Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Programming Technology IT

Believe the Occupational Outlook Handbook? 518

Posted by kdawson
from the future-of-the-american-programmer dept.
concerned00 writes "In their latest Occupational Outlook Handbook, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment of software engineers and system analysts is expected to increase 'much faster than the average' through 2014 (here, and here). In contrast, employment of programmers is expected to increase 'more slowly than the average,' with outsourcing given as one of the major reasons why (here). However, from the stories I read from American programmers on the Net, the profession is lost. Is the government wrong, or lying, then, when it implies that software engineers and system analysts can expect to have a good future? As an American, am I a fool if I decide to undertake this for a living?" Read more for details of concerned00's analysis.

The difference between a "software engineer" and a "programmer" seems somewhat dubious to me, although from the Web pages in question apparently the software engineer is involved in requirements gathering, analysis, and design, whereas the programmer usually is not. According to the Web page for programmers, "[t]he consolidation and centralization of systems and applications, developments in packaged software, advances in programming languages and tools, and the growing ability of users to design, write, and implement more of their own programs mean that more of the programming functions can be transferred from programmers to other types of information workers, such as computer software engineers." (?)

The page for software engineers says: "Computer software engineers are projected to be one of the fastest-growing occupations from 2004 to 2014." Reasons given: the increasing complexity of computer systems, the need to "adopt and integrate new technologies," "the expanding integration of Internet technologies and the explosive growth in electronic commerce," the increasing reliance on "hand-held computers and wireless networks," and concerns about security. Yet: "As with other information technology jobs, employment growth of computer software engineers may be tempered somewhat as more software development is contracted out abroad. Firms may look to cut costs by shifting operations to lower wage foreign countries with highly educated workers who have strong technical skills. At the same time, jobs in software engineering are less prone to being sent abroad compared with jobs in other computer specialties, because the occupation requires innovation and intense research and development." (?)

On the other hand, to hear the personal anecdotes of many (American) programmers on the Internet, the profession is lost and anyone in college majoring in computer science or software engineering must be either naive or insane. According to them, you have to be a genius programmer if you expect to compete successfully for the slim pickings that are left, there is no job security at all, and the best most can realistically hope for these days is a job at Home Depot. Furthermore, even if you could get work, you wouldn't want it: the deadlines are impossible, the bosses are naive, petty-minded, and perversely self-serving, and the technology changes so fast that if you allow yourself to slip behind you might as well kiss your career good-bye.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Believe the Occupational Outlook Handbook?

Comments Filter:
  • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:25PM (#20564397) Homepage
    Believe the Occupational Outlook Handbook?

    I wouldn't have guessed that Outlook would function any different for US troops in Iraq, but I guess it must, since they have a whole handbook for it.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:25PM (#20564401) Homepage Journal
    I believe it, but you can't get there from here.

    Software engineers and software analysts are *highly skilled* positions that require experience in addition to at least a Bachelor's degree in Software Engineering or Software Project Management.

    Programming, on the other hand, can be done by anybody with a Computer Science or related mathematical degree, usually a two year Associate's degree. India is graduating 50,000 people with this training EVERY YEAR.

    You need to know some demographics to understand why, in the 2008-2014 era, the first will be in demand- it's because the first generation of Software Engineers and Analysts and Project Managers are all Baby Boomers. They're all in their late 50s and early 60s now- getting ready to retire. We're going to need to replace them with people who have similar skill levels.

    Which leads to my question to prompt discussion: just how the hell do you become a software engineer without being a programmer first, unless you're independently wealthy enough to work in Open Source for 5-10 years?

    One potential answer is government instead of private industry- I'm a software engineer with 10 years of experience and that's where I ended up after the last recession because I simply didn't have enough experience in enough languages to get a private industry job.

    But beyond that- I just don't see any way for a young person graduating from high school to become a software engineer anymore. Sure, you can probably get the 4 years of schooling. But you'll be competing with people who earn $2.50/hr halfway around the world when it comes to getting experience. And that's not a winning bet when it comes to paying back your $40,000 of student loans it will take to get that Bachelor's degree.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by joedeaux (1155323)
      > As an American, am I a fool if I decide to undertake this for a living?"
      >
      Yes.
      • by GoMMiX (748510) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:20PM (#20566423)
        For years I myself pondered what to do with my career, or perhaps lack thereof. I never finished my degree, and I knew that hurt and would continue to hurt for the rest of my life unless I finished it.

        I've worked just about every IT job there is since 1997 - starting as a programmer analyst. If I tried to go over the laundry list of languages, OS environments, and software I'm either very familiar with or sometimes even had a hand in developing -- I'd probably forget a dozen or more between them - maybe more. A couple of years ago I gave up on finding stable work - and took up private consulting. Being something of a jack-of-all-trades, I didn't have any problems finding work.

        It was not until then that I fully realized what was happening with IT. To me, I had just seen jobs going overseas without realizing the full scope of how it effected IT as an industry.

        Being a consultant, you're something of a throw-away employee. No major overhead, no accounting headaches, no benefits to deal with, just cuts it plain and simple - not to mention the best part - they can fire you just because, with no consequences. In reality, that is what the general IT industry has become as a whole. An industry of throw-away employees. One where most employers expect you to know exactly what they need. Specific OS, language, and development environments.

        If a company is looking to downsize, IT is almost always the first place they look, and the department hit the hardest.

        I made the decision about 5 months ago that I was going back to school, I was going to finish a degree - but it was not going to be a CS degree. The industry, in my opinion, is completely lost. Even on the administration side. Don't get me wrong, there are jobs to be had - but the pay very rarely fits the level of responsibility and knowledge required.

        Just weeks before classes started I got a call from a friend who thought he had *the* job lined up for me - as an engineer. Transportation Logistics Engineer, to be more specific. How I manage to always get jobs I have no specific education in is beyond me, but I considered myself saved and I really don't care why. Most of the people at the company stay there for their entire working careers - getting a position there with no degree in the specific field they were seeking had never even crossed my mind.

        But, I digress...

        I've worked in IT for 10 years. I've seen it all, from being the solo network admin at a small company to being lead developer on projects for some of the largest corporations in the world. I turned away from the industry and I will never look back for anything more than a hobby. Even today, I am still getting calls from people I had consulted with desperate for me to schedule in some time for them - offering weekend and evening work if I would come fix or support key systems they don't want to pay an employee to maintain.

        If a friend asked me if they should consider a degree or career in IT, I would not hesitate to warn them of the instability, irregular hours, low pay for skill and responsibility, lack of a future, and in general the bad past experiences I have had. Things like not seeing my son for more than a couple hours a month for the first three years of his life, due to work. Or the many times I found myself not going home or sleeping for days on end. It sounds like a nightmare and people wonder how such things could honestly happen, but there is an entire industry of just that - it's called IT, and I'm proud to say I'm not a part of it anymore.

