With 136 software development companies listed on Clutch and more than 45,000 software developers, Costa Rica is one of the most attractive countries in Latin America for software development outsourcing. Despite its small developer population, compared with such regional giants as Brazil (750,000 developers) and Mexico (700,000), the country exports more IT services per capita than other countries in Latin America, according to the Central Bank of Costa Rica and the World Economic Forum. As a result, Costa Rica was number one in innovation outputs (the result of innovative activities within the economy) in Latin America, according to the Global Innovation Index 2021. Moreover, Costa Rica is a major investment destination for companies in the IT, outsourcing, shared services, and customer service industries. The country's political and democratic stability, high educational levels, and excellent business environment contribute to this development. Let’s take a closer look at Costa Rica’s business climate, tech hubs, expertise, and services provided by its software developers and the best way to hire them.
A brief overview of Costa Rica's business climate
The country is the 6th easiest Latin American market in which to do business, according to the TMF Group's 2023 Global Business Complexity Index, making it an attractive destination for software development outsourcing.
Almost 14% of Costa Rica's GDP comes from exporting services. Furthermore, ICT services accounted for 16.49% of Costa Rica's service exports in 2021. Thus, it's no surprise that the country ranked 4th in Latin America on Kearney's Global Services Location Index 2023 based on financial attractiveness, business environment, people skills and availability, and digital resonance.
The Network Readiness Index, which measures the preparedness of countries to capitalize on ICT opportunities, awarded Costa Rica 4th place in Latin America. The country’s ability to capitalize on its technology (46th out of 131), governance (58th), and digitally connected population makes it stand out. Regarding Costa Rica’s strengths, the nation is number one in e-commerce legislation, eight in ICT services exports, 33 in high-tech exports, and 38 in the ICT regulatory environment on the NRI.
Now, let's take a closer look at the software developers in Costa Rica and what skills make them highly sought after in Latin America.
Keep reading: Software development outsourcing to Costa Rica
IT talent pool overview
According to Coursera, Costa Rica ranks second in programming skills in Latin America and 27th globally. Committed to educating and training the local workforce for its knowledge-intensive economy (medium and high-tech exports in Costa Rica reported at 56.85% of manufactured exports in 2020, according to the World Bank), Costa Rica produces around 2,400 IT university graduates annually. The country's top universities in San José, Cartago, and Heredia are featured on the QS World University Ranking. A continuous supply of highly educated professionals ensures the tech industry's talent pool is never exhausted.
With 45,000+ software engineers and the digital tech labor force expanding at an impressive rate of 7.6% annually, it is no surprise that 16 of the top 100 global tech companies have offices in Costa Rica. In the software development sector alone, Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, Oracle, Intel, HPE, VMware, and Akamai are some of the international companies in the country.
Software developers in Costa Rica are proficient in English, which is essential for successful cooperation. Costa Rica ranks 2nd among 19 countries in Latin America on the EF English Proficiency Index 2022. The country's government declared English language skills a priority. As a result, English is the language of 85% of exportable services.
Most of the 135 top local custom software development firms that hire developers in Costa Rica are small and midsize. In addition, 14 large companies are employing more than 250 developers.
Expertise and services provided by software developers in Costa Rica
According to a PROCOMER whitepaper, the country is home to 450 companies offering ICT products and services, including digital transformation, software development, process automation, technology integration, and product creation. Among those 450 companies, 56 (12%) are part of the Industry 4.0 subsector of the ICT industry. These companies focus on cybersecurity, IoT, AI, cloud computing, blockchain, RPA, etc. Industry 4.0 technologies account for 44% of their sales, demonstrating their ability to attract overseas customers. The United States is the most popular destination for exports, followed by Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Canada, and the European countries.
According to Clutch, mobile application development, web development, and IT strategy consulting are among the services most commonly provided by Costa Rica developers. Their expertise includes e-commerce development, UX/UI design, and web design.
Costa Rican developers work with clients across a wide range of industries, including information technology (19.2%), financial services (18.5%), healthcare (15.5%) and many others.
Key tech hubs
Eight Costa Rican cities feature in the Americas' "Cities of the Future" ranking for 2021/22. The study's creators, fDi Intelligence, say these cities are the critical areas for foreign direct investment, human capital, and cost-effectiveness. The list includes San José, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, Belen, Escazu, El Coyol, and Tres Rios. Let's take a closer look at some of them.
San José ranks third among the “Top 25 Americas' Cities of the Future 2021/22”. Gartner’s Emerging IT Talent Hubs report classifies San Jose as an established IT hub with a 6.1 out of 10 talent score based on talent parameters such as talent supply, talent demand, salary cost, and others. Further, the municipality of San José is developing an innovation district called T24, which will house national and international companies specializing in technological innovation. Many multinational companies have offices in San José, including Intel, IBM, and HP.
