Programming Languages, Love and Money
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 28 June 2023

The Stack Overflow Survey reveals the programming languages that are most used, those that developers most want to use and those that are the highest paid. And on the subject of pay, median salary increased by 11% since last year for professional developers, but by a smaller percentage for the most popular languages. 

We've already taken one look at the Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Survey, restricting it to developers use of AI-powered tools such as Copilot and ChatGTP, a new section of the survey for 2023. This time the twin topics are Programming Languages and Developer Pay, following similar reports for the past two years.

Experience Pay Language

Comparing this chart with comparable ones in our 2021 and 2022 coverage of the Stack Overflow developer survey the range of median annual salaries has reduced in 2023. 2021 saw Clojure commanding the highest median salary of $95K, $14K more than the second highest paid, F#. In 2022 Erlang, which had an average remuneration of $80,000 in 2021 had become the highest paid language at $120K with remuneration for Clojure also higher at $109K. That these high figures were anomalous is indicated by the fact that the median yearly salary in 2023 for Clojure is $96K and for Erlang it is $99K.

This year it is Zig that is highest paid. With a median salary of $104K it is the only language to exceed $100K and it as much of an outlier as Erlang was in 2022. This year F# and Ruby and Clojuree are only around 5K lower.

At the low end of the salary scale we find the same languages - Dart, PHP and Matlab -  in all three years. However, for 2023 pay has risen  For 2023 the median salary for Dart programmers is $56K, an increase of more than 20% since last year's $44K. PHP, up from 51K to 59K also saw an above average increase. Languages that had a below average increase in median salary include Java, Python, and Typescript. 

The overall impression from this year's Salary and experience by language is that the most widely used languages - the red dots - are clustered in the salary band $70K - $80K. There is a strong relationship between years of experience and salary and on the whole it is little-used languages - the blue dots, with fewer that  that don't follow this trend, although the obvious expectation to this is Delphi which has well over 1,000 users with an average of over 23 years of experience and salary of $70. This is presumably to do with its legacy status.

When it comes to ranking languages in terms of how many developers use them, as usual JavaScript tops the Stack Overflow list.

This is the top ten for all respondents to the survey,(87,585):

SO Top 10

Professional developers accounts for 77% of respondents and JavaScript leads among them with 65.82% and SQL (51.52%) comes ahead of Python (45.32%). Tenth place goes to PHP with 19.03% and C only has 16.66%.

C's place in the top ten is due to it being used by 30.58% of the Learning to code group of respondents, which accounts for 6% of respondents and by 27% of Other Coders - mainly hobbyists - who account for another 6%. Python is the most popular language for Other Coders with 64.79%, while HTML/CSS come top with 60.73% for those Learning to Code.

A new visualization in this year's survey is dubbed “Admired and Desired”. It replaces the old "Loved, Dreaded, Wanted" analysis and provides an insight into the languages that developers want to use (Desired) and those they have used in the past year and  want to continue using (Admired) and those that they want to use despite not having used them. The rationale for the new chart is "to better gauge hype versus reality" and Stack Overflow states:

"Wide distances means that momentum generated by the hype grows with hands-on use, and shorter distances means that the hype is doing much of the heavy lifting as far as general popularity is concerned. For example, we can see JavaScript, our most used programming language since 2011, has a relatively short distance between admired and desired (<10 percentage points), while Rust, a top choice for developers who want to use a new technology for the past 8 years, shows a wide distance (>60 percentage points).

SO Admired Desired

Click in image to open larger or follow this link to the interactive version.

The sequence of languages is similar to but not quite the same as that of popularity among all languages covered in the survey - for example Kotlin is higher up the list. It is worth bearing in mind that that only 10 programming languages have been used in the past year by more the 20% of respondents. At the other end of the scale, 20 languages have been used by fewer by 1% of respondents and another 11 by more than 1% but fewer than 5%. 

So to take Raku, which is second from bottom in this table and bottom of the list of all languages, it was used by 0.16% of whom 65.38% wanted to continue using it. This equates to 140 respondents with 92 admiring it. And being  desired by 0.33% means that 289 people fancy trying it.    


More Information

Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Survey

Related Articles 

A Boost For Developer Pay

Developer Pay According To Stack Overflow

Developers Positive About Using AI Tools

Shifts & Stability In Developer Landscape

Stack Overflow Publishes Largest Ever Survey


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 June 2023 )