: Maybe

4. Tech is full of men

Looks like tech is indeed full of men! Over 90% of the responses in our survey came from men, while women made up for a little less than a 7% and representation of others sum up to a mere 1.5%. While this is the current situation worldwide, the lack of gender diversity is even more shocking in certain parts of the world.

In terms of ethnic diversity, out of Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Australia, Canada is leading the pack, followed by Aussie, US and then the UK.

While on the topic of diversity, one might wonder if there’s much difference in compensation between genders:

To little surprise(unfortunately), there is a difference of almost $15K in median salary between males and females in the United States. We have long way to go in terms of ensuring equal pay amongst genders.

Myth or Fact?

Men do make up for majority of the developer community around the world. And not only is tech full of men, there’s a significant amount of difference in terms of financial compensation between the genders in countries like the United States.

Verdict: Fact

If you’re still curious about a career in tech, there’s plenty more to explore! You can head over my repository here on GitHub to play around with the data on your own. Alternatively, you can get tons and tons insights from the amazing team at Stack Overflow here.


Busting 4 Common Myths About Tech Careers With Data was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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