Stack Overflow developer survey 2017

DevOps and machine learning specialists are the best paid, says Stack Overflow

Jane Elizabeth
stack overflow survey
Business vote image via Shutterstock.

Over 64,000 developers responded to the 2017 Stack Overflow developer survey. Let’s take a look to see how they learn, how they work, and who they are.

Since 2011, Stack Overflow has annually surveyed their community of developers about all sorts of things, from their coding habits to work preference to general demographics. This year, over 64,000 developers responded to their survey in January 2017, giving Stack Overflow the largest response ever.

It’s obviously taken some time to analyze and make sense of all that data, but there are some interesting trends. Stack Overflow’s main goal is to give developers information about their peers, their industry, and themselves.  So, let’s dig right into the results, shall we?

We don’t need no education

Probably one of the more startling results of the survey was the education portion. Developers with a computer science degree were among the most likely to respond that formal instruction was important or very important. However, 32% of professional developers responded that formal instruction was unimportant.

Why? Well, probably because most developers are at least partially self-taught.

stack overflow survey

A whopping 90% of developers state that they taught themselves how to code; another 45% studied through an online course.

That’s not to say that Stack Developers aren’t formally studying computer science; roughly 75% of respondents had a degree in computer science or another related field. The humanities, for comparison, made up barely 5%.

Shag, marry, kill: frameworks and languages edition

Compared with our survey of frameworks, Stack Overflow’s got some interesting choices as far as what frameworks people are using these days. In what is probably the weirdest game of shag, marry, kill, developers have decided they love React, hate Cordova, and want Node.js.

stack overflow survey

The languages were another departure from our JAXenter survey results: Stack Overflow developers loved Rust the most, hated Visual Basic 6, and wanted Python. Fair enough, Stack Overflow users, fair enough.

stack overflow survey

Coding for fun and profit

I’m not particularly surprised by the sheer number of hobbyists coding on the side. Roughly 75% of all developers code as a hobby. (We’ve covered the most popular weekend languages here and here previously on JAXenter.)

stack overflow survey

The salary portion was especially illuminating. Our friends in DevOps and machine learning are certainly the best compensated among us. But that’s not exactly news; we reported last year that “DevOps engineers, architects, software developers and engineers, and systems developers and engineers in the United States are more likely than not to make more than $100,000.”

stack overflow survey

And now, a bit of fun

It’s not a survey without a few fun questions. My personal favorite is the evergreen GIF pronunciation debate.
stack overflow survey

Clearly, 65% of us are right, because “jif” is a kind of delicious peanut butter. (I will go down with this ship, people.) But now I am desperately curious to hear what “some other way” sounds like.

Who are you?

The Stack Overflow survey is designed explicitly to sort out all of those basic demographics details. It’s fascinating to see the breakdown of the Stack Overflow community. For one thing, developers are all over the place, man.

stack overflow survey

This handy graph shows where all the respondents come from. The obvious majority comes from the United States, with over 22% of respondents calling it home. The next was India, with 10%, followed quickly with the UK and Germany with 8% a piece. The answers fragment a bit after that, but I was impressed with the wide geographic spread of developers in the Stack Overflow community.

The breakdowns on gender were a little less diverse. Of the 35,990 responses to the gender identity question, only 7.6% respondents identified as women.

stack overflow survey

When looking at specific countries, the numbers did look better. A full 10% of developers from the US identify as female, which is backed up by Stack Overflow’s site traffic analysis. Women account for 9% of traffic from the UK and 8% of traffic from the France and Germany, even though they weren’t as well represented in the survey. Some of this disparity can be just put down to a lack of survey response.

The ethnicity breakdown isn’t that much of a surprise, either.  Tech’s diversity problem is pretty obvious when you look at the numbers.

stack overflow survey

Nearly ¾ of all respondents were white or of European descent. The next highest was South Asian, which, given the high number of Indian developers, isn’t much of a surprise. These numbers are a pretty stark reminder of how homogenous the tech field can be sometimes.


I highly recommend heading over to Stack Overflow and checking out the whole survey analysis. Let us know in the comments if there’s something interesting that you think we forgot to mention!

Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for

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