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U.S. Programmers An Endangered Species?

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the going-going-gone dept.

Programming 1361

CommanderData writes "USA Today reports that US Programmers are an 'Endangered Species' and expects them to be 'extinct' within the next few years, replaced by offshoring and H-1B visa holders. They suggest people will manage overseas projects, become self-employed, or switch to other fields. What do my fellow code-dinosaurs plan to do before the asteroid hits?" A report on Newsforge (which is part of OSTG along with Slashdot) shows the flip side of the coin.

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Programming versus Software Engineering (2, Insightful)

leonmergen (807379) | about 10 years ago | (#10536174)

Sure, programmers will be extinct within the near future in Western countries. But there's a difference between programming and software engineering; I personally think that software engineering will still take place in the western countries, the whole documentation, analysing, quality assurance, perhaps testing... the whole process of developing software except the programming will still occur in Western countries... let the code monkeys in India have it, anyone can write code, but they will still need a good software engineer to develop a piece of quality software. :-)

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (5, Funny)

D-Cypell (446534) | about 10 years ago | (#10536227)

Great!! So all the cool hacking goes of to india and us western programmers get the sucky work!

I am claiming asylum in india based on the fact that every nerd has the right to hack code and eat curry!

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | about 10 years ago | (#10536243)

Funny, I just took a job as a programmer. I am not relocatable, as in I work in the same lab as the equipment I write software for is in. While I could be replaced by an H1B, I do not fear this as long as I do my job reasonably well.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (5, Insightful)

Dante Shamest (813622) | about 10 years ago | (#10536261)

let the code monkeys in India have it, anyone can write code, but they will still need a good software engineer to develop a piece of quality software. Yes, because we all know Indians can't do software engineering. It's this kind of thinking that made you lose your programming job to them in the first place. :-)

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (5, Insightful)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | about 10 years ago | (#10536282)

This viewpoint represents the naiveté of most people when it comes to programming and software engineering, and I'm not sure what the solution is. Let me be very clear, you cannot design a program (software engineering as you seem to call it) if you have never written code.

These junior programming positions you see going to India aren't "codemonkey positions". They're junior programming positions. Why is this important? Because junior programmers go on to become intermediate, then senior programmers. Then some of them go on to be project managers, other software architects, and other business analysts.

What happens when you cut the bottom rung out of this ladder? In 10 years, India will be full of very experienced managers, architects, and analysts. In the US though, most of those jobs will be gone much like the junior positions are leaving now.

Familiar Situation (3, Insightful)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | about 10 years ago | (#10536286)

Isn't that the situation for pretty much every manufactured thing already? Products are designed in USA, Canada, Japan, UK, etc. and then produced in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, etc. I guess software is no different after all.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10536315)

In the 50+ years that software has been a part of business procedures, how many companies have you seen give a damn about proper engineering?

I hate to be the pessimist here, but 99.9% of the time, projects succeed (and/or are properly engineered) in spite of companies' non-attention to proper engineering.

The main thing in favor of American developers is the same reason why Indian off-shoring tends to fail. The big reason why off-shoring often fails (first hand experience over here) is that the programmers take less initiative in forcing proper design and engineering.

That's not a slam against Indians (or other off-shoring cultures), but more a fact of life. They are disconnected from the project to such a degree that they have no real grasp of it other than to produce *exactly* what the specs document says. This is the same type of problem you see in using consulting firms like Anderson, nay, Accenture in developing your software.

In short, a software project can't succeed unless developers truly understand and care about what they are doing to the degree that they will *make* it succeed in spite of itself.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536318)

How do you propose to make more software engineers without them first being 'code monkeys' ?

Doesn't a lack of domestic 'code monkeys' lead directly to off-shore engineers?

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536352)

I think that it is not possible to be a good software engineer without first having written code.
People in India starts by writting code and then will become (are!) great software engineers. In the US new generations of people will not write code and thus will not become good software engineers.

IMNSHO, writting code is for moneys just like litterature is not for monkeys.

Writting code is a mean of expression. I do not consider that it is a dull activity.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536361)

Precisely! I've never had much use for programmers. Give me a software developer any day!

