How long do software engineers stay at a particular company?
Earlier this year, The Hacker Life crunched some data on tech hubs such as San Francisco. After examining the public information of 2,766 software engineers (and related positions) across 65 companies, and ranking those individuals by the length of their tenure at those firms, they generated a handy series of charts.
In San Francisco, software engineers tend to spend less time at medium-sized companies than they do at larger ones, although tenures at the latter can range anywhere from 1.5 years (in the case of Adobe, Uber, and Airbnb) to 8.5 years (at Pixar). Other cities, such as New York, follow similar trends, with an average stay anywhere from 1.5 to 3 years, with a greater tendency for workers to remain longer at bigger firms.
Thirty or forty years ago, it wasn’t unusual for someone to spend his or her entire career at one firm. Such longevity is no longer ubiquitous, especially in tech, where skilled tech pros may jump from job to job fairly rapidly, pursuing new opportunities and more money. Tech pros with the most in-demand skills can migrate between jobs (or even to freelancing) fairly easily in this market, with its low unemployment rate and desperate need for those who specialize in mobile, cloud, and other vital areas.
For workers at smaller firms, the relative shortness of tenure may also reflect the relatively turbulent environment in which those companies exist. Startups fail; slightly larger firms are bought up or merge with others. You may not leave a job, but the job may end up leaving you.
Whatever the cause, it seems that most tech pros tend to stay in one position for under three years on average. If you feel like jumping ship, check out Dice’s Career Toolkit, which includes job-hunting and résumé basics, along with advice on building networks.