Mid-Year Check-In: What API Employers and Job Seekers Need to Know

Net API Notes for 2024/06/18, Issue 239

As I've said several times over the past year, the job market for software practitioners right now is weird. Corporate profits are up, but so are layoffs. Employees are busier than ever, but hiring is down. For job seekers, the mixed signals stress an already difficult process. 

I've shared insights on navigating the hiring funnel and what 'economic headwinds' mean for APIs. I also shared what trends I saw emerge from analyzing thousands of API job listings - something I've continued to expand and refine over the subsequent six months. 

In this edition of Net API Notes, I'll cover the most common qualifications that have emerged around each API-related position. I'll cover which things are absolute must-haves, common across every employer's role definition, and which lie outside the norm. I'll also share some places where the job to be done varies wildly and which questions you should ask to clarify and determine if the role is right for you. Finally, if you're hiring for an API role, I hope the following helps improve your listings and nets you the exact candidate for the work to be done.

How many years of experience is typically expected for a senior developer? What industries are hiring API talent? What are some expected skills for less well-defined but still important roles, like API Product Manager or API Evangelist? Keep reading to find out.

A illustration of a 'Help Wanted' sign hanging from outside a modern office door.

The Following API Job Insights Are Derived From Thousands of Listings Across Hundreds of Sources

The following analysis is derived from thousands of open positions listed online from January 1st to June 1st of this year. Due to cost reasons, the data gathered is limited to jobs based in the U.S.  

The jobs came from more than 300 different sources and, as a result, contained a large number of duplicate information. I've spent the past six months updating the ingestion process to identify and remove duplicate entries, including using cosine similarity and Levenshtein distance techniques on the job descriptions. The remaining unique entries were then further summarized using ChatGPT's 4o model via API, with the results stored in a PostgreSQL database.  

Software Developer, Followed by Architect, Continues to Lead Open Positions

The first question I'm curious about answering is, "What kind of API help are companies seeking?" 

While Software Developer still has the most sought after API skillset, its percentage decreased overall. The decrease seems to be spread out as modest gains among the other positions.  

Job Role

% of Jobs in Jan

% of Jobs in June

Software Developer



Software Architect



Product Management






Developer Evangelist



Test/Quality Assurance



Technical Writing



I'm not ready to declare this data as evidence of a triumphant return for Developer Evangelists. However, the jump in positions for both Software Architect and Product Manager has me hopeful for more diverse, well-rounded skills being brought to bear on API assignments.  

In general, across all roles, companies primarily seek RESTful API experience (using either JSON or XML). Proficiency with the Swagger/OpenAPI specification is often required.

There is a strong desire for API security, with mentions of authentication (OAuth, SAML), authorization, and OWASP security standards appearing frequently. 

API jobs can be found in all types of businesses and institutions. However, in the first part of 2024, jobs in Financial Services, Healthcare, and Digital Advertising and Marketing appeared more often than other industries. 

Specific requirements, such as years of experience and educational background, vary depending on the position. What is consistent is a desire for strong communication and collaboration skills. Those talents are highly sought after in any role, as many positions involve working with cross-functional teams. Suppose you understand the technology at a deep level and have a demonstrated ability to communicate with a variety of different stakeholders, from the C-suite to entry level practitioners. In that case, you have a significant leg up on those you are competing against regardless of the specific role sought. 

With the basics covered, I want to get into specifics on the listed qualifications for each role. 

What To Know When Pursuing an API Software Developer Role

Regarding what APIs are developed in, Python consistently appears as a highly sought-after language. That is followed by Java, JavaScript (Node.js), and C#. However, familiarity with multiple languages is a recurring theme.

There is less of a clear leader when it comes to where developers are storing their API's data, although PostgreSQL and MongoDB are both mentioned at a fair clip. 

It also wouldn't be a Developer job post without some mention of DevOps. Often, this is treated as an umbrella term for some combination of CI/CD pipelines, automation, containerization (Docker, Kubernetes), and tools like Jenkins and Git - although the exact toolset may not be explicitly called out and is just assumed.  

API Developer qualifications most frequently cite 3+ years of API-related experience, with some requiring 5+ years. Junior or entry-level positions are rare, implying companies prefer that more experienced professionals handle API development.

Considerations for the API Software Architect Candidate

API Architect and API Developer roles require a strong foundation in API technologies. However, the roles diverge in experience levels and the scope of responsibilities. An Architect typically needs a more extensive background and broader organizational familiarity, reflecting their responsibility in designing the overall API architecture and supporting processes. 

Architects are expected to be proficient in RESTful API design, working with API gateways, and using tools like SwaggerHub and Postman. Companies also expect that they are familiar, at least at a high level, with a broader range of API management platforms, security frameworks, and cloud-native technologies. AWS, for example, is still the dominant cloud platform qualifier, with Azure and GCP mentioned only occasionally. 

API Architect roles consistently demand more years experience than API Developer positions. For instance, an Architect might need 6+ years of experience in the role. A demonstrated ability to collaborate and guide development teams is a huge plus for architect applicants.

API Product Management Remains A Catch-All Title

API Product Manager qualifications have the highest degree of variability out of all the disciplines listed here. Some open positions are more akin to what I'd call a Product Owner, while others suggest a technical team lead, yet others imply something more akin to a glorified Scrum Master. 

