Software development is an industry that experiences constant evolution. Your learning journey to become a developer can often feel like you’re sailing blind through a turbulent ocean. With entirely new technologies, practices, and sometimes job titles being introduced every year, knowing what to learn first (or next) as a developer can feel a little disorienting.
In the following article, we will shed light on the current state of developer learning by helping you understand how others are learning to code, where they’re learning, and what technologies they’re using. To paint this picture, we will be using the 2022 Stack Overflow Developer Survey. This resource is vital for developers, both new and experienced, to understand the landscape of the industry. In the survey, you can filter response data by country, age, and whether the responses are from learners or professional devs. It’s also great for keeping up to date with ever-changing tech trends!
For the new individual learner, we think it is especially important to share this statistical information and the key takeaways because they are most likely to be brand new to the world of technology. Let’s get started!
First, we’ll give an overview of how Stack Overflow conducted its 2022 Developer Survey. Responses were collected from 73,268 software developers from 180 countries around the globe. The survey responses were collected from May 11, 2022, to June 1, 2022. To be considered in the survey, the respondent had to spend sufficient time taking the survey, with around 50 responses being omitted because they were completed in under 3 minutes. The median time spent on the survey was 15 minutes.
Of the 73,268 responses fielded, approximately 6,309 responses are from people who are learning to code, which will give us great data for the status of dev learners in 2022. Rest assured, the learn-to-code inquiries have been solely answered by people in a similar position as you. As a learner, this resource is also excellent for discovering trends among the 53,507 professional developers that responded (10,659 responses out of the total 73,268 were from hobbyists, retired pro devs, or non-coders who use programming regularly at work). The professional landscape obviously has quite the impact on the landscape of dev learning, so it’s beneficial for learners of all experiences to keep the pulse of the industry.
For our purposes in the following article, we will be putting a greater focus on the state of learning to code for the individual. We will utilize data from both the professional respondents and learning respondents to explore the terrain of dev learning.
In 2022, 47.9% of professional developers hold a bachelor’s degree of some kind. 29.7% hold a higher-level college degree (master’s, professional, or doctoral degrees). Almost a quarter of professional developers (22.67%) have an associate degree at most. These numbers change drastically when we look at the responses from those learning to code.
61.9% of dev learners haven’t earned a bachelor’s degree. If you are someone who thinks they can thrive in development but didn’t have the time or money to go to school, then this is a very encouraging figure. Over half of your fellow learners are in the same boat as you, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Every year, the number of learners who don’t have a degree increases, and therefore the number of professionals without degrees will increase as well! In last year’s survey, 49.34% of professionals held a bachelor’s degree compared to the 47.9% recorded this year. This trend is expected to continue. Each year, learning to code online with courses, certifications, and other materials is becoming more and more welcomed in the growing industry.
Key takeaway for learners:
The 38% of learners who already hold a degree is a great indication that learning never stops, and also that earning a degree is not the end all be all. Even devs with master’s degrees still rely on online resources to practice and learn daily.
Compared to 2021’s survey, the number of people learning to code online increased from 60% to 70% of learners in just a single year! The increase in online learning goes hand in hand with the observation that more and more developers are educating themselves outside of the university system.
As a matter of fact, in the age groups of under 18, 18-24, and 25-34 learning to code online is the most popular method over universities, books/physical media, and boot camps. Books/physical media also just barely beats out online learning in the 35-44 age range (69.98% versus 66.93%). For learners under the age of 35, online resources have emerged as the clear favorite in 2022.
Key takeaways for learners:
These observations matter for the state of dev learning because 55.59% of the learning to code respondents were in the 18-24 age group. This means that the most popular method among the biggest learn to code group is online learning.
As a learner, it is very important to keep an eye on what jobs new developers are getting, and how much experience they have. A very interesting figure is that 32.23% of the survey’s respondents have been coding professionally for 0-4 years. In the next largest response group for that question, 27.45% of professionals have been coding for 5-9 years. If you were under the perception that development was a field dominated by people with decades of experience, then you are mistaken. Over 50% of the respondents claimed to be in the first decade of their career with most of that 50% being in the first 5 years of professional development.
