Stack Overflow Jobs Data Shows ReactJS Skills in High Demand, WordPress Market Oversaturated with Developers

Stack Overflow published its analysis of 2017 hiring trends based on the targeting options employers selected when posting to Stack Overflow Jobs. The report, which compares data from 200 companies since 2015, ranks ReactJS, Docker, and Ansible at the top of the fastest growing skills in demand. When comparing the percentage change from 2015 to 2016, technologies like AJAX, Backbone.js, jQuery, and WordPress are less in demand.

Stack Overflow also measured the demand relative to the available developers in different tech skills. The demand for backend, mobile, and database engineers is higher than the number of qualified candidates available. WordPress is last among the oversaturated fields with a surplus of developers relative to available positions.

In looking at these results, it’s important to consider the inherent biases within the Stack Overflow ecosystem. In 2016, the site surveyed more than 56,000 developers but noted that the survey was “biased against devs who don’t speak English.” The average age of respondents was 29.6 years old and 92.8% of them were male.

For two years running, Stack Overflow survey respondents have ranked WordPress among the most dreaded technologies that they would prefer not to use. This may be one reason why employers wouldn’t be looking to advertise positions on the site’s job board, which is the primary source of the data for this report.

Many IT career forecasts focus more generally on job descriptions and highest paying positions. Stack Overflow is somewhat unique in that it identifies trends in specific tech skills, pulling this data out of how employers are tagging their listings for positions. It presents demand in terms of number of skilled developers relative to available positions, a slightly more complicated approach than measuring demand based on advertised salary. However, Stack Overflow’s data presentation could use some refining.

One commenter, Bruce Van Horn, noted that jobs tagged as “Full Stack Developer” already assume many of the skills that are listed separately:

I wonder how many of these skills are no longer listed because they are “table stakes”. You used to have to put CSS, jQuery, and JSON on the job description. I wouldn’t expect to have to put that on a Full Stack Developer description today – if you don’t know those then you aren’t a Full Stack Web Developer, and I’m more interested in whether you know the shiny things like React, Redux, and Angular2.

It would be interesting to know what is meant by tagging “WordPress” as a skill – whether it is the general ability to work within the WordPress ecosystem of tools or if it refers to specific skills like PHP. Browsing a few jobs on Stack Overflow, WordPress positions vary in the skills they require, such as React.js, Angular, PHP, HTML, CSS, and other technologies. This is a reflection of the diversity of technology that can be leveraged in creating WordPress-powered sites and applications, and several of these skills are listed independently of WordPress in the data.

Regardless of how much credibility you give Stack Overflow’s analysis of hiring trends, the report’s recommendation for those working in technologies oversaturated with developers is a good one: “Consider brushing up on some technologies that offer higher employer demand and less competition.” WordPress’ code base is currently 59% PHP and 27% JavaScript. The percentage of PHP has grown over time, but newer features and improvements to core are also being built in JavaScript. These are both highly portable skills that are in demand on the web.

14 Comments


  1. If there were really no demand for WordPress developers, I would not be so busy. But there may not be that much demand for the kind of developers who hang out on Stack Overflow’s job board.

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  2. One nuance of over saturation number might be that many people who self–identify themselves as WordPress “developers” might be in “site builder” segment. Off–the–shelf assembly and lightweight customization rather than involved custom development.

    I had certainly never had an impression that there is an oversupply of of WP devs with advanced level of PHP and experience in custom projects.

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    1. I feel like you’re 100% right on this one. WordPress has many self called ‘developers’ who actually don’t know how to code. I think there’s indeed a lot competition in that space (the “Off–the–shelf assembly and lightweight customization”) but there’s still more than enough work for developers that can actually code complex custom solutions in WP.

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      1. If I consider myself a ‘page builder’? If you’re asking if I do “Off–the–shelf assembly and lightweight customization” WordPress work, no I don’t. I make and sell WordPress plugins that allow others to do so though :)

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    2. You’re 100% correct Rarst. In my opinion, if a person does not have the skills of a computer scientist (OOP specifically) then they cannot really hold the title of a “developer,” albeit outside of project management skills; UML, scrum, etc. Developers can develop because when their calculator breaks, they can still do the math, so to speak. It will just be a little slower.

