The six best-paid IoT programming languages

Developers with a background in these six IoT programming languages stand to fare well.

November 8, 2017

9 Min Read
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By Elena Ruchko

One of the top factors slowing down IoT implementations is the talent gap: Existing market supply just cannot keep up with the demand for engineers with IoT skills. Some 68% of companies are struggling to hire developers for their IoT projects, according to research from Canonical. But the flipside to the skills shortage is that career prospects are bright for professionals with in-demand skills. Here, we focus on the programming languages that are most often used in IoT, namely, Java, C, C++, Python, JavaScript and Go, and then analyze how much professionals specializing in these languages can expect to earn. We also take elements such as seniority and location into account.

As a technology powerhouse, the United States often serves as a benchmark for the rest of the world when it comes to standards in IT salaries. Here is a brief overview of the top IoT programming languages along with corresponding developer salary data in the United States based on data from Payscale.

iot-developer-salaries.pngAn overview of average salaries for the most popular IoT programming languages in the United States.

Java and C developers can, on average, expect to earn higher salaries than specialists in the other languages used in the IoT although senior Go coders have the highest salary potential. Skilled Go developers are among the best paid in the industry, even though junior and mid-level Go developers earn modestly compared to their peers.

Let’s take a look at the average salaries for the most popular programming languages in IoT, starting with Java.

Java has multiple fields of application, from backend programming to mobile apps for Android. According to the IoT Developer Survey 2017 performed by the Eclipse Foundation, Java tops the list of the programming languages used for IoT development, specifically for gateways and the cloud.

One of the major benefits of using Java for IoT development is its portability. Java doesn’t have any hardware limitations, meaning that you can write and debug your Java code on a computer and deploy it to practically any device that runs Java Virtual Machine. For this reason, many companies choose to hire Java developers for IoT projects.

The average paycheck for Java developers in the United States is around $88k, according to Payscale. Java developers in Switzerland have higher rates on average, at about $96k per year. Meanwhile, average salaries for Java developers in the United Kingdom and Israel are significantly lower, at $45k and $33k respectively.


An overview of the average salaries for Java developers, according to Payscale

However, an average Java developer salary is perhaps unrepresentative, as individual paychecks vary greatly according to the experience and seniority of the candidate in question. For example, the jump from junior to senior Java developer salaries is $66k to $97k in the United States and from $41k to $61k in the United Kingdom.

java-ranges.pngAverage junior, mid-level, and senior Java developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom

Our research on U.S. Java developer salaries shows that the average paycheck in different states can be much higher than the national average. For example, developers in California have the highest average paychecks for developers in the US ($133k). This fact is in no small part a function of the overall high demand for IT skills in the state.

C: The key programming language for embedded devices

The C programming language is next in line as a favorite language for IoT stacks. However, it is considered a leading technology when it comes to constrained device development, according to the Eclipse Foundation.

This programming language provides direct access to low-level hardware APIs. Owing to its similarities with machine language, C is extremely fast and flexible, making it a perfect match for IoT systems with limited processing power.

Similar to Java, C developer salaries vary considerably around the world. In the United States, a C developer can expect to earn around $100k per year, while in Switzerland, the average annual salary of a C developer is $92k. Among the countries we have analyzed, the lowest salaries for C experts can be found in the United Kingdom. According to Payscale, the annual average C developer salary in the United Kingdom is only just over the $40k mark.

C-salaries_0.pngAverage salaries for C developers. Source: Payscale

There is also significant deviation between the salaries of junior and senior C developers. Senior C developers earn almost twice as much as entry-level employees in both the United States and the United Kingdom.


Average junior, mid-level, and senior C developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom.

C++: Number one language for Linux

Similar to its predecessor, C, C++ has been used extensively in embedded system development. However, the main advantage of C++ is in processing power, making it a useful alternative to C when the task is more complex.

C++ is best for writing hardware-specific code. It works well with Linux, the number one IoT operating system. However, in comparison to Java, it has a limited portability.

