This content is part of the Essential Guide: Developer shortage survival guide

Taking strides in the software developer shortage

Learn about the software developer shortage and the efforts being made to expand training and staffing in the industry.

At a time when seemingly every company is in the software business, demand for software developers today is insatiable. Job postings for coders have jumped almost 90% over the last year, just in the US, and the situation is nearly as dire in Europe, with shortfalls of up to 900,000 developers predicted by 2020.

To get a sense of how hot -- and out of control -- the market is, consider the opportunities for mobile designers today in the United States. There were over 41,000 jobs posted for mobile expertise in the last year, representing a 135% increase over 2011, according to Boston-based market research firm Burning Glass Technologies. And not surprisingly, the average salaries have jumped as well, to $111,380, well above what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is the median developer salary of $93,350.

There are simply not enough software developers to hire, and not enough in school either. American universities are going to graduate less than one third of the expected 1.4 million developers required in the next five years, said Emirali Mustafa, research analyst at UK-based research firm Procurement Leaders.

So the trick is to figure out how to survive -- and perhaps even thrive -- in a developer shortage the likes of which this industry has never seen.

It's a great time to be a developer. Skilled coders can find themselves with multiple job offers in as few as 24 hours (and sometimes that might include an offer from the current employer). They can also afford to be selective about opportunities -- new development is preferred  -- and they have unheard of choice when it comes to where they can work. There were more software jobs available in Chicago than Seattle this year, as just one example. But companies also want skilled developers comfortable in a business-facing role, and perhaps with actual industry experience, requirements that might push some developers out of their comfort zones.

Employers, meanwhile, must get very creative in order to stand out from the crowd. Hiring now involves a lot of marketing focused on company values, perks and opportunities. Even with that, employers must pay more, wait longer for some jobs to be filled, and make some serious compromises, like hiring candidates without college degrees. And they can't relax their vigilance even if they do manage to hire. Employee retention -- through personal performance recognition, bonuses and more -- has never been more important.

And coming up with a solution for the developer shortage has become a huge priority for governments, companies, educators and more. Some feel a university degree is overkill for software developers; at the same time a growing number of for-profit coding boot camps are turning out developers in as little as three months. Some community college systems are hoping to replicate the boot camp model at a far lower price. And governments are doing their parts, with a variety of tech efforts designed to connect people to education and then ultimately to better paying jobs, including in software development.

In the end, though, the developer shortage is expected to persist for years to come and actually worsen if education efforts don't kick in swiftly. Time will tell what kind of long-term effect it will have on worldwide software development efforts.

Next Steps

A software developer shares her story

How DevOps software development changed

Should you consider outsourcing software development?

Dig Deeper on Topics Archive