        That's just me, though. Some people like that, I suppose.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Being a consultant, you're something of a throw-away employee. No major overhead, no accounting headaches, no benefits to deal with, just cuts it plain and simple - not to mention the best part - they can fire you just because, with no consequences. In reality, that is what the general IT industry has become as a whole. An industry of throw-away employees. One where most employers expect you to know exactly what they need. Specific OS, language, and development environments. "

          But, THAT is what makes it g

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by UncleTogie (1004853) *

      They're all in their late 50s and early 60s now- getting ready to retire. We're going to need to replace them with people who have similar skill levels.

      They HAVE been replacing them....

      ...just not with US workers...

    • by cduffy (652)
      High school + 4 years attending a state-funded (inexpensive) college is enough time doing open source work to get a useful amount of experience without spending a fortune bumming around as an adult. Beyond that -- some people have an innate proficiency for seeing a process and knowing the right algorithm or approach to use to address it. Those people have a lower barrier to entry by their nature.

      I've never failed to hire anyone for not having "enough experience in enough languages"; one of the best experien
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Working with any language for about 2 weeks, any programmer worth their salary (there are a lot that aren't) could learn just about any language. Unless you are stepping way outside any paradigm you've ever worked in, say, programming in prolog, when you've never done Object Oriented programming, or programming parallel algorithms when you've only ever done single threaded programming, then learning a new language, like moving from C# to Java doesn't take much training at all. It will take the programmer m
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:44PM (#20564707)
      Programming, on the other hand, can be done by anybody with a Computer Science or related mathematical degree, usually a two year Associate's degree. India is graduating 50,000 people with this training EVERY YEAR.

      As a manager at a software development firm, I laugh at what you're saying. We've interviewed several of these people, unfortunately. They're essentially useless, even as programmers.

      Some of these dipshits, err, "expert C# developers" couldn't even explain the basic concepts behind a linked list implemented in C#. One notable Indian-trained fellow we interviewed told us all about arrays when asked to describe a linked list. When we asked him to elaborate on where the linking comes into play, he told us that "the addresses of the memory cells were linked by virtual memory".

      The developer I was interviewing this fellow with was also of Indian descent, but trained in France. He told the candidate flat out, "Sandeep, you are a disgrace to the people of India!"

      The few times we've actually given such people a chance, there has been nothing but trouble. Some of them run into major problems just getting simple code to compile. In the end, they waste the time of our better developers with stupid, near-pointless questions. So I think it's almost always a mistake to hire the people you describe.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's not that the jobs over here are being taken by those people over here, it's that management will sometimes outsource whole projects to indian/whatever firms. The people taking the jobs don't get interviewed, they already have jobs with companies that bid the lowest for the contract. As a manager, surely you know that? Or maybe you just work at a great place :)

        The other problem over here is that consulting companies (*cough* Accenture *cough*) hire the cheapest people they can that seem smart, and
        • This summer, I interviewed at an outfit called iProgrammer (their site was iprogrammer.com, but it seems to be dead). They wanted me to liaise between customers in the US and the programmers in India. These programmers were simply no good. For this, I was to be paid $8/hr. I turned them down, since working at my school's student affairs IT office was a better deal, but I have to wonder: how long will it be before US companies realize that we really are worth our salaries, that you get what you pay for?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pokerdad (1124121)

            but I have to wonder: how long will it be before US companies realize that we really are worth our salaries, that you get what you pay for?

            This will happen shortly after the economic model that rewards CEOs and stockholders for the companies short-term gains, even if it is at the expense of the long term, comes to an end. I am not an economist, but I am not hopeful this will happen in my lifetime.

      • by MBCook (132727)

        That's kind of what I was thinking. We were hiring not too long ago and went though many people. We weren't looking for any geniuses, just decent entry level people to do some simple stuff and they can learn as they go. We got a "programmer" who had been working for years who didn't know what arrays were. We got the people (one guy specifically) who could run NASA's computer division if he knew half of what he claimed. We got nice people who didn't fit us for one reason or another. We got a handful of good

      • by daeg (828071) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:02PM (#20565417)
        Please start hiring those damned "C# experts" so they stop flooding my strictly Python job postings. I really don't want them. I even have a template, very curt message:

        "I believe you sent me the wrong resume. My job posting listed Python as a requirement, but your resume fails to mention either Python or reading comprehension. Could you please resend? Thank you."

        Fortunately for me, very few bother responding back.

        Although I did get a photo of a python sent to me once.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Software engineers and software analysts are *highly skilled* positions that require experience in addition to at least a Bachelor's degree in Software Engineering or Software Project Management.

      It's different at different organizations. Some of these job titles never made sense.

      In my experience 'System Analyst' is often used as a a generic job title, something like 'System Operator'. Analysts are often at the low end of the totem pole, have less computer experience then the 'Programmers', and are towards t
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Interesting - I guess this shows how much the job titles vary. Here, a 'systems analyst' (my old job title) does the software engineering in addition to the development. Enough experience in that area gets you demoted to project manager, where you do the paperwork. A programmer is more someone who writes code to spec, with much less scope for innovation.

        Then again I've been stuck maintaining a dinosaur of a web site for the last 9 months. :/ So they're definitely not set in stone.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          The government of Canada actually has all their job titles standardized. Systems Analyst [hrdc-drhc.gc.ca] seems to me to be a pretty low job on the list. Phrases like "experience as a computer programmer is usually required", and "Completion of a college program in computer science is usually required." For those in the US, college in Canada is community college with 2-3 year programs and you get a diploma at the end. University is where real computer science is taught, you get a degree, and can move onto grad school afte
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mi (197448)

          A programmer is more someone who writes code to spec, with much less scope for innovation.

          If the "spec" is written in a precise enough language, there is no need for this "programmer" — get (or develop) a compiler or interpreter for the language once, and be done with it.

          That's the theory. In practice, you, most likely, just aren't using a high-level enough [paulgraham.com] language [paulgraham.com]...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            And this practice will remain 'theory' for quite a while. CEOs, salespeople and consultants promote these magic code-generating systems, but have you ever seen one actually work?

            Is it possible to create specification which is so good, that you could feed it into a interpreter/compiler, and the compiler 'automagically' pumps out quality code? If you're going to write a spec in such detail, might as well write the spec *in* a programming language.

            I've seen a dozen attempts at these automated systems in web en
    • by Skreems (598317)

      Programming, on the other hand, can be done by anybody with a Computer Science or related mathematical degree, usually a two year Associate's degree. India is graduating 50,000 people with this training EVERY YEAR.

      The part you don't mention is, a lot of them are just crap at it (same as with American schools). Yeah, if you come out with a C+ average and little understanding of the actual things involved in programming and software engineering, you're gonna be in competition with a lot of people, both local

      • by XenophileJKO (988224) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:58PM (#20565387)
        Totally 100% agree... I must have interviewed 30 people before I filled my last programmer position for my team. I hired a guy in who had never actually worked with the language we use (C#).

        Seriously... the other 29 canidates that I brought in couldn't write a 3 case "if" statement in the right order.

