One of the most important things we do here at RedCat Digital is finding the right developers for the right job. There’s a lot of developers out there, with a lot of different skillsets, wants and needs, and companies also have a diverse and sometimes very specific set of needs – so it’s important for us to look at the market and research and see what developers’ priorities are.

A recent study has looked at the world of developers in 2020 – how they learn, what sort of technologies and programming languages are trending, the demographics of the developer community and how happy (or not!) developers are at work.

The beginnings

For the vast majority of developers, the first stage – before they come in contact with a recruiter, or before their first job – is learning the skills. There are many ways to learn the skills required to be a developer – often depending on the type of job you ultimately end up in – but regardless of how you do it, the fact is that you do need to be proficient and competent in the language you’ll be using, in order to do the job. Nobody expects mastery or perfection, but unlike some other jobs, this is a hard one to blag.

So – how do people learn the skills required to be a developer? According to respondents to CodinGame’s study, the answer is still mostly through the traditional education route. Most people said they learned to code at university (42%) or at school (15%), meaning that the majority of coding skills were taught in a traditional academic environment.

For those that do enter the world of development through this route, by far and away the most popular degree choice is Computer Science, which stands to reason. Around 13% of respondents studied a different science subject.

School alternatives

There are, however, a significant minority (34%) who are self-taught, through free online and offline resources. This is perhaps encouraging news for those who don’t learn well in a school environment, or perhaps who can’t afford to go to university. Around 5% of respondents said they learned via a short-term offline programme – something like a Bootcamp or a training course. With the rise of organisations like the General Assembly, we may see this number go up.

Significantly, none of the respondents said they learned “on the job”. This shows that although developers often learn a huge raft of skills from their employer – skills that can move them up the ladder further down the line – it’s not really possible to go into a job as a complete novice and learn from there. Some fundamental skills are required as a prerequisite.

Trending tech

Researchers asked developers about the areas of technology they’re most excited to learn more about this year – and the top three responses may not come as a surprise. In first place was Machine Learning and AI – which nearly half of all respondents said they’d like to learn more about. Game development and web development took second and third spot respectively. Other notable items on the list include Big Data, DevOps, Internet of Things and Cybersecurity.

Developers also gave responses on their most used or best-known frameworks. Top of the pile was Node, followed by React and .NETCore. As for languages, perhaps unsurprisingly, JavaScript and Java took first and second place, with 65% and 62% of respondents respectively saying they knew how to work with this language. Python was in third, followed by C++, C and C#. Clojure and F# languished in obscurity at the bottom, according to the survey.

Happiness in the workplace

The study found that broadly – developers love what they do. When asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, how much they enjoy their job, researchers found that 66.4% of respondents answered between 7 and 10.

Job satisfaction also appeared to vary somewhat depending on the route through which developers came into the job. Those that learnt at school – that is, pre-university, reported the highest job satisfaction, with an average mark of just over 7. Those that learned at university, meanwhile, came bottom of the list – reporting a mark of just under 7 for job satisfaction. We’ll leave it up to you to decide what’s behind that disparity.


Finally, it’s important to understand who developers are. Most respondents to the survey were aged between 20 and 34, with very few over the age of 50. That doesn’t mean there aren’t older developers out there, of course – the lion’s share are younger.

Close to 90% of the survey’s respondents identify as “male”, though the proportion of women who took part has moved from 6% two years ago to 8.7% last year to 11.5% this year. Just over 1% identify as non-binary.

Respondents to the survey came from all over the world – though perhaps notably, developers in the United Kingdom reported the highest levels of job satisfaction. There was a big mix of company sizes that the developers in the survey worked for – with most working for a company with over 1000 employees. The most frequently reported positions were full-stack developer, followed by software developer and back-end developer.

It’s clear, then, that developers are a diverse bunch with diverse needs. Here at RedCat, we’re committed to keeping in touch with developers and those who hire them – by speaking to and working with them every day. That way, we can match the best jobs with the best people.

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