Why does 19200 Big Macs a year equal potential job security? Why can South African software developers buy more Big Macs than their American counterparts, and, what on earth do Big Macs and software development have in common anyway? All these questions are answered when considering 5 key reasons as to why software development is a great career to find yourself in:
1. You’ll be paid well
Altruism aside, remuneration for a particular career path is a big factor in choosing a job for many. In this sense, software development will not disappoint, as South Africa’s Career Junction’s 2015 Index shows that senior software developers will earn well over R500 000 a year, some of the highest earnings figures in the ICT/Computer Science field. Granted, a similar career in the United States will compensate more generously in absolute cash value, not considering cost of living, but this is where those 19 000 Big Macs come in.
The Economist’s Big Mac Index is a colloquial method of comparing salary to living costs, and, as found by the StackOverflow Developer Survey, can measure how much purchasing power developers have with their salaries. The result? South African devs can buy, equivalently, 19 215 Big Macs with their salary. This number is higher than the US, Australia, the UK and Canada. Quality of life, for South African developers then, is undoubtedly better, and the world’s second highest in these terms, after only Ukraine.
Greasy hamburger rolls aside, Buzz South Africa reports that on average, South African developers are the highest paid in the world relative to living expenses.
2. You’ll find a job easily
It’s highly unlikely you will find yourself on the other end of a McDonald’s counter, taking orders for those Big Macs either. The South African technology industry is desperate for people skilled in the art of UI wizardry, web development magic, apps, and those competent in handling a scrum whose name is not Fourie du Preez.
A cursory search of the CareerJunction job site alone reveals over 3000 available jobs as of writing, ranging from .NET developers, to UX specialists, to front-end developers. According to the CJI, software development vacancies are more than twice as likely as those in engineering, a field which itself was highly-ranked in terms of demand. Even overseas, the good news shows no signs of abating. CareerBuilders and EMSI surveyed 12 of the fastest-growing, highest paying careers, and software development came out on top for 2014.
3. No degree? No problem (mostly)
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a degree or a PhD in a computer science/engineering-related field, it’s not mandatory either. Some of the biggest names in technology never even finished their university education, and ended up dropping out and still founding famous technology icons. Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are prime examples of being a software developer without a formal qualification. Closer to home, software development is placed 2nd in the top 10 list of jobs, according to Oxbridge Academy, which you can hold potentially without a degree.
The aforementioned StackOverflow Developer Survey corroborates this surprising trend, more than 70% of the 23000-strong group of respondents don’t have a degree to their name, despite working in software development. Some multinational tech companies with branches in South Africa forgo the degree requirement as well, opting for an entrance test, which, will allow applicants entry into job positions. This shows the nature of the industry in South Africa, and means that even if you don’t have a Computer Science/Engineering degree, you shouldn’t consider yourself out in the cold career-wise.It’s unlikely you’ll be left without a job as a software developer with skills, even if you don’t have a degree behind your name. These are some of the top jobs roles you can get into without a degree in South Africa.
4. You’ll be part of something amazing
Look at your smartphone. Look at your DSTv decoder, that information board you touch at the mall to find a shop, or that app that reminds you when Eskom is about to strike with load-shedding. These everyday scenarios are driven by software development, and once you become part of that world, why stop at an app? Self driving cars in California, DIY drones in Durban, machine learning in the palm of your hand, (yes, Google Now on Tap is adapting to your habits!) all these exciting prospects are available to software engineers, however you learn the language or whichever speciality floats your boat.
5. Your job is safer
“Traditional” jobs are being eclipsed more and more by software equivalents, and as the industry trends move ever more towards the digital world, one job in particular remains more in demand than ever. Correct; somebody has to design the algorithms and the software to power this new digital revolution! And that’s you. A software development career is a great way to future-proof your career into the digital hyperconnected world of the future. Read this article to find out which jobs will be automated in the future.