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The Future of IT in America?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the stuff-to-discuss dept.


tomocoo asks: "As a young person considering various choices for the future career I'd like to pursue, IT and computer science continually reappear near the top of the list of fields I'm interested in. In fact, one of my only hesitations is the suspected ease by which programming and other related tasks can be sent to other countries for pennies on the dollar. How much of a threat do the readers of Slashdot feel outsourcing is to the American programmer? Should I and other young people be pursuing something more specialized or have I simply been watching too much CNN?"

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Learn a new language? (1, Troll)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182173)

Perhaps learning to speak Hindi could be of some use?

Re:Learn a new language? (4, Insightful)

Keruo (771880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182230)

Parent was bit trollish, but he has a point though..
Asia is currently worlds fastest growing economical area, and knowing how to speak japanese, mandarin or hindi might be rather useful.

Re:Learn a new language? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182248)

Every educated Indian speaks English. Most misunderstandings can be attributed to slight cultural impedence mismatches, similar to the difference between American and Aussie or Kiwi culture.


Caucasian American Software Engieer Who Does Speak Some Hindi And Doesn't Find It Particularly Useful Except For Telling Jokes

There will be a job for you (5, Insightful)

dracocat (554744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182176)

I have been hearing about the doom of the industry for a very long time. The fact is, is that IT and Computer Science follow a cycle.

Will there be a high paying job waiting for you the moment you graduate? That is impossible to predict, but long term you are almost assured to find a healthy career waiting for you.

Proof that the offshoring is an overexagerated issue? Look at average salaries of graduates. They may not be as high as you want them, but compared with any other fields they are consistently towards the top. Even now, with so much media attention focusing on the downturn in the tech economy, I doubt you would receive very much sympathy for having to receive a starting salary of over 51k. (Starting Salaries) []

Anyone complaining about the lack of jobs and low pay in the industry is an anomaly. I am not saying it is their fault, but there will be people that simply have bad luck finding a job no matter what field you look at.

In short, the reason there is so much noise is simply because some people have unrealistic expectations of both finding a job and the pay they will receive. Take that away and what you have is an industry on a whole that is actually more healthy than a lot of others.

All of that being said, it is always better to specialize if your goal is more money. Almost any job will base your pay based on your expertise in the area they are looking for. If a job is looking for a C# developer and you have a little knowledge of everything then you will get paid for having a little knowledge of C#. If on the other hand you are a Java expert and have been doing nothing but Java for the previous 5 years you may not get that C# position at all, but when you find a company looking for someone with knowledge of Java you can definitely expect a higher pay.

Starting Salaries (1)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182292)

The starting salary only applies for those graduates who get jobs in the first place.

Using the NACE methodology, if 10% of CS graduates nationwide get jobs paying an average of $50K, and 90% of CS graduates don't get jobs at all, the average starting salary for a CS graduate is $50K.

Re:Starting Salaries (2, Interesting)

dracocat (554744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182405)

That may be, but the amount of money being paid is also a correlation to the supply vs demand ratio for a particular job.

You may also notice in the same study that more jobs were offered in IT than registered nurses, and I dont think anyone who is a registered nurse is complaining for lack of employment.

The fact remains, it is not difficult to get a job in IT. You or someone you know may have had some bad luck, but the industry as a whole is very healty; and when comparing IT graduates with those of other industries is nothing short of spectacular.

Re:There will be a job for you (3, Interesting)

Jerim (872022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182325)

I agree. IT is no diffirent than any other sector. The problem is that the IT industry went through this idealic phase where anyone who knew how to turn on a computer was making over $50k a year as a computer programmer. So yes, compared to the 90's the industry would appear to be in a slump. But if you look at the 90's as being the result of stupidity that should never have existed, you will see that the IT industry is just like any other sector. You can make a living in whatever industry you want.

The difference being your expectations. If you are expecting a fantasy land of 20 companies offering you $70k jobs the day you graduate, then you are stuck in the heydays of the 90's. Do what you love knowing that you will always have a job somewhere in the IT industry.

Jobs in the Free Market? (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182328)

The free exchange of goods and services (including labor) between the United States and India damages how the (relatively) free market operates in the United States. The (relatively) non-free market in India has destroyed much of its economy. The majority of Indians are unemployed or underemployed. Although the news reports describing the tech boom in India is accurate, that boom is largely restricted to the tech sector. The remainder of the Indian economy is in terrible shape. Indian government intervention in that economy generates hordes of desperate labor that flood into the United States or into the Indian tech sector.

The final result is that, due to the free flow of services (including labor in the form of outsourcing) between the United States and India, Indian government intervention now indirectly damages the operation of the American free market (for high-tech labor), suppressing wages and diminishing working conditions.

You see a similar phenomenon in the unskilled-labor market. Mexican government intervention in the Mexican economy generates hordes of desperate labor that floods the American market for unskilled labor. The presence of Mexican illegal aliens in the American market suppresses wages and diminishes working conditions as American employers exploit a nearly limitless supply of desperate workers willing to work for slave wages in dangerous or grueling conditions.

No job in America is safe from this destruction to the free market.

You should select the job doing the kind of work that most interests you. In your spare time on the weekend, stay abreast of international news. Vote for populist politicians who support free trade between the United States and only other (relatively) free markets like Canada and Japan, not Mexico nor India. Support policies that terminate trade between the United States and (relatively) non-free markets like Mexico or India.

Also support policies that compel Washington to aggressively intervene in both the Mexican government and the Indian government. The nature of the intervention should be at least as aggressive as the Mexican meddling (by Vicente Fox and his corrupt ilk) in the American Congress. Washington should eliminate Mexican politicians and Indian politicians who promote the economic destruction that has generated hordes of desperate labor fleeing to the United States.

Re:Jobs in the Free Market? (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182377)

Washington should eliminate Mexican politicians and Indian politicians...

WTF? Pardon me, but your arrogance is showing.

Re:There will be a job for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182380)

I left programming years ago with no regrets and I've been quite sucessful as a project manager and business analyst. This is were writing and communications skills pay off and these areas are difficult (though not impossible) to outsource.

Yeah, too much CNN (4, Insightful) (960072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182182)

You're way too caught up in picking a career by the "current market trend". If you're great at what you do, there will always be a market for your skill set.

If the current trend of outsourcing has you scared, what about other adverse situations? What about the next recession; are you going to run back to school and become a CPA? I'm suspect that you have a deep love for programming. When you love development, you feel it in your bones; you think about problems on your lunch break, you stay up until 3am to get that last bug worked out. If you don't have this sort of passion for creative logistics, then maybe you should reconsider other options (because you're likely to get burned out fairly quickly).

Jim [] -- A workout plan that doesn't feel like homework.

Re:Yeah, too much CNN (1)

Quasar Sera (838279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182322)

I'm very good at doing nothing. May I please have my paycheck now?

Re:Yeah, too much CNN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182378)

I'm very good at picking my nose. Where are the jobs?

Re:Yeah, too much CNN (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182409)

Thank you!
I started my college career in EE. I hacked all the way through the math (not with great grades but I passed DiffEq and Linear Algebra) but realized that I really didn't have any love for what I was doing at some point in Circuits II. It was interesting but not my passion. So I dropped out of the engineering school I was at and transferred to a broadline university where I graduated in Economics and Finance (which all the math I'd done was a nice bonus in the interviews). I finished with not the greatest jobs in the world, but I certainly can't complain, they have left me prosperous (which I've best heard defined as able to meet all your needs and still have something left to give away).
It seems to me that that that is what really drives the good jobs these days, not so much getting the degree (as that is becoming pretty easy), but really enjoying what you are doing. If you don't have that joy, then well all the money in the world won't make up the difference.