If you want to make a career out of software development then there's really only one trick - don't let yourself get trapped in any given set of technology. Make a point of picking up something distinctly different than what you already know every couple of years (the more you know, the more valuable you will be over time). Don't become an expert in technology - become an expert in computing science.

Most important of all, quit whining about how well other countries are at eating the U.S.'s lunch (it's a big bad world out there - deal with it).

Focus on being good at whatever it is that you do.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536366)

Same with the manufacturing jobs. Labor intensive work is a small part of those jobs. Those jobs also involve desiging, QA, QC, and marketing, etc. However, these components didn't stopped manufacturing jobs from moving out of our country. Lets stop to think that we are **** hot hard dicks. Everybody has brians. Furthermore everybody is having a good education, while our education levels are dropping rapidly. When all these things are put together then one can see where our jobs will move in next ten years.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (2, Insightful)

Retric (704075) | about 10 years ago | (#10536372)

While "there's a difference between programming and software engineering" there is going to be a problem in a few years as the US stops producing new programmers so in time will it stop producing new software engineer's. Because without a background in coding to forge there mettle as it where nobody is going to trust them to design software.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (3, Insightful)

aaronmcdaid (771190) | about 10 years ago | (#10536373)

> software engineering will still take place in the western countries
> anyone can write code

Why do you think software engineering can be separated so easily from the coding? Surely the best thing is to have one competent person who can do both?

It would make it harder for the coder and the engineer to point fingers at one another.

And anyway, according the most of the estimates I see (to be taken with a pinch of salt of course), coding only takes up 10% of the time - why take all the risks of splitting this off to a different person in a different country.

Also, in my experience, it's only when you start coding that you realise how the design could be improved, and you realise the requirements need clarifying, et cetera. I think this is the main lesson of Xtreme Programming (that's a damn stupid name, isn't it?)

I think that software should be developed by less people, but make sure those people are well educated about everything from testing and requirements gathering all the way to how processors work at a low level.

Re:Programming versus Software Engineering (1)

IgLou (732042) | about 10 years ago | (#10536395)

I wouldn't refer to programmers from India as monkeys. I know quite a few who come from a background that is very rigid and solid in development best practice.
The reality is in a country where standard of living is lower you can hire more programmers and force them to work in a mode that goes against any standards and/or in poor conditions. It reminds me of when certain products started getting manufactured in 3rd world countries as opposed to western countries.

This cements my belief that we in IT need a professional organization just like Lawyers and Doctors do. If it meant less crap coming out of others IT I would easily submit to getting a license to "practice" IT.

gimme a break (1)

kberg108 (175765) | about 10 years ago | (#10536176)

that's it nothing else really

ai] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536177)

oh oh it's gotta be like dat

that is foolishness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536178)

just plain idiocy.

Wow..first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536181)


Re:Wow..first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536220)

but in reply to the post, i don't think american programmers will ever truly be extinct..some of the best programmers are americans..and america does have IT and CS programs in pretty much every city and town

i have to say though, it seems like there's a lot more european programmers though, half the programs i have are credited to some sort of european guy

first extinct programming post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536184)

I'm extinct!

Re:first extinct programming post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536236)

Come on, if he were dying he wouldn't have bothered to type "aaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!".

Perphaps he was dictating?

Asteroid (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536186)

Wait a few millenia and the rest of us will have another fine batch of crude!

One or the other (0, Insightful)

narsiman (67024) | about 10 years ago | (#10536187)

Become self employed or move to india

Endangered Species? (5, Funny)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | about 10 years ago | (#10536189)

Sweet! Now it's finally against the law to kill and eat me!

Free gmail invites [] with comments from satisfied recipients!

Re:Endangered Species? (5, Funny)

jbrocklin (613326) | about 10 years ago | (#10536370)

Not to mention, scientists will set up reserves with massive attempts to create offspring!

Finally against the law to eat you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536394)

That's not going to help your sex life any.

Re:Endangered Species? (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 10 years ago | (#10536396)

Sweet! Now it's finally against the law to kill and eat me!

