What proportion of programming is done for embedded systems? More generally, please share any interesting statistics on programmers by domain, e.g. real-time/business/UI/gaming/…

How you define the domain boundaries (e.g. what is an embedded system) is up to you, but please give a few words to explain your definition.

  • +1. I'd be interested to find out about this too. AFAIK, in my country the only stats kept on our field are extremely generic ones (eg. "Software Engineer"). At least the official tax forms and such. Nov 14, 2010 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


Well, there are many orders of magnitude more embedded processors than general purpose computers. About 250 million PC produced per year.

Many billions of embedded processors produced per year.

Global embedded software market is worth about 3.4 billion dollars per year. http://www.slideshare.net/pboulet/socdesign

Embedded systems (with hardware added) worth 88 billion dollars per year in 2009.

(Now, PC's are worth more than 350 each, so there's more money in PC hardware.)

Lots of embedded processors are doing "the same thing", but embedded is hard, costly and cost constrained, so there is a lot of pressure in the "consumer embedded" space to reuse code.

The mainstream software industry is worth about 300 billion per annum. (from wikipedia.)

The bottom line About 100 times less money in embedded than "normal" software.

But programmers for embedded are often Electronic engineers, getting paid less; or in Asia, where they are paid 5x less than in, the USA for example. Electronic engineers in Australia often get paid 20% less then software engineers.

So probably about 1/30th as much programming work is embedded.

  • 1
    I would hazard that your $88bn for embedded systems is way on the low side. Embedded systems include domestic appliances (washing machines, microwaves), entertainment (flat screen TV, DVD players, Digital TV receivers), musical greetings cards, all mobile phones, the keyboard on your desktop, the ABS and engine management on your car, most of the avionics on the plane that takes you on holiday.... need I continue.
    – uɐɪ
    Nov 15, 2010 at 16:06
  • I just used numbers I could find quickly. The 1/30th figure that results is pretty interesting; it gels with my personal experiences Nov 16, 2010 at 0:17
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    But programmers for embedded are often Electronic engineers, getting paid less - That's true only if you compare programmer salaries here vs offshore (embedded and otherwise). But here in the US, embedded developers tend to make more than application (or even systems developers.) This is even more true if you are a EE major doing embedded work in the defense sector. May 20, 2011 at 13:57
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    @luis and that is why I often do embedded work in the defence sector. Embedded/defence : doesn't get outsourced till they buy the system from somewhere else. (And I have resembled that remark too) May 22, 2011 at 23:47

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