Up, not down (5, Insightful)

Marlow the Irelander (928776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182183)

As I understand it, IT employment in the US is increasing, not decreasing; you'll have a better chance if you develop skills in things like project management rather than just being a code monkey.

Re:Up, not down (1, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182272)

skills in things like project management rather than just being a code monkey

Yes, but the items in /dev/staff are the trickiest to keep running of all.

Hence the fact that /dev/staff/phb makes more money than anything in /dev/staff/code_monkeys

There is no shame in honing your skillz in /dev/staff/code_monkeys for a while before

mv /dev/staff/code_monkeys/ok_this_is_getting_tedious /dev/staff/phb/is_my_lobotomy_scar_showing

Re:Up, not down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182355)

fuck you, who are you calling a monkey. Go home and six sigma up a project to program your VCR you fucking idiot. Im so sick of PM's thinking they have some hot skill. Those monkeys are a dime a dozen. We walk them through everything. They have no real skill, other than saying the obvious and pushing people. The reasons why PMs make more money is because they bother to dress in the morning and can go through the dignity crushing corporate spiel what we ignore too much. All we have to do to eliminate PM's and make PM money is dress nice and talk to humans. To some people thats important, to me, well i'm on the fence. I could use the money, but I actually love my job.

I predict PM bullshit will reach a point in which most businesses will hit gridlock as PMs fight with other PMs and create their own deadlock cycle, and then management will realize what the problem they created.

Fuck PMs, work for a living.

Re:Up, not down (1)

Scentless (963269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182403)

Amen! PMs are the most useless of corporate creatures.

Re:Up, not down (5, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182404)

As the AC clearly points out, you need more than just coding skills to stay employed. You also need interpersonal skills.

Young People. (5, Insightful)

sglider (648795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182187)

I am one of those young people. I'm finishing up a stint in the Army, and going back to finish my final year of my BS in Computer Information Systems. ( I was mobilized during my senior year of college.)

I firmly believe that there is plenty out there for me -- but not in something like programming, rather I believe my talent lies in being a Systems Analyst for a business, or something both technical and managerial in nature.

Sure, the off shore folks have us beat when it comes to programminng, no doubt about that -- but that's only a problem if you want to be just a programmer.

They still need people to lead and manage these teams of programmers, and perhaps that's where the value of the American IT professional is.

don't do information (5, Insightful)

Gramberto (738223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182273)

Computer Science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering are far more powerful degrees. They are also much hard than IS. I took some IS classes to learn some new things at a local state college. I thought the classes were a joke. The classes were easy. There was no low level theory at all. No you will never directly use the theory, but if you understand the concepts its much easier to grab a book and learn the practical stuff on your own. The same school has very hard computer science courses.

Even if you want to be a network engineer. You will learn ALOT more with a computer science degree. You can then do a minor in information systems and take a few classes that you are interested in.

Computer engineering is probably the most valuable to employers. The reason is that the barrier to entry is higher. For a network administrator or a programmer you can learn it without school. You really can't learn computer engineering without school.

Re:don't do information (3, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182310)

They are also much hard than IS. I took some IS classes to learn some new things at a local state college. I thought the classes were a joke. The classes were easy.

... I'm guessing English 101 wasn't one of the classes.

Re:don't do information (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182320)

How many companies out there are doing real computer engineering or even computer science? Most programming or other IT jobs are simply hooking up technology to get it to work in the business or writing software that adds and stores data or writes reports. Few professional programmers will really engineer anything.

Re:don't do information (5, Insightful)

joekampf (715059) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182359)

No, most of us with our CS degrees are not creating the next processor, or the next programming language or OS. However, what I have found to be invaluable, and what makes ME more valuable than the masses of IS majors or even the offshore/inshore cookie cutter programmers out there is that I understand what is going on under the covers. So when I decide to use a feature, or create a system, I'll know how it will scale, what the implication are when the damn thing is running on something other than my desktop. I can't tell you how many developers out there have no idea about things like, threads, transactions, I/O, networks. What can go wrong when those things break or are not handled right and what that means to the system they are developing. Thus you get crap that has to be restarted every day, or isn't robust.

Re:Young People. (4, Insightful)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182336)

Sure, the off shore folks have us beat when it comes to programminng, no doubt about that ...

Sure, managers and PHB-types might think it's a great idea to outsource programming. By doing this, you can get a similar-quality "product" for a much lower cost. But it's not all roses and cherub farts.

Programming is hard. There have been countless times where a project has not met the needs it was supposed to, and this often has to do with poor communication. Now throw in a few thousand miles difference from the customer and the coders, a time difference and possibly a language barrier. Is this going to make it easier to get what you need? The chance for miscommunication here goes up a huge amount. What also gets worse is turnaround time. The factors I've mentioned will definitely slow down some parts of the development.

Re:Young People. (1)

Cromac (610264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182351)

Sure, the off shore folks have us beat when it comes to programminng, no doubt about that --

You haven't worked at a company that has used offshore developers have you? The only way they have the US beat is in price. The quality of code churned out by offshore dev companies is notoriously poorly written and even more poorly tested.

Have you ever heard someone praise the quality of code they received from offshoring? No one I know in the industry has, the only people happy about it are the bean counters and PHB who look at nothing but the next quarters bottem line.

Re:Young People. (4, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182364)

I am one of those young people. I'm finishing up a stint in the Army, and going back to finish my final year of my BS in Computer Information Systems. ( I was mobilized during my senior year of college.)

You have a couple of serious advantages that your peers (other recent college grads) simply don't have:

  • Employers know that you are disciplined (that is a given based on military experience)
  • They know you are already well trained (it doesn't matter at what) and apt to learn since you had to go through a good amount of training for your MOS (unless you happen to be a cook or truck driver)
  • You probably have a security clearance (even if it is just a Secret-level clearance)
  • You are probably more mature (in terms of age, where the people graduating with you are likely 22-23 years old, you are probably 25-26 years old), which makes a difference in how potential employers view you

In summary, you have nothing to worry about. Same with others in similar situation to yours. The moral of the story, if you want to be better off in the job market, consider a 3-4 year hitch in the military. Even if you are not in IT, the added experience will be a huge benefit and establish a track record that you can show to future employers.

The Catch (2, Insightful)

DanTheLewis (742271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182384)

As long as you survive the Iran deployment.

From a Services Perspective.. (3, Interesting)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182189)

Well, my experience has been that offshoring has had little impact on my business, which is security, deployment, and maintenance of internet facing computers.

I do a little coding. Some stays in house, some gets GPLd.

But from a services perspective, most of my clients have migrated to my company because we don't have tier 1 tech support, we have engineers- and our customers *hate* doing business with a company that offshores their support or engineering staff.

Every single client I have is a refugee from a services company with offshoring. Every Single One. They pay more... some times a lot more... for the services we provide. But we are also a lot more accountable to them.

FWIW- I've been successful in making a good living by being the opposite of the offshoring trend. But I think to make this work in the market place you have to run your own little business rather than seek employment from someone else.

On the down side- prepare to be awoken at 4:30am by a client calling your cell phone... because you have the shift... and both of your other engineers are in the Bahamas or Canada vacationing.

Re:From a Services Perspective.. (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182315)

I would say that the best way to succede is to be that guy that will in fact do a 0dark30-3 hours roll out to fix X Y or Z combined with deep knowledge of a field (ie can you build 95% of the fix card deck the "tech support folks" use from memory?) will get you a good living (you may not have a life but..)

Re:From a Services Perspective.. (1)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182373)

Good comment...

