Average Income per Programming Language

Update 8/21:  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about issues with these rankings from comments, and have tried to address some of them here The data there has been updated to include confidence intervals.


A few weeks ago I described how I used Git commit metadata plus the Rapleaf API to build aggregate demographic profiles for popular GitHub organizations (blog post here, per-organization data available here).

I was also interested in slicing the data somewhat differently, breaking down demographics per programming language instead of per organization.  Stereotypes about developers of various languages abound, but I was curious how these lined up with reality.  The easiest place to start was age, income, and gender breakdowns per language. Given the data I’d already collected, this wasn’t too challenging:

  • For each repository I used GitHub’s estimate of a repostory’s language composition.  For example, GitHub estimates this project at 75% Java.
  • For each language, I aggregated incomes for all developers who have contributed to a project which is at least 50% that language (by the above measure).
  • I filtered for languages with > 100 available income data points.

Here are the results for income, sorted from lowest average household income to highest:

Language Average Household Income ($) Data Points
Puppet 87,589.29 112
Haskell 89,973.82 191
PHP 94,031.19 978
CoffeeScript 94,890.80 435
VimL 94,967.11 532
Shell 96,930.54 979
Lua 96,930.69 101
Erlang 97,306.55 168
Clojure 97,500.00 269
Python 97,578.87 2314
JavaScript 97,598.75 3443
Emacs Lisp 97,774.65 355
C# 97,823.31 665
Ruby 98,238.74 3242
C++ 99,147.93 845
CSS 99,881.40 527
Perl 100,295.45 990
C 100,766.51 2120
Go 101,158.01 231
Scala 101,460.91 243
ColdFusion 101,536.70 109
Objective-C 101,801.60 562
Groovy 102,650.86 116
Java 103,179.39 1402
XSLT 106,199.19 123
ActionScript 108,119.47 113

Here’s the same data in chart form:

Language vs Income

Most of the language rankings were roughly in line with my expectations, to the extent I had any:

  • Haskell is a very academic language, and academia is not known for generous salaries
  • PHP is a very accessible language, and it makes sense that casual / younger / lower paid programmers can easily contribute
  • On the high end of the spectrum, Java and ActionScript are used heavily in enterprise software, and enterprise software is certainly known to pay well

On the other hand, I’m unfamiliar with some of the other languages on the high/low ends like XSLT, Puppet, and CoffeeScript.  Any ideas on why these languages ranked higher or lower than average?

Caveats before making too many conclusions from the data here:

  • These are all open-source projects, which may not accurately represent compensation among closed-source developers
  • Rapleaf data does not have total income coverage, and the sample may be biased
  • I have not corrected for any other skew (age, gender, etc)
  • I haven’t crawled all repositories on GitHub, so the users for whom I have data may not be a representative sample

That said, even though the absolute numbers may be biased, I think this is a good starting point when comparing relative compensation between languages.

Let me know any thoughts or suggestions about the methodology or the results.  I’ll follow up soon with age and gender breakdowns per language in a similar fashion.

This entry was posted in Github, Open Source, Uncategorized, Visualization. Bookmark the permalink.

197 Responses to Average Income per Programming Language

  1. Pingback: Wall Street Review » GOOGLE huddles with NFL for TV rights — BITCOIN boom in China — TWITTER … – InfoWorld

  2. Mike says:

    Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Interesting. Don’t ya wish you’re college recruiter had this much good information for you?😉

  3. Wayne says:

    Reblogged this on luvsiesous and commented:
    If you are looking for a new job, this blog may influence your decision making process.


  4. Wayne says:

    WOW! Your readers really responded. [b]I need to write more about salaries.[/b] And maybe technology salaries in particular …..


  5. hptravelguide says:

    What about ASP.net?

  6. Myself says:

    Except for the 2 extrems, all within 5% of C++.
    Very small differences.

  7. Viva Technics says:

    Reblogged this on Viva Technics.

  8. Zokolov says:

    Reblogged this on Santeri Salonen.

  9. andrei1709 says:

    Very interesting post. Thanks for all the information:)

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  11. paleksis says:

    Reblogged this on Aleksandra Boscanin and commented:
    Here’s some interesting reading!

  12. Sparks says:

    I’m surprised there was no info on Basic, Pascal, opengl, directX or assembly.

  13. Pingback: Average Income per Programming Language - Mr. Walker's Blog

  14. natashatisk says:

    Reblogged this on natashatisk and commented:
    I was thinking about learning a programming language. Now I know which one. Aston Martin here I come…

  15. Pingback: 程序员的困境 | 编程爱好者-中国编程爱好者学习编程技术的乐土

  16. Ajinkya says:

    Good to see Java at higher end:) but I guess C++ programmer also deserves similar to Java folks.

  17. Pingback: Total newbie but interested

  18. Ajanta says:

    Totally surprised to see XSLT developer getting that hefty sum, its much more than C++ developers who is behind any tool, language or technology.

  19. Mister lance says:

    There is NO WAY that a ColdFusion developer makes that much money, unless the last three people who make a living in CF are getting courted all at once by the last 20 businesses who use it.

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