Software developers in San José are experienced in mobile app development (40%) and app development (36%), followed by IT strategy consulting (23.7%) and IT managed services (20.7%). They are well-versed in other popular services, including web design, UX/UI design, e-commerce development, and application testing.
Heredia is a city in Costa Rica's Central Valley is a center for international companies in the service and hi-tech sectors, which execute more than 70 complex business processes in ten languages. San José-Heredia Metro Area was distinguished as the most competitive city in LAC for IT & Communications by the Site Selection Magazine. The city has numerous tech companies, including startups and multinational corporations. Procter & Gamble, Cisco, and Amazon are noteworthy companies with offices in Heredia.
Alajuela, located near the Juan Santamaria International Airport, is another prominent tech hub in Costa Rica. Alajuela's technology sectors include fintech, digital marketing, and cybersecurity. Alajuela is home to companies such as GFT, Sykes, and VMware.
How to hire developers in Costa Rica
Now you know the advantages of hiring developers in Costa Rica, let’s identify the most efficient recruitment approach. You can choose from several options:
- Freelance platforms: This is the most flexible option but can also be the most risky. Freelancers may not be available when you need them, and they may not be as committed to your project as full-time employees.
- Recruitment agencies: This is a good option if you want to avoid the hassle of recruiting yourself. However, finding the exact skills you need may be challenging, and the agency fees can be high.
- Outsourcing vendors: An outsourcing vendor is the most comprehensive and cost-effective option. Partnering with established outsourcing companies like N-iX offers a reliable way to access top-tier software development expertise while entrusting the hiring process to experts.
Ultimately, the best way to hire developers in Costa Rica is the one that best meets your needs and goals. A freelance platform may be a good option for flexibility and cost savings. A recruitment agency or outsourcing vendor may be better if you need a more reliable and committed team.
Partnering with the right outsourcing company to hire software developers in Costa Rica
If you plan to outsource software development to Costa Rica, it's crucial to undertake the following steps initially:
- Identify the optimal partner for your Latin American operation. Find reputable outsourcing firms with a proven history of providing tech expertise through staff augmentation. Check their background, client portfolio, and employee satisfaction to determine their credibility.
- Look beyond technical proficiency. Your chosen partner should understand your company's requirements and align them with suitable candidates from their talent pool. The ability of your partner to understand the culture and communicate effectively is critical to the success of your partnership.
- Understand the goals and requirements of the project. Determine the scope of your project and the specific technical skills you need. No matter what your needs are, a tailor-made solution can be created.
- Make sure you have the systems and processes in place to support your outsourcing relationship. This includes setting up a way for your team and the outsourcing partner to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Following the above steps can help you hire software developers in Costa Rica with success. With this approach, your business gains access to high-quality tech talent, cultural affinities, and time zone synchronization, all of which benefit your business.
N-iX is a reliable outsourcing company for software development in Costa Rica
- With over 20 years in the business, N-iX has expanded across Latin America and Europe, including Poland, Bulgaria, Sweden, and Malta. We focus on growing in the region to serve our clients' needs better and hire top talent.
- As a global engineering vendor, N-iX is experienced in manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, fintech, telecommunications, and various other fields.
- At our company, we have a wide range of engineering expertise, including cloud solutions development, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, embedded systems implementation, and more.
- Among our clients are multinational companies such as eBay, Bosch, Siemens, and Fortune 500 companies.
- The company adheres to international security standards such as PCI DSS, GDPR, ISO 27001:2013, and ISO 9001:2015 as part of its commitment to cybersecurity.
- Our company is proud to have been recognized as one of the world's best engineering providers by the CRN Fast Growth 150 List, IAOP Global Outsourcing 100 List, and many other prestigious recognitions.
If you would like to discuss outsourcing opportunities to Latin America, contact us!
- Global Business Complexity Hub | TMF Group 2023
- COSTA RICA GII 2021
- The top 10 challenges of doing business in Costa Rica | TMF Group
- Americas Cities of the Future 2021/22
- digital economy policy in costa rica | oecd
- Regenerative talent pools - Kearney 2023
- Distribution of gross domestic product (GDP) across economic sectors Costa Rica 2021
- Export of services through technology, information and communication technology (ICT) networks
- The Network Readiness Index 2022
- Costa Rica Economic Snapshot - OECD
- Emerging IT Talent Hubs
- World's Most Competitive Cities 2018
- QS World University Rankings 2024: Top Global Universities
- Global Innovation Index 2022
- COSTA RICA AND INDUSTRY 4.0 Partners in Technological Excellence A PROCOMER white paper