I hope that "extreme competence" and commitment was implied by the original post. Solving the unsolvable problem will always elevate you, because the field is concrete: It works or it doesn't.

High real estate + low wages == collapse (-1, Offtopic)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182190)

Until the US figures out how to pull itself out of the death spiral of inflating real estate combined with deflating wages, it is best to find another way to live.

Re:High real estate + low wages == collapse (4, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182238)

Yeah, but if you're going to buy into that, the safest thing to do is to move out into the mountains, grow your own food, and have a really trusty shotgun. That, or move to Canada.

Re:High real estate + low wages == collapse (1)

PenGun (794213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182256)

Yeah you are far less likly to need the shotgun here.

  Do What Now ??? ... Standards and Practices !

So don't get a job? (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182255)

Until the US figures out how to pull itself out of the death spiral of inflating real estate combined with deflating wages, it is best to find another way to live.

I'm not sure what you're advocating. Should the guy move somewhere else? Try a different career that will somehow be unaffected by economic fluctuations? Head for the hills and become a hermit?

Re:High real estate + low wages == collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182279)

Well I would say that America's suburban service economy is probably on its death bed and that there may not be a high demand for general IT folk as the cost of energy continues to climb (or the value of the dollar continues to fall).
Had I to do all over again I'd probably enter into petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, geophysics, geology ... etc. This is where a large amount of investment is going to be made while careers in law, IT, financial services, health care will probably experience tough times.

Re:High real estate + low wages == collapse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182362)

Sheesh. What drool.

I'm 51 and have seen the business (computers in all forms) level out and be an uncomfortable place to find a job (2001 was probably the worst) about 3 times. Somewhere around 1982 when Eastern Airlines went tit's up was also pretty bad in Miami. In any case, I've never had trouble finding work (I've been laid off 3 times). I'm not of the specialization school - I think you should have a good base skill set (mine is Process Automation (perl / shell scripting ;-) ), Oracle, Unix and Windows admin). The big thing to realize is that what we work in *is* a business. That means you must be concerned with the bottom line. As you progress in you career, you should be doing more design, scheduling, planning and budgeting of the business and less of the grunt coding. Being one dimensional is a death sentence.

As to real estate, it is what it is. There is none being being made so it is a limited quantity similiar to oil. I've done very well in real estate. Get in, grit your teeth for the first year or two and you too will like inflating real estate.

I do agree with you point about deflating wages (but not in the computer business - the business is in fine shape). So stop going to Walmart and frequest businesses that treat their employees well (thats why I shop at Wegmans).

Re:High real estate + low wages == collapse (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182392)

I agree there is a serious problem especially in the North East. The housing prices have gone through the roof around here. Where 6 years ago you could get a 2 bedroom home for $125k you can now bairly get the same home for $400k. And in that same timeframe salaries have bairly increased 5-10% total, which just about covers the costs of inflation, let alone the ~300% increase in home costs. I will be lucky to get anywhere near 10% of the costs of a home saved up to purchase one on my current salary. Heck 10 years ago, it was considered standard that you put down 20% of costs on the home when you bought it. Most people I know right now are getting "intrest only" loans, because that is all they can afford to do. Well, with an "intrest only" loan, you never pay off the priciple unless you make seperate payments. You are basically just throwing money away. In fact you might as well be renting, since at least when you rent, you get to call up the landlord and have them fix the things that break, with the intrest only loan, you need to fix those same things when they break, and you still don't own those items...

Forget about IT (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182193)

Capitalism is not on your side here. Big companies want to move jobs overseas, and for jobs here, they want to import cheaper foreignors to take them. The latter phenomenon is a big part of the current bickering over immigration, which is not entirely about Mexicans really but also about Indians who are taking middle-class jobs.

There is a solution (0, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182318)

Kill them all. And close the borders totally.

IT. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182200)

IT: run as far away as fast and as you fucking possibly can.

If it's what you want to do, do it. (5, Insightful)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182202)

Don't worry about what CNN is saying. They're not programmers. If you're a decent programmer, you'll always have a job.

Here's the bottom line, though:

If programming is something you love to do, then do it. If it's just something you want to do because you've heard it'll earn you "big bucks", don't.

Not that you can't make a good can. It's just that unless you love something, you shouldn't go into it. You might be able to handle it for 10 or even 20 years, but unless your heart is really into it, you'll regret it long term.

Good luck.

Re:If it's what you want to do, do it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182244)

Just don't let yourself get too overly specialized. I can find a programmer at any time of the day for any of the projects I have. It's far harder to find someone capable of management of a project.

I would say if you love the tech, do the tech, but don't forget... the MBAs are the ones that are making the choices over who does and does not get offshored. I'd rather make the choice, then get the roughshod end of the choice.

A solid tech (or anything for that matter) education + a solid business education means being able to afford that great $2mm house in SF.

Vertical (1)

Treacle Treatment (681828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182204)

There will always be vertical markets in the IT/CS industry that will dictate it staying here rather than going offshore. Good luck finding one. :)

Learn what you're good at. (5, Insightful)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182206)

And you'll be useful to somebody. Get really good at something, and you'll be useful to everybody. Almost doesn't matter what field. Whatever it is you REALLY enjoy, there is a way to make money at it, and a way to make yourself valuable in that field. In fact, if you REALLY enjoy it, create something new and market THAT. That's the way to make real money. I don't know anybody who makes a lot of money solely based on their education credentials. I'm sure they exist, but that breed is becoming rarer and rarer.


The industry isn't that bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182207)

Jobs aren't that hard to find. It's an industry where real talent still does get noticed.

A lot of these whiners are lousy hacks or have grown used to the .com bubble. Many others just aren't very persistant about trying to find work.

Re:The industry isn't that bad. (2, Interesting)

Greventls (624360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182277)

I am graduating in a week. The hard workers I know all have jobs. The slackers and incompetent people all do not have a job. If you aren't going to go into IT, what are you going to go into? In terms of people having jobs out of college, engineering and then business degrees are the only other ones I see. So you could go into engineering or if you want to be someones bitch, go into business. I feel bad for liberal arts majors.

Outsourcing (3, Insightful)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182209)

Most of the programmers I see working in the US have something to go along with the CS major. Having an english degree with the CS degree, for example, makes you multifunctional and can specialize your work (real world example).

Can you compete. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182217)

Can you provide the skillset of a highly skilled and experienced programmer for $25,000 per year or less with no benefits? India does!

If you can compete, then go for it. Otherwise, you should find a vocation in which you can compete.

IT is dead.

Re:Can you compete. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182261)

The quality of the average Indian programmer is overrated. As someone who has had the scoop on many local companies, none of which are small cheese companies either, I know that there is a general dissatisfaction with the quality of the "cheaper" Indian programmers. The only good Indian programmers I know of have been raised in or moved to America.

If you're of only average or below-average skill, intelligence, and talent, then you're going to have a tougher time. However, American corporations are always looking for the above-average, smart, and talented ones out there.

Given the amount of whining and groaning I see here vs. the desperation of many companies to find *GOOD* talent, I can only come to the conclusion that the people whining must be just intellectually deficient, can't sit through a basic interview without embarassing themselves, or simply don't know how to find jobs. I don't know really. Me and my friends always had companies fight over job offers for us. I don't see this mythical lack of jobs.

