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The Software Skills That Pay the Most in 2018

By Guest Writer on February 22, 2018

software developer skills

We are often asked by a lot of software developers what are the most in-demand programming skills and how the market is developing. So, we’ve taken a dive into the numbers and have made an educated guess of what software development skills will be most in demand for the upcoming year.

Advertised Software Jobs and Salaries

We figured the most telling data would be about what businesses currently are looking for and what they’re willing to pay. Therefore, we’ve based our research on data from Gooroo.io (mostly US) and Indeed.com (strictly US). Gooroo mines over 500,000 job advertisements each month and looks at the offered salaries, while Indeed estimates salaries based on thousands of job postings over the past 12 months.

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As we’re looking for trends, we haven’t put too much value on the absolute numbers. Especially since these are US figures and our developer base is in Africa, where both wages and cost of living are categories lower (we pay extremely well compared to the local African market, but still our rates for quality freelancers in Africa are generally at least 5 times lower than in the US).

But since software development is a global business, we think these trends in the US are probably reflective if not predictive of what is happening worldwide. So, let’s look at the trends…

Most Commonly Demanded Software Skills

We’ve gathered data on 17 software languages/skills that we loosely selected based on perceived popularity and available data. So if you feel an important language or framework is missing do not hesitate to point this out. The 17 researched skills are (in random order): SQL, Java, Javascript, Python, .NET, C, C#, AngularJS, C++, PHP, ReactJS, Android, iOS, Ruby, NodeJS, Perl and Go.

Obviously there is some overlap among these skills. For example Java is partly popular because it’s Android’s main language. Same counts for C# and .NET. Further, Javascript is probably mentioned in all job postings for Javascript-related frameworks such as NodeJS, ReactJS and AngularJS.

And iOS is rather a set of skills than one in particular. But since we are looking for what particularly is being asked by businesses, this doesn’t really matter. Also, for some data points we had to make estimations based on secondary sources as Indeed did not have data for a few of the above mentioned skills.

Now, without further ado, what were our findings?

The Most Advertised Software Skills

Overall the findings at Gooroo and Indeed were very similar: ranging from around 3,500 outstandings job postings for Perl at the bottom to 31,000 outstanding postings for SQL at the top. It has to be said that we noticed that in many cases SQL was demanded in combination with a host of other skills.

In total there are about 250,000 outstanding postings for these 17 skills at the moment. Half of which are for the top-5:

  1. SQL
  2. Java
  3. Javascript
  4. C
  5. Python

The bottom three are NodeJS, Ruby and Perl which together account for around 11,000 outstanding job postings.

The Most Lucrative Software Skills

Whereas Ruby might not be among the most advertised skills, it is definitely among the relatively most scarce skills. When looking at the salaries offered for developers, Ruby tops the list:

  1. Ruby
  2. Python
  3. C++
  4. NodeJS
  5. Android
  6. iOS
  7. Java
  8. Javascript
  9. Perl
  10. AngularJS
  11. ReactJS
  12. C
  13. .NET
  14. C#
  15. SQL
  16. PHP
  17. Go

Interestingly, Python is the only skill that is both high in absolute demand and high in relative demand (i.e. expensive). Of the other 4 highly advertised languages three (Java, Javascript and C) are somewhere in the middle salary range. SQL is the only one that is found at the bottom of the salary range.

The Software Skills with the Most Momentum

It’s also interesting to look at which skills are becoming more or less expensive. This tells us something about whether the relative demand for those skills is increasing; in other words which skills are becoming more difficult to source.

Based on the Gooroo data we’ve made a ranking of the offered salary level per skill at this moment and compared it to that of 2 months ago. What stood out is that the momentum in ‘expensive’ skills such as Android, iOS and Python is rather weak (all three in the bottom 5).

And that the top-3 is dominated by Microsoft related skills: .NET (Microsoft Framework), C (kernel of most operating systems is in C, including Windows) and C# (the core language of .NET). Further it is noticed that Javascript, including its relatively young frameworks ReactJS and NodeJS also made it to the top half in terms of price momentum (AngularJS not far behind on #11):

  1. .NET
  2. C
  3. C#
  4. ReactJS
  5. Javascript
  6. PHP
  7. Ruby
  8. SQL
  9. NodeJS

The Top 3 Most In-Demand Programming Skills

So what happens if we put all this together and make an equally-weighted ranking based on number of outstanding job postings, salary level and salary momentum? That should give us a robust impression of what programming skills will be strongest in-demand in the coming year. Ratatata…. and the winners are: Javascript, C, and Java!

  1. Javascript
  2. C
  3. Java
  4. Python
  5. .NET
  6. Ruby
  7. C#
  8. SQL
  9. C++
  10. ReactJS
  11. NodeJS
  12. AngularJS
  13. Android
  14. PHP
  15. iOS
  16. Perl
  17. Go

Not surprising if you consider it’s used on almost every webpage on the internet and the increasing popularity of JS frameworks. Javascript should definitely be part of any coders arsenal of languages.

But altogether developers should not be betting on one horse, as the popularity of software languages and skills is permanently subject to change. Perhaps a little bit early, but: happy coding in 2018!

By Ernesto Spruyt of Tunga.io and originally published as The Top 17 Most In-Demand Software Skills for 2018

Filed Under: Software
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