In fact, countries with strong technology sectors typically have higher concentrations of professional developers in relation to hobbyist developers, because many of the hobbyists get sucked into the industry, IDC found. Those countries with weaker technology sectors tend to have a greater proportion of hobbyists, which can be problematic for those countries in that their hobbyists could turn their talents to nefarious activities, such as writing malware, or leave the countries altogether for work opportunities.
Certainly it is a good time to be a dilettante programmer. Open Web standards and open source software can drive the cost of development down to zero. The Internet hosts an abundance of free documentation and tutorials, such as Stack Overflow and Codecademy.
Also, an increasing number of software programs and services, such as Salesforce.com, can be extended through modules or user-customized additions, easing the need for full-fledged developers to create some new functionality. "The change from code-centric to configuration-centric application development enables some knowledge workers and business analysts to accomplish what once required professional developers," the report noted.
Overall, IDC estimates there are about 29 million people in the world work in IT. In addition to the 18.5 million software developers -- of both the professional and hobbyist varieties -- there are also about 18 million operations and management workers. IDC predicted that jobs for programmers will grow at a faster rate than those for operations and management.
"The ever-increasing pervasiveness of software and its embedding into many new connected devices, also known as the trend toward the Internet of Things (IoT), will stimulate the need and consequent availability of software developers worldwide," the report stated.
IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.