Last year, there were nearly 24 million software developers around the world. By 2024, Evans Data Corporation predicts that number will increase by 20% — or 28.7 million people will work in the software development industry. Rapidly-evolving educational paths and new technologies make software development a career available to anyone willing to pursue it, and the future software developers will look drastically different than today.
Constant changes in technology, society, and culture are clearing the hurdles many developers jump to gain entry into the field. As a result, we’re seeing a more creative, diverse, innovative, and effective workforce. As we head into the new year, here are four trends I foresee impacting the role of the software developer.
1 Increased focus on creative solutions with the help of innovative platforms
APIs, cloud computing, and microservices provide software developers with a true logistic network that supports the back-end infrastructure and the front-end user experiences without having to build everything from nothing. Engineers no longer labor over raw code for hours on end. Instead, they can operate in a creative, user-centered environment to focus more on customer outcomes and less on snags in the code.
2 The rise of informal and alternative education paths
Within the industry, multiple alternatives help students understand software development without a four-year undergraduate degree. The Lambda School is a great example of a coding boot camp geared at teaching participants the skills needed as a developer without accumulating debt. The Lambda School is a huge success: 80% of students received job offers with an average starting salary of $70,000 last year. While these students have no four-year degree (or debt), they still possess the skills needed to make it in the software development world.
I foresee the development industry will see an increase in programs like The Lambda School. Compared to traditional programs, coding boot camps can achieve the same outcome but in half the time and at half the cost. Access to innovative technology and training allows new developers to enter the market and contribute to a growing, digital-first economy.
3 Software developers will help improve the remote work experience
Many companies have begun to revisit their policies to offer remote work permanently. As a result, new technology innovations will arise to solve the problems organizations face with a distributed workforce like productivity and collaboration.
The global pandemic had a huge influence on digital transformation this year. Zoom and Slack saw enormous gains in 2020, and the new year will bring new realizations to companies as they begin to understand which generalized tools don’t suit the organization’s unique workflows and styles. The switch to more agile, customizable, and purpose-built technologies will keep employees engaged and productive in increasingly virtual workspaces. Software developers will lead this charge in pinpointing and building solutions to help solve the inherent challenges in remote work.
4 Driving innovation through investments in continuous learning
I didn’t graduate with a four-year degree and didn’t intend to when I saw the benefits of hands-on learning on the job rather than from a book in the classroom. As CEO, a college degree isn’t the first thing I look for on a resume. Instead, we look for candidates who are eager to learn, can think on their feet and have a unique level of problem-solving curiosity — not to mention, the ability to understand and support overarching business goals. These skills far outweigh anything one can learn in a textbook.
In this new digital-first era, anyone can achieve a career as a software developer. I predict companies will realize the benefits of providing more on-the-job learning opportunities and training to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry. Organizations will no longer send employees to courses or events to learn; in-office training will soon become part of the company’s growth strategy, thus helping both the organization and its employees succeed.