I discussed API Product Management challenges last year (Why Are API Product Managers  Hard to Find? and Is API Product Management a Role or a Person?). I'm encouraged by the apparent uptick in API Product Manager hiring, but there's still some opportunity to align on what that person should be doing. 

Because of that, job seekers applying for an API Product Manager role should go to some lengths to clarify what is expected of them. One question is what the expected team size and structure are. Some listings require managing direct reports or leading cross-functional teams. Clarifying the team size and reporting structure can help determine the leadership responsibilities and collaboration involved.

Another question includes, "What product management methodologies and frameworks are used?" Familiarity with Agile methodologies is frequently mentioned, with some specifying SAFe. Understanding the preferred methods and frameworks will reveal the company's implementation of product development practices, and where they see this person fitting into it.

Listings often mention tools like Jira, Confluence, Postman, and Splunk. Familiarity with API documentation formats Swagger or OpenAPI is usually preferred (and yes, in 2024, companies still refer to Swagger as an API specification format - keep that in mind while searching).

As might be expected, there is no single number of years of experience since the experience sought is so varied. One source requires ten years(!) of experience in product ownership and technology, including digital marketing and/or traditional IT as well as ten years of experience with APIs, including REST, JSON, OAS, RAML, and API management platforms. However, that is an extreme outlier. 

API Designer Jobs Do Exist Independent of Development or Architecture

In reviewing description after description, I get the sense that designing an API is often something an API Developer or API Architect is expected to do, along with other aspects of their role. However, standalone, dedicated API Designer positions do exist. 

These qualifications describe candidates who are strong, analytical problem-solvers; those who can envision and define technical system interactions to meet business ends. Comfort dealing with the particular abstractions that APIs represent is strongly hinted at, but not explicitly called out. 

The role also demands a highly collaborative approach, requiring the ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams, give and receive open feedback, and foster a collaborative environment. A customer-focused approach is a given. However, notable was the number of job listings in this area that explicitly called for the ability to influence others.

An API Designer often needs five or more years of experience designing RESTful APIs using Swagger or OpenAPI. YAML is also frequently mentioned. The ability to write and understand GraphQL schemas occasionally is listed. Other tools include smatterings of WS02, Apigee, Azure API Gateway, and AWS API Gateway

Developer Evangelists Should Know How To Engage Both Internal and External Audiences

After writing the latest ¡APIcryphal! on Danielle Morrill and the evolution of developer first marketing, I am excited to see an overall increase in API developer evangelist jobs. Unsurprisingly, the qualifications expect both a solid technical background and demonstrated communication abilities. 

What is interesting are the qualifications related to publishing media content, such as podcasts and vlogs. A willingness to speak at developer events like conferences and meetups is also explicitly called out. 

Also unique among developer evangelist qualifications are specific appeals to one's passion and drive. Positions also call for curiosity, industry trend awareness, and pride in educating others. Several jobs either explicitly or implicitly desire someone with existing credibility with various groups, from startups to CIOs. These requirements are highly unique among open API jobs.

Standalone Test and Quality Assurance Jobs Are Rare

Given the degree to which 'DevOps' has stuffed several previously independent skill sets under the broad umbrella of "developer", I'm not surprised to see so few dedicated positions here. However, companies occasionally seek more "traditional" QA individuals for their API efforts. 

The qualifications for these roles suggest the necessity for a strong understanding of both manual and automated API test approaches. Tools mentioned include ReadyAPI, Postman, and SoapUI. Candidates are expected to deeply understand API protocols, including SOAP and REST, and can work with formats like XML, JSON, RAML, and OpenAPI.

Experience in Selenium, Cucumber, and BDD frameworks is highly valued. JUnit and TestNg are also mentioned, but to a lesser degree.

Five years of experience in API testing is the most common baseline. 

Technical Writing Jobs Often Have Elements of Either Test or Evangelism

Many strong communication skills that would be nice in other roles become must-haves in the API Technical Writer position. 

Several Technical Writer positions also suggest at least a demo presentation ability with the API. Qualifications like "Not a coder but comfortable enough to use and demo the API Product being built" and "Ability to make API requests (JSON), make API calls with Postman/Curl" suggest the candidate will be doing more than just documentation. 

There is no commonality among years of desired experience or toolset. 


I don't know what the job market will look like in the next six months. However, I hope that the API job market not only continues to expand, but shows continued evolution. Roles like software developers and architects will also remain in high demand. However, I'll continue to track the shift towards more diverse positions such as product managers and developer evangelists. 

If you're looking for an API role, focus not only on technical expertise but also on having examples ready to go of how you effectively communicate and collaborate across teams. Every opening values someone who can connect with others to get things done.

For employers, carefully consider what qualifications you're including in your positions, especially if you're looking to hire an API product manager. Clearly defining job roles is essential to attracting the suitable candidates.

What other observations do you have about this current job market? Do these insights match your experience? Leave a comment or email me at hello [at] matthewreinbold [dot] com. I'd love to hear what you see. 


Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading to the end! In a world of infinite attention grabbers, you decided to cuddle with this newsletter. I appreciate it! 

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Till next time,

Matthew [@matthew (Fediverse), matthewreinbold.com (Website)]

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