Dude, you're gonna be roadkill as your job speeds out of this country.

Saving the species.. (5, Funny)

D-Cypell (446534) | about 10 years ago | (#10536192)

Sadly, programmers are particulally endangered due to their inability to mate in captivity.... or anywhere else!

Re:Saving the species.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536249)

Actually, I took off three years to raise my children. Getting back into the field has been difficult after that and the number of jobs (and pay) has certainly shrunk.

I don't think so. (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10536193)

I have worked at too many companies where we needed coding done on the fly with proprietary systems. This usual meant sitting down the programmer with a customer waiting for a return call ASAP. How would I do that with a programmer in India? I don't think I could overcome the language issues and the proprietary nature of the software. The publishing company I worked for would be a good example of that. Print jobs required programming. The jobs often were for 1 million or more pieces so mistakes could be catastrophic. It wasn't unusual to go racing to a programmers cube at 5PM with a programming requirement that had to be finished in 30 minutes or so to go to press.

Language issue (3, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | about 10 years ago | (#10536239)

What language issue?
Indian english is not a problem to understand once you adjust to the accent.
To be fair I have worked with many immigrants from around the world, but adjusting just isn't that hard for me anymore.

Re:Language issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536295)

Understanding them is one issue but reading text that is visible to the end-user with broken sentences is another.

Re:Language issue (2, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10536337)

My experience with Dell has been just awful. I cannot understand the thick accents and they have a hard time understanding what I am asking. I am not denigrating the engineers from India, however. But if I had to overcome the language issues on top of a usually ridiculous time constraint, I just don't think it would work.

Re:I don't think so. (1)

krunk7 (748055) | about 10 years ago | (#10536404)

Your absolutely correct, that's why you'll eventually lose your job as well. They'll replace you with a manager in India.

Finally... (1)

hey! (33014) | about 10 years ago | (#10536194)

They suggest people will manage overseas projects, become self-employed, or switch to other fields

Hallelujah - I'm ready to switch NOW.

Wal-Mart (4, Funny)

DoctorPepper (92269) | about 10 years ago | (#10536195)

I figure Wal-Mart is always an option. Hmm, stock shelves or pass-out shopping carts... decisions, decisions.

Re:Wal-Mart (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | about 10 years ago | (#10536290)

...perhaps you could implant the RFID tags on customers as then come through the door.

learn C# (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536199)

It si teh future.

Re:learn C# (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536388)

Might be marked funny, but oh so true.

Have you actually seen the amount of companies (big and small) switching to .net? There are TONS of businesses around here hiring c# developers for very attractive salaries.

It's on par with java with java now, so it's actually no longer a joke :)

The Day After Tommorow is released and I'm extinct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536204)


strange indeed (3, Interesting)

kevinx (790831) | about 10 years ago | (#10536205)

This hits home for me being a programmer... but then they mention a pay difference of $52k for immigrants and $60k for americans. Yet they go on to say that people are taking jobs at a 40% pay cut. They must be using that fuzzy math.

I'd... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536207) least like to get laid before going extinct

Perhaps.. (1)

JamesD_UK (721413) | about 10 years ago | (#10536213)

this [] ?

Peculiar contradiction (2, Interesting)

ArsSineArtificio (150115) | about 10 years ago | (#10536214)

USA Today reports that US Programmers are an 'Endangered Species' and expects them to be 'extinct' within the next few years, replaced by offshoring and H-1B visa holders. They suggest people will manage overseas projects, become self-employed, or switch to other fields.

You can't be a "programmer" and also be "self-employed"?

Re:Peculiar contradiction (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 10 years ago | (#10536244)

And if you were, would you work for a bowl of rice a day like your overseas competition?

Overseas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536216)

Eventually they'll realize the mistake. There will always be devs over here.

fp dc@inet

Whoa! Behind the times! (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 years ago | (#10536218)

My company has already dropped all offshoring (though they still outsource to a limited extent) and I hear of others doing the same.

