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The pool of talented C++ developers is running dry

Software companies have a problem. There’s not enough candidates that can code C++. 

This was the consensus in a webinar from ProfitView, a crypto trading tools developer, on high frequency trading using C++. Anthony Peacock, formerly a quant at both Citi and Citadel said “it’s impossible to find people with a really high level of C++ skills which is exactly what every trading company wants.”  

This isn’t just a British or American issue, nor is it one specific to high frequency trading. Rainer Grimm, who has been a professional C++ trainer since 2008, affirmed that C++ education in Germany is equally “terrible” and added that “there’s a big demand for C++ not only in this domain but also the automotive” industry. 

Where are all the C++ programmers? People are seemingly scared away from the language by a terrible stigma: the notion that it is a legacy program. With big names in tech such as Microsoft Azure CEO Mark Russinovich calling people to “deprecate” C++ “for the sake of security and reliability,” in favour of Rust, this is hardly surprising.

However, reports of C++'s death may be premature. ProfitView CEO Richard Hickling, a former software engineer at Barclays and Bank of America, said “the death of C++ has been reported many times.” Hickling pointed to Java, which has long “seemed to be replacing C++ itself,” but hasn't. 

So where have all the C++ developers gone? The Stack Overflow Survey 2022 reported almost a drop of almost two percentage points in respondents this past year using C++ (from 24.3% to 22.5%), even while the percentage of professional developers using it rose. The good news, though, is that 34.7% of respondents learning to code are using C++, placing it in the top 6 programming languages of that category.

The real problem is that C++ is neither easy nor loved. Rust got an 87% approval rate in the "most loved" category of the Stack Overflow Survey. However, only 9.3% of respondents used Rust at all and only 8.8% did so professionally. C++, meanwhile, languished at 48%.

Even so, C++ regularly appears in the top 4 of the TIOBE index, earning it a place in their “big 4.” 

The reality is that there are plenty of C++ jobs available in finance, and that compared to other languages there are comparatively few people to fill them. The language may be hard. But it's also worth it. 

Click here to create a profile on eFinancialCareers. Make yourself visible to recruiters and find a company hiring C++ afficionados like you.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: alex.mcmurray@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. 

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

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AUTHORAlex McMurray
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  • DB
    D B
    4 November 2022

    C++ devs are underpaid if you look at job listings alone - especially listing for contractors (USA, anyway). However if you look hard you can find reasonable paying jobs in those companies where they know what they're paying C++ devs to do, and why it needs to be C++ and not a managed language (much less a scripting language). (That is, some domains totally require the pedal-to-the-metal high-throughput low-latency high-compute that you can achieve with C++, and not so much other languages.)

  • se
    sebbiep
    3 November 2022

    Many C++ developers working in finance or automotive moved to different languages which pay significantly more. It is not uncommon to see senior C++ engineer offers in region of £60k whereas C# will pay double and Java likely even more. Want more quality low level devs, you need to pay them more for skills they fought so hard to acquire.

  • Ig
    Igor Mišić
    3 November 2022

    Becose recruters don't understand that Embedded software developers usually know C++ as well.

  • Pe
    Pedro Lucas
    3 November 2022

    I started with C++ in 92 after 4 solid years with C. I went from MSC 7.00 up to Visual Studio, programmed ISDN, drivers, GUI interfaces, ODBC over 10 years and boy, it was fun. But truly, it takes a big effort to do stuff compared to other languages and in the end, even if it looks "beautiful" compared to Python or others...is it worth today? Hmmm

  • im
    improv
    3 November 2022

    My first job was as a C++ developer. It's not that it's hard per se, but more that it requires you to mold your thinking to the way a computer operates. It allows the lowest possible level of operations in a high level programming language. That makes it a bit cumbersome to code in, but allows absolute control over operations in ways that more modern languages don't allow. That does mean, however, that it's crazy easy to screw up. Like a bike that not only lacks training wheels, but brakes, safety equipment of any kind, and only goes two speeds - stop, and max. I mean, C++ allows you to do inline assembly code if you really want to for speed. That's completely foreign to the new generation of developers.

    My language of choice these days for a business environment is C# because it's vastly faster to develop in, and I only dip into C++ if the job requires fine grained control and/or meticulous optimization. I don't recommend coding in C++ unless you have some familiarity with the inner workings of computer hardware since it maps much more closely to the hardware than to any natural thought processes.

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