        I made up a test (Well copied it actually: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000781.html/ [codinghorror.com]) and I thought to myself, "There is no way this will help me filter people out, this is WAY too easy." But I decided to go ahead and try the simple test just to see how people would approach it. To my shock.. every single person failed it except for the guy I hired.

        I suddenly realized my own place in this job market was MUCH better then I had thought before. (Being totally self taught and working by myself or with small teams, I used to wonder how well I stacked up to what was out there) If you are GOOD at programming there is PLENTY of oppertunity in the US for programmers. You hear me smart kids? We can certainly use many many more good programmers.
        • by Surt (22457)
          My guess is that what you're seeing is all those people who said during the boom: I know I'll make a career out of making web pages by hand. So they learned to create web pages, by hand, in html. Now they're out of work, and calling themselves programmers, because, you know, they work with computers after all.
      • Again, if you're competent, you don't need years of experience. I graduated from a decent CS program, and hired straight into a software engineering job. If you can show that you actually know what you're doing, there's a lot of places ready to hire you even if you don't meet their "10 years experience" criteria. There just aren't enough people to fill all those jobs at the set requirements.

        I think that's something that sets people off, someone just coming out with a degree sees adds saying 5 or 10 years

    • Specialize. All there is to it.

      In high school I loved 2 things - computer programming and aerospace. I studied Von Braun, I read about the Saturn V, I built homemade rocket engines behind the shed. At night I programmed on the computer - various things, but a lot of them aerospace-y simulators. When college approached, I didn't know which I loved more, space or computers. I picked Aerospace.

      I'm glad I did. Now, I spend 20+ hours a week at my job writing simulations and tools in various languages to help
      • In high school I loved 2 things - computer programming and aerospace. I studied Von Braun, I read about the Saturn V, I built homemade rocket engines behind the shed. At night I programmed on the computer - various things, but a lot of them aerospace-y simulators. When college approached, I didn't know which I loved more, space or computers. I picked Aerospace.

        I was kind of like that myself. Though not aerospace or programming. While the high school I started at had a model rocketry club I joined the o

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:30PM (#20565831)
      Just a warning: the following is going to be offensive to anyone who's not putting it into the context of cultural differences.

      "Programming, on the other hand, can be done by anybody with a Computer Science or related mathematical degree, usually a two year Associate's degree. India is graduating 50,000 people with this training EVERY YEAR."

      As someone who's working heavily on an Indian offshoring project right this moment, and has had the opportunity to talk to many others in the same situation, I'm going to have to disagree with this entire line of thought.

      If you think those two years of Indian schooling produce anything resembling the equivalent that two years of an American school will produce - even a low-end community college - you're fooling yourself. The Indian education system is fundamentally broken in terms of teaching initiative and critical thinking, in the sense that they don't. They produce robots, for the most part.

      If they don't understand what you're saying, you know what they say? "Yes, I understand." Because they're too damn scared to say no, because their teachers and parents yell at them when they said "no, I don't understand" in school.

      The project's running late? Don't expect any notice from your Indian team until it's too damn late to save it. Ambiguity in the specs? Same thing. They can code pretty well given an extremely exacting spec. They fail miserably when they're expected to make good design decisions on the fly. Their culture is big on shame and saving face, and it bites you in the ass every time.

      High productivity? You wish. That's not the way their culture works, for good or for bad. They're not lazy, per se, but office socialization will take up huge amounts of time, meaning that the time you do get isn't going to be quite as good (think late at night work binges).

      Performance reviews? These guys are high management. If you give them anything less than perfect, they'll bawl in tears in your office. Why? Well, mommy and daddy expect nothing less than perfect, so that's what they've gotten used to. In the real world, though, no one's perfect, and they never seem to figure this out.

      Is any of this fixable? Yes, given time. I'm quite pleased with the progress a couple of our guys have made after a few months, even if they're nowhere near American standards yet. But you'll often spend quite a lot of time trying to just work with their constraints, and worse yet, dedicate significant resources to trying to just get them into gear.

      The culture differences here are huge, and they have a huge impact on the effectiveness of offshoring. If you gave me the choice between 10 newly-graduated Indians and 2 newly-graduated Americans, and I got to do the interviews, I would take the 2 new Americans EVERY TIME on a programming project. In a call center environment, where those cultural differences work to my advantage? Definitely the Indians. Sometimes, bodies count. Other times, they don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:25PM (#20564417)
    You are a fool to choose a career that doesn't interest you. Pick something you love, and you'll be happy. And as far as money is concerned, if you actually enjoy it, it will show in your work and you will be sought after.
    • My anecdotal (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I used to do line work in factories, I liked it enough to learn all the machinery and made it to foreman-then the factory went to china. Went to another place, the same thing happened. Then ANOTHER place, another bingo-moved to china. OK, I got the message. I got into cabinetry, got good at it, worked steady, then all of a sudden chinese imports flooded the market, lost a few jobs in a row, stopped doing that. Got into remodeling, and had to keep dropping my bid prices down because of the illegal alien inva
      • by mh1997 (1065630)
        Get into plumbing. As long as people keep crapping, there will be a need. Also, it is really hard to send your plumbing work overseas.

        If I could do it all over again (I am 40) I would read the book 48 days to the work you love by Dan Miller and do something I really loved.

        I am a former electrical engineer, have been promoted into upper management and my days consist of endless meetings and teleconferences. I hate my job, my economic future looks very good, but if I get really lucky, some bastard will b

    • by pclminion (145572)
      I enjoy picking up dog shit. I hope to make millions one day by doing this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SpaceLifeForm (228190)
        Well, the rate per hour isn't that high,
        so you better get up early that day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fractoid (1076465)
        Make a website for yourself. Right up there with "no-one ever went broke underestimating human intelligence" is "on the internet there's always someone who will pay for the weirdest shit."
  • by autophile (640621) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:27PM (#20564449)

    The Handbook's conclusion is probably correct, but the reasons they give are pretty much incoherent. My theory goes like this.

    There's a food chain in project development. At the top is the customer, and at the bottom are the implementers. The closer you are to the top, the more important it is to the customer to be in the same country as the customer. The closer you are to the bottom, the more likely your job can be done in any country.

    I don't like it, either, but there you go.

    --Rob

    • Worse than that, it's a corporate ladder. You also can't get to the top without having done the jobs below- college isn't enough, you need experience.
    • 100% true.

      I'd go a step further.

      The more you directly contribute to the "core competencies" of your business, the more likely it is to have a local developer.
  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:28PM (#20564455)
    If you're good, there's plenty of work.

    If you aren't good, then:
    1. You won't enjoy it
    2. People who are good won't enjoy working with you
    3. You'll have cause to seriously worry about outsourcing as competition for your job
    People who say the profession is dead mean that the profession is no longer supporting as many gross incompetents as it did back during the boom. That's thankfully quite true.

