The Associated Press released an article today about the fact that computer programming jobs are going to become harder and harder to come by over the next decade or so. Between management wanting employees with more cross-discipline versatility and the ever-increasing move of coding jobs overseas, things don’t look so hot for American software developers.
Like, for instance, me.
I don’t assume this one article to be particularly prophetic, of course, but this also isn’t the first time I’ve heard this scenario described. The article even seems to single me out in particular:
“If you’re only interested in deep coding and you want to remain in your cubicle all day, there are a shrinking number of jobs for you,” said Diane Morello, Gartner vice president of research.
She might as well have said “there are a shrinking number of jobs for you, Allen.”
I’ve been thinking over the last few months that a change in career might be necessary for me at some point in the near future. (Yeah, I’m working toward a career as a writer, but I’m thinking specifically here of my day-job career.) As much as I enjoy my job, I’ve been feeling topped-out lately and haven’t had much opportunity to learn new skills and grow into another role. Some of that ennui could be because I’ve been working on the same project for two years, which is a pretty new experience to me–my web-development career before this job had been much more in the build-’em-quick-and-move-on vein, working for multiple clients at a time rather than on one monolithic internal project.
I really, really, really don’t want to go into management. Nothing against you managers out there–I just don’t believe it’s a career track at which I’d particularly excel, given my personality type. And I’ve rarely seen any managers who actually seemed happy in their jobs, so that’s not a path I’m anxious to go down.
Is it a matter of specialization? There might be options that way–software architecture or database administration, for example–but I can see where almost any road I select could be yanked out from under me and sent to India (where it apparently costs about one-third what it does here to develop software).
I’ve thought of changing careers altogether, of getting out of the technology biz–but how, exactly, do I go about doing that? I get paid pretty well for what I do, and I certainly can’t leave this field to go start over at the bottom rung of some other career when I’m the one responsible for supporting my family. And there’s also the matter of training; I’m not especially trained to do much else (though, to be fair, I had no training for this career, either).
I like my job. I like coding, I like sticking my nose into my computer (not literally) and building tools and applications out of code. But I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to keep on keeping on as I have been. I feel like a crux point is approaching more quickly than I’d like, a period of great life changes condensed into a small timeframe. I don’t know how much time I have. But I’d like to be as ready as I can be when the crux point arrives.