It turns out it's way more efficient to pay a guy sitting right there three or four (or ten) times as much as some other guy sitting way the hell across the ocean, who doesn't even really care if your project (or company) lives or dies.

It also turns out it's better to use someone who understands your core buisness and the poeple working there than some faceless channel of communication.

I guess USA Today is just a little behind the curve.

Re:Whoa! Behind the times! (4, Insightful)

grahamsz (150076) | about 10 years ago | (#10536330)

I'm curious as the actual cost of outsourcing.

It's very easy to say that since an indian costs 20% of my salary, that it's 5 times cheaper. But i doubt that.

Bangalore doesn't seem to even have a reliable phone network yet, and i know it's a lot harder to communicate with my indian peers than my north american/european/japanese ones. I'm sure there are certain tasks that lend themselves to outsourcing, but my experience suggests that trying to move parts of a complex system is a bad idea.

Exactly. (5, Insightful)

TigerNut (718742) | about 10 years ago | (#10536349)

Outsourcing only works effectively if you are in that mythical work environment where requirements are fully established, interfaces are completely specified, and test harnesses for all the code are in place before a line gets written.

In the embedded software space, where real-time interaction between various interrupts means that system design and hard core debugging skills are king, outsourcing, and especially overseas, will never be a factor.

Well, according to the last debate... (5, Funny)

Undefined Tag (750722) | about 10 years ago | (#10536225)

Didn't Bush tell us to go to a community college and educate ourselves so we can get higher paying jobs?

Re:Well, according to the last debate... (2, Funny)

micromoog (206608) | about 10 years ago | (#10536348)

"No Child Left Behind" will save your job! Don't ask how, it just will!

Re:Well, according to the last debate... (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10536385)

I am a republican but I had a hard time with that comment by Bush. I have been to college. I have two Masters degrees. I don't need to go to the local community college, I need a job. I have been unemployed for two months. If I could live off of a WalMart wage I'd be okay. But, I am a single dad with two kids of which I have full-time custody. I just need a decent job at a decent wage. At this point, I would flip burgers if it paid enough.

Re:Well, according to the last debate... (1)

phutureboy (70690) | about 10 years ago | (#10536391)

Didn't Bush tell us to go to a community college and educate ourselves so we can get higher paying jobs?

Is it just in my town, or are community colleges a joke everywhere?

Re:Well, according to the last debate... (0, Troll)

operagost (62405) | about 10 years ago | (#10536402)

How many programmers don't have four-year degrees? Obviously he was talking about people stuck in dead-end low skill jobs. Pick something else to troll about.

Cockroaches never die (2, Funny)

narsiman (67024) | about 10 years ago | (#10536233)

Become a PM

Rather (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 years ago | (#10536355)

I'd rather go for the cockroach option.

Time to re-read my Kafka.

Learn More Stuff (5, Insightful)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | about 10 years ago | (#10536241)

I've had a job programming web applications for about 3 years now. Another part of my job is providing helpdesk support, fixing computers, network administration, and web design. If any one of these areas get outsourced, I still have a job.

In addition, I'm working on getting my teaching certification in mathematics. Like any industry, it's good to have a backup plan if everything falls apart. While I haven't noticed any of my friends' jobs being outsourced, I do know that it's always a possibility and have tried preparing myself in the ways listed about in case anything should happen.

Re:Learn More Stuff (5, Insightful)

macklin01 (760841) | about 10 years ago | (#10536367)

That's a really good point. On that note, instead of going into programming to do programming, one might consider going into science that requires a lot of programming. For instance, I'm studying computational biophysics (e.g., simulating cancer growth, chemotherapy, red blood cell deformation, etc.), and it takes a lot of fascinating math, computer science, physics, and biology. It's a lot of fun, it's rewarding, and it provides a great excuse to work with high-end computers and programming. ;)

There are a lot of programmers out there. There are a good number of scientists. But there aren't quite so many who can do both well. -- Paul

About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536247)

Maybe at least the code monkeys will be forced to step down their pedestal and realize that despide their self importance, they are the modern equivalent of plant workers, quite expandable and replacable.