C++ engineers can expect lower salaries than C developers. Our research found that C++ developers can expect to get around $82-86k in Israel and Denmark, while in the United States this figure was a lowly $71k.


An overview of the average C++ developer salaries. Source: Payscale

However, despite the low average rates for C++ developers in the United States, experienced specialists can hit six figures later in their careers.


Average junior, mid-level, and senior C++ developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Python: The solution for data-heavy IoT systems

As one of the most popular web programming languages, and a go-to technology for scientific computing, Python has gained a significant traction in the IoT development as well. Python is a good choice for data-intensive applications, especially when it comes to managing and organizing complex data.

Moreover, source code written in Python is compact and extremely readable thanks to the language’s clean syntax. This works especially well with small devices that have limited computational power and memory, albeit not as fast as C/C++.

Average Python developer salaries in the United States hover around the $71k mark, while developers with similar skillsets can expect to earn around $68-67k in Israel and Switzerland respectively.


Average salaries for Python developers. Source: Payscale

As ever, there is a substantial pay gap between junior and senior-level Python developers.


Average junior, mid-level, and senior Python developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom

A closer look at the number reveals that despite a relatively low national average, Python developer salaries in the United States can be very high on an individual basis. Owing to soaring demand for developers and a limited supply, salaries can reach as high as $142k in certain states. Traditionally, California is among the states that offer the highest salaries for tech specialists. Local Python developers there earn about $135K on average.

JavaScript: The best solution for event-driven IoT applications

A core technology in modern web development, JavaScript has been among the most popular programming languages for the last five years, according to the annual StackOverflow Developer Survey.

Among many other fields of application, JavaScript is most commonly used in IoT programming language to build event-driven systems. It can manage large networks of connected devices and excels when multiple tasks need to be processed without waiting for others to complete. One of the main benefits of JavaScript for the IoT is that it’s very resource efficient.

With major companies, including as IBM and Samsung, actively adopting JavaScript (namely, Node.js) in their IoT projects, the demand for JavaScript developers with IoT experience remains high. This translates into higher salaries across the board.

JavaScript developers in Switzerland can expect to earn around $96k on average. Surprisingly, the average salary for JavaScript experts in the United States is far lower, with developers there getting by on $69k.


Average salaries for JavaScript developers worldwide. Source: Payscale

Salary figures vary significantly from state to state: For example, our research found that Connecticut, Massachusetts, California and New York are among the highest paying U.S. states for JavaScript developers, with the average salary ranging from $100k to $140k.

Similarly, JavaScript developer salaries differ vastly according to experience: expert JavaScript developers in the US can earn as much as $100k on average and around $60k in the United Kingdom.


Average junior, mid-level, and senior JavaScript developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom

Go: Solid tech stack to power complex IoT networks

Go is an open source programming language that was created at Google. Although it cannot boast the same widespread use as the languages, we focused on previously, it is a powerful technology on which to build a communication layer within your IoT system.

Concurrency and the ability to run a number of processes (data input and output) simultaneously are the main benefits of the Go language with regard to the IoT. This makes it easier to build complex IoT networks consisting of multiple sensors and devices.

Although it has been named the top paying technology in the United States (according to the latest StackOverflow Developer Survey), the average Go salary in the United States is quite moderate – around $73k, compared to $43k in the United Kingdom.

As there is not enough data on Go developer salaries worldwide, we will focus on salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom, the countries with the largest number of Go developers, according to the recent survey.


Average Go developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom. Source: Payscale

Highly skilled Go developers in the United States can expect to earn up to $140k – almost three times as much as junior-level Go programmers and twice as much as senior Go developers in the United Kingdom.


Average junior, mid-level, and senior Go developer salaries in the United States and the United Kingdom


As we can see, salaries for developers of the hottest programming languages in the IoT can vary greatly, and depend on a number of key aspects. To make sense of this information, it is important to see a bigger picture and to be able to identify existing market trends.

To find the perfect fit in the IoT industry, it is vital to understand the current market trends and price your services accordingly.

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