Excel VBA developer numbers

Anyone got any idea how many developers there are working in this area?

I believe a couple of thousand get advanced modelling training in the city each year, although that is pure formula based no VBA.

MS reckon about 4 million VB developers, but I suspect most of them are VB6 and or .net these days.

Jobserve shows 274 jobs for Excel and VBA, and 1678 for VB alone (in the UK).

Assuming about half of these are duplicates gives 150 for VBA v 850 for VB for a seven day period.

Annually that is 7,800 and 44,200.

Lets say Jobserve has 30% market share then the total jobs advertised (and lets assume filled) is 26,000 and 147,000

Assuming devs change jobs every 5 years on average and no one is out of work then this number is 20% of the total market:

UK Excel VBA devs = 130,000

UK VB Developers = 737,000

Of course there are plenty of gaping holes in this analysis, but I could accept that they are the right order of magnitude. It all depends on your definition of developer too.

maybe VBA 1-300,000 in the UK, VB 500,000 – 1M. The VB figure seems consistent with the MS 4 million estimate, so maybe the VBA is reasonable too.

The Excel-l List had 1006 members (worldwide) on my last post. If that represents 1% of Excel VBA developers that puts the number at 100,000 worldwide.

In 2004/5 there were 20,000 first year under grads in computer science (probably none of whom will go into VBA development!).

I’de be interested to know about book sales that might be a useful indicator.

So my guestimate is Excel/VBA less than 500,000 world wide, maybe 100,000 in the UK – no wonder I rarely work with another dev!

If you have better data, or a better estimation method please leave a comment and let me know.




14 Responses to “Excel VBA developer numbers”

  1. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    This still surprise me in that around the world people can make a living of being Excel consultants.

    In my part of the world it’s not possible and therefore the situation require skillness and knowledge in other areas such as databases, web and standalone developing tools Visual Studio etc.

    In the late 80’s to the mid of the 90’s it was to a higher degree possible then nowadays.

    Of course the above situation has a major impact on how I view and discuss Excel.

    Kind regards,

  2. Simon Murphy Says:

    I don’t think you could get far with just Excel skills. But as an interface to enterprise data, Excel skills are very useful. Of course it helps if you understand the data and have experience of other tools such as Visual studio, and some of the less common options, like COM add-ins.
    Most of the job adds expect commercial experience of a broad range of technologies.

  3. Ross Says:

    Yeah, no such thing really as a VBA Excel dev, you need SQL server as a min as well, and often C++, VB.net, or C#. – I know cus i look all the time ;-)

    The reason why there are a lot of jobs in the UK is due to the strong finical industry here, which can pay very well for a VBA dev. In fact I would say by langue VBA dev do very well, but this is mainly because of there skills and exp. in finical related work (trading desks, etc). Not sure it’s something I’d like to do though!

  4. Marcus Syben Says:

    It surprises me also that I can make a living as an Excel consultants but I don’t believe you could if you only knew Excel & VBA. It’s been a long time since I developed a solution where Excel was an island.

    More commonly nowadays Excel is an interface or reporting medium where the underlying data is in something more industrial strength such as SQL Server (relational and OLAP), Essbase, Sybase and the like. This by itself requires skills in DAO, ADO, ADOX, ADOMD, SQL and MDX – whew!

    However I don’t think you could apply an even distribution of VBA developers based upon an assessment of one location. As Ross highlighted, the strength of London’s financial industry has a huge impact of the demand for VBA developers.

  5. Martin Rushton Says:

    No improved data or better estimation method but another gaping hole.

    I am a member of the Excel list and would no way consider myself a vba developer. Yes I write code but in the main to reduce repetitive manual tasks in my job in Financial admin. Also although Excel L is for advanced users it is not limited to vba but also to complex and less widely used formulas e.g. sumproduct. finally I suspect many of those 1000 are just lurkers perhaps from Excel-G trying to improve their excel as proved when the occasional question more appropriate to Excel-G is asked.

  6. Simon Murphy Says:

    Agreed Martin
    There are also plenty of developers who do not participate in any of the on-line forums.
    I suppose the question is when is an estimate so approximate that it either adds no value, or is misleading?
    and I guess that if no-one can corroborate the estimate above, it is likely to fit into one of those types.

  7. Ricardo Lopez-Herrera Says:

    I’m starting an activity as VBA/Excel developer, Here in Mexico there’s not such thing as Excel Developer but every company I know could get advantage in VBA/Excel expert knowledge.
    Also I’m aware just excel/vba expertise is not profitable, so I and two Access guys are starting Consulting, Training & Certification activities.

    Please visit my site and submit your comments, I will apreciate very much


  8. Marcus Says:

    Hi Ricardo,

    Your site looks quite catchy, however I have no Spanish skills so I can’t comment of the content. Probably the only design comment I would make (and this is a personal preference) is to remove the counter on each page. Potential clients don’t need to know how many visitors have (or haven’t) visited your site.

    “excel/vba expertise is not profitable” – well yes and no. So while I probably could make a living with only Excel/VBA, I make a far better living with knowledge of other complementary technologies.

    I tend to stick to the financial services industry (banks, stock brokers etc.) as they are heavy Excel users. Banking & Finance also tend to invest in technology much than most other industries (by a large margin from what I’ve read). Corporate banking invests in technology to allow their smart employees work more productively. Retail banking invests in technology so they can get rid of their employees. Either way the ongoing IT investment continues.

    The other thing you can focus on is your domain knowledge (if you haven’t already). Learn about a particular industry better than anyone else – this allows you to offer a superior service because you understand their business.

    Good Luck

  9. Simon Murphy Says:

    Hi Ricardo
    Yep site looks good, unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish, so no comment on the content. Agree with Marcus on the counter – you can get this info from your logs, don’t bother your visitors with it – not on a business site, maybe ok on a pure info only one?
    There is plenty of money to be made in and around Excel/VBA development – the key factor is how much value you add to the client.

  10. Dick Kusleika Says:

    My first thought was the counter has to go. Be sure to let us know when the blog portion is up and running. It will give me a good excuse to learn some more Spanish.

  11. Ricardo Lopez-Herrera Says:

    I really appreciate your comments, Marcus, Simon & Dick,

    Of course I’will let you know when we finish the site and begin to promote it, your comments give us some light about this issue, we all are full time employees, but we are looking for do what we like and earn some extra income, if things works well I will leave my job and work full time in development.

    Thank you very much

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