Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2018

By Prosyscom
In March 14, 2018
86 Views


Each month, about 50 million people visit Stack Overflow to learn, share, and build their careers. We estimate that 21 million of these people are professional developers and university-level students.

Our estimate of professional developers comes from the things people read and do when they visit Stack Overflow. We collect data on user activity to help surface jobs we think you might find interesting and questions we think you can answer. You can download and clear this data at any time.

Developer Type

Desktop or enterprise applications developer

Data scientist or machine learning specialist

Embedded applications or devices developer

Game or graphics developer

Educator or academic researcher

C-suite executive (CEO, CTO, etc.)

Marketing or sales professional


92,098 responses; select all that apply

Almost 60% of respondents identify as back-end developers, and about 20% consider themselves mobile developers. The median number of developer type identifications per respondent is 2, and the most common pairs are combinations of back-end, front-end, and full-stack developer. Pairs that are highly correlated are database administrator and system administrator, DevOps specialist and system administrator, and designer and front-end developer.

Contributing to Open Source

Almost half of professional developers contribute to open source projects. Involvement in open source varies with language. Over 70% of developers who work with Rust, Julia, and Clojure contribute to open source, while less than 40% of developers who work with VBA, VB.NET, and C# do so.

Coding as a Hobby

Many developers work on code outside of work. Over 80% of our respondents say that they code as a hobby. Other interests or responsibilities outside of software don’t seem to reduce developers’ interest in coding as a hobby. Those who said they are parents or have other caretaking responsibilities, those who exercise daily, or those who spend the most time outside were slightly more likely to code as a hobby than other groups.

Years Since Learning to Code

There is a wide range of experience levels among developers, and a full third of professional developers learned to code within the past five years.

Years Coding Professionally


77,903 responses

Over half of respondents have five years of professional coding experience or less. Developers who work with languages such as Cobol and Perl have the most years of professional coding experience, while developers who work with languages like Matlab, Haskell, and Kotlin have the fewest.

Years of Professional Coding Experience by Developer Type

Desktop or enterprise applications developer

Embedded applications or devices developer

Educator or academic researcher

Data scientist or machine learning specialist

Game or graphics developer


Mean of 77,078 responses

Developers who work in different areas of software development have different average amounts of experience. DevOps specialists and developers who code for desktop and enterprise applications have the most experience. DevOps as a discipline and professional identity is relatively new, but the people working in this field are highly experienced. Game/graphics developers and mobile developers have the fewest years of experience.

How Many Developers are Students?


94,901 responses

About one-quarter of respondents are enrolled in a formal college or university program full-time or part-time.

Educational Attainment

I never completed any formal education

Primary/elementary school

Some college/university study without earning a degree


94,703 responses

I never completed any formal education

Primary/elementary school

Some college/university study without earning a degree


85,710 responses

Worldwide, about three-fourths of professional developers have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher. It is not that rare to find accomplished professional developers who have not completed a degree.

Undergraduate Major

Computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering

Another engineering discipline (ex. civil, electrical, mechanical)

Information systems, information technology, or system administration

A natural science (ex. biology, chemistry, physics)

Mathematics or statistics

Web development or web design

A business discipline (ex. accounting, finance, marketing)

A humanities discipline (ex. literature, history, philosophy)

A social science (ex. anthropology, psychology, political science)

Fine arts or performing arts (ex. graphic design, music, studio art)

A health science (ex. nursing, pharmacy, radiology)


79,036 responses

Computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering

Another engineering discipline (ex. civil, electrical, mechanical)

Information systems, information technology, or system administration

A natural science (ex. biology, chemistry, physics)

Mathematics or statistics

Web development or web design

A business discipline (ex. accounting, finance, marketing)

A humanities discipline (ex. literature, history, philosophy)

A social science (ex. anthropology, psychology, political science)

Fine arts or performing arts (ex. graphic design, music, studio art)

A health science (ex. nursing, pharmacy, radiology)


75,134 responses

Computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering

Information systems, information technology, or system administration

Another engineering discipline (ex. civil, electrical, mechanical)

Web development or web design

Mathematics or statistics

A natural science (ex. biology, chemistry, physics)

A business discipline (ex. accounting, finance, marketing)

A humanities discipline (ex. literature, history, philosophy)

A social science (ex. anthropology, psychology, political science)

Fine arts or performing arts (ex. graphic design, music, studio art)

A health science (ex. nursing, pharmacy, radiology)


17,652 responses

Of professional developers who studied at the university level, over 60% said they majored in computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering. This proportion is somewhat higher in currently enrolled students, and the proportion of respondents majoring in other engineering disciplines like electrical and mechanical engineering is lower among current students than among professionals.

