Our Web Development Munich State of the Market 2020 report will give you the full lowdown on one of the Bavarian capital’s most dynamic market sectors. A sub-sector of the broader Munich software development market, web development specifically refers to the engineering of software, typically websites, portals or apps, designed to run online on a web browser.
Germany’s largest city and metropolitan area economy (Bavaria is also Germany’s wealthiest and most productive state), Munich (München) is, alongside Berlin, one of the country’s two major technology hubs. The city’s local government has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure.
Alongside other factors such as local universities, research institutions and a thriving start-up ecosystem, that has attracted numerous tech-centric companies, big and small, to the Munich area.
That means especially big demand for web development skills, which the Deustcheland.de portal says are anyway the most in-demand on Germany’s 2020 labour market.
This report looks at the web development sector as specific to Munich and its wider metropolitan area. We’ll cover:
Web development and software development are often used interchangeably but there is a difference. Web development is a sub-category of software development and refers specifically to software designed to run on an internet browser.
Web developers are technically also software developers, as they create software. But not all software developers or engineers are necessarily web developers. As a general rule of thumb, a software developer would generally be specialised in developing software built to run on a particular operating system, such as a Linux, a Windows or MacOS desktop or native mobile operating system like Android or iOS.
This is also often referred to as ‘native’ development as the software is tailored to the requirements and specifics of the OS it will run on. Web development, by contrast, is platform agnostic. As long as a device has an internet connection and mainstream web browser installed, the software will run.
There can occasionally be confusion and mixing up of the term web development and web design. Even Google’s search engine can confuse the two, offering up web design results for web development queries. Or its algorithm is simply responding to user expectations, who themselves don’t correctly distinguish the difference. And there is a significant one.
Web developers have a very different skill set to web designers, even if both professions contribute to the creation of web-based application.
A web designer’s job is to create the visual or aesthetic appearance of a web application. That can, especially in smaller teams (the roles are more often split for larger projects), also involve designing the user experience (UX) as well as pure visual appearance of an application.
Web designers are not software engineers or coders. They work with design software to create visuals.
I we think of it like a car, web development would be everything under the body work and interior and design how the vehicle looks on the outside and inside on the surface level. The design has to take how the car’s mechanics and other technology and engineering works into account. For example, it has to leave enough room for the engine, fuel tank and so on.
The design will also have an effect on how the car handles eg. If it is low to the ground, more or less aerodynamic etc. It is also the design that will make the first impression. But it is everything else underneath and how it supports and interacts with that design that defines the car.
Web design is the car’s shell and surface-level interior. Web development is the mechanics and electronics that make it go.
Munich may be a city with a history stretching back well over a thousand years (as a settlement it dates back to at least 750 CE and the Benedictine monastery at Tegernsee) but today it boasts one of the world’s most modern economies.
The strength of the city’s economy (Munich is Germany’s third largest city by population after Berlin and Hamburg but its biggest city economy by a distance) is also historical. It became a walled and fortified town as a direct result of the success of the market established by the monks, who were given permission to do so by Henry the Lion, duke of Bavaria, in the 12th century.
Fast forward to 2020 and entrepreneurship and a flourishing market economy is still very much Munich’s driving force. A 2019 report names Munich as Germany’s wealthiest city, with an annual household disposable income of €29,685. That makes Munich residents almost 20% wealthier than those of the three cities that follow in the list cities follow in the rankings – Stuttgart (€25,012), Düsseldorf (€24,882) and Hamburg (€24,421).
Munich owes much of its relative wealth to its high-tech economy. While Germany is best known as a manufacturing-based economy, Munich’s is very much as services-oriented. Services account for 75.9% of Munich’s GDP, compared to just 24.1% from manufacturing. That is reflected in the Bavarian capital’s labour productivity stood at EUR 103,369 in 2017 – by some margin the highest of any large city in Germany.
Munich’s local government has heavily invested in the city’s digital infrastructure and digital transformation at a local government level. That long-term strategy and its results, such as high-speed internet and educational institutes and research centres churning out a highly skilled work force, has acted as a magnet, attracting digitally progressive companies focused on technology-centric products and series.
According to Germany Trade & Invest, the country is the fifth largest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market in the world. We’ve already mentioned Munich is the country’s largest city economy and wealthiest metropolitan area. It also has the most highly educated workforce in the country, as evidenced by the chart below.
As such, it comes as no surprise that the city’s ICT and digital economy is also particularly strong. Berlin is also well known for its digital economy but it has different qualities to that of Munich. If Berlin’s tech scene is best known for its start-ups and growth stage companies, Munich’s can be considered as representing a more broad-based mix that also includes the highest concentration of tech-centric corporations in the country.
