Is the Job Market for Junior Developers Oversaturated?
Inside This Article
By The Fullstack Academy Careers Team
Last Updated August 15, 2019
As coding bootcamps become more ubiquitous, it’s easy to think the need for developers is shrinking, and markets are becoming oversaturated with newly graduated junior engineers. But is that really the case, or is the demand for developers continuing to grow? We asked the Career Success team from Fullstack Academy and the Grace Hopper Program to tell us what they’ve seen in the job market in New York City and across the country, how coding bootcamps have affected that supply/demand, and how bootcamp graduates can stand out in a world of healthy competition.
The Status of the Tech Market in NYC
The tech industry has been steadily ramping up over the better half of the last decade – and shows no signs of slowing down. The New York Times reports that from 2010 to 2017, the NYC tech sector added 53,000 jobs (65% job growth). This falls in line with the trend of demand outweighing supply of qualified tech workers. Last year, of all the US cities where tech hiring was projected to expand, NYC ranked third. Here are some stats from Tech:NYC:
There are more than 7,000 startups in New York City and over 100 startup incubators.
In 2018, 83% percent of NYC tech companies planned to hire more workers than they had in 2017; specifically looking for hires within product, web engineering, and AI.
NYC is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to early-stage investments.
Are coding bootcamps leading to market saturation?
The numbers say no. The emergence, rise, and acceptance of bootcamps has happened alongside a huge growth in the tech job market.
Bootcamps help produce skilled candidates that bridge the gap between supply and demand.
Bootcamps are able to dynamically change/update curriculum as demand and employer needs change, which makes them uniquely able to deliver strong candidates to the current job market.
Here are some numbers relating to NYC coding bootcamps + market demand:
There are 8,000+ entry-level jobs available in New York right now. According to Course Report statistics, coding bootcamps in NYC (such as Fullstack Academy & Grace Hopper Program, Flatiron School, Hack Reactor, App Academy, Codesmith, and Thinkful) graduate an average of 2500 students per year. So it would take more than 3 years for bootcamps to meet that need.
CS grads don’t all have the skills or the intention to go into software engineering
CS grads may go into a range of other computer/IT fields
According to Course Report research, since 2013 coding bootcamps around the USA have graduated around 81,500 software developers, and there have been around 330,000 CS degree graduates. So with a total of ~400,000 grads (CS grads + bootcamp grads), there will likely still be a need for nearly half a million additional tech workers in 2020.
The Illusion of Market Saturation
If the numbers indicate coding bootcamps aren’t saturating the junior developer market, why is that idea so prevalent? Here’s where our experience tells us it’s coming from.
The rise of outsourcing
Many industries outsource software engineering work the way they do customer service, goods manufacturing, or design work. We’re living in the gig economy when companies have all the power and there are no disincentives for paying foreign contractors less than American workers for the same work. But this does not mean that companies no longer need US-based workers.
Our own biases
You’re hearing people talk about market saturation, and becoming subject to availability bias - i.e. because you hear this a lot, you start to think it must be the case, even if there is no material evidence.
You’re also subjection to selection bias in your immediate “bubble.” When you start researching coding bootcamps, you may hear stories of how hard it is to get hired and attribute that to oversaturation in the marketplace. But these stories are likely coming from young, hungry software developers who all want to get hired at an elite group of tech giants. That doesn’t mean the market is oversaturated. It means you’re talking to people competing with each other for limited job opportunities at Facebook and Google.
If you branch out and talk to people getting hired as developers at beauty companies, healthcare companies, insurance companies, publishing houses, and edtech companies, you’ll realize there are more jobs than it seems.
How has the tech job market actually changed since the inception of bootcamps?
Coding bootcamps have been around since 2012. If they aren’t producing a glut of junior software developers, then have they really even changed the tech job market at all? Yes, they have – here’s how.