Other Types of Education

Taught yourself a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course

Taken an online course in programming or software development (e.g. a MOOC)

Contributed to open source software

Received on-the-job training in software development

Participated in a hackathon

Participated in online coding competitions (e.g. HackerRank, CodeChef, TopCoder)

Taken a part-time in-person course in programming or software development

Completed an industry certification program (e.g. MCPD)

Participated in a full-time developer training program or bootcamp


67,960 responses; select all that apply

Taught yourself a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course

Taken an online course in programming or software development (e.g. a MOOC)

Contributed to open source software

Received on-the-job training in software development

Participated in a hackathon

Participated in online coding competitions (e.g. HackerRank, CodeChef, TopCoder)

Taken a part-time in-person course in programming or software development

Completed an industry certification program (e.g. MCPD)

Participated in a full-time developer training program or bootcamp


63,711 responses; select all that apply

Developers are lifelong learners; almost 90% of all developers say they have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool outside of their formal education. Among professional developers, almost half say they have taken an online course like a MOOC, and about a quarter have participated in a hackathon.

Ways Developers Learn on Their Own

The official documentation and/or standards for the technology

Questions & answers on Stack Overflow

A book or e-book from O’Reilly, Apress, or a similar publisher

Online developer communities other than Stack Overflow (ex. forums, listservs, IRC channels, etc.)

The technology’s online help system

A college/university computer science or software engineering book

Tapping your network of friends, family, and peers versed in the technology

Internal Wikis, chat rooms, or documentation set up by my company for employees

Pre-scheduled tutoring or mentoring sessions with a friend or colleague


57,354 responses; select all that apply

The official documentation and/or standards for the technology

Questions & answers on Stack Overflow

A book or e-book from O’Reilly, Apress, or a similar publisher

Online developer communities other than Stack Overflow (ex. forums, listservs, IRC channels, etc.)

The technology’s online help system

Tapping your network of friends, family, and peers versed in the technology

A college/university computer science or software engineering book

Internal Wikis, chat rooms, or documentation set up by my company for employees

Pre-scheduled tutoring or mentoring sessions with a friend or colleague


54,007 responses; select all that apply

Over 80% of respondents rely on Stack Overflow Q&A when learning something new. Additionally, developers understand the value of good documentation, as over 80% also use documentation as a resource when learning.

Why Do Developers Participate in Hackathons?

Because I find it enjoyable

To improve my general technical skills or programming ability

To improve my knowledge of a specific programming language, framework, or other technology

To improve my ability to work on a team with other programmers

To build my professional network

To help me find new job opportunities

To win prizes or cash awards


25,691 responses; select all that apply

Among the respondents who said they have participated in hackathons or online coding competitions, their number one reason for engaging is that they find them enjoyable. These are also opportunities for learning, both general and specific.

Finding a Job After Bootcamp

I already had a full-time job as a developer when I began the program

Immediately after graduating

I haven’t gotten a developer job


6,652 responses

Bootcamps are typically perceived as a way for newcomers to transition into a career as a software developer, but according to our survey, many participants in coding bootcamps were already working as developers. Almost half of our respondents who said they went to a coding bootcamp said they were already working as developers; these developers are likely updating their skills and moving to new areas of the tech industry. Of other bootcamp participants, the most common outcome is to find a job immediately or soon after graduating.

Gender

Non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming


64,469 responses; select all that apply

Non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming


60,486 responses; select all that apply

Non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming


14,009 responses; select all that apply

We asked our respondents about their gender identity, and found that over 90% of our respondents are male. According to Quantcast, women account for about 10% of Stack Overflow’s US traffic; this year 9% of US survey respondents are women. We had survey participation at almost the rate we would expect from our traffic. In regions including the United States, India, and the UK, women are represented at higher levels among students than among professional developers.

Race and Ethnicity

White or of European descent

Hispanic or Latino/Latina

Black or of African descent

Native American, Pacific Islander, or Indigenous Australian


57,473 responses; select all that apply

White or of European descent

Hispanic or Latino/Latina

Black or of African descent

Native American, Pacific Islander, or Indigenous Australian


53,982 responses; select all that apply

White or of European descent

Hispanic or Latino/Latina

Black or of African descent

Native American, Pacific Islander, or Indigenous Australian


12,023 responses; select all that apply

We see higher proportions of developers of color in students than professional developers. This year, 7.4% of professional developers in the United States identified as black, Hispanic or Latino/Latina, or Native American while over 10% of students in the United States identified as a member of one of these groups.