It’s that mix that makes the Munich web development sector so buoyant.
Munich’s tech scene benefits from a healthy mix of corporates, a strong SME economy, vibrant start-up environment and local higher education and research institutes. Crucially, these different stratospheres have come together to form one mutually beneficial tech ecosystem.
Munich plays host to six of 30 constituents of the TecDAX index of Germany’s biggest technology enterprises (until recently 7, but don’t mention W**eC**d!).
And of course, blue chip companies that are not specifically classified as technology or software companies also all have significant web development and other IT needs. 6 members of the DAX 30, Germany’s benchmark index, are also based in Munich itself or within the wider Munich district, compared to a maximum of two each hosted by other urban centres such as Berlin and Frankfurt/Main.
10 of the 60 constituents of the mid-cap MDAX also call Munich home.
Munich start-up founders, 96% of whom rated the regional start-up ecosystem as good to very good in a 2018 PwC study, highlight the opportunities to collaborate with established companies, many of whom also invest in or otherwise support local start-ups, as a major plus.
Check out this informative and entertaining video on Munich’s start-up scene produced by mobile media company The Lunicorn, in partnership with Germany’s Digital Hub Initiative:
The concentration of thriving companies with web development needs means there is particularly high demand for professionals with web development skills, both as direct employees and through specialist service providers.
One popular jobs portal Monster.de, demand for web developers in the Munich area is second only to Berlin in Germany. The same pattern can be seen on other popular jobs portals such as Xing (the ‘German LinkedIn’), LinkedIn itself and Glassdoor.
If you are looking for a web development job in Munich, or researching the employment market in the city more generally, a good place to start would be the following jobs portals:
Even Muenchen.de, the city’s informational portal has a jobs section that may be worth keeping an eye on.
Web development responsibilities are typically broken down as:
Front-end web development focuses on functionalities that the users interact with or, more technically put, client-side rendering. Front-end developers are responsible for the parts of a web application users see, or the look and feel of a website, portal or application.
That practical experience is reflected in the number of web developer positions listed on StackOverFlow for each of the three JS libraries/frameworks.
Back-end web developers are responsible for the server side of a web application, which involves all of the components that communicate between the app’s database and browser. There are three main parts to how a website works ‘under-the-hood’:
Back-end web development is writing or putting together the code that communicates database information to the browser, determining what is displayed on the screen. This interaction between back-end and front-end happens through ‘requests’, sent from back-end servers that hold the data that the application uses. Back-end developers are also responsible for a web application’s overall performance, such as speed and stability.
Back-end web development skills are often even scarcer on the ground in Munich and there can be tough competition for specialists. Currently, the most in-demand back-end programming languages are Java, Python, Node.js and Go.
Vacancies promoted on StackOverFlow suggests demand for the 4 is also in that order. Our experience contrasts slightly here, with more enquiries for experts in Node.js than any other back end development language.
Of the back-end database technologies, our experience is that MySQL and MongoDB are currently in the highest demand in Munich.
And of all the enquiries we have received for consulting and specialists for web development projects, the most in-demand back-end web development specialists of 2020 are DevOps engineers experienced in Kubernetes.
Paying for web development resources is undeniably expensive for companies and organisations in Munich. The relative shortage of IT specialists compared to demand is a global issue, pushing up salary, freelance contractor or agency costs.
In a city such as Munich, where a particularly strong economy and knock-on demand for web developers combines with living expenses that are significantly higher than German averages, web development is even more expensive than in most places in the world.
Salaries are generally higher in Munich than elsewhere in Germany, as are overheads like office rents. Which means hiring web developers locally, either as full-time employees or contractors, is more expensive than equivalent experts would be expected to cost elsewhere in Germany.
One option Munich-based companies have to bring down web development costs is to work with nearshored or offshored developers. That can be done either directly, by setting up an office in a nearshore or offshore location and hiring web developers directly there. Or, which is generally more practical, working with an IT services outsourcer with established teams in nearshore or offshore locations.
Our company, for example, is headquartered in Munich but predominantly offers web developers based in our nearshored talent centres in Kiev and Krakow. That’s often a good solution for our Munich and Germany-based clients.
They have a contract and point of contact with a local web development company but avoid the expense of Munich rates. And nearshored developers can relatively cheaply and conveniently travel to Munich to be onsite for periods, when necessary or preferred.
Some organisations, for different reasons, only want to work with locally-based web developers. Or it’s a requirement for specific roles or projects. If that strategic decision is reached, the reality is that the approach means accepting a cost premium.
