Unless you’re a time-traveler, you probably don’t know ahead of time whether the industry you’re currently working in will be stable and successful. After all, none of us know exactly what’s to come. And we also don’t have a time-machine to help us find out. But if you look at key industry trends over the years, you’ll have a good idea about which careers will give you the best opportunities. Ever since the technology industry overturned traditional job markets at the beginning of the last decade, experts looking into key trends say Software Development is the most stable, in-demand, and highest-paying job now — and in the future.
It’s not just us saying that programming is valuable. Key experts are also saying it.
The U.S. Labor Department
Based on the most recent data, from 2016 income tax returns, the U.S. Labor Department says software developers currently make a median salary of $100,080. According to their estimates, this figure is expected to rise every year for the next ten years. Already, programmers’ salary is twice that of the median US worker — at $46,440 — and that gap is only expected to grow over the years. Because demand has “exploded” for people with programming skills such as Java and Ruby, people hired for them will also be in good position to adopt any new ones written in the next few years.
The actual number of jobs is also expected to increase, according to the Labor Department. It projects programming jobs to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, at a rate “much faster than the average for all [other] occupations.”
The U.S. Education Department
By 2020, only 30 percent of University graduates will fill the job demands for software developers in the technology industry. In raw numbers, think about 300,000 people with jobs like these and more than 700,000 open spots for anyone that wants them and can do them.
If that giant number doesn’t make you understand the enormity of this opportunity, think about it this way: Hundreds of interesting new startups, legacy tech companies, and an innumerable number of technology creators will be facing off against each other for cream-of-the-crop legacy talent. That will increase salary for top tier coders but also open up positions for people getting into the industry who have great skills and can learn on the job.
The Education Department also says the skills most needed for people taking those jobs involve software and cloud-based infrastructure.
In terms of short-term and long-term return on investment for your education, business magazines such as Forbes say software development is the best choice. Programmers, Forbes recently declared, can “expect a 60 percent salary growth throughout his or her career.”
There are specific concentration skills that are getting hotter in the jobs market too. Jobs in machine learning, for example, increased 9.8 times in 2017 alone, according to c-sharpcorner.com. The same publication said almost half of all tech companies are “thinking about building blockchain-based products” and it has led many of them to offer 15 percent pay premiums to professionals strong in blockchain skills. These BC skills they’re specifically bringing up include Ethereum’s smart contracts platform, cryptocurrency platforms, smart contract programming languages, and Java.
Career and market analysts are also bullish on programming. Retirement-fund projector site Smart Asset said in a recent blog post that even as computer systems are expected to become more complicated over the next decade, the need for engineering approaches are so important that software engineers will “easily continue their rollercoaster demand for the next 50 years.”
Part of the expected demand comes from the still-in-process switch by legacy non-technology companies to digital products. That means programmers will get to work on, and decide the roadmap for, application of important products affecting millions of people.
The analysts also point to predictive security as one key example of a young tech that needs shaping by the next generation. Internet-of-Things skills, according to Foote Partners surveys, is another example and it will require understanding by coders of wireless communications, integration and gateways, and Big Data gateways.
So if you’re thinking about a new career that will be stable, pays well, and will drive a new future, you really can’t go wrong with software development.