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Hot Job Market for Computer Science Graduates

Joel Adams

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.

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