It indeed is (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182220)

Outsourcing to outside from u.s. is indeed a big market-cutter for u.s. based developers. But its a brave new world. Internet is something different than us, japan, china, sweden and any country in the world combined - it is a new country. So, the 'invisible hand' in the market in this brand new 'country' similarly adjusts the prices taking the supply/demand balance into account, just as it does in the real world. Web development prices took a sharp dive as chinese and hindu entered the market and took on work for rates that virtually meant 'for nothing' earlier. Now all it matters is about competence, reliability and skill in development world. Reliability is by far the most important aspect clients seek in web development - noone takes this word lightly twice ; if its very cheap, there is something missing in any product/service. And so it happens - you get what you pay for. As a result, there is and will be very low prices around put out by hordes of software houses and developers which are new to the business and just entering the market, but the 'you get what you pay for' motto will always stand. As a matter of fact, what happens to most independent web developers or small software houses is that, after taking on around 20-30 projects, they garner a regular clientele that brings in repeat jobs for the same or similar projects, and this goes on. You wont be able to take in new clients unless you are willing to enlarge the operation by enlarging the company and making more investment. Which is a choice, can stay small and keep happy, can grow and join the foray. But all in all, web development is something that is defined by the quality of its source. Thus do not hesitate, but devote yourself to the field. If you cant or are not willing to become a netizen in the endless network that is internet - take law or medicine.

Re:It indeed is (1)

dracocat (554744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182269)

One thing you are neglecting in your supply/demand calculations is the fact that as the technical level of these developing countries increases (which I think we can assume correlates directly with the amount of talent availble as part of this supply), so does its demand for development increase.

So your 'chinese and hindu' are adding to the demand for developers as a whole as software specific to these cultures and countries that has never been written before becomes an ever increasing requirement for business.

I wont argue that the amount of demand for developers has caught up with its supply, but I will argue that it does have a noticable effect.

In my experience, good projects mean face 2 face (1)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182223)

I have worked on a number of software projects and the kind of projects that end up being real success stories usually have very tightly knit client/developer contact. Many of our projects (I work for a firm that writes custom web and windows applications on the small to medium scale) have weekly client meetings, initial face to face introductions, and after-deployment training and handshaking. Its cheaper by the hour, but the end/net result of using outsourced labor for programming ends up being a wash, or even worse, cheaper for using American Labor.

Callcenters are different. It is easier to manage callcenters and once the callcenter has the script / jobs down, its sort of a fire and forget thing. Good software development in my experience isn't like that.

*More* specialized?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182226)

I continue to find that American developer differentiation is rooted in producing well-rounded, creative generalists.

Specialties and technologies change -- universal analytical instincts don't.

Of course, I don't credit our education system with developing these instincts; they seem largely innate (ie, they should be thought of as talent vs. skill), it just happens that some aspect of US/western culture provides a fertile environment for self-developing these talents into productive work habits.

You don't want Computer Science (4, Insightful)

Heretik (93983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182229)

if your primary concern is writing software and getting a job making money doing so. You want Software Engineering.

I suggest you do some research into what Computer Science actually is before assuming you'd like to go to University for it, because if you think you'll spend the majority of your time programming, you'll be unpleasantly surprised (The obscenely high first-year dropout rates of Computer Science programs are due mostly to this misconception)

Re:You don't want Computer Science (4, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182275)

I don't know about that.

I'm getting a PhD in Computer Science in the Fall. I earned by B.S. in 2001, and started up as a software engineer at a defense contractor after that. Right now, I'm a researcher at an Ivy League university's Computer Science department. I write software, and lots of it, to support my research.

Largely, Computer Science can be divided into:

*Wildcard (but, usually people say "Artificial Intelligence" here)

As for undergrad CS, I'd say it's mostly programming and theory, with some application specific stuff thrown in (databases, artificial intelligence, robotics, games, graphics).

My first year was entirely programming, and, that's what incoming freshmen can expect here. I think that what drove people out is that it wasn't networking, configuring computers, "IT" stuff. They also didn't like that it was hard. They were "good with computers," but that didn't make them programmers. The first couple classes are weed-outs to make sure that they won't hate programming too much their sophomore year and feel stuck when they're in their junior year, having only done the requirements to declare for computer science, and need a whole mess of classes to jump into Mechanical Engineering or Chemical Engineering.

Most of the people that I know who majored in Computer Science became programmers when they got out of school, and I know relatively few schools that offer "software engineering" as its own major.

I say this with all due respect to you, but, seriously, I don't think this is very good advice at all.

Re:You don't want Computer Science (2, Informative)

JamesWJohnson (928735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182408)

I would agree with this. In fact, on the first day of CS2001 (a stupid pass/fail class that's supposed to help us get familiarized with the uni), the professor who was doing the class told us specifically that computer science is *not* just programming, and it's possible to have an IT job without ever programming once. Based on the people who are/aren't doing well in CS right now, I can say that you need to make sure that you know what you're getting into. In my suite right now, there are 5 computer science majors. The ones who are huge gamers and are just really good at clicking around in Windows are dropping it and moving to MIS. The guys who are always messing with how their computers work (and enjoy it) are doing well.

Sigh (4, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182231)

Do this with your future: What you want to do with it.

Do you really feel so tied down that you have to choose your career based on current trends? The trends won't last through when you finish your degree. Do you think that people who started their BS during the dot com boom made a dime of the millions that people made hawking their crap?

Seriously, pick a career based on what you want to do. You'll be a happier person for it.

There is shortage of good talent in Silicon Valley (3, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182237)

I am a hiring manager in Silicon Valley. There is a shortage of great talent among the IT work force. In the last 12 months it has gotten harder to hire great talent and there is a definite salary inflation situation going on right now because most great candidates are seeing multiple competing offers.

Do IT only if you love it.
Consistently renew your skills. Commit yourself to a lifetime of learning new tech.
Live where the jobs are (e.g. San Jose, CA or Austin , TX).
Find a business where you are excited to apply your skills.
Avoid arrogance and treat people well.

Do these things and you'll always be in a high paying job.

Re:There is shortage of good talent in Silicon Val (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182293)

I totally agree. I code in the valley, and there are tons of jobs now. Only problem is housing prices around here are too high to justify staying in this area. We are looking to leave - go to portland or something.

But if you're down with living in an apartment and making a decent wage, it's looking really really good.

(You'd have to make about $250,000 to even look at decent house in the bay area (not to mention have $120,000 in cash for the down payment) - while the pay around here is good, it's not that good)

Re:There is shortage of good talent in Silicon Val (3, Interesting)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182354)

Everything that I hear says that Portland's a good deal. The area is heating up a bit, and you can still get a house at a good price. If you can hop on a developing area, and then ride that rising tide, that's the way to get ahead financially (if that's your goal). It's also nice to be in an expanding area, and an expanding (or new) business.

I think it's all a matter of taste, but if I weren't floating around stodgy old academic institutions, I'd be looking at shiny new tech companies.

I'm not industry analyst, but I'd say that you're right on the money.

Don't worry, go for it (3, Insightful)

LowneWulf (210110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182241)

I wouldn't worry. Sure a lot of even development tasks are being farmed out to India or China. But there's still more than enough demand and competition for the top CS graduates to ensure a healthy and lucrative career.

My only advice is to get a good education, and build a good resume while you can. If you spend 6 months getting a certification-of-the-week, write a little text adventure in Visual Basic, then wonder why you're not getting six-figure salary offers to start, you're probably next on the list to be outsourced. If you've got a CS undergrad degree (or better yet, a master's degree) from a top school, then people are going to be literally fighting over you, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

IT is still worth it (2, Interesting)

Wiseleo (15092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182243)

One one hand we have rapid education growth globally, on the other we have rapidly growing complexity of technology.

