“Is there any future in computer programming? Aren’t all those jobs overseas now? Is it a bad idea to encourage my student’s interest in a computer science career?”
I have heard these questions over the last few years and my answer is always a resounding “No!” Despite what most people believe, outsourcing has not killed the U.S. computer job market. Today’s employment opportunities for software engineers in the U.S. are fantastic.
Some companies do use overseas help in different areas, but a great many computer programming jobs are still around locally. It is simply too difficult for most companies to manage the complex process of software creation over long distances.
Written by: Chris Yust is President of CompuScholar, Inc. He has 20+ years of experience as a software engineer and has spent the last 10+ years developing computer science and digital literacy curriculum for middle and high school students.
Computer Industry Jobs Will Grow
As a long-time software engineer, I have observed a lack of quality candidates first-hand. Local jobs often go unfilled for long periods of time because companies simply can’t interview enough people who qualify. I still get calls from recruiters who still have my 15-year old resume in their database from the last time I was looking for a job.
Anecdotes aside, what to the statistics tell us? Computer jobs have seen steady growth and salary increases in recent years. Is this trend expected to continue? You bet! Just look at some of the numbers:
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one of the fastest growing occupations over the next 10 years is software development, with a projected 26% growth in the job market.
- The US Dept of Commerce projects that nearly 3 out of 4 new science and engineering jobs in the US will be in computing.
- The unemployment rate for software developers is between 1 and 3%, and even less in some specialties!
Not only are jobs plentiful in the computer industry, but the salaries for these jobs are beating the current averages by a wide margin. A newly graduated computer science degree-holder can expect to early about $20,000 more annually than the average degree holder in other fields. Experienced software engineers will normally bring in $100k or more in salary.
I should note here that simple “computer literacy” in word-processing and spreadsheet programs or even CAD-design will not qualify someone for these high-paying software jobs. These careers require specialized knowledge about computer science or programming.
The Purpose of High School Computer Science
Some parents are concerned about ensuring their students learn specific technologies in high school in order to prepare them for the job market. “Should my student learn Java or C# in order to have the best chance for success?” I always advise these parents to relax, because – at the high school level – it does not matter at all!
Software engineering jobs normally require a bachelor’s degree (BSCS), so hiring companies are not looking at what students have done in high school. The student’s high school experience should be focused on making a great career selection. You just want to find out if your student has an interest in – and aptitude for – computer programming of any sort.
To that end, students can choose to start learning any common programming language like Java, Python or C#. Students may also have a special interest in subjects like Web Design or Video Game Programming – both of which require coding skills. If you select a curriculum or course that is taught in a fun, age-appropriate manner, your students are more likely to have a good experience and be encouraged down the computer science career path.
You don’t need to graduate a full-fledged software engineer from high school. Just expose your tech-minded students to enough options that help them decide if a computer science degree is something they will pursue in college.
We live in the digital age, and computers are here to stay. If your students are thinking about a career in computing, they will have a world of opportunities waiting for them. CompuScholar has a variety of online, self-study computer science courses for homeschool students. You are encouraged to check out their homeschool options and get started at any time.
Chris Yust is President of CompuScholar, Inc. He has 20+ years of experience as a software engineer and has spent the last 10+ years developing computer science and digital literacy curriculum for middle and high school students.