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Hot Job Market For Computer Science Graduates

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Joel Adams

Joel Adams, Calvin College

Back in 2010, companies were hiring our computing graduates as fast as we could produce them, but there was a widespread misperception that U.S. computing jobs were in danger of being off-shored.  Many people today still believe this. 

To counteract this, in 2010 I put together a Web page called the Market for Computing Careers.  My basic idea was to create visualizations of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (US-BLS) employment projections and data on bachelor's degrees awarded, to help people — especially students, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors — understand what the U.S. government was predicting the job market for computing graduates would be like.  I had seen fragments of this data reported in piecemeal fashion, but I wanted to collect these pieces in one place to try and tell a more complete story.

Recently, I have updated this Market For Computing Careers page using the new US-BLS 2010-2020 employment projections, as well as the most recent U.S. STEM graduation data (2008) available from the National Science Foundation.

The new US-BLS projections predict that the already hot job market for computing professionals will become even hotter this decade.  Excluding health care, these projections predict that the five careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with the most growth will all be in computing:


Projected Growth

(New Jobs)

Percentage Of All STEM Growth

1. Software developer



2. Systems analyst



3. Computer support



4. Network/System Administrator



5. Network Architect, Web Developer, Computer Security Professional




Taken as a whole, these projections predict that computing careers will make up 73% of the new jobs in STEM careers this decade compared to 16% in (non-software) engineering, 9% in the natural sciences, and 2% in the mathematical sciences. 

To try to predict how competitive the job environment will be, we can combine the US-BLS total job projections (new jobs plus retirement-replacements) with graduation data from the National Science Foundation.  Dividing the total projected computing jobs per year by the number of computing bachelor's degrees awarded in the most recent year yields a jobs/grads ratio of 3.5 computing jobs per person graduating with a bachelor's degree in computing.  (In 2010, this computing jobs/grads ratio was 2.9.) By contrast, the total jobs/grads ratio is below 1.0 in every other STEM area. 

These data suggest that on average, there will be 97,000 more U.S. computing jobs than graduates each year, a shortfall that even the current H1B Visa Quota is insufficient to address.  To meet this decade's demand with homegrown talent, U.S. colleges and universities would need to produce 3.5 times as many computing graduates per year as they did in 2008.  The Taulbee Survey data have shown modest increases in computing graduation rates the past two years, at least at Ph.D.-granting institutions, but the observed increases do not come close to addressing the projected demand.

Companies seeking U.S. computing professionals will thus be competing with other companies for a limited supply of personnel.  We are already seeing this competition, as many of our students are receiving multiple internship offers, and many of our graduates are receiving multiple job offers.  The US-BLS projections suggest that this competition is likely to increase over the coming decade.

For visualizations of these data: see the 2012 Market For Computing Careers page.

For comparison purposes: see the 2010 Market For Computing Careers page.

Now is a great time to be a computing major as the abundance and variety of computing jobs over the next decade should make it relatively easy to find a career that is stimulating, fulfilling, and that compensates well.  Help spread the word!

Joel C. Adams is a professor of computer science at Calvin College.



The only issue is you have to be a software developer all your life. You will continuously be under pressure from new graduates. Not enough senior level people required.


Computing is a fast-moving field -- you have to be a life-long learner -- ideal if you get bored easily. To advance into a senior position, you need both technical skills and people/communication skills, which argues in favor of a broad education, not a narrow technical education.


There are some misunderstandings:
- If 40% of all outsourced jobs are also subject to offshoring, we still have to worry about outsourcing (which means the newspapers are still right after all, no hypothesis was rejected).
- Another thing is the missing transparency of the job market prediction method: what determined the predictions of the US-BLS? Is there any statistical test to proof reliability of such 10-year job market predictions? Why did the experts not predict things like e. g. the housing bubble, but are still so confident in predicting the job market for the next decade? The prediction method should be made at least transparent to the reader.
- The last part is the STEM data. The numbers are all correct, but it is implicitly assumed that IT jobs are currently filled only by graduates. There is still a possibility that many new jobs are taken by employees from foreign countries as well as US non-graduates. This should be taken into consideration too.

Joel Adams

- 40% of all jobs is a far cry from 100% (or even a majority), which is the impression many prospective students and their parents were receiving from media coverage of the "outsourcing" phenomenon. We have had prospective students tell us their HS guidance counsellors were advising them not to go into computing because "all those jobs are going to Asia."

- You would have to ask the US-BLS that question. But there is evidence supporting their projections, for example, see this Network World article:

- New jobs are being filled by both US citizens and employees from foreign countries, at least in part because there are 3.5 times as many jobs as there are US graduates. If a company's strategic plan relies on IT and the US is not producing the human resources to implement that plan, the company either has to look outside the US for their human resources or change their plan.

Pito Salas

It would be interesting to see how these numbers update to the present mid-2014 timeframe.

Joel Adams

Pito: Thanks -- updating this using the most recent US-BLS projections is on my ToDo list for this summer! Just as soon as I finish our self-study report for our ABET reaccreditation visit... 8^)

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