in jobs, Observations, ruby

is ruby killing your career?

I’m probably at the point with Ruby where I consider it my programming language of choice (I program in both Ruby and C++ in my day job).

Over the last few years I’ve kind of grown to love Ruby but I’m not really one to get passionate over someone else’s choice of programming language – apart from Java, which, I’m sorry, I hate. However, when it comes to employment, there is no doubt in my mind that being competent in a particular programming language can strongly influence A) getting an interview and B) getting the job.

This is why ruby developers, like me, are killing their career. Sure Ruby is cool and Rails is awesome but do a quick check on job boards and see how many people are looking for a ruby developer. Actually, let me save you the time I’ve done some of the work already.

I’m not claiming this to be scientific in anyway what-so-ever but it does warrant some thought. I only searched using the programming language as a keyword, which, I know, may not give the full story but should convince you there is some merit in the point that I’m trying to make. Additionally (and I suppose somewhat importantly) my search area was restricted to Scotland.

First up I carried out a search on The table below gives a summary of the results:

Language Number of jobs matching keyword
Ruby 3
Java 18
C# 26
C++ 9

I then tried a

Language Number of jobs matching keyword
Ruby 2
Java 35
C# 45
C++ 45

As you can see, the job prospects for Ruby developers here in Scotland are somewhat dire. Sure, people don’t always look for a particular programming language when employing someone (which is a decent policy) but, as I said above, it helps a lot.

I decided to take my crude search a little further as I thought “Hell, there will be waaaaaaay more cool Ruby jobs in London”. Below we have the results, just cwjobs this time:

Language Number of jobs matching keyword
Ruby 57
Java 792
C# 838
C++ 611
PHP 196

That was kind of disappointing! Ruby still doesn’t do that great – even worse when you realise there were over 200 that mentioned Perl and 150 Python. By the looks of it if you want to maximise your chances of getting a job in the UK, and already doing Java or C# in your day job, you’d be better off learning C/C++ in your spare time.

Is all this going to stop me coding in Ruby? Probably not. Is it worth thinking about for a minute? Yes sure. If I was starting my own company and was hoping to get some developers in then I’m likely to be faced with a problem. Yes you can train people up, but that costs time and money. When they leave it may be worse, as the chances of finding replacements at the required skill level will be difficult. Finding a Java/C#/C++ programmer is bound to be far easier.

So is it all bad news for us Ruby developers? Well not if you plan to move to California – yeah yeah I know I’ve went on about it before. I’m not exactly sure of the popular job boards in the US so I went with the only one I knew off the top of my head, The results for the Bay Area are as follows:

Language Number of jobs matching keyword
Ruby 27
Java 33
C# 10
C++ 23
PHP 17

Maybe this was a skewed sample set but impressive all the same. So moral of the story is if you want to be a well paid Ruby hacker make sure you don’t stay in Scotland :-).

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  1. This is a really Interesting point – why do you think there is such a slow adoption of Ruby over here in the UK ?

  2. I’m sure it’s mainly to do with the fact that software development jobs in the UK are generally speaking with large corporations that are not strictly tech companies (outwith London at least). Therefore if the vast majority of the talent pool consists of Java and .NET developers then if you ever hope to recruit then coding using either of these choices is likely to give you the best options for keeping your business running. It’s almost like a chicken and egg problem

  3. I wonder if those very different ratios in California are the projection of the future for the UK too or just a local peculiarity?

    Anecdotal evidence shows that very few startups go with a .NET or Java stack when it’s so much easier to get something decent working with Ruby (and Rails, Sinatra, etc), so maybe once the legacy corporate systems migrate or just die off there won’t be that big demand for these languages? Though it always pays to be a legacy maintainer, it’s not a very exciting thing to do…

  4. I have a nearly completed ruby rails ecommerce application designed to sell bespoke curtains, the price of which is determined by a number of variables input by the customer. Upon audit prior to final handover, I identified a number of pricing model problems which indicate a failed implementation of the spread sheet pricing algorithm I supplied to the contracted programmer. The system is also linked to Roman cart, a third party ecommerce cart system which was my faulty as I spec’d this. I would also like this disentangling and the system tied into the spree ecommerce cart. I am not familiar with coffee script or reconfiguration…any one fancy a few days work to fix this and get the site deployed?

  5. well, i started ruby before 2 or three months ago.. should i change my programming language? or I should continue with this… help plez, I am a begineer!!

  6. Yes lalit, change to C# or Java immediately. In the UK, C# has overtaken Java.