Is a Rust Developer Career Right For You?

8 min

In the ever-evolving field of software development, choosing the right programming language can significantly shape a developer's career path. Launched by Mozilla in 2013, Rust is a modern systems programming language that has gained significant traction for its performance, safety, and concurrency features. Although relatively new, the language has become a go-to option for many programmers, and there has been a sharp rise in Rust developer jobs as a result. 

Rust’s distinct blend of speed, safety, and versatility has convinced many developers to use it professionally, prompting the question - Is a Rust developer career the right path for you?

In this guide, we hope to help you reach your own conclusion. We’ll take a look at how Rust is faring in 2024 and the various trends shaping its long-term viability as a go-to language for programmers. We’ll also delve into the various advantages and challenges you should consider when deciding whether to pursue a career as a Rust developer. 

The State of Rust in 2024 and Beyond

With the latest edition of the language on the horizon, 2024 is set to be an exciting and promising year for Rust. The language has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, not least due to its high performance, exceptional memory safety, and versatility.  

According to SlashData’s State of the Developer Nation 25th Edition, the number of Rust developers hit 3.5 million in the third quarter of 2023, a significant rise from 600,000 in 2020. And given that the language has been frequently dubbed the ‘most beloved programming language’ by Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey, it certainly appears that Rust is enjoying a particularly prosperous period. 

While these figures indicate a positive outlook for the language, they also conjure up a couple of key questions - will Rust’s fortunes continue? Will learning Rust future-proof my software development career? 

The world of computer programming is fast-paced, and with new and innovative technologies and languages emerging all the time, it is difficult to provide confident answers to those questions. However, there are undoubtedly numerous trends indicating that the future looks bright for Rust developers, including: 

Young and Enthusiastic Community 

The Rust developer community is relatively young compared to more established languages like Java and C++. The State of Developer Ecosystem report by JetBrains from 2022 revealed that 60% of developers who use Rust as their primary programming language are under the age of 30, an intriguing figure suggesting that Rust has the potential for sustained growth. What the language lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in enthusiasm, youthfulness, and collaborative spirit. 

Evolving Features and Improvements 

Another reason to be optimistic about Rust’s future is the significant number of improvements and enhancements the Rust team makes. The upcoming 2024 edition is set to offer an array of features that dramatically improve the language, such as better async/await support, simpler ergonomics, and the removal of unnecessary patterns and idiosyncrasies. This ongoing development ensures the language adapts to evolving needs and stays competitive.

Expanding Ecosystem and Applications 

Though not as mature as other programming languages, Rust’s ecosystem is rapidly expanding. This versatile language offers a wide variety of libraries and frameworks for domains like web development, machine learning, and game development, making it ideal for building diverse applications. Rust's ability to compile to WebAssembly provides opportunities for building highly performant web applications and games, potentially reshaping the traditional web development landscape with faster, more secure experiences.

These trends give credence to the long-term viability of the Rust programming language, and it is unsurprising that so many developers are choosing Rust as their primary language. If you are considering pursuing Rust developer jobs, we urge you to read our ‘5 Ways Rust Programming Language Is Used’ guide to learn how Rust can be applied professionally. 

Pros and Cons of Choosing a Rust Developer Career 

Whether you are a recent computer programming language or a seasoned developer thinking about applying for Rust programming jobs, deciding whether to invest your time in Rust development requires plenty of thought. While proponents of traditional programming languages may advise you to stick with mainstays such as JavaScript and C, modern languages can undoubtedly provide rewarding career paths for ambitious developers. 

As we established in the previous section, there are many reasons why Rust is poised to become even more popular over the coming years. However, deciding whether a Rust developer career is the right move for you depends on your own preferences and circumstances. To help you decide whether going for Rust jobs is the correct step for your career, we’ve compiled a list of the top advantages and drawbacks associated with life as a Rust developer.  

Advantages of Pursuing a Career in Rust Development

Your choice of programming language depends on a multitude of factors, such as the type of projects you work on, your preferences, community support, ecosystem, performance requirements, and the domain you're working in. But if you are looking for a versatile, highly performant, and concurrent modern programming language, Rust may be the perfect choice. 

Here are the key benefits of pursuing a career in Rust development: 

1. Career Prospects in Rust Development

With the Rust revolution continuing to gain momentum, the career prospects for Rust developers are becoming ever more promising. The demand for high-quality candidates to fill Rust jobs is intensifying, so those with Rust expertise are likely to be inundated with job opportunities over the coming years. Given that the demand for Rust developers is far outpacing the supply of suitable candidates, there is little wonder why Rust is among the 10 highest-paying programming languages worldwide. 

Rust developers can work in various industries and environments due to the versatility and applicability of the language. From leading tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon to cutting-edge start-ups, Rust programmers can find employment at companies of all sizes. Rust developers can also work as freelancers or consultants, offering their specialist knowledge to tech teams working on specific projects. 

2. Growing and Supportive Community 

Another perk of becoming a Rust developer is the support you’ll receive from the language’s vibrant and growing community. Although Rust’s ecosystem remains smaller than more established languages like Python or Java, it is growing considerably. The Developer Ecosystem Survey from 2022 found that the share of developers using Rust professionally grew from 16% in 2020 to 18% in 2021, a significant rise highlighting that Rust’s community is expanding. 