      Installation, light-weight customization, tweaks, etc., relative to the WP theme design or not, is NOT true development. You must know code/syntax, algorithms (e.g. optimization techniques), etc. to truly “develop” big [project] picture, small picture, and the realtionships between them to tweak code. THAT is development.

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    3. Agree with you. WordPress is heading towards the right direction and It is necessary to implement REST API quickly to make it more accessible for people who hate to deal with PHP or WordPress tags.

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    4. I agree. I build custom WordPress themes and I’m always taking WordPress to another level. If someone is looking for a highend business solution, then I feel there is less competition. Sadly, many clients don’t know the difference or don’t have the proper questions ready and hire on a theme implementer who hacks a theme to make it do it’s bidding, in most cases making something quite janky.

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  3. tons of wordpress devs – and yet hardly any buddypress devs. I’ve posted several bp jobs and still have 4 plugin projects where no one will take my money.

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    1. I’m a “BuddyPress developer”, as well as quite a bunch of other people.
      The problem is that BP is not that big market, it’s not that easy to be 100% focused on BP-related projects only. So such people are either working with WP (mainly) and BP (when something – seldom – appear), or have own business around WP (and sometimes) BP. And such people are marketing WP skills more, I guess.

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  4. Why doesn’t WordPress have some kind of certification system when it comes to working with WordPress? Make it something similar to CompTIA A+ certification. There could be different levels of verification to cover all aspects of WordPress. It would be a benefit to anyone trying to make a living working with WordPress. It would also be a major benefit for anyone seeking to hire a WordPress professional. There could be a centralized location on dot org that would list certified WordPress professionals tagged with their various certifications.

    Currently, it’s so hit or miss when it comes to hiring someone to provide help with WordPress. You might need someone with just a basic skill set to set up a new site with a standard theme and some basic plugins, but the person you hire is more suited for advanced, complex integrations involving multiple APIs. The problem is, the customer ends up paying far more than they really need to for someone with skill sets far more advanced than what they actually need.

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    1. In theory, this might be a good idea, though just who would do the certifying? In practice, however, I’ve heard from people who’ve been developing compiled software since before PHP existed that a lot of those certifications really test your ability to take standardized tests, not your ability as a programmer. The best way to hire anybody to do anything is to get a personal recommendation.

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      1. WordPress.org should do the certifications. Individual testing could happen at WordCamps and/or at local testing facilities like how CompTIA A+ certification is handled. Most clients do not need a programmer or a developer. They need someone who can set up a website. That means finding a host, installing WordPress, installing a theme, and installing plugins.

        If someone hires a programmer to do all that, they are most likely overpaying for the work.

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      2. Were you volunteering to help design the tests and conduct the certifications? Or at least set up the means to organize it on make.wordpress.org? It’s an idea that has potential merit and you aren’t the first person to wish there were some kind of standards by which to judge a person’s basic WordPress literacy.

        To the best of my knowledge, however, everything done by WordPress.org is handled by volunteers. In the spirit of open source, if there’s something you want to see happen, you need to get it started.

        An idea like certification would actually need much broader support throughout the WordPress community than a choice of what to focus development on for the next release. And it would require either a means to administer and grade the test online automatically (requiring programming to make it work) or a fairly large army of volunteers to undertake in-person testing. I imagine you could tie up years of surveys and committee meetings just figuring out what you wanted to test for, never mind designing the test itself.

        And you have to decide how often people need to re-certify, because recommendations and best practices change rapidly in the web world.

        Even if you get that far, it will only make a difference if enough people accept the validity of the test and care whether someone has passed it before hiring them.

        And, finally, a test like that could determine whether the person had enough skill to install WordPress, set up a theme, and choose some plugins, or (at a more advanced level) whether they understand WordPress’ action and filter hooks, plus PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but it will never tell you whether a person is honest, timely, able to understand (or even ask) what a client’s real needs and goals are, or someone you can work with without both of you going crazy.

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