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Hast Thou Been Chosen by Thine Trade?

Maybe being a software developers are born that way. This stat-filled article tells the tale of job satisfaction in the IT job market.

· Agile Zone ·
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Are developers fated to being developers? The 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results may be pointing to that. With over 100,000 respondents around the globe baring their minds, there could be enough data to pass a verdict. But would there be so much to worry about if this outcome makes bank after all?

Analyzing the Data

Here are the results for the question, "What Do Developers Hope To Be Doing in Five Years?"

  • Working in a different or more specialized technical role than the one I'm in now, 33.9%

  • Working as a founder or co-founder of my own company, 25.7%

  • Doing the same work, 19.4%

  • Working as an engineering manager or other functional manager, 9.9%

  • Working as a product manager or project manager, 6.6%

  • Working in a career completely unrelated to software development, 2.8%

  • Retirement, 1.7%

Developers' career goals are largely focused on technical work, with just over half of respondents saying they want to be in the same or a different technical role in the future. About a quarter of developers say they want to start their own company, but this is most common among developers who are younger than 25 years old.

Could the abysmal figure for "Retirement" be indicative of love for career? Probably. But this bag is hard to sort, as income may even be a stronger motive.

What about the 2.8% for "Working in a career completely unrelated to software development"? Well, this may indicate career love or problems of skills transferability.

Here come the real "whistle-blowers".

"Working as an engineering manager or other functional manager," 9.9%.

"Working as a product manager or project manager," 6.6%.

In five years, most of the developers would be senior. Yet, only 16.5% would want to move to a management position, less than 1 in 5 developers. Granted developers are well paid, what is intriguing about this is that traditionally tech managers are better paid. And tech managers traditionally have more "prestige" in some organisations. What is driving our decisions as developers?

The Highest Paid Workers in Silicon Valley Are Not Software Engineers

In Silicon Valley, software engineer is synonymous with eye-watering compensation. Monthly salaries for engineering interns (about $81,600 per year annualized) are about twice the median wage in the rest of the United States. While the reality of high-paying coding jobs is not wrong, programming is not the only way to climb Silicon Valley’s career ladder, and it is definitely not the most lucrative. Quartz has an illuminating article.

Online hiring platform Hired released a report in 2016 that showed that product managers consistently get the top salary offers, $133,000 on average. Software engineers were offered an average of $123,000. The salary gap is wider today.

According to the article, good product managers are in high demand:

"Product management skills are coveted, argues Ken Norton, a former Google product manager and partner at GV, Google’s venture arm, because 'in the long run great product management usually makes the difference between winning and losing.' Product managers must shepherd a product from concept to completion by setting the vision, understanding customers, enforcing timelines, managing teams, and keeping an eye on the business model."

Why do most developers have an aversion for this role? Managers do not have less work than engineers, it is just a different kind of work.

How Do Developers Feel About Their Careers?

Overall, career satisfaction does not vary significantly by industry.

72.8% of developers are satisfied with their careers, while 8.3% are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Only 18.9% are dissatisfied in some way.

So most developers are happy about their careers. Could this explain the low percentage (2.8%) that hope to be working in a career completely unrelated to software development? Most probably. Consider that there are good careers in finance, and a developer could transition with an MBA.

A Fate with Good Perks After All

From the survey results, 83.5% of developers want to remain developers. They want technical career paths. They have a need to code. Is there a thing in our genes that makes us developers? 

Developers will remain a peculiar bunch for as much time as they build our civilization — and well paid as well.

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career development ,software development ,survey ,statistics ,agile ,job satisfaction

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