Maybe if a professional conscience had emerged sooner and software design had been veiwed as an important endeavour instead of a quick and dirty way to make a buck, screw the client and run, coder would have a professional order, like doctors and lawyers, and would at least have social respect.

All whats left is to unionize and hope for the best.

if we had to pick (3, Funny)

nktae (753573) | about 10 years ago | (#10536248)

You know its too bad that programmers are endangered, luckily they have mostly evolved into software engineers. Its just too bad we can't pick which jobs are endangered, I think we could afford to have lawyers a little more endangered. But please don't let them be come endangered by evolving, I can't imagine what a lawyer evolves into but it probably has fangs.

How to get famous (3, Funny)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | about 10 years ago | (#10536250)

Well, as a U.S. programmer, I have to say that if I can get my 15 minutes of fame on TV, I don't particularly care if it's with David Attenborough simply because I'm listed as endangered... Any TV face time is good TV face time.

Re:How to get famous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536412)

If you do, please do us all a favor and NOT sing that "She Bangs" song with a thick accent.

Last thing we need is a new reality show based on jobless programmers sitting on a couch competing for who can down the most bags of cheetos in 15 minutes. No, I can't say I'd be motivated to watch American Idle. Unfortunately, the way it's going, I might be a contestant.

Sure .. We're going the Way of Buggy Whip ... (1)

hecklin (153264) | about 10 years ago | (#10536252)

there is a reason many shops that were offshoring are pulling their resources back, hmmmmm, would that be Quality issues.

We went from a Manufacting Economy , to a Service Economy , to now what... You want FRIES with that SIR?

*yawn* (2, Insightful)

DroopyStonx (683090) | about 10 years ago | (#10536255)

Why do people post these stories?

Programmers wont be "extinct" and you know it... what a stupid thing to say.

Didn't we have a similiar scare about 15 years ago with the auto industry and everyone thought that auto-workers' jobs would go overseas? Hasn't happened yet.

Quit being so paranoid.

of course (1)

ihaddsl (772965) | about 10 years ago | (#10536342)

of course programming won't become extinct. This is trash journalism at it's best.

Oh wait, it is USA Today, I didn't expect anything else

No way that they will all disappear... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536257)

There will always be work in government or defense industries which will be too sensitive to outsource, or send off-shore. There will probably be some in commercial enterprises as well.

I expect that there will still be many places which will consider it to be a major plus to have the developers on-site. Control can be a major issue.

We also haven't seen the fallout of "net-centric" warfare yet either. What will happen when those 500+ North Korean hackers, and the uncounted ones in other countries, let loose during wartime?

USA Today (3, Insightful)

Usquebaugh (230216) | about 10 years ago | (#10536258)

The day I start worrying about what's written in the press is the day I hang up my keyboard. Given that they cannot accurately report any tech story I'm meant to worry up this crap.

Learning how to live on 7 dollars an hour (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536259)

And all those reports on consumer spending dropping off. Yeah, that's partly my fault.

If offshoring is cheaper than in-house... (3, Funny)

rah1420 (234198) | about 10 years ago | (#10536268)

... then I guess take-out is cheaper than home-cooked.

More time for Sailor Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536270)

and other pathetic pasttimes

They'd be outsourced too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536274)

If any managers really believe they can outsource all technical work and still have a job, they're nuts. For one, if they don't have face to face contact with even one of their workers there isn't a chance in the world they can manage effectively. For another, once you've collected all your brain power overseas, just how many weeks do you think it would take them to realize they could just drop the overseas manager and run the business themselves?

No sane person could believe having all their workers overseas wouldn't be the end of their job too. Only those managers that seem to think they're the ones who are single-handedly responsible for the company's success could delude themselves like that.

Career Change (3, Insightful)

Zathras26 (763537) | about 10 years ago | (#10536277)

I know I'm not exactly the first person to think of this, but I'm trying to get out of the IT industry. In the long run, I just don't see any way I can be competitive with offshoring. Granted, there are certain jobs that can't be outsourced that way, but it would be too much work to try to get one of the few remaining positions -- increasing competition for fewer jobs.