    The point: Don't go into software development as a profession if you're in it for the money. You won't want the profession, and the profession doesn't want you. If you're in it for something other than the money -- come on in, the water's fine.
    • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:32PM (#20564533) Homepage Journal
      It's more than that- to get good, you need experience. To prove to HR that you're good, you need experience that you can put on a resume (no, writing a virus to control a 50,000 node botnet isn't experience). And getting that experience is exactly what is being outsourced. It's not just the incompetent that have lost their jobs- it's also the ignorant young guys who might have become good programmers if given half a chance.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by darrint (265374)

        It's not just the incompetent that have lost their jobs- it's also the ignorant young guys who might have become good programmers if given half a chance.

        It's not like you don't have the whole stinking internet available help you, let you hack on production code, or promote projects of your own creation.

        If you can tolerate a startup environment there's a glut of python positions IMHO.

        Boo-hoo-ing about the inability to find good programming work in the climate of 2007 is asinine. Outsourcing is a lot more

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          "Commercial experience" - they don't give a crap if you're a kernel hacker or a developer on OpenOffice (unless you're one of the very very few big names). They want to know whether you've been hired by a business to do their code.

          I finished uni around the time of the .com crash. The situation for software engineers then was similar to the one the GP is talking about, only instead of the 'brown peril' of outsourcing, we were competing fresh out of college with guys who'd spent the last 10+ years in the tr
      • by rossifer (581396) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:50PM (#20564769) Journal

        It's more than that- to get good, you need experience.
        There's different kinds of good.

        I've worked with kids fresh out of school who can understand good design and have the enthusiasm to get into the system and the domain really quickly. Tell them something once, and later you see other people going to them for help for that exact same topic.

        Then I've also had the misfortune to work with people with "15 years of experience" who have clearly been making the same mistakes each year for 15 years.

        When you're looking at fresh-out-of-school-hires, there's only one real way to know if someone is one of those sharp kids that you really want on your team: someone told you about him/her.

        My advice to the poster: learn how to network. Work on class projects with different people and keep working with the smart people. Get into a co-op or intern at interesting companies (ask other people who have already interned and don't stop asking until you find someone who's (1) sharp and (2) gung-ho about their job). Go to the local language user group meetings and see if those people are any good. Ask to help out on other people's senior projects that seem interesting to you.

        The more people who know that you're a badass problem solver, the more likely you are to find work you enjoy.

        Regards,
        Ross
        • by cduffy (652)

          My advice to the poster: learn how to network. Work on class projects with different people and keep working with the smart people. Get into a co-op or intern at interesting companies (ask other people who have already interned and don't stop asking until you find someone who's (1) sharp and (2) gung-ho about their job). Go to the local language user group meetings and see if those people are any good. Ask to help out on other people's senior projects that seem interesting to you.

          The more people who know th

      • no, writing a virus to control a 50,000 node botnet isn't experience

        That depends entirely on whom your applying with.
      • writing a virus to control a 50,000 node botnet isn't experience
        I don't think I agree with this. Under the right circumstances, almost any top software company would absolutely snap up someone who'd written an effective and stable worm toolkit.
    • by Joebert (946227) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:35PM (#20564569) Homepage
      I got in it for the chicks.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Sounds nice, but how do you know that will continue to be the case?

      The fact is, people in cheaper countries don't have to be as good to outcompete us. Their housing is cheaper, their food is cheaper, their healthcare is cheaper. And it's not like they're unintelligent people, either.

      Most other jobs have better geographical insulation from foreign competition. (I can think of exceptions, such as manufacturing - and look what happened to US manufacturing). Why not favor those positions?

      • by cduffy (652)

        The fact is, people in cheaper countries don't have to be as good to outcompete us. Their housing is cheaper, their food is cheaper, their healthcare is cheaper. And it's not like they're unintelligent people, either.

        All valid points -- but proximity to the customer counts for quite a lot; there's no substitute for sitting down with someone, interacting face-to-face and drawing on a whiteboard -- or being physically present to answer questions in a meeting with the suits.

        For code-monkey positions, this may

      • Sounds nice, but how do you know that will continue to be the case?

        The fact is, people in cheaper countries don't have to be as good to outcompete us. Their housing is cheaper, their food is cheaper, their healthcare is cheaper. And it's not like they're unintelligent people, either.

        Most other jobs have better geographical insulation from foreign competition. (I can think of exceptions, such as manufacturing - and look what happened to US manufacturing). Why not favor those positions


        On the other hand you ne
    • by Elfboy (144703)
      Actually I'd say the reverse is true.

      The industry is supporting more gross incompetents than it did during the boom. Twice as many mediocre folks are being hired for the same amount on money (domestic and abroad). Thus managers who have a hard time distinguishing competency, make it harder for the competent to actually maintain jobs of proportional compensation.
    • by pclminion (145572)

      The point: Don't go into software development as a profession if you're in it for the money. You won't want the profession, and the profession doesn't want you. If you're in it for something other than the money -- come on in, the water's fine.

      Can I hug and kiss you? Seriously, it's not a sexual thing.

      A small spark of sanity in a dreary world of stupidity. Thanks.

  • by Hacksaw (3678) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:32PM (#20564537) Homepage Journal
    I won't speak to the accuracy of the studies that you might be citing, I haven't read them. But remember that anecdotes collected on the internet, or anywhere else, are almost useless since they are self-selecting participants in an ill designed casual survey. You don't have a real survey, you have the rantings of perhaps ill treated people.
    • I agree that and the incredible dynamic nature of the industry, makes most predictions past a year, seem moot. Take most social networks/trends today. Who could have fathomed these technologies about ten or even five years ago. There was an article in Business 2.0 a while ago, mentioning someone working on a program to write its own code based on a set of requirements. If this were to succeed in the next year (unlikely), all of the current projections would go out the door.
    • Also remember that posters are more likely to be people with lots of free time, and thus less likely to be people with exciting and interesting jobs. People don't post 1000 word rants about how they like their job, and how the headhunters won't leave them alone.
  • by Loopy (41728) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:36PM (#20564593) Journal
    While it is true that "software engineer" spots are going overseas at high rates, two things should be taken into account:

    1) "Software engineer" isn't the shiny, highly-technical bastion of the well-edumacated like it used to be. As computers have become more standardized these jobs, like many other "old high-tech" jobs, have become more or less commodity positions. Look at clerical (read: typing/wordprocessor, etc.) work, for example. Everyone and their dog thinks that if they can use Windows, they're automagically a PC expert.

    2) The "jobs are going overseas" mechanic implies a zero-sum game, when there isn't one. There is a growing need for generic PC software weenies in all sorts of QA and other fields at companies that didn't need them a few years back. This is A Good Thing(tm).

    So, basically, having been in the industry pre and post-dot-com-boom, I'm more or less of the "Nothing to see here, move along," mindset. /shrug
    • by dgris (454) <dgris@netgods.net> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:29PM (#20565123) Homepage
      Loopy says:

      2) The "jobs are going overseas" mechanic implies a zero-sum game, when there isn't one.

