With computer programming, it’s not who you know, it’s what you know

We get this question a lot: “Are computer programmers still in demand?” All we can say is the answer to that question is complicated. 

We’re sure you’ve heard all about how companies are either outsourcing their programming jobs overseas, or importing foreign workers to the U.S. using H1-B visas, all in the name of saving money.  Unfortunately, this part is true, but research has also shown that it hasn’t really made a dent in the domestic demand for computer programmers, as the field is so varied.

In fact, it’s all the computer languages and systems out there that’s really driving the perceived instability in the computer programming field. For instance, company-wide layoffs are also motivated by a company’s change in software or computer systems, not so much a desire to “save money. ”  Sure they may then look to overseas for help, but that may be because the company might not be sure what it wants to do and is looking for a “cheap tryout”, or a particular overseas company happens to have the workers trained already in what it needs.

And therein lies the real problem. The landscape of computer programming is in a constant state of flux, which tends to shoot the profession in the foot without any help from “foreign competition.”  A 50 year-old computer programmer may know a lot more computer languages than a 23-year-old computer programmer, but if that 23-year-old programmer’s been trained in the latest, in-demand language and knows it well, they stand less of a chance of getting laid off than their more experienced counterpart.

So yes, job security is possible in the computer programming business, but it’s going to take a lot of effort on your part not to become irrelevant. Computer programmers who are current in the latest languages and systems will always be in demand. Now more than ever, computer programming isn’t about the job, it’s not like accounting or middle management. It’s about the individual and it always has been. Quite frankly, those who aren’t curious about learning new computer languages or new ways to help solve their company’s tech problems, deserve to get laid off.

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