Friday, January 5, 2007

Where has my job market gone?

When I went to college, Computer Science was toted as THE major, with graduates able to command $80K salaries for working 35 hours a week. And the Universities and Tech schools began churning out programmers by the hundreds. Fast forward about 5 years or so. I have been out of college for 4.5 years now, and we have 3 Universities / Tech Schools offering computer programming degrees of some sorts, and we have a market absolutely saturated with average to less than average programmers.

Approximately 4 months ago I began the search for, as my father puts it, a "Real Job", implying one that was continuous, had an actual office, and provided Health Insurance. I'm sure there's other criteria for a job to be classified as "Real", including but not limited to: Dress Codes, Regular Working Hours, and Having A Real Phone System, but we'll leave those details to speculation.

The very first thing that became apparent was that the job market, at least in the technology sector, has become absolutely SATURATED with programmers. What once was a rare and valuable resource had become as common as quartz! No longer was I a part of an elite society of techno-addicts, but rather my colleagues became any person with the cash and urge to take a few night classes, and recent college grads who wouldn't know a pointer from a div.

It's almost gotten to the point that programmers are as numerous as Mexican workers in Austin or Dallas. Anymore, all the corporations / companies have to do is drive up to the corner and say "I need 2 dotNet programmers to do XYZ for $.50 an hour." and it's a bloody fight as programmers scramble to be the first on the back of the pickup truck.

Now that being said, there is also another trend that is becoming apparent. As the quantity of programmers rises, the quality falls. One of the biggest complaints I heard as I was going through the interviews was that there were absolutely no good programmers out there anymore.

Never before has there been a truer statement. And this is because Microsoft and Google have already snatched up all the good programmers! Well that's only partially true, all the good programmers already have jobs, and are getting paid on a level coordinating with their abilities.

But this is not the only reason there are no good programmers around, the root of the problem lies within the hiring companies themselves. Just because there's a desperately high level of programmers in the "programmer pool", the only ones that you are going to get to bite a 20K-30K level jobs are 20K-30K and lower level programmers. As with any desired skill, you get what you pay for. That's just the long and short of it!

Jesus loves....well me at least....

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