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State of the Software
Developer Nation

In this report

Skills & Tech Trends

Developers are super excited about the AI and Cloud engineering industry – Python becomes the language of choice in 2021.



This past year, although a tough one, has highlighted the robustness of companies that were able to take their operations online, empower remote work, and, ultimately, adopt tech to power their processes, services, and products.

Whether it’s the family owned grocery store quickly adapting to offering online ordering and an ‘eat at home’ experience or large corporates adopting digital tools to enable fully remote teams; tech is making businesses antifragile.

At the same time, the acceleration of existing trends in tech – especially remote work, eCommerce, and digitisation – means that top developers are now more in demand than ever and have an increasing number of job opportunities available to them.

So while companies are enjoying the increased talent pool that comes with hiring for remote roles, they now also have to be cognisant of the fact that they are competing globally for talent. The same globalisation trend, that completely changed the manufacturing of physical goods, has come to tech.

Now more than ever before, companies need to equip themselves with data and insights to effectively attract, nurture, and retain top developers.

As a tech job marketplace, we interact and collaborate with hundreds of developers every day, even during the time of a global pandemic. With the help of survey responses from over 3,500 developers, we’ve taken a close look at what developers want, need, and look for in their careers. The data shows that coding is seen as a creative craft; developers genuinely love to code, and that they prioritise career growth and learning – even above salary – when it comes to choosing a job opportunity.

Ultimately, companies need to make room for software development as a creative discipline if they want to give developers what our data shows they value in their careers: challenging projects, opportunities to learn, and the space to build impactful software.

I hope that publishing this report will continue to fuel meaningful conversations in the developer community and give companies the data they need to support their tech teams in building thriving careers.

Malan Joubert
OfferZen Co-founder and CEO
Malan Joubert
OfferZen Co-founder and CEO

Skills & Tech Trends

Developers are super excited about the AI and Cloud engineering industry – Python becomes the language of choice in 2021.

Skills & Tech Trends

The future of tech: AI and cloud-based engineering

2021’s Hottest industry for developers? AI and cloud engineering

Most exciting industry according to developers

We asked developers which industry they thought was up and coming in 2021: The AI and cloud engineering industry came out on top, followed by FinTech and cybersecurity.

The focus on cloud engineering, FinTech, cybersecurity, gaming and e-commerce is unsurprising as so many aspects of life and work have gone remote in 2020 – the increase in online shopping, gaming, and importance of online security makes these industries more attractive than ever.

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Developers want to learn Python in 2021

Most desired programming languages

  1. Python
  2. TypeScript
  3. JavaScript

Most disliked programming languages

  1. PHP
  2. C++
  3. Java
Languages developers want to work with in 2021

An overwhelming number of developers want to learn Python in 2021 as a way to enter the AI and cloud engineering space. This also means that Python has moved up the ranks: It has taken the first place from our last report’s number one, JavaScript, which is now in third place behind TypeScript.

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Developers in cloud-based services feel the most confident about their career growth

Developer confidence in career growth at current company

We asked developers to share how confident they feel about the career growth in their current role.

Interestingly, developers in cloud-based solutions and services were more confident about their potential career growth than developers in other industries.

This is yet another data point that underlines how promising the AI and cloud engineering industry is for developers.

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JavaScript continues to be the most used developer language

Languages developers currently work with most

In our last Developer Nation report, JavaScript was the most used language and this year is no different!

Another interesting insight: About half of the developers who work in SQL also work in either JavaScript or TypeScript. It seems that front-end developers are also doing database and other server-side work.

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Spotlight report: Developer Hiring Data Report 2021

Find out why developers discontinue interview processes, reject job offers, and choose certain opportunities over others in this comprehensive data-driven report.
Skills & Tech Trends

Not all frameworks and languages are created equal

Developers want to work with React and Angular - but most don't

Most wanted frameworks

  1. React
  2. Angular
  3. Flutter

Most used frameworks

  1. ASP.NET
  2. .NET Core
  3. Angular
Developers’ most used vs most desired frameworks
Actual use

Most developers want to learn to work with JavaScript frameworks or libraries like React and Angular in 2021.

However, despite this desire, the majority of surveyed developers are actually working in Microsoft frameworks, ASP.NET and .Net Core – with Angular and React in third and fifth position respectively.

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PHP is the most disliked coding language among developers

Languages developers dislike working in
Disliked by everyone
Disliked by devs who use it

Developers may love to code – but that doesn’t mean that all languages are created equal. This is especially true for PHP – which is predominantly used for website development and maintenance and is the most disliked language amongst developers.

In fact, it turns out that 12% of PHP developers don’t like coding in PHP and C++ developers are the most likely to dislike their own coding language.

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When it comes to developer salaries, bigger companies usually mean bigger paychecks – but location, experience, and industry all play a role too.


Location and industry matter when it comes to salary

Developers earn more in Cape Town

Average developer salary by location

When it comes to developer salaries, it turns out that Cape Town is the place to be. Developers in the mother city earn the highest average salaries throughout their careers when compared to developers in Johannesburg or Pretoria.

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The bigger the company, the bigger the salary

Average developer salary by company size

The general trend seems to be that as company size grows, so does the average developer salary. Developers who work at companies of 500 employees or more tend to outearn their peers at smaller firms. However, this doesn’t take equity into account which is a popular benefit for attracting developers to smaller companies.

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FinTech and cloud engineering are the best paying industries for developers

Average developer salary by industry

Developers in FinTech are earning some of the highest average salaries across the different industries – which makes sense when considering that the FinTech industry is typically comprised of larger companies.

For developers who don’t want to go this route, cloud-based solutions and consulting are other well-paying industries.

