Technology talent specialist OfferZen has published its 2021 ‘State of the Developer Nation’ report, one of South Africa’s largest data reports on developer careers.
The report, based on a survey of over 3,200 local developers, found that salaries have increased by 7.4% since the first report in 2019. Senior developers have seen the biggest win in the same time period with a 19% increase, reflecting an increasing demand for more experienced developers.
Backend developers command the highest average salaries among local developers – 27% more compared to their frontend counterparts – followed by full stack and frontend developers.
Developers in Cape Town reported earning the highest salaries for the third year running, while Pretoria has overtaken Johannesburg as the second highest-earning city for local developers.
OfferZen’s data also shows that the gender pay gap remains persistent across all experience levels, and is widest at the senior level. Female developers earn 17% less on average than their male counterparts, despite female survey respondents being proportionately represented in higher-paying languages, industries and locations.
“As the pandemic and remote work continue, there is an ongoing shift towards a more digital world. This is reflected in the industries we see becoming popular with developers,” says Philip Joubert, OfferZen’s co-founder and chief executive.
“We hope that, by providing salary transparency in our jobs platform and in reports like these, we will equip all developers with the knowledge and confidence to earn the salary they deserve.”
When it comes to salaries, the survey found that backend developers earn the highest average salaries, followed by full stack and frontend developers.
However, as with most roles, this is highly dependent on the developer’s experience and where they are based.
Junior developers earn between R20,000 and R40,000 across all three fields, with intermediate backend developers earning steadily more as they gain more experience.
“On average, backend developers earn 27% more than their frontend counterparts. The difference between these roles is widest for those with more than 10 years of experience, at a steep 33%,” Offerzen said.
Since 2019, FinTech and Cloud Technology have continuously been the best paying industries for software developers. However, since last year’s report, developers working in retail or eCommerce and Telecommunications have seen the biggest salary growth at an average 9%. The lowest increase since last year came to SaaS developers with a modest 2% pay rise.
Junior developers earn between R23,000 and R35,000 per month in FinTech, while those in cloud-based engineering earn between R27,000 and R33,000.
Intermediate developers with 4+ years of experience earn between R45,000 and R58,000 in FinTech, and between R44,000 and R60,000 in cloud-based engineering.
The data also shows that developers with niche coding languages, such as Go, Kotlin, and Ruby, can command higher salaries. The starting salary for a Ruby developer is over R20,000 with developers who have 10+ years of experience being closer to R80,000 per month.
South African developers also earn more depending on where they work, with those living in Cape Town typically commanding higher salaries than elsewhere in the country.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google are the three top competitors in the “cloud wars” – the battle to be the most used cloud service. South African developers tend to use AWS the most, well ahead of Microsoft Azure, which is more popular at companies with a team size of 5,000-10,000 people.
Sourcing great talent is still a challenge, and remote work remains a popular choice
2022 is looking to be another good year for the local tech industry, which means increased competition for the best developers. Almost 30% of local developers are looking to move jobs within the next 12 months. This is a smaller percentage of developers on average than in 2021, meaning that sourcing developers will become even harder.
However, developers are clear on what they are looking for in a job. Work-life balance is the number one reason developers stay in their current jobs, followed by growth and learning opportunities. When it comes to changing jobs, developers consider earning potential and challenging projects the most important factors.
Remote work continues to be the new norm among local developers, with 92% having the option to work from home and one in five developers working for companies based in a different city to where they reside. Fewer than 15% say they receive a budget for their remote set-up.
“If companies want to recruit and retain skilled developers, they need to be cognisant of developers’ priorities,” said Joubert. “Lots of companies can offer a competitive salary, but they also need to focus on holistic work environments that encourage growth and balance.”