      I want to expand on this point. A lot of programmers I know seem to be missing something fundamental here, for reasons that I don't get.

      Look, there are two core facts about programming as a career that trump everything else. The first is that not everybody can do it. I'd guess that only 25% of the population (tops) even has the potential to become a useful programmer. There is something about being able to decompose a technical problem into its constituent parts and then generating solutions for each of those parts that is simply beyond the capacity of the vast majority of people. I'm not saying they're stupid--brilliant poets are brilliant regardless of whether they have the capacity to learn C in any meaningful way. I am saying that there is some mental capacity that is not universal, and that people without that capacity are literally untrainable in the craft of creating software.

      The second core fact about programming as a career is that software creates its own demand. If you have one system and you write a second system, then in addition to all of the from-scratch systems that you could write, you also have the option of writing a system that integrates the first two. The mere existence of software increases the number of potential projects that exist, and it does so on a super-exponential curve. Most of those possible systems aren't actually useful, so they're never developed, but the number of useful possible systems also is increasing at an accelerating rate.

      Now apply these two core facts to the current labor situation. We've created so much demand for software in the Western world through our ever-increasing automation of an ever-increasing number of our activities that we can no longer satisfy the internal demand of our economy for persons able and willing to create software. We've already hired everybody who wants to be a coder and is able to produce usable code, but we still are demanding more and more software from them. In addition to bidding up prices for Western talent (take a look at where 'Software Engineer' falls on the annual salary charts and then cry me a river $100k/year wide) our society is also now hiring up everybody able and willing to write code in other parts of the world (and bidding up their prices, as well). Our own population is insufficient to meet our needs, so now we're skimming the cream of everybody else's crop.

      Unfortunately, even India and China don't have an infinite number of citizens who can actually create useful systems. As we send more and more work their way we're pumping the oil field of software talent dry. Not only that, but the better jobs and higher wages relative to their home economies that third-world programmers enjoy reinforce most of these trends. By making more they consume and invest more. This steadily pushes up the demand for middle-class and luxury goods in their home societies. But what does that really mean? That means that they're pushing up the overall demand for software in their home economies (virtuous circle == (more money == more businesses == more technology investment)), which brings us back to where we started. Software creates its own demand, and not everybody can create software.

      What happens when the Indians and Chinese are using all of their programmers for their own economies is anybody's guess. The fact that someday they will be seems pretty solid.
  • Entire IT industry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:40PM (#20564655) Homepage Journal
    Is slowly dying due to its own success in automation, and making hardware nearly disposable.

    As things improve each generation, and reduce the need for support people, the jobs get fewer and fewer. Only a handfull of people will be needed at the end of all this. A lot like toaster support.
    • Fortunately, the mediocre products turned out by Microsoft will keep hundreds of thousands of PC Software Engineers^WMechanics employed for many years to come. Provided that you know how to re-install Windows and remove the most obvious and annoying viruses you'll do fine.
  • Jobs Exist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kmsigel (306018) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:41PM (#20564669)
    I have been a software engineer (working as an independent consultant) for 15+ years. I see plenty of jobs. At least once a year someone asks me if I'm available (I'm not) or whether I know of someone good looking for work (I don't). As with almost any profession, if you are very good at what you do then you won't have any problem finding work. If you are merely "good" (or worse) then you'll have trouble if the field isn't "hot" at the time.

    So, you have to ask yourself, "Am I merely good, or am I very good (or even better)?" I think that a lot of what determines that is enjoyment of the field. If you really enjoy programming, are really bothered when something doesn't work, are really driven to find an explanation for the "strange" behavior you are seeing, then you probably have what it takes. If software engineering is just some major that you're ok at that you think will pay well then it probably won't in fact pay well for you and probably isn't the right thing for you.

    Good luck.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:41PM (#20564671) Homepage

    And a waste of material to boot, if you pick a profession based on its earning potential. And I really have no patience for lectures on how arrogant my saying this is.

    Do, what you love to do — and get to be really good at it, and you'll earn a lot.

    The problem with Programming today is that much more programming suddenly became required over the last decade or two, than there were naturally born and/or nurtured programmers. You had people becoming "programmers" after a 2-6 months courses... Asking these people, what bit [wikipedia.org] is, results in stares and head-scratching. Many of the better ones got promoted too high as well (a problem in many other professions in America due to its low unemployment today, BTW).

    That much of the work of these programmer wanna-bees is outsourced is a good thing — maybe, the quality of burgers will improve, and/or hiring a (legal) baby-sitter will become possible again. The real professionals — and those, who really want to become professionals — don't have much to fear...

    • by Jonboy X (319895)

      Do, what you love to do -- and get to be really good at it, and you'll earn a lot.
      Easy for you to say.

      -The best damn sweater folder the Gap has ever had
  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:42PM (#20564681) Journal

    I was interviewed today for a short contract position requiring some Java skills. In the space of 3 business days, the employer was able to interview and decide between 3 different people. An hour later, I got the news. I was not picked. I asked the recruiter whether there really was a shortage of people and he gave an emphatic yes. So I asked, why then was this employer able to get a choice of people in such a short time? If there really was a shortage of people, shouldn't positions stay unfilled for weeks because they can't find anyone? Shouldn't there have been no competition? He didn't have a direct answer for that, but mentioned he's been trying to fill all kinds of open positions at several companies.

    Maybe it's "biz speak". To employers, "shortage" really means "we weren't inundated with hundreds of resumes for 1 position".

    • Maybe it's "biz speak". To employers, "shortage" really means "we weren't inundated with hundreds of resumes for 1 position".

      Shortage means "lacking 5-10 year professional willing to work for peanuts".

      I personally struggled for several years before finding my current decent job. I started off at a small post boom web firm whose management was as competent as FEMA, worked support for a few years at a larger company until I finally landed a decent started at a non-profit. I kep getting interviews and being to
    • Kids these days...

      When I was looking for work with a newly minted CS degree in 1987, it was very common to be one of 10-20 people interviewed. Three is nothing. Three is "I wish to hell we had more people to choose from".

      Kids these days think the bizarro world of the dotcom boom was normality. I've been working in the industry for twenty years and have been in the position of both interviewee and interviewer many times. I worked as a contractor for a bit and so have gotten jobs through the interview pro
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      It's pretty simple, really. How many jobs have you applied for? Two? Three? If you are serious, you will probably have applied for ten or more. If everyone is applying for ten or more, then every employer will receive a lot of applications, but there will be a lot of duplicates. Three applications is not very many.

      As for why you weren't picked, there are a couple possibilities:
      1. You are just not very good. In this case, the solution is simple (if not easy). Join an open source project, start your o
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:46PM (#20564729)
    How to tell the difference between a programmer and a software engineer?

    A programmer can't do much more than code
    A software engineer reads and understands comp.risks [ncl.ac.uk].
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:01PM (#20564843) Homepage
    On the other hand, to hear the personal anecdotes of many (American) programmers on the Internet, the profession is lost and anyone in college majoring in computer science or software engineering must be either naive or insane.

