DEVs, who cares about your degrees & some attitudes make you more satisfied or better paid!


I always wonder how important a college degree is to get a job in IT. Is college important? Are master’s and doctoral degrees valued? I would also like to get a formula for satisfaction and an above average salary. What are the attitudes or mindset of those who have the highest satisfaction and highest salary?

To answer these questions, I analyzed the dataset of the 2017 survey of users of the Stack Overflow website. The survey has more than 150 questions about more than 51,000 respondents from different parts of the world. In the questionnaire, individuals answered questions about the profession, career, education, habits, hypothetical situations in the job market, among others.

However, my interest here is to answer the following questions:

  1. How important is a diploma when hiring a developer?
  2. What attitudes interfere with career satisfaction?
  3. What attitudes interfere with salary?

# To answer them, I selected only professionals who work full time as software developers.

Part I: How important is a diploma when hiring a developer?

The bar plot below shows the answers to the question “How important should be Education credentials in a hiring process?”, where each color represents a level of education (without a university degree, bachelor, master or doctor), and the height of the bars as percentages of individuals for each answer (Not at all important, Not very important, Somewhat important, Important, or Very important).

Figure 1. Importance of Education credentials in a hiring process.

Comparing the heights of the bars, we see that the majority (around 50%) of developers without university degrees (blue bars) consider the diploma “Not at all important” or “Not very important”.

At the opposite extreme, we have those with a doctorate (red bars), whose approximately 80% of the answers are between “somewhat import”, “important” and “very important”.

The others, those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees (orange and green bars, respectively), had similar percentages among themselves and the concentration of responses was higher between “not very important”, “somewhat important” and “important”, which would represent a position intermediate between those without a diploma and those with a doctorate. However, the concentration of those with a master’s degree is higher than those with a bachelor’s degree in the answers that attach greater importance.

Thus, there is a tendency that the higher the recruiter’s academic level, the greater the importance that he will attach to the candidate’s educational background.

This means that your chances of being hired increase when the recruiter has a training similar to yours!

Part II: What attitudes interfere with career satisfaction?

Different habits interfere with the degree of satisfaction with a developer’s career (ratings from 0 to 10 given by each individual). The StackOverflow questionnaire addresses some issues through statements, in which the respondent says how much he agrees with them. These statements reflect the developers’ mindset and were therefore chosen to the career satisfaction analisys.

Some examples of these statements are:

“I don’t really care what I work on, so long as I’m paid well.”
“I think of myself as competing with my peers.”
“It’s harder to collaborate with remote peers than those on site.”

In the graphs below, we have the satisfaction averages represented by circles according to the agreement with the statement, with the confidence interval of these averages represented by the vertical lines.

Figure 2. Attitudes that positively affect career satisfaction.

In this case, it is noted that, on average, satisfaction with the career tends to increase as the developers:

  • like to debug.
  • like to challenge themselves.
  • take their work very seriously.

In the next graphs, we see an opposite trend: on average, satisfaction decreases as developers:

  • don’t like to maintain someone else’s code.
  • don’t understand much about computers.
  • have difficulty communicating their ideas.
Figure 3. Attitudes that negatively interfere with career satisfaction.

So, if you want more career satisfaction, you can try changing your mindset! Try to enjoy debugging more, keeping code from others and challenging yourself. Try to take work more seriously, as well as improve your communication skills and understand a little more about computers.

Part III: What attitudes affect the average salary?

The first graph shows that, on average, salary tends to increase as developers cultivate behaviors such as:

  • Enjoying debugging.
  • Shipping first and optimizing later.
  • Taking work very seriously.
Figure 4. Attitudes that positively interfere in Salary.

In addition, the graph below shows that developers who cultivate behaviors like:

  • Not enjoying maintaining someone else’s code.
  • Not understanding much about computers.
  • Difficulty communicating your ideas.

They tend to receive lower wages.

Figure 5. Attitudes that negatively interfere with Salary.

That way, to increase your salary you can cultivate attitudes such as enjoying debugging, enjoying maintaining someone else’s code, communicating well with your peers, taking work more seriously, delivering tasks first and then optimizing them and then learning more about computers. Easy, isn’t it ?!


As expected, the importance of a developer’s educational credentials is skewed by the recruiter’s one. In this regard, what you can do in a job interview is to try to “impress” the right people. Your doctorate is not worth as much as you think for a bachelor’s degree!

Another point is that, with the exception of “like to challenge yourself” and “ship first and optimize later”, the behaviors that impact career satisfaction are the same as those that impact wages, following the same upward or downward trend.

It is possible that these similarities have to do with the existence of a correlation between salary and satisfaction. For example, if individuals with an “X” behavior are better paid, the salary may also be contributing to satisfaction.

Finally, it should be noted that the findings here are observational, not the result of a formal study.

To see more about this review, see the link to my Github available here.



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Daniela Brasil

Daniela Brasil

Analista de Dados e defensora da Ciência