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Emsi: Data Works

Labor market insight for higher education leaders

Breaking Down the Labor Market Supply & Demand for Software Developers

March 2017

It’s no secret that software development is a popular occupation. Nearly every major employer needs quality software developers and the wages are highly competitive. It’s clear why jobseekers are interested in the field.

It’s also clear why there’s pressure on colleges and universities to understand the landscape of the labor market as they provide training for upcoming software developers. There are a lot of important questions to answer.

We dove into the occupation (Software Developers, Applications; SOC: 15-1132; referred to as “software developers” for the remainder of this article) to analyze the labor market demand at a national level and identify where supply and demand differ.

We used Analyst to delve into the traditional and real-time LMI. While Alumni Insight—an aggregation of more than 65 million professional profiles—helps us look at the current supply of the workforce. All data from Alumni Insight is indicated by table and chart headings of this colorWe applied an occupation filter in both tools to tailor the data specifically to software developers.

Though interesting at a national level, when this data is applied regionally—for any occupation of interest—it serves as a critical element in helping colleges more effectively align their programs with the needs of employers.

A Snapshot of Software Developers

Before jumping into the variances between supply and demand, let’s look at a high-level overview of software developers. Detailed below are growth, wage, job posting, and industry trends related to software developers, along with the total number of software developer profiles currently in Alumni Insight.


Job totals for software developers have swelled to nearly 800k and show no sign of slowing over the next ten years. Median wages are strong at $47.68/hr and leave plenty of room for growth with a 90th percentile wage of $70/hr.


While Alumni Insight provides only a sample of the workforce, a substantial 96% of all software developers are represented. This is likely because the occupation lends itself to tech savvy workers that are highly motivated to keep professional profiles up-to-date.


In an average month, there were 115,058 unique job postings for software developers and 33,579 actually hired. This means there was approximately 1 hire for every 3 unique job postings.

While hires have increased slightly, total postings have jumped to nearly double what they were just a few years prior. Every job opening is posted an average of six times by the employer.


Software developers are most prevelant in industries directly connected to computer programming and software publishing, but they play a key role in many unrelated industries. In fact, software developers make up 1% or more of total jobs in more than 100 industries.

Regional Supply & Demand

When it comes to software developers, which states lead the pack in terms of housing talent? What about states recruiting new talent?

After a quick look at the breakout of jobs by location, top states posting for jobs, and top states where alumni in the software development field live, we see common themes. California is leaps and bounds ahead of all other states by a margin of more than 100% across the board. Other leading states like Texas, Washington, and New York also appear consistently, making it clear that states with high concentration of software jobs are putting serious effort into hiring new talent.

Educational Supply & Demand

Below is an overview of the occupational programs that map to software development. Note that only the top five occupational programs are listed.

When comparing schools with the highest number of software development related program completions against schools with the highest number of software developers in Alumni Insight, we see something quite different from our regional comparison. No schools show up on both lists—at least when looking at the top five results.

Further, the top educator of software developers in Alumni Insight is Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, one of India’s leading institutions focused on engineering.

What about education level? What are employers asking for, and what does the current workforce typically have? From Analyst, we see that more than 89% of software developers have associate’s level education or more.

Are 89% of software development job postings asking for associate’s level education or more? Not necessarily. With some filtering of our job posting analytics, we found that nearly 40% of postings make no direct mention of an educational requirement for software developers—a staggering portion considering the national average for all job postings (including blue-collar occupations) is 33%.

That’s not to say that the individuals who get hired don’t have some form of secondary education, but it doesn’t appear to the top priority for employers.

Employer Supply & Demand

Similar to our regional analysis, companies with a high share of software developers are posting the most for new software development positions. Employers like Oracle Corporation and Amazon appear on both lists, while Microsoft holds the highest share of software developer profiles without cracking the top 5 in job postings.

Job Title Supply & Demand

Software engineers, java developers, and software developers are the clear front-runners for the top job titles—both in the workforce and job postings—while .net developers and cloud engineer architects are showing higher concentrations in recent job postings.

Skills Supply & Demand

Finally, let’s look at the skills and certifications relevant to software developers. Not surprisingly, hard skills centered around programming are the most popular credentials among software developers in the workforce today. In early 2015, requests for the Java programming langauge skyrocketed and the skill remains foundational for software developers today.

Leadership and project management are integral soft skills for hiring companies, while certified information systems security professional (CISSP) is the top certification request.


In some cases, the supply and demand of the labor market line up clearly. California has the most software developers. California also puts out the most job postings for software developers. In other cases, there’s something to be learned from the differences we see, like that colleges might consider putting more emphasis on their students learning JavaScript and C Sharp than providing a bachelor’s level program.

As colleges equip students for the workforce, it’s important that all sides of the labor market are considered. Just looking at job postings can be dangerous. The same can be said for only looking at wage data or a sample of workers. However, when used together, each source provides context that makes labor market data as a whole more reliable and more actionable.