The global tech industry is one of the most lucrative sectors, accounting for $3,000+ billion in spending annually. With more than half of the globe connected via smartphone, the industry has expanded east to keep up with the demand—India is now the unofficial “hub” for developers.
There are so many Indian developers because tech giants outsource to India—companies can hire Indian developers for less than 10% of Americans’ rate. India has nearly 3 million tech college graduates and over 100 million English speaking citizens, so Indian developers are also skilled and apt.
Why is it that India boasts over five million developers while the rest of the world lags? To find out why there are so many Indian developers, read on.
The Outsourcing of Jobs to India
Outsourcing jobs, especially in the worlds of tech and electronics, isn’t a new concept. Some industry leaders have been sending American jobs overseas since at least the late 1980s. For example, tech giants like Microsoft, Oracle, and CISCO have outsourced some departments to India in recent years. The goal: Save money, hire a large workforce, and get quality work.
But with millions of Americans holding college degrees in STEM and years of hands-on experience in the software and app development fields, it begs the question: Why India?
The Cost to Hire in India Is Far Cheaper Than America
Tech jobs in Silicon Valley are some of the most sought after in the United States, with Fortune 500 tech companies like Apple and Microsoft leading the pack in terms of development and pay. As such, the average American software developer with a Bachelor’s Degree rakes in an average annual salary of $110,000.
In the eyes of a CEO, American-based developers come at a price: Lower ROI.
Halfway across the world, software developers in India have a wildly different pay scale for the same tasks as their American counterparts. The average software developer salary in India is a mere ₹520,000, equivalent to less than $7,000 a year. This is nearly twice as much as the average Indian citizen earns, making the development industry lucrative and appealing.
Software development is booming in India because the costs to hire are a fraction of what they would be in America, with the job itself paying well above the typical salary in India. The result: American tech companies can design apps and software at a low cost, sell for high, and recruit a motivated workforce overseas.
India Has a Huge Population of Engineers
India has a population of nearly 1.4 billion citizens, making up about 18% of the world’s total population. Yet, it’s not just the number of Indian citizens that makes their presence in the developer world more significant than other nations—it’s the sheer number with STEM degrees.
Two Indian universities, the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology receive millions of applications each year. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are among the most popular fields in higher education studies in the country.
In fact, India currently has over 2.6 million technology and STEM college graduates.
Yet across the globe in America, the nation is struggling with a self-proclaimed “STEM crisis.” Nations like India and China are leading the computer and tech industry, while about half of American college students opt out of the field because it’s “too difficult” or “too time-consuming.”
So it’s not that Indian developers are more or less skilled than software developers from other nations. The critical issue is that Americans turn a blind eye to the field and, thus, the search for skilled American job candidates is less successful. In these cases, job recruiters have to look elsewhere for qualified candidates.
A Good Portion of Indian People Speak English
Coding, web design, and software development are all industries booming on the six livable continents across the globe. Yet, computer programming and development tools like Microsoft Visual Studio, Adobe Dreamweaver, GitHub, and Appy Pie have one thing in common: The English language.
While it’s entirely possible to code in one’s native language and then translate it into English for usability sake, this poses compatibility and translation issues. Hiring non-English speaking developers in other nations saves a software development company time by not having to translate code over to the native language of the app’s main audience.
Today, over 129 million Indian citizens speak English, with another 250,000+ reporting English as their first language. This skill is prioritized because of the role it plays in job qualifications.
The ability to speak fluent English makes many Indian developers viable candidates for some of the most sought after jobs in software development. This skill allows Indian developers to work for American-based tech and mobile companies without a glaring language barrier.
Interest in Tech Is Booming in India
An Internet connection and WiFi capabilities are viewed as the “norm” in 2020. But many nations are still struggling to connect quickly (or at all). Nations with little or unreliable internet connection are less likely to produce a workforce skilled in tech—this is why there are very few African developers, with most African countries having fewer than 10% of their country connected.
More than half of the Indian population has access to the internet, accounting for 718,000,000+ internet users and the title as the second most connected nation in the world. The United States follows India in third place, with fewer than 250,000,000 total users.
It’s not just access to the internet that’s drawing many Indian citizens into the developing community, but also the sheer number of smartphones in the nation. There are over 500 million smartphones in India as of 2019. This growing access to technology gives India, a developing country, similar access to technological advances that First World countries like America enjoy.
Internet access, combined with a younger crowd and a desire to create tech programming, explains why there are so many Indian developers.
Here’s a video that spotlights Kunal Chauhan, an Indian man who worked his way through Android development and eventually earned recognition from Google:
What Else the Data Shows
So we know a few things by now: Labor in India is cheaper, the workforce is educated, a good portion of workers speak English, and access to tech tools is vastly growing each year.
But a study from a few years ago disputes some of these facts.
In fact, the data revealed that nearly 95% of Indian tech workers and programmers from Tier III Indian colleges were unfit to be in the field of software development.
It showed that a shocking 66% struggled greatly with coding, and less than 2% could actually write code correctly and efficiently. Though not all Indian developers graduate from low-cost and generally new Tier III colleges, there’s a good portion of the population that probably does.
So, while big corporations can cut costs on app and software development by hiring Indian-based developers, there’s no guarantee that their recruiting workforce is giving them the most bang for their buck.
The software and app development communities are growing worldwide, but even more so in India in the last several decades.
Here are some possible reasons for this growth:
- To cut costs while still getting quality work, high-end American tech companies are outsourcing jobs to India
- India has a largely educated younger population, with many opting for a college major in STEM and computer-related fields
- A significant portion of the Indian population speaks fluent English, making integration into the English-based tech sphere more simplistic
- Greater access to the internet, smartphones, and technology, particularly among younger Indian generations