My prediction is that as we get out of the Bush dark ages, corrective measures will be passed to stop certain forms of offshore activity. Additionally, consumer backlash is very real these days and as the requirement for high level technology rises in general so will the demand for those who can make it work correctly.

A lot of companies are in fact abandoning or at least reconsidering their offshore initiatives. I have several clients who have offshore operations and they are scaling them back and bringing some of that work back home.

Why is this important? I support a product called Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. I am one of the leading experts on this product today. It is something you can literally buy off the shelf and setup easily. One would think that is the end. :-) SBS2003 is comprised on Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, SQL Server 2000, Windows Sharepoint Servers pre-installed, ISA 2004 Server, and a few sophisticated web applications. Some clients also add other stack components such as Small Business Financials and MS CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition.

In translation, that means that we sell a $4700 application suite for $1500. These are full products that require enterprise expertise to use them. Small Business Financials is a friendly name for Great Plains (yes, THAT, Great Plains), and MS CRM 3.0 Small Business has no feature limitations on itself either besides the maximum number of users.

If you take a typical small business owner who uses Quickbooks and throw them into this environment, they are lost. Make no mistake, they demand these applications from us and they do love them when they are customized.

I think the next era of highly complex networks is about to begin. A competent software developer specializing in making this process easier will make a killing. I know how much money my company is set to make this year and I am truly amazed at just how many untapped markets there are. :-)

There is a lot of opportunity in IT, but I think you have to own a business to truly succeed. Working for someone else will not make it happen. That means, take some basic business courses in addition to IT when you have the opportunity.

Good luck!

Make sure you can write. (5, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182246)

The best advice I can give you is have stunning writing skills. You will be writing every day. E-mail, IM, proposals, agendas, reports and presentations are part of any job, even if they are a small part. Some companies don't care if you have good writing skills, but no business will complain if your skills are higher than they want.

Go for "Software Architecture" for 200, Alex (3, Interesting)

autophile (640621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182260)

All of this is, of course, IMHO.

"Programming" conjures up visions of some guy with pale complexion staring into his monitor, banging away at the keyboard, trying to fix yet another bug. Or, in a better light, maybe reading some API and/or design specification and banging away at the keyboard trying to implement it. A "programmer" can be thought of as a construction worker.

"Software Architect" is what you get when you take away the specific implementation: the programming language, the operating system, the specific database. What you're left with is the high-level big-picture design. You get to draw boxes, arrows, flowcharts, ping-pong diagrams... you get to be the guy up at the marker board smiling at the camera, pointing to a complex diagram, your vision for the product, that you don't have to spend nights implementing because that's what they pay the keyboard-bashers for. A "software architect" can be thought of as the high-paid and lauded building architect.

In a sense, software architecture is the creative side, while converting the design to code is the mechanical side.

I'm not even sure you want to talk about "going into IT". I thought IT was more like the maintenance guys of the building after it's built. Like in the UK's "The IT Crowd". It certainly wouldn't be as rewarding to me as programmer or software architect. In any case, even if all this does fall under the general heading "IT", you can at least narrow down what you want to do.

Anyway, what's this have to do with outsourcing? I think software architecture is what you want to get into, since I firmly believe that is what the US is not going to outsource -- or at least not to the extent that keyboard-bashing has.

That being said, it definitely doesn't hurt to know at least one major programming language -- either Java, or (shudder) even C#. That way you at least have some idea of the common idioms of the code, and then you don't have to specify every nut and bolt in your diagram.


Re:Go for "Software Architecture" for 200, Alex (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182365)

"Software Architect" is what you get when you take away the specific implementation: the programming language, the operating system, the specific database. What you're left with is the high-level big-picture design.

Wow, this is probably a page right out of my CS 101 book. The word you're looking for here is algorithm. Computer Science is (mostly) the study of algorithms. So I dunno what kind of distinction you're trying to make.

Media spreads fear, uncertainty and doubt (3, Insightful)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182263)

The offshoring problem is grossly overexaggerated and all it does is separate the men from the boys.

That being said, I would focus on doing something you enjoy regardless of money. It makes the difference in life. I bet a lot of people claim to enjoy their job on here, but I bet a lot of them are lying about it. Usually the money makes these jobs worth tolerating but working in a "the office/dilbert/office space" style environment is detrimental to the soul.

just programming is what's in trouble, not IT (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182265)

The consensus here, and my opinion, is that if you just want to be a generic programmer, yeh, India will screw you over. But the great thing about computer programming is that it is an applicable science in so many other fields that being just a programmer is shooting a little low. Example: By taking a few more engineering classes you can become a "Software Engineer" which is one of the fastest growing fields out there. IT is fine, it's just being satisified with knowing a language or two that will get you in trouble.

Learn coding *well* and you will remain golden (1)

keshto (553762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182271)

I believe that programming will remain a well-paying job in the long term. What's going to change is that to have a job always in one geographic location you'll either need to be *very* good or be willing to learn new stuff continually. Often, the two go together. Knowledge-intensive job opportunities-- not just programming-- are more and more opening up themselves to worldwide competition. Here's a simple scenarios: suppose that in 1996 the USA had 100 software jobs that paid $100K each. 50 of these required mainstream skills-- Java, C/C++ etc. And the rest 50 required specialized skills-- CAD or bioinformatics or crypto etc. In 2010, suppose 25 of these have moved out.

One of your options would be to move with the job, across the world. If you are willing, you'll have a blast, enjoying the best opportunities worldwide.

But suppose that you don't want to move outside the US. However, in 2010, the US only has 30 of the jobs with mainstream skills and 45 of the jobs with specialized skills (it's easier to move overseas jobs with mainstream skills). To get the job in the US, you either need to have very good mainstream skills-- so you can get one of the 30 mainstream jobs-- or be willing to learn so you can get the specialized jobs that are available in the US.

If you can learn continually and strive to improve your skills, though, you'll live well. It's the old saw really-- just work hard.

There's a future for *competent* IT (2, Insightful)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182278)

I'd say you do have a future, but you have to actually work for it. Too many programmers think that their years of Visual Basic and HTML mean they can truly code, and too many people used to just Windows AD get shunted into the field.

At a non-profit I worked for as an intern, I was under three different head admins in a year and a half. The first guy was pretty good- while he didn't know everything, he could do the common stuff and figure out other things as they came around. After he left (he worked for a company that contracted out per-yearly) he got replaced by a guy who was lazy as all hell. I, the intern, had to remind him about such things as ping and ipconfig. He was also lazy, and got canned soon after starting. The third guy was alright, but also lacked some common knowledge, despite years in the field.

In short, don't limit yourself to what you know. Don't learn one programming language, learn five. Know how to administrate in both Windows and Linux/Unix. The things that are being offshored are helpdesks and jobs that don't require heavy expertise. Make yourself useful, and you're made.

You could also try going into some "different" areas. I have a year or two before I graduate as a CS major, and I'm thinking about being a computer forensics guy. With the increase in crimes done through or related to the internet, there's a growing demand by law enforcement, both local and federal, for people who can get into confiscated computers and retrieve deleted files. If not with the police force, I could work as a private detective, contracting to large corporations when they get hacked to trace it and try to find the perps.

One more thing (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182300)

If you want to make yourself good for the IT industry, don't fall back on just being able to whip up a 1000 line C file in an hour.

These days, you have to make sure you have good communication skills. You could be asked to write proposals for getting new technology, or reporting something. If your grammar and spelling skills are amiss, it will reflect very poorly on you.

At my college, which is engineer-geared and thus tosses most of those useless classes, CS majors have to take one more literature/humanities/sociology/etc. course than any other major. The reason they gave to me was a bit odd, so I won't try to pass it on, but the idea is that programmer is much more than just punching in code, and the job revolving around programming may include much more.

