Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fun Topic: Software Developer vs. Computer Programmer (According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

So the other day I stumble on this site:

I hear about BLS on the news all the time. According to BLS they are:

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor produces some of the Nation’s most widely followed measures of the economy."

I didn't realize they had an on-line "Occupation Finder". Basically it's a tool to tell you what the outlook will be for a particular job if you are younger person (or I guess a parent of a young person). 

So, I did what I always do when I find something new. I "played" with it. I kept playing around with the filters till I find job that is:

a) The Highest Paying (who couldn't use more $, right?)

b) Fastest Growing (who doesn't want job security, right?)
c) Lowest Education pre-req (who doesn't want the easiest path, right?)

Wanna guess what it was?


Basically it's "Software Developers". (Everything else seemed like Dr or other heath professional... This is why I believe the US needs Universal Healthcare... but another topic for another time...)

It's the only job that had 50,000+ jobs, in the highest pay bracket and only need a bachelor degree

Mark Twain (the pen name for Sammuel Clemens) once said "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Never was that more true than now..

Honestly, I think the US Bureau of Labour needs to be 'LITTLE' more specifc. Is this mobile developers? Is this game developers? How big is this bucket? So I "click" similar jobs and I got this list:


First I see is "Computer Programmers". Can anyone tell me how that is different from "Software Developer"? Doesn't Software run on Computers? Don't they both Develop Programs

(I *am* in the software industry. I have been for a long time. I am part of 60,000 person "Software Giant" in SAP. I can tell you right now, this is a very very vague title. There are SCRUM masters, there are UX experts, there are test suite managers, there are X-Coders, there are Android Developers, there are COBOL coders, there are QA experts, etc...*ALL* of these people come together to 'develop' software.)

Have a look at the description:

What Software Developers Do
Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks.

What Computer Programmers Do
Computer programmers write code to create software programs. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Software developers account for 913,100 jobs, average pay of $90K a year and grow 30%. Computer programmers account for 363,100 jobs, average of $71K a year and grow only 12%?!? 

So what's the real answer if these jobs overlap? Do I add these together? Is there something I'm missing...The only thing I can conclude is that maybe Computer Programmers are just the 'coders'? However in that case, how can it be only 1/3 of the size of 'creative' Software Developers? I would assume that you'd need more execution people than designers, no?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The BLS also grouped Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects into a single group. Web Developers, which according to BLS only develop web sites that provide a "public face" for companies. No HTML 5 or WebApp developers here. No private intra-net or on-line SaaS developers here...

However, I also found this text extremely 'interesting':

"...and additional knowledge of web programming languages can be helpful for web developers."
Hmm... *cough*... I could see how 'knowing' HTML *might* be 'helpful' for web development. Or is HTML not a true 'Programming Language'?

Two things that scare me:

#1 - If this info is given to young people in jr high & high school, which they make some of the most important decisions of their life on. (Just imagine being read this info @ Grade 7 Career Education/Guidance class.)

#2 - If this info is used to create important and crucial future policy, or tax structures.

Either way I'm a little concerned if someone needs to take a critical eye and double-check the data before presenting it? I mean this is"Nation’s most widely followed measures of the economy", right? (BTW I'm sure Canada is no better...)


Wayne Pau.


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  2. In Alberta, Canada the descriptions are actually broken up more than what you describe. You can check them out here: http://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/Content/RequestAction.asp?Format=HTML&SNT_ID=13&aspAction=GetClusterDetails&CLT_ID=46

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