    And yet nearly everyone I know has an incredibly difficult time filling software engineering positions.

    According to them, you have to be a genius programmer if you expect to compete successfully for the slim pickings that are left, ...

    Genius? No. However let me make a distinction between those who enter a computer science program because they are genuinely interested in software compared to those who entered because someone told them it was a good career path. The former will generally not have a problem, more on that below.

    Let me also rant on "programmers" a little. During the internet bubble anyone who could write two partially correct lines of code/script fashioned themselves a programmer and some of these collected salaries far beyond their true worth. I think many of those whining about conditions today come from this pool of talent, not all, but many.

    ... there is no job security at all ...

    That is universal, not specific to software development. However software developers are inherently better prepared to move from one company to another, work from home, start your own business, etc.

    ... the technology changes so fast that if you allow yourself to slip behind you might as well kiss your career good-bye ...

    Now we return to those who have a genuine interest. Such people tend to tinker with new things at home, on their own time, for fun, and this helps them keep up to date and get/keep the jobs they want. I was dumbfounded many years ago when a coworker (fortunately on a different team) was hoping to be assigned to a particular project because he wanted to learn C++, the language that was to be used. He thought I was crazy when I suggested he get a compiler and learn the language on his own rather than wait for such an event.
    • by Shados (741919)
      You got it.

      Semi-competent software engineers, analysts, programmers, even QAs, get snatched. All the good ones I know get constant calls, emails, etc for job offers, with employers offering to give as much as 50% their current salary at any given time and put the red carpet before them left and right to hire em.

      The crap ones keep crying.

      Last time I looked for a new job (like 3 months ago), it took me, literally, 2 HOURS to nail a "dream job". 2 hours. And I'm not -that- good. But considering what I saw in a
    • by blitz487 (606553)

      I was dumbfounded many years ago when a coworker (fortunately on a different team) was hoping to be assigned to a particular project because he wanted to learn C++, the language that was to be used. He thought I was crazy when I suggested he get a compiler and learn the language on his own rather than wait for such an event.

      Yes, I've known many programmers who refused to learn new things unless the employer paid for them to be "trained" in it. They were also the programmers that the real programmers learned to avoid being on the same team with.

  • I just look at some of the half-brained pseudo-coders I've had to work with and I think, as long as they can still get work I should be set for life. That's kind of funny, but I think it's really true.

    One of the troubles with the programming profession is that it's too easy to get into, and too easy to fake enough ability to get hired. Noone plays with aircraft engines in their spare time, then goes to Boeing and lands a job as a mechanical engineer.
  • My Experiences (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:09PM (#20564921)
    I can give you my experiences and maybe it can help answer the question and also help you understand what is going on in this country. I first graduated in 1992 with a degree in Industrial Management (I always wanted to work at a job where I actually make something). I quickly got a job doing quality control work in the mining/chemical field.

    I became interested in computers at that time, since I actually had money to buy one. So when my department was eliminated during the industrial downsizing that was so popular during Bush I, I looked at it as an opportunity. I ended up going back to school for Computer Science and taking a job delivering food at night. I really came to enjoy programming, I liked the feeling I got when the program worked correctly. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science in 2002. At that time, I couldn't buy a job so I ended up working at Wal-Mart while looking for programming work. I spent a year doing this before I decided that if I wanted to ever make more than $7.00 an hour, I would need to find a career that could not be sent overseas. To me it came down to either teaching or medical.

    I decided on teaching, went back to school, yet again, and got a Masters in Education. I took a job teaching computers to middle school kids at a low-income school. So now (3 years later) I'm making $38,000 a year with a debt of $60,000 from my student loans. I enjoy the work, but I have never stopped programming and still send my resume out every now and again. I even had an interview for an entry level programming position recently. The interview did not go well. They asked a lot of questions about SQL, which I never really enjoyed so I haven't kept up with it.

    A System Analyst at the school's district office is telling me to get certified in Java because he's convinced that is the way to get noticed. I'm almost to the point where I just don't care anymore and will teach until I retire. So, no enjoying a job and being good at it (I'm a very good programmer) are not enough to get you a job in this country any more.
    • Re:My Experiences (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rakishi (759894) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:58AM (#20567751)

      They asked a lot of questions about SQL, which I never really enjoyed so I haven't kept up with it.
      SQL is easy. If I was looking for a programming job I'd first ask what they're looking for. Then I'd look at what the wanted ads want. Then I'd learn it. Then I'd write a lot of code in it.

      If I had an interview in X days and I didn't know Y which may be on it then I'd spend all my time making sure I knew enough of Y. I literally did that for my current job after I did badly during a phone interview, I told them I was rusty and that I won't be in X days and I made sure I wasn't.

      I'm a very good programmer
      Well this is probably your number one problem. You're assuming you're good and likely you're not. Especially by corporate and team based programming standards. Nonetheless since you assume otherwise you blame others for your failures instead of acknowledging the truth and striving to improve yourself.

      So, no enjoying a job and being good at it (I'm a very good programmer) are not enough to get you a job in this country any more.
      If you can't show other people that you're good then you're not good. End of story.

      If I was looking for a programming job and I actually enjoyed programming enough then I'd be coding as much OSS in it as possible. High profile OSS aimed at solving problems that I perceive as being important but not tackled. I'd contribute heavily to well organize and well known projects. I'd learn and understand not just the languages that are "hot" but the methodologies behind how actual programmers program.

      Anyway if you love programming then you program. If the first thing that comes to your head when you see a new problem with no visible solution isn't "well I can code something to do that" then you really don't love programming. I've written two FF extensions and modified a number of others because there was a need for them and no one else wrote them yet.
  • by tftp (111690) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:12PM (#20564955) Homepage
    And here is why. First of all, if you read the replies above you will see that a software analyst is not something you can claim on your resume when the ink on your diploma is still wet. And you won't get the chance to grow into the position because the entry level positions are either not common enough or just a dead end.

    A more generic outlook is this. Software can be produced in any country, anywhere at all, and the only thing it requires is the competent personnel to execute the project. India and China produce more software developers in total, and proportionally more *excellent* developers. Now imagine that someone in the world (a transnational corporation, for example, which does not care where the job is done) needs to develop and write a complex software system to, say, operate a 23-legged underwater spider that is being built to fix underwater fiber cables. The company will build the hardware, and now it needs to find a software developer (a company, of course) that can provide at least 100 developers full time, at least 25 senior developers, and a proportional number of managers and other necessary overhead.

    Given these example conditions, let's see which company will win the bid. A US company will be burdened with high salaries, and at the same time will not be able to provide so many competent developers (warm bodies do not count.) Ability to work *seriously* overtime is probably not there; willingness to travel and participate in testing in Philippines is probably not there either. Compare to an Indian company which can give you as many workers as you need, at fraction of the cost, and they are all best of the best. A US company would need to have some very tangible advantages to win the bid, but I can't imagine how they can win on costs. Practically the only usable story here is previous experience and the ownership of relevant intellectual property, and good luck if they have it. But a US newcomer has no chance to win the bid; and even older companies, with experience of underwater and robotic works, will face fierce competition from far more populous countries.