Do it for the love of it! (2, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182280)

As a young person considering various choices for the future career...

There are far too many people in this I/T business for the wrong reasons. In part, because there is a shortage and a marginally compentant employee is better than none is a currently accepted norm. That being said, your career is a life long endeavor. Those that succeed to the top in any profession have one thing in common, a passion for what they do.

So if you pick a profession and don't have a passion for it and then become a mushroom in a chair do not blame the business... blame yourself.

So before you pick a career, ask yourself will you do it with passion?

Re:Do it for the love of it! (1)

TeleoMan (529859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182388)

Agreed. Too many college-age people are *still* attracted to CS as a major simply b/c they are under the old 90s mentality of "if I love the Internet and I can debug Javascript I can work in IT for 50K!" Wrong. IT is a *very* powerful field and requires significant talent...similar to that of a physician. (A lot of kids wind up getting married and never working in the field or wind up as entry-level car salsemen. I've seen both scenarios and I'm sure you have, as well.) The problem is universities *love* to graduate people: too dumb for a traditional CS degree? That's OK, we've got "applied" CS to get you in for four years. No calc or Fortran for you! Thousands of people are in that boat. The ability to get a watered-down degree DOES NOT translate to a full-time career as a programmer. It simply means you can get through "student level" programs and does not mean you have true apptitude for enterprise grade programming. So - as you wrote - pick something you truly have a passion for...even if that's working on cars, at least you'll be happy.

Go for it (4, Interesting)

Derkec (463377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182284)

If what you're interested in is computer programming - go for it. Money magazine just ranked 'Software Developer' it's top job largely because of expected growth in the field. That said, be sure that you can write and speak well. Your key advantages over someone in India should be:
1) Timezone
2) More experience (developers there are often promoted to management too quickly)
3) Superior command of English (they'll speak it, you need to do so better)
4) Assorted cultural advantages

You will need to be able to talk to people and sort out requirements to be more valuable. The guy in India just can't sit across the table from a user of whatever you are making and discuss options, quickly estimate 'lots of effort' or 'pretty easy', and help the users tell you what to create.

At the end of the day, you'll still need to be able to write code, but you'll need to do a whole lot more as well. These days, I'm thinking that the 'whole lot more' may be more fun, but that's just me.

As for the guy who joked 'speak hindi', I'd point out that there are dozens of languages in India and when Indians from different parts of the country speak to eachother, they usually do so in English.

Career choices (3, Insightful)

bytesmythe (58644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182285)

I've noticed a number of problems with IT as a career choice. Back in '97, I graduated with a degree in computer science and started working like everyone else. I hopped from job to job for a number of years. The longest I stayed at one place was about a year and 4 months. After a while, I finally realized my problem. I absolutely hate working in IT. There are a number of reasons why. I'm not saying that these will apply to you or anyone else, but if you feel they do, it might be a good indication that IT is not the field for you.

1) I can't stand having to work on other people's stuff. I don't like being given assignments that I'm not interested in and having to complete them. I'm sure people with stronger "work ethics" can force themselves to muddle through, but I'm not going to do it. Worse, there are a lot of mundane administrative tasks (like timesheets, etc.) that have to be dealt with. If I'm working for myself and getting paid based on those things, it would be different, but it always just seems like a waste.

2) Having to constantly keep up with new technology got kind of old for me. I like low-level programming in C. I don't really care for web apps and such. I tend to find the various frameworks overly complicated for no apparent reason. Most places I've interviewed with want to see lots of solid job experience with particular technologies, which can be difficult if you weren't working somewhere that used it. .NET is the newest example I can think of.

3) "IT" type programming isn't very interesting. I would rather work on low-level stuff, simulations, academic problems, etc. I don't really care a bit about data migration, or making loan payment GUIs, or whatever. There's relatively little problem solving to be done, which is the whole reason I liked programming in the first place. Instead you get handed some half-assed specs and spend all your time chasing people down to figure out what needs to be done, even though none of them really know or have the authority to decide. That's when the meetings begin.

4) Did I mention meetings? I hate meetings. I can't decide if conference calls are worse or not. On one hand, you can mute the phone and make faces, but on the other, it's frustrating to have to listen to people you can barely hear, deal with flaky connections, etc., and you still have to pay attention because someone will certainly end up asking you a question.

5) Outsourcing. Not just to foreign countries or migrant H1-B visa holders, but to any third-party contracting group. There are several problems with this. Many times, consulting companies (Accenture) will put people on a project who have never programmed before. They don't even have degrees in programming. The consulting company will use a project to train them. It's real fun explaining what recursion and stack overflows are to someone on a major project.

6) If you ARE a contractor though, you might be in luck. You're more likely to get to work with newer technology, so it's easier to stay ahead of the curve. From what I've seen, full-time employees tend to have to work on maintenance rather than new development.

Right now I'm transitioning out of IT as a career. I'm still working, but as a training consultant. It pays enough that I can finally risk going into business on my own. (A non-IT business at that!) The only way I'll ever feel motivated to put effort into a "job" is working for myself. I'll never give up computers and programming, and will pursue it as a hobby (and possibly as an academic career in the future) for the rest of my life.

But work in IT in the modern business world? No way.

Re:Career choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182309)

Sounds like you need to specialize.

I'm a college student. I guess I was just lucky and I got accepted into a really nice co-op program here where with a local telecom co. They are openly interested in tracking us students into a career with the company on their telecom related stuff. They had some bad experiences with offshored programmers, so they see hiring college students as a good way to get the cheap work they need done NOW and have an investment of people who will eventually be familiar with the products, the industry, and everything else they do without the overhead of hiring pricy folks who are already working in the same industry.

From outsorced IT shop (1)

adumare (72461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182286)

I currently work for a large financial company that uses offshore workers extensively for IT. That being said there are still over 1000 IT employees in the US and we are growing our US IT employee base, we are also growing our offshore outsourcing shop. We look for different skill sets, the offshore teams are either service teams and low end coding or low end system administration, all of the project management happens in onshore teams or we have loads of developers that do the "interesting" coding as well as a few on shore system admins. Basically if you are good at what you do and driven to succeed you should be able to get work in the US. That is assuming you don't buy into the US economy is doomed because of some reason or other :)

I used to work in offshore for the same firm and I was much more worried about my job then, then I am now.

Supplemtal Computer Science. (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182287)

I would suggest that you take a Supplemental Major/Minor with your Computer Science Degree. Things like Computer Science/(Business, Engineering (Non Computer Engineering), Physical Sciences, etc...) That way your skills are targeted beyond just a Programmer but to a professional who is useful to your future employer on multiple levels. You can easily outsource a Programmer, but a Programmer who understands something else the business needs is much harder.

The Dollar (1)

rawb (529039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182294)

As the US Dollar continues to fall relative to the rest of the world, rest assured, hiring US programmers will make itself valuable once again!

There is no real IT future (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182298)

It is quickly becoming a commodity market for hardware and software.

Service people are being replaced by 'throwaway' computers that are not worth getting fixed. So don't aspire to be a 'hardware guy

Software is getting to the point that the average person can 'get by' and not need to call a tech to help out. When the PC flakes out due to viruses or stupidity, you just restore from the original disks..There goes a lot of admin jobs.

Canned software is also at the point that most people can 'get by', so unless you work for one of the giants, no need for programmers.

Networks, for small offices they are plug -n - play.

New product development? Have you seen a really innovative product in 10 years? Nope.

While i realize that it wont dry up 100% and there will be a small ultra high level, IT market, don't expect it to be like it has been in the past Not a good place to try to start a career.