As mentioned, web developers based in Munich can expect to earn a higher salary than their peers elsewhere in Germany. The median average salary for a front-end web developer in Munich comes in at slightly over €49,200 a year compared to a median German average of €47,712.
The same pattern can be seen in back-end web developer salaries. While there’s a lack of the same level of stats available, comparing average Munich to Germany-as-a-whole salary levels for the broad category of ‘back-end web developer’, comparing pay levels for DevOps engineers does paint the picture.
Across Germany the median average salary of DevOps engineers is the same as in Munich, but with lower extremes at either end of the payscale.
As a Munich-based web development agency ourselves, we won’t pretend to be an objective judge of who the best of our peers and competitors are 😊. But we can give you some good pointers on how to find a web development agency or company that’s a good fit for your needs. There’s a number of key filter you should consider in your selection process for a web development agency:
Some Munich web development agencies only offer locally based experts, others nearshored or offshored web developers. And there are agencies able to offer all three.
If you are dead-set against working with nearshored or offshored web developers and are ready to pay a premium to work with Munich-based experts, you can immediately filter out all of the agency options that offer only near and offshore options. Likewise, if you would prefer to contain costs, you can filter out agencies that only work with local, onshore web developers.
If a hybrid model of a point person or project manager that is based locally, with a nearshored or offshored team whose members can potentially travel to be onsite at key moments, then look for an agency that can offer that.
If you already know which web development technologies you would like you project to be built on eg. React and Node.js with Docker and Kubernetes, you will need to find a web development agency that specialises in or offers specialists with those particular skills. Not all web development companies offer the same tech stack, or the same seniority and experience across all technologies.
The size of a web development agency is not always important to finding a good fit, but it often can be. If you need a significant number of web developers for a project then a mid-sized to larger agency may be a better fit. The same could be said if you need significant flexibility to scale your web development team up and down at different points.
If you have a small-ish project, a mid-sized to smaller web development agency might better answer your requirements. Use your judgement and consider practicalities like scaling flexibility, communication etc. when filtering by agency size.
Company culture is not always immediately tangible but is very important there is the right fit here if you want to enjoy a sustainable long-term professional relationship with a Munich web agency. Some agencies have a more informal, friendlier company culture when dealing with clients while other keep things more formal. Communication standards also vary.
You should be able to get a feel for the culture of potential during initial communication and keep it in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions and ask for information on the elements of how an agency works that are particularly important to you as the client organisation.
Some good ways to come across Munich web development agencies to talk to when compiling a shortlist of potential partners are:
Recommendations from trusted parties that may have worked with particular web development agencies in Munich in the past is always a good starting point. You’ll have inside information on where an agency excels and also where a current or previous client felt there is room for improvement.
As the saying goes ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’. No matter how good your due diligence is when you are assessing potential web development partners, nothing beats feedback from someone who has direct experience working with an agency being considered.
You can also research potential web development agencies to shortlist online. Business services directories can be a convenient resource. The following all list Munich web development agencies:
If you are looking for agencies that specialise in or have extensive experience in particular web development technologies, Google’s search engine can be particularly useful to help you uncover the right Munich agency. Look for case studies and possibly educational materials written on use cases and technologies that are important to you.
Munich-based web developers, and others in the city’s tech scene, also benefit from a busy calendar of events and meetups held regularly across the city. In 2020 live events, especially those involving large number of people, have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But many have moved online and those which haven’t for one reason or another will no doubt be back in future months.
The following are all great resources to find out more about tech events going on in the city:
If you are looking for web development roles in Munich, you might like to check out Tchooz Tech Dating. Tchooz describes its regular event as “casual, interactive and engaging event where you can discover, meet and chats with technical teams (major corporations, scaleups, startups, consulting) currently hiring”.
Techfest Munich is not happening in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is usually a great annual event, a hackathon from software developers and other tech specialists from all over Europe to work together across disciplines for one weekend, solving real-world industry problems.
One major tech event that is going ahead this autumn in Munich, and beyond as it will be online this year, is the Bits & Pretzels Networking Week, billed as Europe’s biggest event for founders. Speakers on the roster this year include Arianna Huffington and Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield. The event will run from September 27th to October 2nd.
*If you know of or run other useful directories of Munich tech and software development events, meetups or conferences, please get in touch to let us know and we’d be delighted to add them to this list.
We hope you found this resource on the web development sector and scene in Munich helpful and informative. We’d love to keep on improving it so please get in touch if you think there is any interesting information, facts, figures etc. you think we could add to make it even better.