    In other words, a US worker is overpriced on the global market, and exceptions are rare. The USA does export technology, but it is in markets that have extreme barrier of entry (airplanes, nuclear reactors, Windows OS, drugs, CPU and IC designs) or when the products are weapons. Those are the major sectors of US export (not counting food products, since they are not relevant to this discussion.) More and more of US technological output is in knowledge only, and software developers are not high enough to qualify as such.

    Why all this is happening is simple. Humans and societies develop more and more knowledge and skills, and then they get to a plateau - no more intellectual growth. That's what Europe and the USA reached decades ago. During that time Chinese cast iron at home and shot intellectuals, and in India Hindus and Moslems tried to determine whose god is mightier. Physics of semiconductors and quantum effects in P-N barriers were not on the horizon there. But now the developing nations advanced, as they should, and they are quickly approaching the same knowledge plateau that US and Europe encountered earlier. That's why they are becoming competitive - their PhDs are just as smart now as any european or american PhD, and there are far more of them, and they charge far less, and the process is only unwinding out of control.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Software can be produced in any country, anywhere at all, and the only thing it requires is the competent personnel to execute the project.

      In theory this is true; in practice it is not. Software produced in any country different from the ones where the customers are suffers from substantial communications breakdowns, which leads to all sorts or problems. Language barriers are also a major issue.

      India and China produce more software developers in total, and proportionally more *excellent* developer

      • ... and why the top individuals from these countries are still going to America and Europe to get their PhDs and teach once they have them. There's something else going on here.

        Yes, it's called "transfer of intellectual capital". We are training our replacements. Why we're doing this is another question (it's a foot-in-self-shoot scenario, when you get right down to it) but that is precisely what is happening.
      • by tftp (111690)
        Software produced in any country different from the ones where the customers are suffers from substantial communications breakdowns, which leads to all sorts or problems. Language barriers are also a major issue.

        You are actually confirming my point here: where is the larger market - in the USA or in India? If I were to write a wordprocessor, or even a web site for Indian audience I'd be insane to contract a US developer. There is no debate that India and China together already represent 42% of the planet

    • I commend you on your example. All of those thousands of companies out there intending to build software to control expensive hardware to do great things!!! Why when the job market heated up, I was just TIRED of telling 23-legged underwater spider manufacturers quit calling me!!

      How about a dose of reality. As technology has become exponentially more complex, business people risking companies on delivering it have become exponentially more stupid. And this one simple line of your statement shows why it'

      • by tftp (111690)
        Probably I can offer a few comments:

        Building software is about communication and change management. Putting 5,000 miles, 9 time zones and the history of human civilizations language and MOST importantly culture differences on top of your standard business risk is retarded.

        Well, that would mean that all those transnational corporations that span the globe just can't possibly exist. A bee can't fly according to the theory. But it does fly in practice! There are indeed cultural differences and time zones i

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      More and more of US technological output is in knowledge only, and software developers are not high enough to qualify as such.

      I, too, have often thought that the people who believe you can sustain an economy on exports of "knowledge only" must be high.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Blackhalo (572408)
      I would have to disagree with your assessment. It is my experience that, for the level of competence that you define in your scenario, an Indian or Chinese programmer will cost the same as anywhere else.

      The basic code monkey, IS much less expensive. However with the regions I work with in China and India there is a 20 - 40% annual turnover rate at that level. Which make high level, sustained efforts challenging.

      My business has had to learn the hard way, that at the top 10% skill level, there is NO cost sav
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a slightly different take on the definition of a programmer vs. software engineer.

    I used to call myself a software engineer. Now that I work in the games industry I call myself a programmer, and I'm much more proud of the title than I was of software engineer.

    Programmers create. Software engineers integrate.

    Programmers get it done. Software engineers talk about getting it done.

    Programmers are technical. Software engineers are technical writers.

    The world needs both, and I take offense to comments
    • by Xyrus (755017)
      First, I have to see you have some strange perceptions of engineering.

      I used to work in the games industry. Unless your working in a (very) rare shop, about all you have time to do is program. You need crack coders willing to work serious hours. Many games release with numerous bugs, but as long as they aren't show stoppers the game is usually let through. One game I worked on for the playstation was using the previous release's source as a base. The previous version released with over 300 known issues.

      When
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:26PM (#20565083) Homepage
    Where I work there is little place for programmers or computer scientists. You have to be able to program, but you also have to be able to write software that shows that you have an ability to construct and follow requirements, use good design practices, and well, approach it like an engineer. They aren't as concerned with whether or not we are the best Java programmer, .NET programmer, etc., but rather how well we can come up with sophisticated architectures for reliably handling a problem.

    What we are seeing is a split where programming itself is like being a construction worker, and software engineering is like going into architecture when it comes to construction work.
  • Sooner or later the Indians are going to decide that they are not interested in putting in 10 hours of work on our behalf for every 1 hour we do for them - which is what these pay discrepancies amount to.

      Until the 17th century - throughout most of recorded history - the economic centers of the world were in India and China, not in the West, which was a Hobbesian backwater even during the supposedly good periods.

      A return to normalcy - where the most populous nations also control a majority of the world's economic might - throws all the cards in the air. The comprador leadership of China and India appear, for the moment, to be cooperating in placing the majority of their own population in a state of permanent serfdom in exchange for a cut of the take. Anyone who believes this to be a sustainable proposition must have been out of the room for the 20th century; and anyone who thinks that the Chinese and Indian elite really intend to play second fiddle to us westerners is a naif. If George Bush (who clearly understand this, to judge from his actions) is an idiot - how dumb does this make the class of prognosticators who don't seem to get this?

      That said, if you're looking for a guaranteed route to a decent job, become a nurse. With moxie and gumption it is possible - and will remain possible - to make a good living by knowing how computers work, although the responsibilities, expectations and compensation can be expected to be in flux. It may not be *easy*, and it certainly isn't and won't be guaranteed.
  • According to them, you have to be a genius programmer if you expect to compete successfully for the slim pickings that are left, there is no job security at all, and the best most can realistically hope for these days is a job at Home Depot.