Sure, mod me troll, but ive been in the business 30+ years, and if you dont see the direction its heading you are either a kid, or blind. ( or stupid )

CNN and College (5, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182301)

It's laudable that you are concerned about college, but you have the rest of your life to worry about job security. On the other hand the days in which you may bang 17-year-olds are numbered. Get your priorities straight.


There was a downturn and Corp America didn't help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182302)

During the late 90s and early 2000s there was a significant downturn. Jobs and salaries were on a definite decline. You weren't being paid for your knowledge and skill. In Silicon Valley it was like a desert town compared to the mid to late 80s and the subsequent decade.

This was solely due to jobs being transferred overseas to help keep corporate profits up and thus the appeasement of the shareholders.

Jobs were getting out of hand. Businesses didn't really know how to value training, skills, and just common sense. They'd pay exorbitant salaries to people who had no right in those jobs. There were others that had the common sense but never received the top job. That hurt IT.

In a job I had we turned out alot of quality techs and we dumped alot of certified people because they lacked common sense.

Keep your head about you and you'll do good no matter what the field has to offer. Do not specialize or you'll end up like alot of unemployed people. That means alot more work for you but in the end it will mean employment.

As a programmer you need to realize that you are the intellect that creates the product. It comes from your mind, heart, body and soul. Do not accept that business will recognize that. If you have the opportunity to start your own do so. This isn't the world of cobold programmers even though business would like to have it that way again. Business is bad for programmers because IMHO it steals from your very soul without compensating you. Imagine your blood, sweat, soul, creativity, knowledge made the product out of nothing and frankly that's alot different than an assembly line engineer who is designing a better assembly line. You are creating the end product, which generally is the only thing that makes them money, so they should pay you for that. Adequate compensation isn't just a job, it's part of the picture.

Business loves overseas because they can train that out of those people. But when these overseas economies pick up and the workers realize they are creating the product out of their own minds that's when they will begin asking for more. They just don't know yet what they miss and probably have no idea who they are actually working for. The products they create they don't even have rights to. That's just sad. It's also why I say that you should start a business yourself at the first opportunity so you can reap the rewards of your own labor.

It's sad when you think about the president, ceo, board of directors, and executives going home laughing that they are raking in millions with you are creating the product with your mind.

Consider the source... (2, Interesting)

Grendel_Prime (178874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182307)

Truth to tell, asking the crowd here a question like this is going to inherently bring you biased results; but this may be what you wanted. Ask any given group of mostly construction workers if construction is a good profession to undertake and they will probably tell you it's a great profession. Ask any given group of mostly IT nerds the same question and you will get the same answer. If you are worried about job stability, don't worry; there is none anymore. Companies and jobs come and go in IT just as they do in every other industry (Enron, anyone?).

The real question you should be asking yourself is what do you truly enjoy doing naturally? Take away every task that any given job can consist of and break it down to your personality traits. If you like problem-solving then look at the types of jobs that can fulfill your needs as a problem-solver. If you like helping people, consider the kinds of jobs where you will have more interactions and impact on people directly. College and high-school students tend to think more linearly, as if taking a job in a hot profession will mean success. The truth is that the best way to be successful is to maximize your desire to do your job and do it well; otherwise you may as well work at McDonald's.

Sing It (0, Troll)

Luke Psywalker (869266) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182308)

The future of iiee-teee in America
woe ohh

Don't try to avoid risks (1)

mlewan (747328) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182313)

Any career choice is risky. It is true that a lot more IT jobs can go to increasingly clever people abroad, but that's the case with any industry. Car industry? Goes to Japan and Korea. Textile industry? Goes to China and India. Electronics? Goes to Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and about any other Asian country.

If you really enjoy working with hightech and feel pretty sure you will feel the same in 10 to 20 years from now, just go for it. Passionate people are needed in any sector. But don't rule out moving abroad for some time to get the best possible job.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182314)


PleaPlease try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply tPlease try to keep posts on topic.
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Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal.o other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
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Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal.Please try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)
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Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
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SQL is the way to go! (3, Interesting)

Faramir (61801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182331)

At least in the Twin Cities, if you know SQL you're golden right now. Desparate shortage up here. My company has been searching for someone since January, with very few applicants, and even fewer qualified. The only two who were qualified turned us down for other offers. I came from Austin, TX, where I had spent 3 years looking for a new job. No luck -- too much competition from laid off workers. But up north there is high demand for C#, Java, SQL. Even finding a straight up, skilled HTML guru is difficult here.

Do what you enjoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182332)

Pick a career that suits you. If you hate programming, it makes no difference if you are
a US citizen or an Indian -- you will hate your job.

IT is a Commodity most places (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182340)

IT is fast becoming a commodity which is broken into various specialties e.g. (Desktop Support, Mobile Computing Support, Help Desk, Database Administration, Server/Datacenter Support, Network Support, Installation/Migration, and Application Development). The suits now seem to have a pretty good idea what's inside the black-box known as IT and are willing to outsource any piece they feel can save money.

The trick to longevity in IT is get good at a variety of things and keep moving around. If you can avoid being pigeonholed and avoid anyone really understanding what you do, then you will provide a certain value to the organization, which can not be outsourced. I suppose what I am saying is become a knowledge worker. Understand the business you support and show the suits how to use technology to their competitive advantage. If you get pigenholed as a DBA, Programmer, Helpdesk etc... then you run the longterm risk of getting outsourced. It is good to work through all the groups so you understand a bit about each piece. However, your goal after 10-years should be to report to someone important (senior management) and not be part of a traditional IT group. To put it another way, you want to be senior managements insurance policy so when they do a risky outsource, they feel you are there to bail them out if anything goes terribly wrong. :)

Another growing IT speciality is outsourcing consultant or outsourcing migration manager. These guys will be around for quite some time while companies outsource to try and save a buck. When the pendeulum swings the other way, you can then switch to an insourcing consultant.

My advice to you is do what you love and the money will follow. Compotency is a rare commodity in this day and time.

Depends on what/who you work for... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182347)

I will tell you straight up that there is one section that will always need programers and IT specialists which will never outsource them, government defense contractors/industry. These jobs can not be outsourced, plain and simple due to the nature of the products. If you are worried about having your job outsourced, go find a job at one of the big contractors, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, etc. The other place you will always find a job is in the government itself, local, state, or federal. Don't expect the pay to be nearly as competitive if you do work for the government and also expect to fight a lot of battles about technology itself. It takes years to institute a small change in the way things are done in the government, so the technology fields can be extremely frustrating because 6-12 months and there is already 4-5 better ways to do something.

The internet (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182352)

The net will get bigger. Pie will get larger for everyone. New net businesses will not all ship jobs overseas. India and China will also become consumers which will create more jobs.

Too much Lou Dobbs (2, Interesting)

crmartin (98227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182353)

The fact is that the offshoring fad is fading as people find out that it's not the cost per line that matters if you aren't getting the code you need. I'm engaged in helping save a project that went down that path too far; we got lots of code, it didn't do what was needed. We now hope to recover some value, but all development has moved back to the US, where we can interact with the customers in real time.

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182363)

I have an associates in IT and a bachelors in business management. That way if IT jobs go away, I can work for almost any business as a manager. I minored my bachelors in IT. Make sure you pick a good minor as well as a major.

My advice, go to a community college first and pick up some certificates and an associates and then move on to a bachelors and masters. A lot of the people out of work in the IT field lack the degrees. Companies want to hire degreed people with experience and many have the experience but lack the degree because they are self taught or dropped out of college. Don't drop out of college, that is a mistake. India, has free or discounted education for IT people so they can get a lot of the work offshored to their nation. Other nations offer free education as well. Too bad the USA does not offer free education except in cases of the lowest poverty.

