All you need to know about highest paid programming language
For top paying jobs in financial engineering, C++ Java and Python are the usual suspects. For the tech commnuity as a whole however, one language stands above the rest: Clojure.
In the 2022 stack overflow survey, Clojure engineers were revealed to have the highest median average salary at $106.6k, one of only two to average six figure pay alongside Erlang. So what is this niche language and why does it command such a high pay package?
Clojure's USP: Real Time Code Editing
There are many things that Clojure does differently, but perhaps the most intriguing is its ability to edit your code as the code is running. For devs sick of making many minute changes until their error messages disappear and their code runs, it can be a game changer.
Using Clojure is a learning curve; getting the code up and running in the first place can be difficult but, according to Derek Troy-West, CEO of engineering insights firm Factor House, it "gets progressively easier to implement big ideas."
New Dog, Old Tricks
Clojure is relatively new as a language, released in 2007, but its foundations are in one of the oldest languages still in use today.
Clojure is a dialect of Lisp, first specified in 1958 but remains a cult favourite in the Natural Language Processing space. Clojure appears to have retained its ability to process data and then some
At a recent event on Clojure by London fintech Funding Circle, a former Goldman Sachs engineer said that the key strength of Clojure is its ability to process lots of data very quickly.
The end of legacy code?
The biggest engineering epidemic in finance is the abundance of legacy code. Nobody (almost nobody at least) wants to code in Slang. Clojure could change that.
Derek Troy-West says his product, Kpow for Kafka is "96% written in Clojure" and that the majority of the code written over a decade ago when it was first being built is still in use today.
"Clojure is the reason we beat everyone else up and we're unapologetic about it" he says. "We can ship features with a much higher fidelity than other teams."
Not only is legacy code not an issue for Clojure, it can even be a benefit. Once your code is up and running, Troy-West says "you can start plugging in new contexts and rolling out new product lines."
It's perfect for beginners (not so much for professionals).
Learning any programming language is hard enough, let alone multiple, and developers like to stick to what they know. If they do learn a new one, it's usually one similar to those they know already.
Clojure, however, is a whole different ball game. The Goldman engineer says "the syntax is very different to other languages" used in finance (Java and Python). This makes it hard to learn if you're an experienced developer, but more accessible to newcomers
The language's creator, Rich Hickey says he designed the language in response to the incidental complexity of modern programming. In a sense Clojure is the anti-establishment pick.
Temper your expectations
There's a lot of reasons to love Clojure, its pay chief among them, but especially within a finance context the roles might be hard to find. Of the 4000+ technology jobs on eFinancialCareers, just six mention Clojure in their job descriptions.
It does have its proponents, though. On the traditional finance side there's DRW Trading, whose software engineers earned an average of $231k according to Levels.fyi. On Clojure's website it claims that banks using it include Citi and Capital One.
The fintech space has a lot of love for it. Funding Circle implement Clojure and Kpow while Nubank, a $32bn valued publicly traded digibank, built itself in Clojure and purchased Cognicent, the consultancy behind the language's creation, in 2020.
Even if you can find the right jobs, there's no guarantee the pay will be above market. When told of the Stack Overflow data, one bewildered Clojure dev said "really? I ought to tell my manager that." 😅
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