    There have been a couple times that may have been true, most recently when the .com implosion and outsourcing tag-teamed the IT industry in the late 90's and early part of the 2000's. That was a dismal time for projects but not now. Business seems pretty healthy righ

  • by andreyw (798182)
    I think your approach is just wrong to begin with. You're baseing your career choice based on some guesstimate of how well you will do financially. Although that is something you should keep in mind (being a starving artist without recognition until death is probably not what you or most people are looking for), it should not be the primary motivator. You should pick something which you will enjoying doing A LOT for the rest of your life and something you know you have some talent AND skills for. Because i
  • by Corvus9 (300802)
    I believe the confusion is because the Handbook is using the business definition of Software Engineer instead of the technical definition. The business definition being "an early 20s new graduate with 5 years of experience in a technology that's just been invented who has no family and is willing to work 60 hours per week for $40K p.a. plus stock shares in a company that's never shown a profit".
  • by Darth Liberus (874275) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:56PM (#20565353)
    ...requires a LOT more than the ability to bash out code. I have to hire US-based programmers all the time, and it's amazing how many people I talk to that don't have the faintest idea how to do anything other than program. They may be able to write a demo program using the latest, greatest coding framework, but they are severely deficient in troubleshooting, problem-solving, and social/creative skills. Even a computer can write code; I need people who can think.

    So my advice for anyone trying to break in to the programming field would be to work in some other aspect of IT for several years - go be an SA or a network engineer or something and use your programming skills to assist you in those areas. Once you've done that you can transition into development. You'll be a MUCH better developer for it.

  • I know this from a co-worker from Canada who, during the dot-com days, had to struggle with the TN visa, a visa available to high-skilled Canadians. The TN visa was applicable for Software Engineer, which was considered to be a highly technical position, where you "engineered" software. It required an engineering degree.

    A programmer, in the view of the US govt, was someone who took direction from someone else, and coded them. They view a programmer as a step above key puncher. So, this is probably the r
  • Do what you enjoy for a living. You might have a take a few crap jobs on the way there, but no one is ever happy doing a job they hate just because it pays well. If you enjoy programming, then go into programming. But be realistic as well. The days of one career per lifetime are gone. Don't expect to be a C++/Java/Python developer in 2060.
  • First thing to do is learn something about sampling theory.

    Question One: who's the most likely person to have the time, energy, and general accumulated bile to be posting about finding software jobs on the net?

    (a) People who have lost their job.
    (b) People from the Department of Labor covertly revealing DoL data
    (c) AI bots in an experimental application.

    Score: 5 points for (a), 0 points for (b), and 0 points (but a gold star for lateral thinking) for (c).

    Question Two: if people who have lost their jobs, are
  • Name game. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:20PM (#20565663) Journal
    ... employment of software engineers and system analysts is expected to increase 'much faster than the average' through 2014 (here, and here). In contrast, employment of programmers is expected to increase 'more slowly than the average,' ...

    Well golly gosh whillikers.

    In my 30 years in software (before I went over to the hard side of the force) I've called myself a programmer, a system analyst, a software engineer, a system architect, and a number of other buzzwords.

    Guess what: There is not a standard definition for ANY of those terms. The only distinction between them is the expectations of the employers about the strengths of various parts of your skill set.

    So you call yourself the one that your prospective employer hangs on the highest-in-the-design-tree position that you can convince him you're qualified to fill, based on your own skills and your resume.

    They're hiring system analysts and SW engineers locally and going abroad for programmers? That just means you have to change the top line on your resume from "programmer" to "software engineer" or "system analyst".

    Don't have enough experience to qualify for whatever position they're hiring for when you're just out of school? That's the same old "break-in problem". The "can't get a job because you don't have experience and can't get experience because you don't have a job" vicious circle. It's been around as long as I've been in this industry, and I cut my teeth on computers that had vacuum tubes for the DIODES in the logic.

    You get your skills through:
      3) classes,
      2) ripping apart and studying others' code,
      1) playing with the computer to make it do something fun for you,
    in that reverse order. (I know because that's how I did it, and I had some big names for teachers back in the day. The lessons were valuable. But self-directed code reading and bug fixing / feature enhancement was more so and self-directed problem solving was the top skill builder.)

    You don't get your job through resumes, degrees, and certifications. You get your foot in the door through contacts with people who have seen your previous work or play. THEN you and your contact use your (tuned to the job) resume, credentials, and references from other contacts to convince the middle-manager in the suit that he's lucked into a paragon who's perfect for the job.

    How do you get contacts? Initially you do as much unassigned for-fun stuff as you can when you can and let others see what you did and that you enjoy doing it and are good at it. Some of these people will remember you when somebody they know is looking for somebody like you for a job of the sort you want.

    Later you'll make more contacts at work: Co-workers, managers, etc. Your network of contacts will grow to get you into more doors. Your resume's experience section will grow to calm the suits (while your other contacts serve as references ditto). And your skills will grow to let you actually perform in new positions.

    Your actual skills are important: to keep impressing people so you can hold your jobs, build your resume with successful project results, and grow your contact network. But it's your contacts - as you/job matchers and references - that are what get you into the jobs.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @05:39AM (#20569129) Homepage Journal
    and just like the real world, programming is in fact something that comprises of MANY fields and areas. These fields are just like jobs themselves.

    For example if you are a C++ programmer (or the language you are best at), you are like a mechanical engineer. if you are very good, you will find a very good job. if you are just ok, you will be just another 'engineer' in some obscure manufacturing plant or technical drawing room somewhere. if you have just jumped in the field for 'cash' or because your parents pushed you in, you will have problems finding a job.

    if you are an assembler programmer as expertise, you are just like a painter. it will be VERY hard for you to find work, but if you are good, you will find work that noone can find, and it will be solid as hell, you will have to turn down many people. but, you have to be real, real good.

    if you are a PHP/MySQL developer as expertise for example, you are like an industrial engineer. if you are good, you will find very good salary jobs. and always think of leaving and setting up your own shop. if you are just ok, then you will still easily find jobs, although not as good paid, but you at all times will be able to take on work via the internet and do freelance.

    it all depends on which profession you choose. MANY cs, software engineer grads, programmers scorn php/mysql for example, even at times arguing php is not even a language (it may be, or it may not be thats not important) but this combo is whats hot on the net for a few years now, and even now the demand is nowhere near satisfied and increases. judging by the amount of free/low cost software enabling individiuals, ordinary people, very small businesses (heck, even ma&pa shops) are enabled to come on the internet and create businesses, communities, services and stuff through the php/mysql road says that the more the supply of programmers the more people will be coming in by that lane because prices are kept cheap.

    you just have to choose your field accordingly. its just like choosing a business. dont go choosing a university/college that doesnt have good reputation and then learn asp, .net programming and stack up msces and expect to get a job in a microsoft shop - because of the tradition these shops tend to be rather picky, and even if you are good you might have hard time just because your college is not well known.

    on the other hand of the spectrum check out php/mysql developer ads, even at slashdot. they do not even require any kind of bs grad. they gather up the exact specific requirements for the job, and EXPERIENCE. because this field and what it should do and what one needs to do stuff in that is well known and defined, and when you get such people you get your work done.

    therefore its all choices. programming, it is a world in itself, with MANY professions. it doesnt matter a bit if you say you are a cs grad. its like saying that "i am a human", in the midst of 7 billion people

    what really are you ? a LAMPer ? a .NET junkie ? a C++ nut ? an Assembler monkey ? Database freak ? just decide on that, and start working towards a position.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

Working...