Stack Overflow Survey: 70% of developers use AI tools for coding, but 3% highly trust their accuracy

Marko Crnjanski

The global study questioned more than 90,000 developers on their education, salaries, ways of work, and technologies they love and hate.

The results of the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2023 are in!

This year, the survey included questions about the usage of AI/ML tools, and 70% of more than 90,000 respondents use or plan to use AI tools in their development process.

More precisely, 44% of them use AI tools in their development process now, and 26% plan to soon. Those learning to code are more likely than professional programmers to operate or use AI tools (82% vs. 70%). When asked about the specific AI tool they use, it turned out that most developers use the two most popular tools: 83% of them use ChatGPT, and 56% use GitHub Copilot.

Developers turn to AI tools to increase productivity (32.81%), speed up learning (25.15%), and become more efficient (24.96%). When asked how AI tools would evolve their workflow over the next year, 77% of developers said AI would change how they write code, and 75% of them feel the same about debugging.

While they use it, developers don’t trust the accuracy of AI tools – of those using or planning to use AI tools, only 3% highly trust the accuracy they provide, and twice as many (6%) highly distrust them.

Developer profile

Regarding developer education, most professionals obtained a bachelor’s degree (47%), while a quarter received a master’s degree (26%). More than half of developers learning to code are between 18 and 24, so it stands to reason that they’re more likely not to have a degree.

The survey shows that learning to code from online resources has increased from 70% to 80% compared to the 2022 survey. Respondents under 18 are the most likely to choose resources (e.g., videos, blogs, forums) to learn online. Respondents aged 25 to 34 were the highest age group to study online courses or certifications (52%) but still participated more, thanks to traditional schools (55%).

When it comes to the types of developers, more precisely about their roles, full-stack developers make up the majority of the respondents at 33.48%, followed by back-end developers at 17.88%, front-end developers are at 6.6%, and those who develop desktop or enterprise applications at 5.08%, and mobile developers at 3,38%.

JavaScript is the most-used language for 11 years in a row

Several technologies moved up this year (Bash/Shell, C, Ruby, Perl, and Erlang), and two moved up two spots (Elixir and Lisp). The big mover, gaining seven places in 2022, was Lua, an embeddable scripting language. The top three technologies for professional developers are the same as last year—JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and SQL. But it’s a different picture for those learning to code. HTML/CSS and JavaScript are almost tied as the most popular languages for people learning to code.

Student developers use Python more than SQL (59% vs. 37%), while professional developers report using SQL more than Python (52% vs. 45%). Compared to experienced programmers, those learning to code are more likely to use Java (37% vs. 31%), C++ (32% vs. 20%), and C (32% vs. 17%).

On the other hand, 47,883 people in the survey answered questions on what technologies are paid the most. Zig took first place with an annual salary of $103,611, Erlang with $99,492, and F# worth $99,311. Interestingly, Ruby came in fourth place with $98.522.

Namely, according to the survey, work in Python is paid 78.331 dollars, and for other popular languages, the statistics look like this:

  • C# – 74.963;
  • C++ – 74.963;
  • SQL – 74.963;
  • JavaScript – 74.034;
  • Java – 72.701;
  • HTML/CSS – 70.148;
  • PHP – 58.899.

Developers resist returning to the office

For all respondents this year, we see a slight increase in “Independent contractor, freelancer, or self-employed” and an equal-sized decrease in full-time students (1 percentage point) compared to last year and other employment statuses changing less than that. The costs of investing in oneself have risen with inflation in 2023, but more is needed to sway many from the opportunity to level up their developer skills.

The most popular topic in the IT industry is the work environment. Hybrid is here to stay for larger organizations; over half of the employees in 5,000+ organizations are hybrid. The smaller organizations are most likely to be in-person, with one out of five organizations with fewer than 20 people reporting being in-person. More developers are working in person this year than last (+2%). Return-to-office initiatives aside, coding easily lends itself to fully remote work, and one-third or more of all organization sizes are still fully remote.

On the other hand, the most crucial topic concerns salaries in the IT industry. Almost 47,000 people completed this segment of the survey. Quite expectedly, senior and engineering positions occupy the very top of the list regarding salary.

70% of developers code outside of work

Regarding other popular positions, back-end developers have an average median annual salary of $76,034, while full-stack developers earn $71,140. Mobile developers earn $68,192, while front-end developer positions earn $59,970. Interestingly, most professional programmers also code outside of work and do it as a hobby, even 70% of them.

The Stack Overflow Developer Survey is based on a survey of 89,184 software developers from 185 countries worldwide.

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