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How much does education pay? Ask a Software Developer

From the moment you drive a car off the lot — and whether you buy new or used — the value of what you spent begins to depreciate. If you buy a house, meanwhile (especially in expensive markets like Toronto or Vancouver), the cost of repairs, upkeep or renovations might make the term “money pit” start ringing in your ears.

Compared with those kinds of purchases, investing in education obviously looks a lot better. But formally calculating the return on investment (ROI) for education can be tricky if you don’t have any relevant data at hand. Should you shell out for a four-year degree, for example, or study part-time? Will what you end up making justify the up-front tuition, as well as the time and effort you’ll need to put in? recently conducted some much-needed primary research to answer some of these questions for those who are looking at one of the hottest areas of business: the software developers who make all those online and mobile tools we rely upon every single day.

Here are some of the highlights that came from the responses of nearly 500 people already in this field. Think of this data as a bit of free mentoring advice from successful developers who want to help the next generation of Canadian technology professionals make the most of their most important investment—their education.


86% Of Developers Say Four-Year Degrees Aren’t Essential To Success

While a sizable portion of our sample had completed formal postsecondary education, they don’t believe those who want to follow in their footsteps need to put their lives on hold and go back to school full-time. In fact, nearly a tenth, or nine per cent of developers, have graduated from a coding bootcamp or workshop to get the skills they needed to do their jobs today.

This should be inspiring for anyone who is looking at becoming a developer as part of a career change, to pursue a personal passion project or who merely wants to add in-demand digital capabilities to their existing skill set. A career in web development is arguably within reach as it’s never been before.


High School Graduates Earn An Average Of More than $60,000 A Year

The demand for talented software developers shows no sign of waning. Just look at all the organizations in pursuit of various kinds of digital transformation and you’ll see why investing in the right educational fields is almost bound to pay off.

While developers with no formal education beyond high school will earn an average annual salary of $60,000 this year, graduates with a bachelor’s degree will earn $82,825. Meanwhile, those with a master’s degree will earn nearly $95,000 on average.

In fact, our full survey report breaks down some of the most popular sectors where developers are putting what they learned through bootcamps and other programs into practice, from retail to government and much more. We also found out a lot about the proportion of developers working on “front-end” projects (the things you tend to see, such as a user interface on a web site or app) and “back-end” applications that exchange or store information. The bottom line? Developers are sought-after, and compensated accordingly.


48% Of Coding Bootcamps Are Filled With Bachelor’s Grads — Including Arts Grads

The increasing sophistication of application development tools, along with the increased breadth of choices to be trained in using them, has democratized the opportunities for people who might once have written over a career in software.

The digitization of everyday life probably plays a role here, too. As we use apps, smart speakers and a wide range of software programs at work, more people are probably inspired to create the kinds of applications they’d like to use themselves, or ones they know would benefit a particular group of users.


Next Steps: Putting The Data To Work

Once you begin to understand the ROI for digital education, it only makes sense to treat it as you would any other major investment: planning ahead and allocating your financial resources in a way that makes your goals realistic and achievable. For that, Planswell has you covered, and you can begin that process today.

For the full report, check out What Does Education Pay? Canadian Developer Survey 2019 and see more stats on educational backgrounds, salaries and more.

You can also visit to compare the cost of tuition at leading colleges, universities and coding bootcamps for top-rated computer programming courses across Canada.


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