Strong Outlook for Software, System Engineers

Storage is a clear example of a sector where software developers and
engineers specializing in emerging software technologies are in demand.

By Sonia Lelii | April 2008
Dice News Staff

If you have high-level software and system engineering skills, you’ll be among the top 30 professions in demand by 2016, says the Department of Labor. The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks this as one of the fastest growing professions in the coming years.

“Software engineers are absolutely an area that is growing,” says Barbara Massa, senior director of recruiting at information-software provider EMC Corp., based in Hopkinton, Mass.

“What we are looking for are leading-edge software developers, (and) these people are tough to find.”

Software and system engineering requires distinct skill sets depending on the type of position you want. People who want to work within a company’s IT operations will need sophisticated engineering and management abilities. On the other hand, technology vendors are hunting for people who can develop emerging software products.

Storage is a clear example of a sector where software developers and engineers specializing in emerging software technologies are in demand. As hard drives, raid controllers and disk arrays have become increasingly commoditized, and innovation has shifted to software, the industry has been evolving its focus away from hardware. EMC is searching for software engineering talent that specializes in content management, archiving, virtualization, security, data de-duplication, file systems, Unix and Linux platforms, to name a few.

While some software development jobs – particularly in programming – have been migrating overseas lately, the move has resulted in a demand for a new breed of American software expertise. Job seekers who have the mind-set of an engineer coupled with an ability to ensure technology is aligned with business needs are the kind of technologists companies seek to fill jobs within IT operations.

Mark P. Diamond, president and chief executive of Contoural, Inc., a data and storage consulting firm based in Los Altos, Calif., sees shifts in both the types of software jobs in demand here in the U.S., and the positions that are increasingly moving offshore. People who can apply the basic principles of engineering to architect complex systems, and holistically understand how those systems work together, are what companies need today, says Diamond. Software experts who only have the ability to program are likely to find their jobs vulnerable, he says.

“What you are seeing here in Silicon Valley is the high-level functions are done here and low-level functions are being outsourced,” Diamond says. “If all you do is test code and write programs or maintain systems, then you run the risk your job will go offshore.”

E-mail Sonia Lelii at sonia.lelii at