I don't much like agreeing with him, but I think Bush was right in the debate the other night when he said that the 21st century economy is going to necessitate job and career changes -- not just in IT but in other areas as well. Even down to more mundane things like checkout clerks at grocery stores (which isn't much of a career, admittedly, but you know what I mean). Those are on their way out, being steadily replaced by automated checkout machines, and those who currently still work as checkout clerks had better start thinking about what they're going to do next because they're either going to leave the job of their own accord, or they're going to get laid off when those checkout machines become commonplace.

An idea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536278)

Why not work for a company that does Department of Defense work (where you need a security clearance)?
Those jobs will never be outsourced.

Re:An idea (5, Informative)

Zathras26 (763537) | about 10 years ago | (#10536339)

That's a good idea -- if you can get a clearance. Getting a security clearance can be difficult for various reasons. For one thing, you have to find a company that will sponsor you (either that, or go to work for the government). For another, you have to meet the requirements for a clearance, and they've tightened those up since 9/11 (I should know -- when I applied for a clearance, the government told me they'd have to investigate me for well over a year, just because I had changed my name). I even know of one guy who's been cleared for a while but is now in jeopardy of losing his clearance because his wife is French.

But yes -- if you can get the clearance, that's definitely an excellent way to give yourself a good dose of career security.

Does nobody else see the same problem...? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536288)

the article, which seems to have been written based on discussions with an anti-immigration advocacy group, sets its baseline for employment and salary at the peak of the dot com boom.

Sorry guys, but that was an outlier. I don't see how anybody can take this seriously...

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536289)

If current trends are indication, I predict that there will be some really intense whining.

Less neck down more neck up (2, Insightful)

EmperorKagato (689705) | about 10 years ago | (#10536296)

What do my fellow code-dinosaurs plan to do before the asteroid hits?" A report on Newsforge (which is part of OSTG along with Slashdot) shows the flip side of the coin.
I think it is time we evolve from the reactive developing-lizards that we are into the planning, big decision thinking birds of architecture and engineering. You have to evolve yourself to stay alive in this game.

I'm coming in! (3, Interesting)

dmp123 (547038) | about 10 years ago | (#10536301)

I'm a UK UNIX support/developer/sysadmin, and I'm being relocated to Seattle under the H1-B programme..

I'm not planning on stealing anyone's job - my company is creating a new position for me here, and the experience I have with the company's products from working in the UK office is one of the main drivers for moving me, rather than hiring someone else.

I'm also not a cheaper option - my salary is on a par with US techies, and my company has to pay $$$ for the visa and relocation expenses. So, it's a sink or swim world - might be positions available in the UK or other places. It's not the third world outside, you know - this is free movement of jobs and labour :)


Re:I'm coming in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536405)

sure you are stealing some once job. THey fire a person and hire some one from england and create a new position for you. Because you are probably cheaper.

Defense Programming (5, Informative)

kalashead (559049) | about 10 years ago | (#10536303)

Certain areas of programming lend it self away from offshoring and H-1B visa holders. Here in the defense industry we have the confidence that our programing requires US citizens holding security clearances. This, however, does cement our job secturity. While we do not have to worry about offshoring, the vacillating DOD defense fund and nearing presidant election leave us a bit chary.

Future article: US software managers to be extinct (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 10 years ago | (#10536306)

But even the optimists believe that many basic programming jobs will go to foreign nations, leaving behind jobs for Americans to lead and manage software projects.

And in 2007, they will run an article about how few jobs there are for Americans looking to "lead and manage software projects".

Once you outsource the real skill needed, why wouldn't the jobs managing those workers be outsourced?

Other fields (4, Interesting)

ShadyG (197269) | about 10 years ago | (#10536308)

Yes, like other posters I do not believe my career is in jeopardy, having long since moved past programming into software engineering. Still, I've recently found myself drawn to hobbies that when I look at them could potentially replace SE as a profession should I ever choose to do so. Feel free to add to this list with replies:

Automotive mechanics
Carpentry (soon to branch out and study architecture and general contracting)
E lectronics (ok, this isn't too far from software, and about the same endangered status).

