Each year since 2011, Stack Overflow, a provider of some of the largest technical Q&A sites on the internet, does a survey of its members. More than 64,000 developers participated in the survey this year, and here at The Software Guild, we are always fascinated by the data that emerges. I wanted to take a few moments and highlight some interesting pieces of data in the report.

Breaking the Myth of the Childhood Prodigy

Perhaps due to media attention around some famous lifelong developers, there is a misconception among the population that developers are selected in their childhood. The most recent survey put that to rest. Among developers in the survey, almost half got their first coding job within four years of learning to code, with 11.3 percent getting their first coding job within the first year of learning to code.

Years of Coding Experience Before First Programming Job

Coding experience before securing first programming job chart

Developer Careers Are Accessible Without CS Degrees

One of the great things about software development careers is that you do not need a computer science (CS) degree to be successful. Of course, at a coding bootcamp like The Software Guild, we have known this for years, since very few of our students have a computer science background. The survey results report that only half of the respondents have a degree in CS. That leaves a lot of room for people who come from other disciplines.

Reinforcing this result is a question about how important formal education is to career success. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported that formal education was not very important or not important at all to their career success. In fact, even though half of respondents have a formal CS degree, 90 percent of respondents consider themselves to be self-taught.

How Programmers Learned to Code

Types of education for programmers

You Must Read the Documentation!

A question on the survey addressed how developers teach themselves. This was one of my favorite responses as 80.2 percent of developers reported that they read official documentation for the technical products they are working on, and a high percentage use internet resources such as Stack Overflow and other online communities.

Why is this my favorite question? Because The Software Guild curriculum, even in our free introductory course, forces our students to use official documentation and other resources. This is frustrating to some of our learners, who in the past have claimed that they want our curriculum to show them everything. By forcing our students to use these resources, we are effectively teaching them how to learn in the field. It’s good for their career; sometimes they just don’t appreciate it in real time!

How Programmers Teach Themselves

How programmers teach themselves

Bootcamps Aren’t Just for Beginners

Although much of the attention and marketing goes toward career changers looking for their first developer job, we have seen an uptick in interest from companies and existing developers looking to modernize their skill sets. The path of a developer is one of lifelong learning as you continue to acquire new, in-demand skills. Forty-five percent of developers in the survey reported attending a bootcamp when they already had a developer position. Only 8.1 percent of bootcamp attendees in the survey reported not having a job as a developer.

Length of Time Before Finding Employment After Bootcamp

Coding Is a Passion

As always, a high percentage (75 percent) report that they code as a hobby. This is another reason we offer our free introductory course. It is important for your long-term success that you enjoy coding. The lifelong learning part of a successful developer career requires some amount of passion for the field.

Guild Curriculum Continues to Be Relevant

Back in 2013, the coding bootcamp market consisted mostly of Ruby camps. The Guild instead chose to become the only Java bootcamp on the planet as well as teaching C#, both popular languages among established companies in traditional industries like finance and health care. Focusing on full-stack web development, we also teach JavaScript and SQL.

The most popular programming languages in the survey once again vindicate this decision as the top four programming languages are JavaScript, SQL, Java and C#.

Employment Outlook Is Good for Developers

Software developers continue to see high employment rates, with only 5.4 percent of respondents reporting that they are unemployed and actively seeking work. However, 75 percent of developers are interested in hearing about new opportunities. So companies, treat your talent well or you might lose them!

Employment Status of Programmers

Employment Rate Among Programmers

Networking Matters

When I founded the Guild, I put the word “Guild” in the business name intentionally. Our goal is not only to provide world-class training to our customers, but also to build a Guild network that will continue to provide value for years to come. The most common way developers find jobs in the survey is via networking. If you put in the effort to become a Guild alumni, you will have access to hundreds of peers in your network. Be sure to check out our user groups!

Invest in Your Staff

When asked about assessing potential jobs, developers once again said their top priority is professional development opportunities. Given the rapid pace of change in technology and the lifelong learning aspect of the field, one of the biggest fears of developers is that not investing in their skills will make them irrelevant. Companies that offer formal training programs and budgets will attract more talent than those that do not.


It’s always interesting to gain insight into the industry from the annual Stack Overflow survey. I am encouraged that developers continue to find career success and that the survey results reinforce the Guild’s choices in curriculum, teaching methodology and culture.Coding bootcamps such as The Software Guild offer an outcomes-focused, intensive learning environment for those interested in programming careers.