FreeCodeCamp has been surveying 10,000s of developers for the past three years about how they’re learning to code and about their careers. And now, they’ve made a full dataset publicly available. But, in 2020 they did take a ‘year off’ from that. They decided to do a survey and listed the top developer skills for 2020.



The survey was based on the answers of 116,648 developers depending on their 2020 skills report. They’ve broken down the results that they thought are the most relevant to new developers. And, what’s worth mentioning is that many of the developers that surveyed were also hiring managers.

Here’s how FreeCodeCamp listed the top developer skills results for 2020:

  • Smaller companies consider full-stack devs more important
  • JavaScript is still the most sought-after language
  • Fewer employers require university degrees
  • Going to a coding Bootcamp increases your chances of getting hired
  • Opportunity to learn new technical skills at work
  • Smaller companies consider full-stack devs more important
  • How much money do developers make each year

Smaller companies consider full-stack devs more important

A chart from HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills report showing that smaller companies consider a full-stack developer more useful. Large companies, however, are more focused on specialization in a particular field more.

And if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Larger companies allow for more specialization in the long run.



This being said, most hiring managers at all kinds of companies prioritize back-end, front-end or full-stack developers. And only 30% of them considered it a high priority to fill roles like this:

  • DevOps Engineering
  • Data Scientist
  • QA Engineer
Smaller companies consider full-stack developers more important. Larger companies are more likely to want specialists.
Smaller companies consider full-stack developers more important. Larger companies are more likely to want specialists.

JavaScript is still the most sought-after language

The chart below shows language popularity among hiring managers by region. And as it clearly states, JavaScript is still the most popular language, followed by Python and Java.

JavaScript was by far the most popular globally, followed closely by Python.

In the Asian region, however, Java is still very much in demand. C# and C++ are more popular among the African, European, Middle-East region than elsewhere.

But what’s more interesting is that a growing number of managers (especially in the US) are “language agnostic”. They don’t really care what kind of programming languages you know.

This goes to back up the statement “If you can learn one programming language well, you can learn the other one easily on-the-job”.

So basically, what a developer has built in the past speaks more than which specific tool they used to build it.



JavaScript is still the most sought-after programming language skill by employers.
JavaScript is still the most sought-after programming language skill by employers.

Fewer employers require university degrees

The chart below shows the proportion of developer’s educations. It shows devs who have no Bachelor’s degree, have one and have graduate degrees sorted by employer size. Smaller companies are more likely to hire developers who have none.

31% of the developers who work at a small company don’t have a degree at all (also known as “undergraduate degrees” in the US).

And this is happening at large companies too. 9%-18% of their developer’s workforce doesn’t have any degree whatsoever.

This represents a big shift from the 90s and early 00s when most developers had to have a degree. And this kind of makes a lot of sense if you put it into perspective.

The cost of earning a university degree – especially the US – has skyrocketed over the past 40 years.

Inflation in US University tuition and fees VS overall inflation (Consumer Price Index). Source- The US National Center for Education Statistics.
Inflation in US University tuition and fees VS overall inflation (Consumer Price Index). Source- The US National Center for Education Statistics.

More and more Americans are choosing to forego the traditional university degree in favor of self-learning. This 2,500% increase in university tuition and fees also coincided with the birth of the world wide web and a wealth of free learning resources.



A lot of people are able to successfully get a job after a year or two of self-teaching with online courses. Or attending local tech events, and hanging out at local hackerspaces. And the good news here is that some employers hire these coding boot camp grads!

Fewer and fewer employers require university degrees. And smaller companies are more flexible on this.
Fewer and fewer employers require university degrees. And smaller companies are more flexible on this.

Going to a coding Bootcamp increases your chances of getting hired

The chart indicates that 32% of hiring managers surveyed had hired a developer who went through a coding Bootcamp.

They found these coding Bootcamp graduates to mostly be as well equipped as the other hires. And closely 30% said coding Bootcamp grads were even better than their typical hire.

A thing to notice here is that many coding Bootcamp graduates already have a bachelor’s degree. Either in Computer science or Engineering fields. So, some of these Bootcamp grads have more education than the typical hire would have. And not to forget to note that the quality of instruction among different coding Bootcamps varies tremendously.

Since the survey doesn’t indicate the underlying data, we can’t say for sure which Bootcamps are most favorable among the employers. And we also can’t tell how many of them were traditional in-person coding Bootcamps or online ones.

But nevertheless, 32% of hiring managers have hired a coding Bootcamp grad. And they think so highly of their skills, so it’s reassuring for all the developers out there who founded their own coding Bootcamps in their cities.

Going to a coding Bootcamp increases your chances of getting hired
Going to a coding Bootcamp increases your chances of getting hired



Opportunity to learn new technical skills at work

The chart below shows that 59% of developers want to learn new technical skills at work. This is significantly more than the developers who want to earn certifications, or receive promotions. And this is one of the top developer skills for 2020.

In one simple word: skills.

Most developers care less about the traditional markers of professional advancements – promotions. They tend to care more about expanding their knowledge of technical skills.

Most developers would rather get promoted into a more technical role than a managerial one. An Engineering Manager is a manger, and an individual contributor is a developer who is managed. But, what is a technical lead?

The role of Tech Lead depends from company to company. But more often than not, it involves making high-level decisions and setting the vision for a team of developers. Tech Lears usually report to the Engineering Managers, who then report to the CTO or CEO based on the hierarchy

What do professional developers actually care about in terms of professional development?
What do professional developers actually care about in terms of professional development?

How much money do developers make each year

Based on the +116,000 developer surveyed, the average annual salary is $54,000 globally.

Let’s zoom in to look at the US – the country where the developers get paid the most.

The chart indicates that San Francisco leads with an average annual salary of $148,000, followed closely by Seattle, LA and, Boston.

Highest Paid Programming Languages in 2020

To put these numbers in perspective, the average US developer earns some $47,000 annually. So, being a developer is not bad work if you can get it.



Average developer salary by US metro area
Average developer salary by US metro area
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