Hire developers Community Blog Find a dev job Log in
Close menu
Tech Career Insights: The languages driving SA’s biggest dev industries in 2024
Less noise, more data. Get the biggest data report on software developer careers in South Africa.

The languages driving SA’s biggest dev industries in 2024

13 March 2024, by Josh Nel

In this article, we explore the most used languages across South Africa’s biggest dev industries, and what this means for your hiring efforts.

OfferZen_Setting up your project for learning_inner article.png

Developers consider career opportunities when choosing a programming language

In the latest State of the Developer Nation Report, Python, C# and TypeScript are still the three most desired programming languages.

In our previous article, we unpacked the most used languages across SA’s biggest and smallest companies.

We found that Java is the backbone of enterprise companies, while PHP is the most used language at smaller companies. However, company size is not the only factor that influences a developer’s stack.

This made us ask: What languages are driving SA’s biggest dev industries?

For this analysis, we hope to give you an idea of where specific developers typically work and what it means for your hiring efforts.

Note: We didn’t consider salaries for each language, as we’ve covered developer salaries in the 2024 Developer Salary Benchmarking Report.

FinTech is the biggest industry across the board

Developers’ biggest industries by language

Radar Chart Example

FinTech is the biggest industry among South African developers, nearly twice the size of second-placed SaaS development. We can see FinTech’s dominance playing out in the data:

FinTech companies are the biggest employers for each of the languages analysed here.

However, things become more interesting when we unpack the top five other industries for the other popular languages.

C# is widely used in SaaS development

Microsoft-backed C# sits in the top 3 of both the most used and most wanted programming languages in South Africa. Taking a closer at the data shows that C# is particularly popular in SaaS development:

Industries where C# developers commonly work

C# is a versatile language that is fully integrated into the broader Microsoft ecosystem. This includes tools like Azure and ASP.Net that allow developers to build software across platforms. C#’s versatility also explains its popularity among Consulting-based companies, who typically have clients already part of the existing Microsoft ecosystem.

Consulting has the most Java developers

Industries where Java developers commonly work

Approximately 1 in 6 Java developers work for a company based in Consulting. This makes it the top industry for Java developers in South Africa. Typically, Java developers work at enterprise companies which often have legacy systems that were originally developed in Java.

Java’s “write once, run anywhere” philosophy also makes it a key language for companies with diverse clients and environments.

Since it’sone of the best-paying industries for senior developers, this could help explain why Java is one of the most lucrative languages in the country.

More Python developers work in the data analytics sector

Developer-favourite Python is well represented among Consulting-based companies, with 1 in 10 Python developers currently working in that sector.

Industries where Python developers commonly work

As the language of choice for data analysis, it should come as no surprise that Python developers are more likely to work for Data and analytics companies:

In fact, Python developers are twice as likely to work in data analytics compared to the average for all developers.

PHP developers are mostly based in web development

Industries where PHP developers commonly work

1 in 6 PHP developers work in web development, making it the biggest employer of this skillset after FinTech and SaaS development.

One reason for its popularity in Web dev companies is PHP is relatively easy to learn and use compared to other programming languages. This makes it a good choice for industries like web development, which tend to skew towards younger and junior developers.

It’s common for many of these companies to be on the smaller side. As these companies tend to offer lower average salaries than larger ones, this might shed some light on why PHP is still one of the worst-paying languages for South African developers.

JavaScript developers are working in SaaS development

JavaScript is another widely used language in SaaS development due to its versatility as a full stack language. This is partly due to its broad ecosystem with frameworks ranging from React and Vue.js to Node.js.

Industries where JavaScript developers commonly work

This helps explain JavaScript is the most widely used language among full stack developers in South Africa, and we can see this playing out in the industry data for full stack developers:

The industries currently employing the majority of JavaScript developers overlap almost exactly with those employing the most full stack developers.

Industries where full stack developers commonly work

In summary

As we’ve seen, a developer’s industry also impacts their primary languages. So what does this mean for your hiring efforts?

  • Industry data can help you find developers with the skillset you’re looking to hire:
    • If you’re a company looking for Java developers, for example, looking for candidates with Consulting experience might broaden your talent pool.
    • At the same time, if you’re scaleup looking for developers with analytics experience, then you’ll probably need to prioritise Python experience.
  • Second, a developer’s industry is another factor that impacts their salary in addition to their programming language.
    • Knowing what industry a candidate is coming from can help you benchmark your offer more effectively.

Further reading:

Your next developer job is waiting for you
On OfferZen, companies reach out to you with upfront role, tech stack, and salary info.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Subscribe to our blog

Don’t miss out on cool content. Every week we add new content to our blog, subscribe now.

By subscribing you consent to receive OfferZen’s newsletter and agree to our Privacy Policy and use of cookies.