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Skills Report

Insights based on 71,281 developers


Programming is like art—both the process of writing code and the code in itself. Converting an idea that only existed in your head into reality is an unparalleled feeling. It’s a kind of mindfulness that keeps you in a state of flow when you love the work you do. And, when your product impacts millions of developers and helps them find the right place to work—it’s both exciting and scary!

At HackerRank we have had the opportunity to build a product that’s used by a community of more than 5 million developers (more than 20% of the world’s developer population) and more than 1,200 customers to match every developer to the right job based on skill. The underlying infrastructure of the hiring process is going through a dramatic shift. Candidates are now being evaluated based on their skills and not their pedigree. This opens up a lot more opportunities for developers and smart companies worldwide are recognizing this and making the shift.

We surveyed our community with questions ranging from which technology they find the most promising to what they look for in a job and during the interview process. More than 70,000 developers participated in the survey (that’s right!) and enclosed is a treasure trove of insight on what’s happening in the land of developers.

Enjoy the report and as always feel free to tweet @hackerrank or email us at your comments. Let’s build an even playing field!

Vivek Ravisankar
Co-founder & CEO


Calculators are the new games

Developers' first coding projects have evolved over the course of two generations.

More specifically, if you're a developer over the age of 38, chances are your first project was a game. Meanwhile, younger generations were most likely to build a calculator as their very first project.

Some developers had unique first projects. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • I created a program that contained all the math and physics rules to help me solve my homework assignments.
  • “Hacked" a flash game to give me infinite health and ammunition.
  • I built a “What college should I go to?” randomizer.

First coding project by age


JavaScript: 2018’s most popular language

When comparing the most popular languages that developers were learning year over year, we found that developers were learning JavaScript at the most rapid rate. In 2018, 73% of developers said they knew JavaScript, up from 67% in 2017. This also makes JavaScript 2018’s most well-known language, compared to Java in 2017.

Student developers are the exception. Only 42% of student developers in 2018 said they knew JavaScript. This could be because JavaScript isn’t taught in most university computer science programs, so more developers learn JavaScript once they’re out of school and creating applications for work.

Languages known in 2017 vs. 2018

Developers are as eager as they were last year to learn Go, Kotlin, and Python in 2019. Interestingly, developers’ interest in Scala has dropped, whereas their interest in TypeScript has increased. Scala was the 3rd most popular language that developers planned to learn in 2018 but dropped to 6th place in 2019.

TypeScript went from being the 5th most popular language to learn to #4. The language's rising popularity is most likely because of the ubiquity of JavaScript and the fact that many major JavaScript frameworks use TypeScript. In fact, almost a quarter of developers know Typescript this year, up from 15% last year.

Languages developers want to learn in 2019


React poised to overtake AngularJS in 2019

AngularJS continues to be the most popular framework that developers know. However, more and more developers have begun to learn React. The percentage of developers who know React jumped from 20% in 2017 to 26% in 2018.

Frameworks known in 2017 vs. 2018

The number of developers who know React is likely to keep increasing. It’s the #1 framework that developers want to learn in 2019. The transition from Angular 1 to Angular 2 did not allow for backwards compatibility, which could explain why developers are moving towards a different framework. React is also considered to be simpler and more flexible than AngularJS, making it poised to overtake AngularJS.

Frameworks developers want to learn in 2019

Despite developers taking a stronger interest in React, companies’ appetite for this front-end framework outpaced the number of developers who knew React in 2018. The JavaScript ecosystem is constantly evolving and often difficult to keep up with, but it’s obvious that learning React is a worthwhile investment for developers.

Frameworks hiring managers want vs. frameworks developers know


IoT is the most realistic new tech

Internet of Things (53%), just above Deep Learning (50%), is predicted to be the most adopted new technology in the next two years. The increasing connectivity of homes, cars, and even cities is evidence of this technology having the best chance of real-world application by 2020.

Application of Deep Learning is expanding from mobile speech recognition software to places like the healthcare sector and automotive industry, which could explain why developers consider it a realistic technology.

As IoT and Deep Learning continue gaining momentum, it’s clear that picking up the skills needed to work on these technologies will be valuable for developers.