This figure speaks to the fact that new developers from all educational backgrounds are being hired every day. Once you are hired, you also do not have to worry about feeling bad about your lack of professional experience as it is more than likely that multiple coworkers will be in the same position as you.
Out of specific developer roles in 2022, full-stack, back-end, and front-end developers made up the bulk of the professional responses. This makes sense because these categories of developers are relatively broad, and most developers fall under those categories regardless of title. Most respondents considered themselves as more than one type of developer. On average, each respondent reported being 7 other types of a developer. Higher-level jobs such as database architects, software engineering managers, and security professionals reported the most variation among their titles.
Key takeaway for learners:
This just goes to show that professional developers perform a variety of tasks that change greatly from one job to another. It is in your best interest to not solely focus on one aspect of development. A well-rounded education that applies to multiple facets of development can only work in your favor for landing your dream job!
The top 11 of the most popular programming, scripting, and markup languages for learners are:
When compared to the top 11 list for professional developer respondents, it is the same 11 languages that are included among the learn-to-code respondents. This is an encouraging indication that learners are acquiring skills that are guaranteed to be in demand!
Key takeaway for learners:
A significant difference between the two lists that we want to highlight for your benefit is the disparity between TypeScript in the two lists. Compared to the estimated 15% of learners, a whopping 40% of professionals use TypeScript in their careers. Other disparities are that learners are less likely to report using SQL (38% vs 53%) and Bash/Shell (19% vs 29%). If you’re looking to pick up a new language, this survey suggests that it might get you ahead of the curve by picking up one of these languages.
Try one of our 300+ courses and learning paths: Learn TypeScript: The Complete Course for Beginners.
Out of the responses from the learning participants, MySQL is the clear leader with 58.4% of learners claiming to use the database. Professional developers also report using MySQL at a high rate of 45.68% in 2022. For the most part, the usage percentages between the databases on the pro dev and the dev learner list match pretty well, with one glaring exception.
Key takeaway for learners:
PostgreSQL was reported to be used by 25.54% of dev learners, which is significantly less usage than the 46.48% reported by professional developers. This database is actually the one with the most reported usage, with MySQL following slightly behind. Learning to code is a process that doesn’t stop after learning the most popular technologies, but based on the disparities in the data, PostgreSQL sure does seem like a good place to start navigating databases if that is an interest of yours.
The two most common web technologies used by professional developers and dev learners alike are React.js and Node.js. React.js and Node.js were recorded by professionals as having a usage rate of 44.31% and 46.31% and reported by learners at rates of 42.81% and 52.86%.
Web development is one of the best paying and fastest-growing career paths in tech. If this is a path that you wish to embark on, it is critical that you are aware of the technologies being utilized by professionals each year. In this survey particularly, the professional developer statistics are being generated off of much more responses than the learning to code statistics. While this is one of our best methods for getting the pulse of the dev learning community, it is arguably an even greater resource to get a synopsis of the professional landscape.
Key takeaway for learners:
This does not mean you should rush to learn the top 5 frameworks in this survey, but merely keep an eye out for what technologies top the lists as your dev skills improve. This will clear a lot of confusion as you get closer to being able to interview for entry-level positions!
Be sure to check out the 2022 Stack Overflow survey to view data on all of the other technology trends from this year!
We encourage you to peek at the 2022 survey for yourself so you can gain even more insights beyond what we covered today! There is a lot more revealing information about the technology industry that we couldn’t possibly cover in this article. Hopefully, this overview of dev learning in 2022 by the numbers has provided a solid foundation for you to draw your own conclusions from future surveys.
As someone on the learn-to-code journey, we suggest checking out our Introduction to Computers and Programming course to get started with the basics.
If you’re already familiar with the fundamentals, then we suggest getting started learning a popular language, such as Python, with our free Learn Python 3 from Scratch course!
Join a community of more than 1.4 million readers. A free, bi-monthly email with a roundup of Educative's top articles and coding tips.