Programming Jobs Face Potential Decline


The number of programming jobs in the U.S. will decline 8 percent by 2024, according to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That seems like a surprising statistic in a world that’s being eaten by software. Programmers write and test code for applications on platforms ranging from PCs to mobile devices, suggesting the need for their particular skill-set should only increase over the next decade.

But the BLS suggests that the very perks of the job—including the ability to work remotely, according to one’s own schedule—could impact programmers within the United States. “Computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower,” read the note accompanying the data.

For those interested in programming as a career, despite that outsourcing challenge, the median pay in 2014 hit $77,550 per year ($37.28).

Not all tech jobs face such potentially dreary prospects. The BLS estimates that Web developers will experience a 27 percent increase in jobs through 2024, well ahead of computer and information research scientists (11 percent), computer network architects (9 percent), computer support specialists (12 percent), systems analysts (21 percent), and database administrators (11 percent).

Developers will also benefit from the rising need for software and apps, with the BLS estimating a 17 percent increase in related jobs over the next eight years. In its notes, the bureau makes no mention of international competition or outsourcing as a threat.

Although the unemployment rate among technology professionals ticked upward in November, to 3.4 percent, the tech industry has recently performed better on the jobs front than the broader economy, where the unemployment rate stands at 5.0 percent.

4 Responses to “Programming Jobs Face Potential Decline”

  1. Joe/Jane Doe

    Outsourcing posing an increased threat to middle class jobs will continue until the USD is on par with the lowest denominating world currency unless there is some kind stop-gap like a new president who discourages outsourcing of service jobs.

    it makes perfect sense to me that back-end programming is outsourced yet, web development work will not follow the same path; web developers may be called upon to communicate with the business end and will therefore need to be able to read/write and speak in the local language.

  2. Sean Murphy

    There are severe problems with outsourcing. If you want to outsource stuff, there’s not a lot you can successfully outsource in the long run. The biggest issue is language and cultural differences, which outside of business are completely normal differences that shouldn’t affect your opinion of someone, that make working with some individuals extremely difficult. Especially with accents and different cultural approaches to work and the objective of a task (any task). The mindset of approaching a problem or conversing about a problem gets very difficult. Even the meaning of words and phrases become an extended task. My experience has been that bringing talented individuals to your home base works out much better in the long run than just outsourcing the job. Those individuals then live in a place where they are immersed in the culture and dialect of his/her coworkers. The coworkers also have much more time communicating with the individual to understand how the individual thinks and communicates. My experience has been that leaving employees or contractors outsourced does not solve these intercultural communication issues. Again, outside of such work contexts, these issues are not something to even just bring up. But when you have to work, this dilemma of communication makes outsourcing a job very difficult in the long run.

  3. This has been claimed for years.

    There is a little truth to this as 4/5 US schools dont teach computer science. So the number of potential programmers may come from outside of the US. But the best and most up and coming companies will reside in the US. Which in turn will demand the best talent and draw from the whole world as we are currently see happen in Silicon Valley.

    And sure we may see an 8% decline in jobs over the next 8 years. But there are SOOO many programming jobs out there that it doesn’t really matter. It may be a good thing because it will probably eliminate the companies who thought they should be in the software business but really cannot.

    The real point is if you have any decent skill you will know that you will not have a problem finding a job. And if you are good then the power will still be in your court.

    Learn to program and you will have job prospects at a much higher rate than pretty much any other sector.