One day I will go back for a masters degree and maybe a PHD. A high school diploma and associates no longer cuts it anymore in the modern work force, but they do help somewhat.

Discrimination by education is a legal form of discrimination because there is no law against it. My resume was thrown in the trash of many HR departments because it lacked at least a bachelors on it. Now that I graduated I am getting calls back.

There will never be a shortage of comp sci in USA (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182369)

But you have to realize that the vast majority of IT jobs don't have a whole lot to do with computer science. According to US government predictions, there is no foreseeable shortage of systems analysts or computer scientists. Programming jobs, on the other hand, are the likeliest to get shipped overseas. So if you like hard core comp sci or you like requirements gathering and writing specifications, you're golden. But if you're a code monkey that does little more than translate business rules from English into code, then you might want to worry. If you want to see some pretty solid projections on the future of any particular job title in the US, I highly recommend that you visit the website of the bureau of labor statistics.

Network types are also pretty safe, especially the ones that work with hardware. While it might be easy for a company to outsource networking, it's hard to get away from the fact that so much networking requires a warm body on site.

But as for me, I've had it with IT. After ten years doing helpdesk, software testing and/or programming, I've had my fill. I'm saving my pennies to be able to afford to go back to work on a doctorate and become a cranky old professor out in the middle of nowhere.

Further thought needed (2, Insightful)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182387)

As a young person considering various choices for the future career I'd like to pursue, IT and computer science continually reappear near the top of the list of fields I'm interested in.

I'd say that if both are showing up, either the testing methodology is a mess, or else you need to give considerably more thought to what you really want. At least IMO, the mindsets needed for IT and computer science are enough different that almost no one person is likely to be particularly good at both.

IT mostly involves applying existing knowledge. It's true that you need often to write bits of code, typically in some scripting language to apply the existing knowledge to your exact situation.

Though the term is often mis-applied, computer science is really about research into things like algorithms, languages, computability, etc. For a true computer scientist, writing code is mostly a sideline, and the code s/he writes will often be little more than a proof of concept to demonstrate something they've invented (e.g. a demonstration implementation of a new algorithm). The code he writes will rarely have much practical applicability -- if he's demonstrating a sorting algorithm, it'll probably have a nearly unusable user interface. OTOH, if he's doing user interface research, it probably won't implement any real algorithm behind that interface.

More or less halfway between the two is software engineering. At least as I'd use the term, software engineering is what many "computer scientists" really do. Specifically, a software engineer is somebody whose primary job is to develop software. The software engineer should be aware of what the computer scientists have invented, and (particularly) needs to have a broader perspective, to help produce complete applications including both (reasonably) optimal algorithms and decent UIs.

From a corporate perspective, computer science falls under "research". Software Engineering falls under "development", and IT falls under operations.

Consider a single task: doing backups. A computer scientist might deal with something like inventing a faster method for coalescing incremental updates to a file to produce the final output more quickly. The software engineers write the backup program that implements this algorithm, along with a decent UI, etc. The IT person is responsible for ensuring that the backup program is run at the right times, ensuring the correct backup media are in the drives at the right times, etc.

A computer scientist will usually be absent-minded, idealistic and will focus on future possibilities. An IT specialist will be pragmatic, focused on the here and now, and his single largest strength will often be presence of mind.

my advice to my kids and you (3, Insightful)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182391)

Do a job that you love. There are up sides and down sides to this but the up side is that you can enjoy going to work where you will spend a significant portion of you life. The downside is that your love may change and what used to be fun is now a chore. I was first a musician, and after 3 years on the road decided it was not fun anymore. I then went back to University and learned about computers. Luckily, I still love it 25 years later.

Another up side, is that if you love to do something you will get better at it. This means that you will become the craftsman that people want to have working for them. Your salary will increase and you will be employed.

A third upside is that your enthusiasm about your work will show. When you go for job interviews it will show. People feel more comfortable hiring someone who they can see has enthusiasm and a proven experience.

The nice thing about the computer field, is that it's large enough that you can partition your hobby and work into 2 different types of work, so you don't become overexposed in the one at work.

Jobs are and will be plentiful, if you're good. (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182399)

There are always openings for good people, because there's a need to have people close to the problems who are resourceful and creative and able to solve them. Outsourcing is most effective for gruntwork -- building implementations of code that's already been specced out -- but if you're one of the people who's there on the ground who can look at a problem and see the solutions available even if they're not always within the same specialty, you'll never have trouble finding work.

Don't cowboy things: Learn and follow best practices, but have enough knowledge of the underlying works to be able to play cowboy. You don't want to use that knowledge much -- but when it's necessary, it makes a huge difference. Learn a lot of different things, and don't skip the academic background -- most of it's useless in the Real World, but every so often you really need to know how a state machine works, or how to build a normalized database schema, or how to calculate the big-O notation for an algorithm you're thinking of. Learn the underlying bits: Sometimes it'll help you figure out what's going on at an application level if you can watch the syscalls and understand what they're doing. Don't be a programmer who knows nothing about system administration, or a system administrator who knows nothing about programming; either of those types is crippled.

Databases are important. Know how, why and when to use views, stored procedures, transactions, and all the other crap that the MySQL people used to tell folks were unnecessary, performance-reducing fluff. (Be very sure you know associated best practices; if you're hired to do the backend of a webapp, allowing SQL injection attacks or forcing the database to reparse your SQL statements every time can make for some extremely unhappy coworkers).

Play around with new frameworks. Try writing drivers for some nifty but unsupported hardware. Understand what the different views of revision control are and what the strengths and weaknesses are of each. Learn a variety of scripting languages, and try embedding them in your larger apps. Be sure you know C (not C++, plain C) -- and when to use it, and when not to. Learn how video codecs work. Teach. Volunteer. Do stuff that isn't on this list that I never thought of. Hang out with people who are much, much better than you -- if you can, get an internship at a company full of them.

If all the stuff I told you to do sounds like fun, you're cut out for the job -- you'll love it, be good at it, and never have trouble finding employment.

Look for IT work in Health Care (1)

wilros (854198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15182411)

After your undergraduate technical degree (EE, CE, CS, etc) get an MPH or an MS in Informatics, and look for an IT job in health care. Health care may be the most under automated sector of the economy. There is a groundswell of need at the small offices where 60% of health care takes place. These are the sites that are seriously under-automated. Check out the American Medical Informatics Association's 10x10 program ( [] ), which seeks to graduate 10,000 new informaticians within the next 4 years to handle the growing need for automation in health care. If you don't have time for a degree, then just hit Sourceforge and join one of the dozens of open source projects developing the next generation of solutions for small medical practices (FreeMed, ClearHealth, OpenEMR, OpenHRE, OpenEHR, etc.). Or visit the openhealth listserv ( [] ) to check out the global open source health care software discussion.

Computer Science or Computer Engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182412)

Which major would provide better job stability?

Education is only part of the equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15182413)

It takes more than education to be successful in any field. I had no idea what I would choose for a career. As a single mother, I wanted a career that provided growth and something my son could be proud of. I completed a degree in MIS and was ready to enter the workforce. Of course, the only positions available to me were entry level. My title now is Systems Analyst. In one week, I start a job that pays 80k a year. My starting salary three years ago was 30k.

Do not expect to make the big bucks straight out of college. Take a job that is "beneath you" and excel at it. Do not think because your degree is in computer engineering that you will be lead developer upon graduating.

Never expect anything to be handed to you.
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