The last ten years has seen a dramatic increase in the job openings for computer programmers in the US or worldwide, as global demand for skilled computer programmers out-paced the supply. I would like to show you the benefits of this strong global demand for computer programmers.
Before you decide on a career, it’s a good idea to investigate the career and understand what you’re getting into or what the career has to offer you. Here are a few reasons why computer programming is worth your consideration.
1. The demand for computer programmers is increasing
Outsourcing which is a concern for many professionals has been offset by the growth in Information Technology and computer programming. Outsourcing as a trend reached its peak during the recessionary years following 2001, and then leveled off in recent years
The fact is, the days of major outsourcing initiatives are gone and a number of the previously out-sourced tech jobs are moving back onshore to the US. In fact, a recent study commissioned by the federal government discovered that the technology sector gained 147,000 new positions in 2006, even with outsourcing, a gain of 59,600 jobs over 2005.
Keep in mind that the average unemployment rate for computer programmers which was 2.5% in 2006 or about half the national average represents a significant shortage of qualified computer programmers. Any time unemployment in the US falls below ~3%, it’s considered over-employment, because 3% is made up of people who are voluntarily unemployed.
2. Experienced computer programmers have increased job security
Once you have real skills and experience in the computer programming industry, your job security increases. This happens because you become indispensable to the company where you work, or your skills and experience become valuable enough that it doesn’t really matter what happens to any one job.
The fact is that, while the tools used by computer programmers change, such as the languages they code with and the platforms they code on, the fundamentals of a programming don’t.
You might code an application differently in Java as compared to C#, for example, but the software application and its uses are the same, as are the types of business problems you need to solve. And once you have a base set of skills, and add the experience of problem solving and design in real-world environments, your skills become valuable and portable.
While the programming language you master may change, and your continuous education is a requirement for remaining in the computer programming industry, your real-world experience combined with programming skills is valued like gold.
3. Computer programmers continue to enjoy very competitive salaries.
The average starting salary for beginner computer programmer can reach $45,000, the average salary for experienced computer programmers can reach $90,250, based on a recent report issued by the Robert Half Corporation. This represents an increase of 5.1% over the previous year. Compare that with, say, the average salary for entry level accountants ($33,250 to $39,250) and experienced accountants ($48,000 to $72,250), respectively.
And this doesn’t take into account the compensation paid to contract programmers. Contract programmers are exposed to more technical and financial risks because of the temporary nature of their work and are compensated at a higher level than full-time or employee computer programmers.
By way of comparison, a contract programmer can earn an average of 25-50% higher pay than a permanent employee performing the same work. A contract programmer can convert and become a permanent full-time employee if both the employer and contract programmer want the conversion to happen.
4. Compensation for computer programmers can get extremely lucrative
Added to the base salary most computer programmers enjoy is the possibility of making truly amazing amounts of cash. Historically, technology has been the best place to create wealth. Of course, over the years the definition of the term technology has changed, from railroads to cars, to oil production, to airplanes, and so forth.
Today, technology refers to Information Technology including computer hardware and software development. The major fortunes of the past 2 decades were created in the technology industry, especially in the software development industry. It only takes one look at the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, to understand the potential of combining computer programming skills with timing and business sense to make truly vast sums of money.
Even if you don’t start your own Microsoft or Google, there are plenty of ways to create significant wealth as a computer programmer. You can, for example, make considerable amounts of extra money by consulting and freelancing, in addition to your day job. Established freelancers and consultants may bill or earn significantly higher wages for their services while enjoying the flexibility of working on projects they truly care about.
Contract programmers typically earn a higher rate of pay, usually in the 24-50% range for longer term projects, 50-100+% higher for shorter-term projects and enjoy a greater range of flexibility in terms of working hours and types of job they accept.
5. Computer programming is an excellent gateway to rewarding business careers.
One of the strengths about computer programming is the exposure to many other occupations. The truth is that most of the functions in a business enterprise, including marketing and accounting, value team members who have computer programming skills. Since this enables them to use software technology effectively without depending on other departments.
For example, marketing departments employ computer programmers to gather and analyze customer data or develop marketing campaign software applications. Accounting and finance departments employ computer programmers to create or modify accounting, data mining and financial analysis applications.
Computer programmers who are exposed to multi-disciplines gain more business experience and marketability. According to a recent study by InfoWorld Magazine, the most desirable trait employers are looking for today is someone with technical skills, who can diversify into and interact with other business departments and disciplines.
As the workplace changes and technology becomes more integrated into corporate America, computer programming offers you an excellent base for launching or expanding your horizon and career.