The State of Programming

With so much reliance on our computers and smartphones, it seems like technology controls our lives. Behind the scenes are the programmers who are creating software and apps that now define everything we do. From traditional programming jobs to freelance programmers and outsource programmers – the industry for programmers looks bright.

Here is a roundup that covers the current and future state of programming.

What a Programming Job Involves

Computer programmers and software programmers spend the majority of their time writing code. This code then solves a certain issue or problem for a company, or that tells a computer what to do. Programming tasks can be done in a physical office or in a programmer’s home.

These positions typically require a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or some type of information technology specialty. While some programmers are self-taught and can get jobs or freelance projects with just an associate’s degree, all programmers have to know at least a few programming languages as described later on in this roundup.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in 2012 was $74,280 per year or the equivalent of $35.71 per hour. In 2012, there were 343,700 computer programming jobs with further positions added at an average rate of eight percent through 2022. PayScale noted that a computer programmer averages between $34,000 and $89,000, depending on experience and the type of project and industry. Added to this are many bonuses, profit-sharing opportunities, and benefits. Typically, PayScale found that the majority of programmers are men.

Freelance and Outsource Programming Careers

Recently, many companies and startups have realized the advantages of outsourcing programming projects to other countries that have the skills and are willing to work at a lower rate. However, that doesn’t mean those considering a freelance position you will have to accept a lot less.

A report by Computer Economics on IT Outsourcing Statistics 2015/2016 revealed many insights into how this outsource trend impacts programmers. Overall IT outsourcing, which consists of all types of technology jobs beyond just programming, accounts for 10.2% of the IT budget on average in 2015, which reflects previous year spending.

There are different trends for each type of IT job. Application development, however, is often dependent on the economic cycle in terms of how much is outsourced. As the report noted, “Application programmers constitute the largest component of most IT staffs and they command some of the highest wages in the organization. IT executives are looking for ways to reduce the cost of developing and maintaining applications, and outsourcing this labor-intensive function is a well-established practice.” Additionally, firms use outsourced programmers to supplement existing in-house talent when there are specific projects that require a larger team.

Computer Economics

Computer Economics found that application development is outsourced, entirely or in part, by 62% of IT organizations. The outsourcing frequency is about the same as the previous year. However, it has decreased from down from its post-recession peak of 66% three years earlier. The report also concluded that “among organizations that outsource this function, 30% are increasing the percentage of work outsourced over the previous year compared with 15% that are decreasing the percentage of work outsourced, for a net growth trend of 15 points. The outsourcing of this function has a low net growth trend.”

While 59% of small organizations outsource part of their application development work, 67% of large organizations outsource this function. The sector also plays a role in terms of how many outsourced programming jobs are available. For example, 67% of financial services companies outsource programming followed by public and nonprofit organizations outsource (64%), process manufacturers (63%), and high-tech organizations (54%). This provides you with some idea where you can consider looking for freelance and outsource programming projects.

The Trends that Guide Programming

The trends for programming are often reflected in the overall IT trends. Gartner, Inc. highlighted a number of technology trends that impact the opportunities for programmers in 2015 and beyond:

  • There will be a move from computer programming to programming for mobile devices. Mobile devices is becoming the preferred way to interact, communicate, and share.
  • The Internet of Things will require more programming solutions to combine data and services together. This is done to manage, monetize, operate and extend for all types of industries.
  • 3D printers are expected to grow nearly 100% in 2015 with more demand into 2016. This will also require programming expertise to develop the necessary printing software for this innovative and versatile equipment.
  • Gartner concluded that “analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analyzed.” This will require programming expertise.
  • More intuitive and responsive systems will be developed in the artificial intelligence environment. This will create a further complex computing environment that requires programming expertise. This environment will include things like “prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors”.
  • Cloud and client computing will continue to grow with the need to create the type of applications that can address portability and the second-screen phenomenon that describes the application of supporting the simultaneous use of multiple devices.
  • Gartner also found that “computing has to move away from static to dynamic models. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.” Again, this is where computer programmer knowledge and skill are highly valued.
  • Web-Scale IT is a way of bringing development and operations together within an enterprise IT setting that can drive the ongoing development of various types of applications on a global scale.
  • Security is also important as an area where programmers can develop the type of self-protection for networks and systems. That is essential in this complex computing environment. As the Gartner reported explained, “Security-aware application design, dynamic and static application security testing, and runtime application self-protection, combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls are all needed in today’s dangerous digital world.”

Top Programming Languages to Learn

Like technology, computer and software programming languages evolve and change over time. That’s why it’s important to always stay updated on the newest languages. You will also need to learn these languages to add value to you  when applying to future jobs.

Earlier this year, Mashable released a list of the top 15 programming languages that you will need to know if you want to succeed in this industry. The programming languages include recognizable, long-standing languages like Java, JavaScript, SQL, C#, C and C++. Then, there are newer programming languages that are used for web apps like PHP, Python, Ruby – and more.

Final Thoughts

Programming is evolving and becoming more complex with the need for new languages, innovative thinking, and advanced solutions. This means ongoing – and growing opportunities for programmers to learn and develop their careers. This great demand provides satisfying, challenging, and lucrative programming projects within a company or as a freelancer. It’s up to you to code your programming career.