Anyone have others? What hobbies to computer professionals enjoy that might branch out into alternate careers? I discarded Lego building immediately :-)

Doom and Gloom as usual. (1)

scoser (780371) | about 10 years ago | (#10536309)

Haven't we been hearing this kind of stuff for the last X many years? It's either "No programmers will be employed in the US ever again!" or "Programming jobs increasing 1500% in the next 10 years!" I'm sticking with what interests me rather than going with a job that's more secure but makes me want to slash my wrists with a letter opener every morning.

Not the whole story... (2, Insightful)

Bull999999 (652264) | about 10 years ago | (#10536323)

hat rationale makes no sense to the Programmers Guild and other groups that have sprung up to resist the tech visas. Since more than 100,000 American programmers are unemployed -- and many more are underemployed -- the existing 65,000 quota is inexcusably high, they argue. H-1B and L-1 visas are "American worker replacement programs," says the National Hire American Citizens Society.

The question is, how many of them are good programmers vs. programmer wannabe out of a paper mill during the boom that only cared about the money?

The average wage for an American programmer runs about $60,000, says John Bauman, who set up the Organization for the Rights of American Workers. Employers pay H-1Bs an average $53,000.

Average difference of $7,000 doesn't seem high enough to go through the hassles of H-1 program. I'm wonder if many of the unemployed programmers are making good use of networking and job searching skills.

Oh, For Pete's Sake (5, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 10 years ago | (#10536326)

David R. Francis, you're a hack. You shouldn't even be writing for a weekly coupon clipper.

Even a sub-par human mind would have trouble accepting this tripe as truth. Consider the following statement:

Not everybody agrees programmers will disappear completely.

That's simply insipid. It's akin to saying, "Not everybody agrees that Dick Cheney sticks rodents up Dubya's ass" or "Not everybody agrees that Linus Torvalds secretly plans to incorporate stolen code in his operating system." This sort of statement is right at the top of the list of ways to lend creedence to a completely baseless notion.

Mr. Francis, you do not name a single expert who believes that American programmers will cease to exist in next few years. If I were feeling generous, I'd simply state that you're a mind-bogglingly lazy journalist who cannot be bothered to include one shred of evidence supporting your most alarming charge. As I'm ticked off, however, I'll say that you're lying through your fucking teeth, that you didn't speak to or read of a single expert who believes that American programmers will be extinct in a matter of years, and you just wanted something sensational and outlandish to jazz up a less-than-mediocre piece on the state of computer jobs in America.

David R. Francis, you're a hack.

Take advantage of those cent fractions! (1)

FUF (68684) | about 10 years ago | (#10536327)

Why, modify the source to take all those chopped off decimals in my company's financial transactions and deposit them into a private account, duh!

Last Laugh (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | about 10 years ago | (#10536333)

Fear not... India is losing jobs to China faster then they are gaining them. And China will lose them just as fast to Open Source(TM) programmers in the western world that work for free.

Go Linux! We will laugh last!

And if Bush wins, the H1-B problem goes away, since noone from outside the US will dare to come here (except the 4k/day across the mexican border) even to visit with all the anal probing involved.

They Don't Know What They're Talking About (3, Insightful)

Jameth (664111) | about 10 years ago | (#10536335)

They're making the classic mistake of thinking that programming is the same as creating software, and are making implications then that programmers are the creators of software, completely ignoring computer scientists and software engineers.

There is a clear difference between writing the code for a program and actually determining what code is needed or making a new, original algorithm. Those fields are the only ones that matter now and are the only ones that have ever really mattered.

Also, there's the field of those doing spot fixes and working in-company for major sites who can afford to have their own support staff--those are really more administrators and systems engineers.

All those fields happen to require knowledge of programming, but it is the least of their prerequisites.