Positive changes since 2012:
Bootcamps are now nearly universally accepted by companies as legitimate educational attainments on their resumes, allowing people without a 4-year CS degree to break into software development. Even five years ago, many companies dismissed bootcamps. Now, places like Google, Apple, IBM, etc. have removed the four-year degree requirement from their hiring policies.
There is a wider range of opportunities available in tech. Creative people, mission-driven people, scientists, and people with “non-traditional” backgrounds who want to switch to tech can find more niche roles in today’s market than they could in the market five years ago.
Diversity in all forms is now a big focus of the tech industry. As bootcamps offer scholarships and incentives for diverse students, the industry has recognized the need for change and the conversation is happening. Almost 90% of NYC tech companies believe diversity is important. Among 50 cities across the world, NYC is #1 when it comes to attracting and supporting women entrepreneurs; the city has over 410,000 women-owned businesses (more than 2x any other national city). The last few years have also seen new initiatives cropping up like the city-driven CS4All, which aims to make sure all NYC public school students learn CS (w/emphasis on minority students), and the Winternship partnership between CUNY and Cornell that helps prepare women for tech roles. In fact, Course Report’s latest Outcomes and Demographics report found women coding bootcamp grads are earning more ($69,548) on average compared with men ($65,538).
Things that still need to change/unintended consequences:
The industry is taking a long time to become more diverse:
The glass ceiling is still a reality – women aged 35 and up are 3.5 times more likely than men to be a junior position. Women ages 24 to 34 are almost twice as likely than men to be in junior roles.
Companies can be more selective in their hiring than they once were
The coding bootcamp industry was born out of a need for talent. In 2012, it was a great market for engineers, there was very little competition, and employers were at a bit of a disadvantage
Now employers are more discerning because they have more candidates to choose from, and they have more experience hiring software engineers.
Which NYC companies are hiring junior developers?
According to The NYT, these 5 companies had the most tech-related jobs toward the end of 2018 on indeed.com:
Currently, on indeed.com there are a lot of developer jobs being advertised in NYC:
Developer: 8,718 jobs
Junior developer: 649 jobs
Mid-level developer: 200 jobs
Senior developer: 3,108 jobs
What can you do to get ahead in today’s tech market?
So even though the market is NOT saturated, there is still some healthy competition, so you have to put in the effort to find a great job as a junior software developer.
Here are some tips to make it easier for you:
Don’t limit yourself by industry/location
The more you look beyond the opportunities in easy reach, the less competition you’ll face
Remember that remote work is more and more available these days. For bootcamp grads, mentorship is important, so we don’t usually recommend remote positions for your first job out of bootcamp. But as you grow in your career, you may be able to live in a location you love and find more accessible work elsewhere.
Network, network, network
Follow thought-leaders, fellow engineers, and companies/organizations/products you admire or would like to work with on social media.
Go to meetups, tech events, happy hours to make connections and learn about opportunities
Join affinity groups (like Women Who Code or Lesbians Who Tech)
Actively let your network know you’re looking for work
Look for unique job opportunities
There are many additional tech jobs in less sexy industries – industries that have never been considered part of the “tech” sector before.
Developers can look beyond the traditional tech giant scene to find jobs
Hone your pitch and own your unique selling points
Lead with your hard skills – don’t let there be any question you’ve got the tech skills to do the job
Demonstrate your soft skills
Soft skills are almost as important in today’s job market as hard skills.
Programmers have to liaise with other programmers, engineering managers, designers, product teams, marketers, and more.
Show you can work with team members of different personality types and working styles, and juggle multiple priorities and needs.
Use your experience in other industries to show you’ve already acquired these skills and aren’t the same as a recent CS grad with no work experience at all.
Communicate your passion
Companies want to know that you’ll be engaged with your work, take initiative, and bring your best self to work – the more passion you can demonstrate, the more convinced of your value an employer will be.
Passion will translate into continuing education. You’ll read up on the latest technologies, you’ll try your hand at building with new libraries, you’ll understand how the industry is changing – and all of that will make you a more valuable employee.