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The big bucks are in niche skills

Ruby is the highest paying coding language

Average developer salary by language

It's no secret that high-demand skills in short supply generally earn higher salaries.

If developers want to earn more, they should work with niche languages like Go or Ruby.

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Education & Learning

More than half of developers love to code outside of their nine-to-five – and it doesn’t take a degree to earn decent bucks.

Education & Learning

Developers genuinely love coding and continuous learning

Over 50% of developers code as a hobby

I spend significant amounts of time coding as a hobby or on side-projects

Coding isn’t all fun and games – or is it? If you ask 56% of the developers who took our survey, they’d say ‘yes!’. Coding is a creative discipline and most developers are keen to play outside of their nine-to-five. In fact, regardless of industry, age or company size, coding as a hobby is common amongst at least 50% of developers.

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Younger developers want to learn new languages every few months

Frequency at which developers learn a new language by age

Younger developers seem to be focused on developing a broader skill set by learning a new language every few months.

This changes over the years though: Older developers are less likely to add a new language to their skillset as they become more specialised, but even they want to learn something new regularly!

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Education & Learning

A developer’s education is what they make of it

One fifth of developers don’t have a university degree

Highest level of education attainment for developers

Job specs that require a university degree are missing out on more than 20% of developer talent. More specifically, 10% of surveyed developers didn’t get a formal tertiary education and 13% of developers started university, but didn’t finish their degrees.

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Developers without degrees can match the earnings of their degreed peers later on in their careers

Average developer salary by highest education level

Junior developers with a degree earn more than those without but as they pass the fourth year of their career, having a degree does not make a statistical difference to their income anymore.

What’s more, not all degrees are created equal, at least in early career stages. Junior and intermediate developers with an honours degree earn more than those with just an undergrad degree. However, again, the more senior a developer becomes the less impact their degree has on their salary.

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Job Search

Candidate experience matters when more than 50% of developers will stop interviewing after a negative experience.

Job Search

Developers prioritise career growth and learning opportunities

Growth and learning opportunities are the number one reason developers stay in their job

Reasons developers stay in their current role

Growth and access to learning opportunities are the number one reason developers stay in their job, closely followed by a good work-life balance and company culture.

In fact, there’s more to a good job than just money: Work-life balance, company culture, and awesome team members all trump current and future earnings when it comes to career longevity for developers.

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Developers want challenging projects and opportunities to learn new skills

Top factors developers want for career growth

So what does career growth actually look like to a developer?

For most, it’s the opportunity to tackle a challenging project – most likely because this comes with heaps of learning opportunities.

Second on the career growth wishlist is the opportunity to work with a new language or framework – again, more learning!

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1 in 3 developers aren’t super confident about career growth at their current company

I feel I can develop my career at my current company

Although developers place so much value on growth within their careers, it appears that not every developer feels that their current company has this in store for them.

We asked developers to rate the statement: ‘I feel I can develop my career at my current company’. One third responded as either ‘neutral’ or ‘disagree’.

Interestingly, developers at very large companies are marginally more likely to feel they can grow at their current company.

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Job Search

The majority of developers are staying in their current jobs – for now

1 in 3 developers are looking to move jobs in the next 12 months

Job search timelines of developers

33% of developers surveyed are looking to change jobs in the next three to twelve months – with 9% of these developers already looking for work.

On the other hand, 23% of developers would still like to be working at the same company in the next five years.

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1 in 2 developers have discontinued a hiring process after a negative interview experience

Have you discontinued an interview process due to a negative experience?

Companies who don’t raise the bar on their recruitment processes could miss out on more than half of developers.

In fact, 55% of developers reported that they have not proceeded with a hiring process after having a negative interview experience.

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Find out why 1 in 2 developers discontinue an interview process

Download our specialised Developer Hiring 2021 Report to get access to data-driven insights on why developers change jobs, reject job offers and choose some opportunities over others.


The data in this report does not claim to be representative of the entire South African developer population. Any time the word ‘developer’ is used, it refers to the group of developers who took our #SADevNation survey in 2020.

In terms of location, we only used Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town in location comparisons due to sample size.

In cases where no data slicing occurs, all 3519 valid responses were included. In order to shed light on survey participant characteristics, we’ve included the demographic breakdown of all 3519 valid responses below. In some cases, we decided to exclude insights on gender and ethnicity because we felt that we could not do these important topics justice in the short-form format of this report. We are, however, planning to deep-dive into these demographics in the coming months.





Coding experience

Industries developers currently work in


OfferZen conducted a survey to find out more about developers’ skills, work experience and job search behaviour. A total of 4922 people took the online survey between 6 October and 20 October 2020. Of these responses, 3519 responses were counted as valid because they were from developers who are currently employed or have work experience in South Africa.

We hosted the survey itself on Typeform and recruited respondents via emails sent to more than 30 000 software makers in the OfferZen community and social media posts to the public. Data was anonymised in accordance with GDPR guidelines and is housed separate to any and all of OfferZen’s platform data. Percentages may not always add to 100% due to rounding.

Salary in this report refers to gross salary before tax and excludes benefits. Statistical analysis was conducted to verify insights regarding salaries and we have only included claims where we have at least 90% confidence.

About OfferZen

OfferZen is a tech talent marketplace by developers for developers. Our platform matches top software talent with exciting opportunities at companies, but this effort actually encompasses a much wider mission: To help developers and their teams thrive in the tech ecosystem.

Over the last five years, this mission has manifested in a multitude of ways from our core business of helping software makers find awesome new jobs, to hosting local maker evenings and tech events or helping makers share their experiences on our blog. We want to help build an inclusive, transparent, and thriving tech ecosystem.

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