On the other end of the spectrum, with a fluctuating cryptocurrency market but also the support of many of the biggest companies in the world, blockchain is an unpredictable technology. ~20% of developers said the real-world application of blockchain in the next two years is overhyped.

The real world application of technologies

Developers in the Workplace

Dance and electronic music fuel coding sessions

Developers who listen to music while working were most likely to turn to dance and electronic music to help them get into the flow of coding. Developers who are 21 years old or younger were more likely than any other age group to listen to hip-hop and rap while working.

Best music to listen to while coding

Developers in the Workplace

The #1 pet peeve: Badly written documentation

Developers’ struggles are real...and we wanted to find out what frustrated them the most. Junior developers particularly despised badly written documentation while senior developers thought spaghetti code was the worst.

The #1 pet peeve at work

Developers in the Workplace

One of the biggest bugs: 'Wiped out database'

When asked about their biggest bug in production, deploying untested or broken code was the most common response. We also found that ~10% of developers admitted to wiping out the entire database.

The biggest bug in production

Developers in the Workplace

58% of developers took action in response to concerns about employers

2018 was the year of taking action — from employee walkouts to company boycotts.

In fact, 58% of developers polled took action in response to concerns about their company. Examples of concerns included affiliations with privacy misuse and censorship. Close to 40% of developers approached their leadership about their concerns regarding their company. 23% quit their job or began looking for another position in response to misgivings.

Actions taken in response to concerns about employers

Conventional wisdom dictates that younger generations are more likely to take action and older generations are more content with the status quo. That’s not what the data tells us.

Across the board, the older the developers, the more likely they were to refuse to work on projects, protest, discourage others from joining companies, quit their jobs, look for new jobs or speak to management in response to concerns about their company.

The only exception to this is when it comes to social media. Developers who are 21 years old or younger were the most likely to openly express concerns on social media.

Actions taken in response to concerns about employers according to age

Job Search

Immigration policies impact access to tech talent

Silicon Valley has largely been composed of immigrants, with 57% of its technical workforce born outside of the United States. But, our survey found that 4 in 10 developers were negatively impacted by immigration policies in 2018.

Nearly 1 in 5 developers who applied for a US work visa were denied. In fact, many developers were discouraged from even applying. Almost 25% of developers stated that US immigration policies discouraged them or others they knew from applying to jobs in the country.

Impact of US immigration policies on all developers surveyed


 4 in 10 developers have been negatively impacted by immigration policies in 2018

The demand for developers in the United States is expected to grow much faster than average in the next 5 years. However, US employers are starting to have difficulty finding the developers they need. 30% of US hiring managers said immigration policies made recruitment of tech talent difficult in 2018.

Impact of US immigration policies on US hiring managers vs. global hiring managers

Job Search

The #1 way to lose developer candidates: Unclear roles

A poor interview experience is a surefire way to lose top candidates in today’s competitive tech talent market. Developers were most likely to be turned off by employers who don’t provide enough clarity around roles or where they’ll be placed. 49% said lack of values alignment was a turn-off and 14% reported not enough diversity on the panel was a deal-breaker.

What turns developers off from employers

Job Search

Professional growth and work-life balance matters most

The most important factors for developers, across all job levels and functions, was the opportunity for professional growth and work-life balance.

Developers are voracious learners by nature and necessity, given tech’s rapidly changing pace. The importance of work-life balance for both senior and junior is aligned with studies which have found that employees who do significant amounts of overtime are at a large risk of burnout, leading to a decrease in productivity, high turnover, and even health concerns.

What developers look for in a job

For developers working in North and South America, compensation was the third most important aspect of a role. 

Even though Asian-Pacific, European, Middle Eastern, and African developers ranked having interesting problems to solve at work higher than salaries, compensation was still one of their top 5 priorities. 

What developers look for in a job in different regions


HackerRank conducted a study of developers to identify trends in developer skills, work, and employment opportunities. A total of 71,281 professional and student developers from more than 100 countries took the online survey from November 5 to November 27, 2018. The survey was hosted by SurveyMonkey and HackerRank recruited respondents via email from their community of over 5 million members and through social media sites.

Tests of significant differences were conducted at the .01 level (99% probability that the difference is real, not by chance). Percentages may not always add to 100% due to rounding.

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