The Rust community has earned itself a reputation for being friendly and welcoming, with members more than willing to offer advice and guidance for new Rust developers. The community emphasises the importance of continuous learning and provides a wealth of educational resources, including tutorials, blog posts, and forums dedicated to helping beginners learn Rust and assisting experienced developers with advanced topics. Rust’s ecosystem also includes useful tools like Cargo, Rustup, and Rustdoc. 

3. Backing from Major Tech Companies

The rising number of big businesses actively supporting Rust should inspire confidence in would-be Rust developers. Their backing not only provides substantial resources but also signifies faith in Rust's technical features. Tech giants like Mozilla, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and others have generously donated to the Rust Foundation, an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to the development of the Rust programming language. 

The support of major tech giants instil confidence in Rust's stability and future prospects. This market confidence attracts more contributors, users, and investments, further solidifying Rust's position as a reliable and forward-looking language. It is also welcome news for Rust developers, as it suggests that the number of Rust jobs will likely boom as the investment continues. 

It is not just major tech firms that are pledging their loyalties to Rust - an increasing number of startups are opting to make Rust their go-to programming language. We encourage you to check out our ‘BlockJoy: A Rust Success Story’ case study to learn about a business that has benefited greatly from Rust’s exceptional performance and memory safety. 

Challenges and Considerations for Aspiring Rust Developers

Despite the many advantages of embarking on a career in Rust development, it is also important to acknowledge the challenges and considerations that come with it. As we discussed earlier, Rust developer jobs can provide fulfilling experiences for programmers looking for a chance to put their Rust skills to the test, but before you jump head-first into your first application, you should gain a solid idea of the potential drawbacks. 

Of course, every career comes with its own set of challenges, so if you have decided that Rust development is for you, don’t be discouraged. Although there are some hurdles to consider when deciding on a Rust developer career, you should view the challenges of Rust as an opportunity to grow and improve your programming skills. Embracing the challenge and overcoming these hurdles will provide you with the know-how you need to thrive in the world of Rust development. 

Let’s explore the most common challenges and considerations associated with becoming a Rust developer: 

1. Learning Curve

One of the challenges many developers experience when learning Rust is the relatively steep learning curve. For those who are new to concepts such as ownership, systems programming, and borrowing, getting to grips with Rust’s core principles can pose difficulties. A particular area that can be difficult to comprehend is the ownership model, a feature that prevents issues like null pointer dereferencing, dangling pointers, and data races at compile time. 

This focus on memory safety can initially make writing code feel more restrictive than in other languages. Another area that can be tricky to understand is learning how to work with locks, threads, and asynchronous programming, particularly for programmers who don’t have prior knowledge of concurrent programming. While Rust’s learning curve is an unavoidable challenge, the language’s security and performance benefits outweigh these initial teething issues. 

2. Ecosystem Maturity 

Although the Rust ecosystem has come on leaps and bounds in a relatively short period of time, it is still immature compared to long-established languages like Python and JavaScript. While it covers many essential areas, certain specialised or niche domains might lack robust and mature libraries, making the learning curve slightly more difficult for newcomers to the language. 

Despite offering a solid set of tools such as Cargo and Rust Analyser, the ecosystem still lacks integrated development environments, debugging tools, and other supporting features. New Rust developers may also find that there is a scarcity of learning resources, especially if they have backgrounds in traditional languages with sizable amounts of documentation, libraries, and frameworks. 

3. Modest Community Size  

Rust has been steadily growing in popularity since its launch. While it might not have the sheer size of communities around languages like Python or JavaScript, it has been gaining traction, attracting developers interested in its unique features such as safety, performance, and concurrency. However, as of 2024, the size of its community remains comparatively limited, and new learners may find it challenging to find mentors or experts who can provide them with the guidance they require. 

Additionally, Rust's community tends to have more specialised knowledge due to the language's focus on systems programming and memory safety. This means that while the overall size might be smaller, the community tends to be more engaged, knowledgeable, and supportive within the domain of Rust and systems programming.

The Key Takeaways From Is a Rust Developer Career Right For You?

The landscape for Rust developers in 2024 appears promising and filled with opportunities. The language's rise in popularity, backed by its exceptional performance, safety features, and versatile applications across various domains, indicates a bright future for those pursuing a career in Rust development.

Choosing a Rust developer career comes with numerous advantages, including strong career prospects, a supportive and growing community, and significant backing from major tech companies. However, it's essential to consider challenges such as the steep learning curve, the evolving maturity of Rust's ecosystem, and the comparatively smaller community size.

For ambitious programmers seeking a versatile, performant, and cutting-edge language, Rust presents a compelling choice. By understanding both the advantages and challenges associated with Rust development, programmers are well-equipped to make an informed choice about choosing to embark on a Rust developer career. 

Sourcing Exceptional Talent For Rust Developer Jobs 

With expertise in the Rust recruitment space, our dedicated consultants have helped countless developers land Rust programming jobs at companies throughout the UK, Europe, and the USA. Boasting more than 15 years of delivering industry-leading services for candidates and clients alike, we are proud to be one of the UK’s leading software recruitment agencies. 

Whether you are an entry-level programmer looking for Rust developer jobs to kickstart your career or an experienced developer seeking an opportunity to elevate your career, we are here to help. 

Contact us today to discover more about how we can support you in achieving your career goals.