2020 State of the API Report

2020 State Of The API Survey

Who Works with APIs

Primary job function

We asked survey-takers about their primary roles, and it's approximately an even split: about half of respondents considered themselves developers (full stack, backend, frontend, or mobile), and about half have another role within the organization. The most popular role to work with APIs? Full stack developers, accounting for nearly 29% of survey responses.

Full stack developer: 28.9%
Backend developer: 15.8%
Quality engineer: 8.5%
Director/Manager: 7.5%
Technical architect: 7%
Frontend developer: 5%
Product manager: 4.5%
Student/professor: 4%
Support engineer: 3.9%
DevOps engineer: 3.5%
Data engineer/scientist: 3.5%
Sales/solutions engineer: 2.5%
Mobile developer: 1.9%
CXO/VP: 1.4%
Security engineer: 1.2%
Technical writer: 0.6%
UX/UI designer: 0.5%

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Functional area

While there is a wide diversity in the roles that work with APIs, there is one particularly clear concentration: over 77% of respondents listed their functional area as engineering/development. DevOps (26% in 2019)/API Ops (21% in 2019) were listed together in 2020 and combined for 34% in this survey. The developer relations/evangelism functional area nearly doubled in respondents from last year (7.5% in 2019), accounting for 13%. Education, product and project management, and customer relations are among a smaller group of other notable specific areas of work making use of APIs.

Engineering/Development: 77.3%
DevOps/API Ops: 34.4%
Quality assurance/testing: 25.6%
Technical/customer support: 23.3%
Security: 13.3%
Developer relations/evangelism: 12.9%
Sales/marketing: 8.2%
Accounting/finance: 3.9%
HR/legal/administration: 2%

Multiple responses allowed

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Industry

We asked individuals about their industry, and the order of the results mirrored the 2019 survey results. Technology led the way at 41.7% (versus 52.3% last year), followed by business/IT Services, banking/finance, healthcare, and retail. Gaming made its debut in this year's survey, at 1.2%.

Technology: 41.7%
Business/IT services: 19.3%
Banking/finance: 10.7%
Healthcare: 8%
Retail: 5.2%
Advertising/marketing: 4%
Government/defense: 3.9%
Manufacturing: 3.2%
Nonprofit/charitable organizations: 2.8%
Gaming: 1.2%

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Years of experience

It’s a young industry—74% of respondents reported between 0 and 5 years of experience with API development. However, a quarter of respondents have 6 or more years of experience. And those respondents with 6+ years of API development experience were significantly more likely to be API-first leaders than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 6.4%
1-5: 67.6%
6-9: 9.8%
10+: 16.2%

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Note: The previous four sections (primary job function, functional area, industry, and years of experience) will be frequently referenced throughout this report, as each one provides uniquely insightful ways to view survey responses.

Team size

We asked individuals about the number of people working on their team, and the majority have 10 or fewer on their team. The average team size registered at 13; however, the median was 7, due in part to the impact of some larger organizations.

Within primary job functions, CXO/VP had the highest average number of people on their teams, but technical architects had the highest median, suggesting CXO/VP had more extra-large teams. Within industries, gaming had the highest average number of people on their teams. Within functional areas, developer relations/evangelism had the highest average number of people on their teams. API-first leaders had more people on their team on average than others. Respondents with 6+ years of API development experience had more people on their team on average than those with 0–5 years of experience.

0: 0.3%
1-2: 8.4%
3-5: 28%
6-10: 36%
11-25: 19.3%
26-50: 5.1%
51+: 2.8%

Mean: 12.97, Median: 7

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Number of developers in the organization

We found an interesting dichotomy in the number of developers at organizations. Respondents from organizations with 10 or fewer developers were most common, at 28.6%; however, the next largest category—those with 501+ developers—accounted for 19.6% of respondents.

Within primary job functions, DevOps engineer, technical architect, data engineer/scientist, and backend developer were most likely to be part of an organization with more than 500 developers. Within industries, the banking/finance organizations were most likely to employ 501+ developers. Within functional areas, those who identified themselves as engineering development were most likely to be part of an organization with more than 500 developers. API-first leaders were more likely to have 501+ developers in their organization than those rating it a 6 or less.

Fewer than 10: 28.6%
10-25: 15.9%
26-50: 10.2%
51-100: 10.6%
101-250: 8.7%
251-500: 6.4%
501+: 19.6%

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