Employment in Computer Information Systems

Employment opportunities are expected to be good in the IT industry as demand for computer-related occupations increases due to rapid advances in computer technology, continuing development of new computer applications, and the growing significance of information security. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) 92% of all IT workers are in non-IT companies, 80% of which are in small companies. (Information Technology Association of America) 

Some Interesting Facts:

Take a look at these facts about the IT Industry: 

  • The IT industry includes such products and services as software, telecommunications, wireless, Internet, hardware, peripherals, and computer and data services.
  • Software and hardware segments of the industry accounted for 12.57% of total GDP in 2001.
  • The commercial software industry of 2003 was a $175 billion economic engine with 2.3 million jobs worldwide.
  • IT is both a distinct industry, and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a subset of Manufacturing, Transportation, and Business Services.
  • 92% of all IT workers are in non-information technology, companies including companies engaged in health care services, real estate, insurance, and financial services; 80% of them are in small companies outside the IT industry.
  • Over the last 30 years, an investment of $11 trillion has been made in information technology globally.  The major achievements have been in productivity, manufacturing efficiencies, and education applications.
  • Seven of the top thirty fastest growing occupations are projected to be IT-related.
  • The computer systems design and related services industry is expected to be one of the top 10 fastest growing industries in the economy, adding more than 600,000 jobs between 2002 and 2012.
  • Employment in the telecommunications industry is expected to increase by 7 percent between 2002 and 2012.
  • All seven of the fastest growing IT jobs (Network Systems and Data Communications Analyst; Computer Software Engineer - Applications; Computer software Engineer - Systems Software; Database Administrator; Computer Systems Analyst; Network and Computer Systems Administrator; Computer and Information Systems Manager) require at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Nine percent of CIOs at U.S. companies plan to increase their IT hiring.
Employment Outlook:

Let's look at the microcosm of IT professionals.  According to former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, U.S. businesses will need 21 million new IT workers in the next five years. However, a shortfall of at least 4 million workers is predicted.   The Computing Research Association says the number of students choosing computer science as a field of study decreased 39% from 2000 to 2004.  The dot-com bust and fears of an insecure future have led students to pursue other professions. 

Companies exacerbated the problem during the recent recession by laying off large numbers of IT workers.  Many of these people left the profession because they couldn't find another job.  Companies also stopped hiring entry-level workers who would start basically as apprentices and be ready to take over IT roles when older workers retire.   When the gray hairs retire, who will do the work?  Smart companies are starting now to prepare for the future IT workforce. 

There is good news, however.  The future workforce likely will include many older workers who don't want (or can't afford) to retire completely.  AARP reports that nearly 70% of workers aged 45 to 74 say they want to continue working in some capacity.   An innovative employer might be able to retain workers by offering reduced work hours, a flexible schedule or lighter responsibilities. 

Smart companies are starting to bring in new recruits so they can begin preparing to step into jobs with more responsibility.  A study commissioned by the Society for Information Management indicates that companies are still looking to entry-level hires to fill technical positions such as system administrator, help desk worker or programmer.  Although these are the types of jobs that are typically outsourced, they serve a purpose in developing the next generation of workers. 

Many companies are establishing formal or informal mentoring programs to help less-experienced workers learn the ropes from those with more experience.   Mentoring helps knowledge pass from one person to another. 

The competition to hire and retain skilled IT workers is fierce, and the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. When the gray-hairs log off for the last time, companies don't want to be scrambling for help.

In-Demand IT Occupations

The information sector, with a projected 5.2-percent average annual output growth rate, is the second fastest growing sector in the economy.  Providing publishing, Internet, cable, and telecommunication services, real output for this sector is expected to increase by $624.1 billion between 2004 and 2014, to reach $1.6 trillion by 2014. 

Accounting for a third of the information sector’s employment and 40.0 percent of its nominal output in 2004, telecommunications is this sector’s dominant subsector.   However, as companies seek cost reductions, the twin pressures of industry consolidation and price competition are expected to cause this subsector’s projected employment losses.  Additional factors effecting employment are expected to be improved equipment reliability and productivity-enhancing technologies, which will increase the data transmission capacity of telecommunication networks.  Employment, therefore, is projected to decline by 0.7 percent annually, to 975,000 jobs in 2014 - a loss of 68,000. 

However, as the distinctions between cable and satellite TV, and between wireless and wireline telephone systems become less obvious, traditional telecommunications companies will continue to offer more services, such as high-speed Internet access, video-on-demand, and Internet telephony services.  Wireless providers will also continue to increase capacity and enhance services, such as phones that also function as computers. 

These trends are expected to result in the telecommunications subsector being the 10th largest in terms of output growth.  Even though this category’s output is projected to grow by a little more than half its historical 6.1 percent, real output is expected to expand by $203.4 billion, to $667.0 billion in 2014. 

Software publishing, adding jobs at an annual rate of 5.7 percent between 1994 and 2004, was the economy’s third fastest growing industry.  It is also expected to be the Nation’s second fastest growing employer, with a projected annual growth rate of 5.3 percent.  Firms are expected to continue to invest heavily in productivity enhancing software that facilitates electronic commerce and ensures secure systems of communication.  In addition, consumers are anticipated to continue their demand for educational and entertainment software.  Adding 161,000 jobs to reach 400,000 by 2014, projected employment growth is expected to be tempered, relative to historical rates, by cost-cutting initiatives that outsource routine tasks offshore.  Providing the backbone to a largely technology-based economy, however, this industry’s real output is expected to reach $281.2 billion by 2014, reflecting an economy-leading increase of $180 billion and a 10.8-percent annual rate from its 2004 level - the third fastest in the economy. 

Internet and other information services, providing a wide variety of services from Internet service providers and Web search portals to data processing and hosting, is a group of information related subsectors that are projected to experience healthy growth.  Specifically, this group is expected to be among the economy’s fastest in terms of employment and output growth - increasing by 2.5 percent to 600,000 jobs in 2014, up from 470,000 in 2004.  The collective real output of these subsectors is projected to grow at an aggressive 8.5 average annual percent, and reach $271.8 billion in 2014.  The continued growth of general Internet use, the expansion of new Web services, and the ongoing need to absorb the unending amount of new content - coupled with the rapid demand to upgrade networks that improve performance and enhance security - are expected to act as positive catalysts for this group.