Sexual Orientation


59,765 responses; select all that apply


56,131 responses; select all that apply


12,552 responses; select all that apply

This is the first year we asked our respondents about their sexual orientation.

Parents’ Education Level

They never completed any formal education

Primary/elementary school

Some college/university study without earning a degree


61,813 responses

They never completed any formal education

Primary/elementary school

Some college/university study without earning a degree


58,064 responses

They never completed any formal education

Primary/elementary school

Some college/university study without earning a degree


13,326 responses

Like developers themselves, most developers’ parents have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher. Just under 40% of respondents said their parents do not hold a bachelor’s degree.

Disability Status

I have a mood or emotional disorder (ex. depression, bipolar disorder)

I have an anxiety disorder

I have a concentration and/or memory disorder

I identify as autistic / a person with autism


11,431 responses identified as having a mental difference

I am blind / have difficulty seeing

I am deaf / have difficulty hearing

I am unable to / find it difficult to walk and/or stand without assistance

I am unable to / find it difficult to type


1,702 responses identified as having a physical difference

We know developers can experience many forms of disability and difference, from mental health challenges to physical disability. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are particularly common among our respondents. In the United States, almost 20% of respondents said they deal with either or both.

Experience and Gender


59,749 responses; gender categories were select all that apply


4,404 responses; gender categories were select all that apply


594 responses; gender categories were select all that apply


423 responses; gender categories were select all that apply

We find differences among developers by gender in our survey responses. For example, twice as many women than men have been coding two years or less. Also, developers who identify as transgender and non-binary contribute to open source at higher rates (58% and 60%, respectively) than developers who identify as men or women overall (45% and 33%.)

Developer Role and Gender


The dashed line shows the average ratio of men’s to women’s participation

We see varying representation by men and women in different developer roles. All categories have dramatically more developers who identify as men than women but the ratio of men to women varies. Developers who are educators or academic researchers are about 10 times more likely to be men than women, while developers who are system admins or DevOps specialists are 25-30 times more likely to be men than women. Women have the highest representation as academics, QA developers, data scientists, and designers.

Age

About three-fourths of professional developers who took our survey are younger than 35.

Age and Experience by Country

Developers are older with more experience in Australia, countries in Western Europe, and North America and younger with less experience in countries like India and Russia.

Kinship, Competition, and Self-Evaluation

I feel a sense of kinship or connection to other developers

I think of myself as competing with my peers

I’m not as good at programming as most of my peers


68,577 responses; agreement on a 1-5 scale, from strongly disagree to strongly agree

We asked how much respondents agree or disagree with several statements about their place in the developer community. Overall 70% of developers agree or strongly agree that they feel a sense of connection with other developers. Developers are overall confident about their own skills compared to their peers, with only 18% agreeing or strongly agreeing that they are not as good at programming as their colleagues.

Experience and Belonging

Developers’ feelings on how much they belong and how they stack up to their peers change with how much experience they have. More experienced developers feel more connected, more confident, and less competitive. Notice that feeling less skilled drops quickly with experience while feeling less competitive drops more gradually and continues to drop into the second decade of coding experience.

Children and Other Dependents


62,596 responses

This year we asked respondents if they have children or other dependents that they care for, and about a quarter of respondents say that they do. We asked in a free response question what these developers do for dependent care during work hours, and our respondents talked about options like school, their spouses/partners, and daycare.

The developers who said they do not have dependents to care for are younger on average than those who do. Over 30% of the developers without dependents are younger than 25, while only 5% of those with dependents are younger than 25. Almost 60% of developers with 10 or more years of professional coding experience have children or other dependents.

What Time Do Developers Wake Up?

Between 11:01 AM – 12:00 PM

I do not have a set schedule


72,146 responses

We are confident that most developers have pulled a late night here and there, but most of our respondents say they are up by 8am.

How Much Time Do Developers Spend on a Computer?


72,133 responses

Our respondents include people who code as professionals, students, and hobbyists. The overwhelmingly majority spend large fractions of their waking hours on a typical day with their desktops and laptops.

How Much Time Do Developers Spend Outside?


72,024 responses

Developers get outside for recreation, commuting, or other reasons. About half of our respondents spend an hour or more outside a day.

Healthy Habits

Daily or almost every day


71,946 responses

I don’t typically exercise

Daily or almost every day


72,108 responses

Developers tell us they do not often skip meals because of their workload, and a majority say they exercise at least some. Over 60% of respondents exercise at least weekly, but the most often chosen exercise frequency is ‘never’.

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