Hiring Developers Nearshore in Latin America

Once you have decided that the benefits of hiring nearshore developers and integrating them into your team is the right fit for your company, now what? While some startup owners are well versed in coding, developer roles, and technical knowledge themselves, we know that many others might not know exactly what their company needs to help get their product off the ground. Unlike other common jobs, measuring the quality of developers involves a number of harder-to-quantify metrics and skill sets that are tough to understand and use, especially if you do not have extensive programming experience yourself. While everyone can understand metrics like average hourly rate, how else can you differentiate between nearshore Latin American developers and their offshore counterparts?

To give you more insight into the various remote developer talent available in Latin America, here is a guide that covers the basics any startup owner or project manager needs to know before sifting through the available talent and posting a job opening for their company.

Common Latin American Developer Roles

One look at any nearshore developer hiring site, and you will notice a wide variety of job titles and developer roles, even for jobs that appear to be the exact same. While one company might ask for an assistant software engineer, another might be looking for a Ruby on Rails specialist - while both are actually asking for the same thing. So to make it a bit easier for you to learn about the different nearshore developer roles and figure out what your company needs, here are some of the most common roles or titles and what they generally communicate to potential job applicants:

  • Senior Software Engineer. This is someone you are hiring to be the head of all technical development for your product - they generally will develop information systems by learning the entire vision of the product, as well as road mapping all needed functionality.  They will then be in charge of designing and developing the software solutions you need to make both the UI and back-end elements of your product work, individually and together. Generally, your senior software engineer will also be in charge of managing other, lesser or part-time developers, and be responsible for turning around to report to and deliver results to you.
  • Assistant Software Engineer. As the title says, this person does many of the same jobs that the senior software engineer does, but reports to that person. They may be a part-time or freelance worker, while a senior engineer is often closer to a salaried position. Notice, neither of these first two job titles have a specific tech stack or coding language listed - this can be by choice, or is something that needs to be included in the job description.
  • Python/CSS/Java (or others) Developer/Engineer. This type of position is calling for a developer with a specific skill set in a particular coding language or tech stack. If your company has not decided on a platform to build and design the app, this may not be as important. However, once your app is in progress, you often are restricted to specific developer skill sets, which is when you choose this type of job listing/specialist as opposed to the more general software engineer listing.
  • Frontend or Backend Designer/Developer. Every app includes two specific segments, the elements a user sees when interacting with the app (the front end, or user-facing interface) and the elements that drive/allow the app to function (the back end, including the database). Often, remote developers do not specialize in both of these fields, as they require completely different skill sets. So if you see a frontend developer vs a backend developer, you know which part of your app this resource can be used for.
Developer roles in Latin America compared to the rest of the world.
Developer roles in Latin America compared to the rest of the world.

Fun fact: the most common programming languages for Latin American developers include JavaScript, SQL, Java, CSS, Python, HTML, and C#.

There are a number of variations on these main roles that you will often see while sifting through nearshore developer candidates, but these cover a vast majority of the developers out there.

Nearshore Developers - Key Facts and Statistics

Think of this section as almost like an FAQ - what are some of the most common things individuals and companies want to know before using Latin American developers, as opposed to going fully offshore or biting the bullet and paying significantly more for American workers. These are often the most common data points companies and staffing managers need to know when choosing to opt for Latin American developers:

Salary/Hourly Rates for Latin American Developers

As far as salary expectations and budgeting, according to Agile Engine’s 2018 data collection, the average Latin American junior developer bills at $36 USD/hour, senior developers at $55 USD/hour, and system architect at roughly $60 USD/hour. Compare this to the $150 USD/hour (and much much higher) rates that American developers average, and the savings are massive for smaller companies and startups.

Medium annual salary by developer role and experience in Latin America.
Medium annual salary by developer role and experience in Latin America.

Attrition/Turnover Rate for Nearshore Developers

By many metrics, offshore developer turnover rate (how often you will replace or cycle through offshore developers) is often over 20 % over the course of a single year. This constant turnover can be a massive headache of wasted time, wasted money, and stress for small companies especially, given limited resources to begin with. Meanwhile, turnover rate for nearshore developers in Latin America is significantly lower - in most cases under 12% for most major Latin American hubs for nearshore developers. This means peace of mind in knowing you’ve got your staff for the long haul after investing time, training, and money.

Talent Pool/Labor Force

Worried about running out of hiring options? There are over a million nearshore developers currently actively working or seeking employment, according to Stack Overflow, a platform for hiring freelance workers.

Job search status by experience in Latin America.
Job search status by experience in Latin America.

Preferred Tech Stack of Latin American Programmers

As noted above, Latin American developers heavily favor JavaScript as a programming language, which means a vast majority are very familiar with/prefer MERN stack, one of the top JS full stacks out there. This is by no means the only preference for Latin American developers, but is certainly the most popular.

Preferred programming languages in Latin America
Preferred programming languages in Latin America.

Cultural Compatibility Factors

One of the best reasons to choose Latin American developers over offshore? The average English skill rankings, according to EF EPI score. Most countries with strong bases of Latin American developers score over the 50th percentile on the rankings.

In addition, several Latin American countries scored particularly high on cultural compatibility metrics, in terms of integration with U.S. companies. Brazil leads the way here, but others are close behind, in terms of Gartner’s cultural compatibility index.

Coding Skill and Abilities

In terms of coder skill rankings, here are where some of the biggest locations in terms of remote developer populations in Latin America grade out, according to the HackerRank and TopCoder rankings:

  • Brazil: 38th (HackerRank), 15th (TopCoder)
  • Mexico: 33rd (HackerRank), 35th (TopCoder)
  • Argentina: 39th (HackerRank), 17th (TopCoder)
  • Colombia: 45th (HackerRank), 37th (TopCoder)