For those who crave analagous examples, consider whether a sculptor is a stone cutter, an architecht is a diagrammer and builder, or a rocket hobbyist is a welder.

will code for food (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10536340)

Corporate managers don't care much for quality, if cheaper labor improves their profit more. And of course they don't care about the American economy that subsidizes the "guest workers" who arrive, work for less than permanent residents, and take their own profit from their labor back to countries where their savings buy more. They have to come here, because programming jobs in America continue to boom, though some of that growth is to compensate for lower productivity. Because quality programming requires close feedback with those who accept the products, and other experts in the specific business implemented. Americans can protect both our labor market and our reputation for quality.

Wow! This is breaking news! (5, Informative)

jjohn (2991) | about 10 years ago | (#10536347)

The death of the American Programmer has been heralded many times before. Back before spreading terror about the eminent collapse of our non-Y2K compliant world, Ed Yourdon wrote a little book of doom called The Rise and Fall of the American Programer [] , in which a dim future was projected for our overpaid and underworked behinds.

He wrote this is 1993.

Some of you will remember that the booming economy of the mid to late 90s in which being able to say "internet" landed you a tech job.

It will take more years to evaluate the real impact of offshoring on the American Programmer. If programming is what you enjoy doing, you will always have work (although you will have to be flexible in what you program).

As always, don't panic.

US markets in general are endangered (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 years ago | (#10536356)

The way everything is being sent out of the country to 'cut costs', most major markets in the US are on the endangered species list, its not just programmers..

While products may be cheaper, no one will be able to have decent enough jobs to make the money to buy them anyway..

And since we don't have our unparalleled manufacturing base any longer, ( 'high tech jobs are the future' nonsense ) we are the mercy of everyone else in the world..

Should scare you, it scares me..

Bad News (3, Interesting)

datGSguy (820433) | about 10 years ago | (#10536357)

I am currently in the last stages of forming a new venture in which at least five coders will be hired. I have used offshore (India) coders in the past, which has worked well for some projects. This is not however my prefered working relationship. In my experience, even with advanced communication technologies, there is no substitute to 'being there' for building an intuitive, fast, team.

Preventing outsourcing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536358)

What do my fellow code-dinosaurs plan to do before the asteroid hits?

Vote for Kerry.

Watch out India, you're next! (2, Interesting)

C3ntaur (642283) | about 10 years ago | (#10536364)

As your knowledge workers become more expensive, expect to see those jobs migrate to still cheaper labor markets in other developing countries. Sure, the net effect on the global economy is positive, but I can tell you it really sucks to be on the losing end of the outsourcing movement.

Original on Christian Science Monitor (1)

engywook (802813) | about 10 years ago | (#10536376)

I think it's appropriate to reference the source of the article when possible. This one started out here, on the Christian Science Monitor. []

real estate (2, Insightful)

mslinux (570958) | about 10 years ago | (#10536378)

I saw this coming a while back. Besides kinda buring out I had the desire to earn some "passive" income. So, I sold the big house, bought a couple of small rental houses (one of which I live in) and started getting other people to pay me rent each month. It's nice to go to bed at night knowing that someone is working to pay me rent ;)

I still work FT too, but when the bottom falls out or I decide I've had enough, I'll be ready for it.

Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536380)

And here we have the typical hysterical slop they try to call reporting that is almost the calling card of USA Today.
They sold their integrity long ago, and usually come up with one of these XXX is going extinct bullshit stories about once every 1-2 months.

Huh? Before the asteroid hits? (1)

acidrain69 (632468) | about 10 years ago | (#10536392)

What do you mean, before the asteroid hits. For a recent graduate with little or no actual work experience in programming, the asteroid hit a while ago. There are too many unemployed or under-employed people to get a foot in the door.

The only thing endangered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10536401) the feeling of entitlement I've seen in way too many programmers.

If you have remained flexible, been willing to relocate, have a service orientation, and entrepreneurial spirit, I've found this industry to be great for this college non-graduate. Unless they start parking Indian service organizations on off-shore aircraft carriers, my future is secure. If all you expect from programming is leading-edge development and refuse to interact with anything other than a source-code control system, things HAVE slowed down. If you are willing to do boring old service and easy programming for boring old banks, insurance companies and lawyers, and actually interface with real live customers, things are as good as they ever have been. In fact, you'll be turning down work. And these industries demand local, hands-on services.
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