How Many Software Engineers Exist Globally in 2024?

As an advisor to small business entrepreneurs around the world, one of the most common questions I get asked is: "How many software engineers are out there that I can recruit?"

My clients are eager to understand the global talent pool as they plan products and services that require significant software development and maintenance. The availability of skilled engineers can determine the viability and pace of bringing an idea to market.

So let‘s closely examine the software engineering landscape worldwide as it stands in 2024 – including key details that entrepreneurs should factor into their strategic plans.

By The Numbers: 26+ Million in Total

The latest data shows there are over 26 million professional software engineers and developers globally as of 2023. To put into perspective how massive this talent pool is, that‘s larger than the entire population of Australia!

And it represents staggering 59% growth over the past decade, up from just 16 million engineers in 2012.

Behind those tens of millions are even vaster numbers pursuing relevant university degrees or coding bootcamp credentials to enter the field – over 5.7 million students by one estimate. That speaks to how alluring and future-proof this career has become worldwide.

So in sheer numbers, the engineering talent pool is vast and rapidly expanding. But it helps to break those engineers down by specialty, location, salary levels and more.

Breakdown by Specialty

Not all engineers have the same skills. Here‘s a breakdown of the talent pool by major specialty:

  • Web Developers – 6.5 million
  • Software Developers, Applications – 4.3 million
  • Software Developers, Systems Software – 4 million
  • Database Administrators – 900,000
  • Computer Network Architects – 400,000
  • Computer Systems Analysts – 2.8 million

There‘s considerable crossover between the specialties, as many engineers are versed in multiple domains. But entrepreneurs should keep this breakdown in mind depending on their specific product needs.

For example, building a complex distributed web application will require more web developers. An AI product may necessitate more systems software and data engineering skills.

India and China Dominate Numbers

Over 65% of the global talent pool is concentrated in just five countries:

  • China – 7+ million
  • India – over 5 million
  • United States – 4+ million
  • Russia – 2+ million
  • Brazil – 1+ million+

Notably, India produces over 1 million qualified new IT graduates every year, many of whom enter software engineering. The numbers out of India and China utterly dominate the field across Asia.

Meanwhile the United States still maintains by far the largest concentration of elite-level engineering talent closely followed by Western European nations like Germany, France, the UK, and Switzerland.

So global location plays a major role in access to talent pools and salary costs.

Salary Ranges – Dramatic Variances

Speaking of salaries – based on location and skill levels, we see dramatic variances in engineer pay scales globally:

  • Entry-level engineers in India ~$6,500/year
  • Senior engineers in China ~$41,000/year
  • Top-tier engineers in USA ~$140,000/year

As you can see, the same role can pay 20X higher in North America than parts of the developing world!

This salary differential allows small companies to get budget-friendly technical talent abroad through remote hiring. Larger US corporations, on the other hand, pay premiums for elite domestic engineers.

Remote Work Has Expanded Talent Access

The shift towards remote development work over the past decade has dramatically expanded access to the global engineering workforce for entrepreneurs.

Rather than being limited to just developers in their physical vicinity, companies can now build distributed teams with talentedHub engineers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America without geographical constraints.

70% of software engineers are open to full-time remote work according to StackOverflow – giving startups immense flexibility in who they hire.

The key is implementing management practices and infrastructure to coordinate cross-border teams. But the benefits are plentiful for entrepreneurs.

Rapid Future Growth Expected

Current estimates predict over 30 million software engineers globally by 2030. Some project up to 45 million – meaning nearly double today‘s talent pool!

India will maintain outsized growth as masses continue entering their booming IT sector. China also shows no signs of slowing down tech education and placements.

For entrepreneurs, this means no shortage of developer talent for years to come. And exponentially more minds working on innovations in artificial intelligence, biotech, automation and other exponential technologies.

The one constraint may be the relative scarcity of truly elite engineers at the top echelons of the field. But the mainstream talent continues to scale massively.

Key Takeaways for Entrepreneurs

For entrepreneurs building startups, some key things to keep in mind about sizing and accessing the global developer workforce:

Go Remote – Don‘t limit yourself to physical location. Leverage remote teams and benefit from dramatically lower salary scales.

Plan For Turnover – Engineer attrition is often high. Build processes to smoothly handle departures and training replacement hires.

Prioritize Culture Fit – Technical skills matter but personality match and work ethic determine successful hires.

Scope Realistically – Size product specs based on the hiring capacity and expertise levels possible within budget.

While the software engineering talent pool keeps expanding mightily, putting together the right high-performance teams still necessitates planning and management. Adapt your strategies based on real landscape data.

Hopefully these insights on the global developer workforce assist with your startup plans and product roadmaps. I look forward to helping more rising entrepreneurs successfully scale their innovative businesses!