Computer Software

Computer Software

Industry Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the computer and technology industry, including the software industry, will grow much faster than the average (about 12 percent) through 2028, resulting in the addition of 546,200 new jobs. Each job in the software field has a slightly different outlook. Software developers will continue to see a high growth rate, 21 percent, through 2028, primarily due to the increased demand for software for new devices, such as tablet computers and smart phones. Employment of computer systems analysts may rise by 9 percent and that of information and security analysts is projected to grow by 32 percent.

The Bureau also reports that computer and information systems managers within companies will also see 11 percent growth in jobs through 2028. Growth that does occur in this industry will be mostly in companies that are upgrading their IT systems and switching to newer, faster, and more mobile networks. The health care industry is also expected to add more jobs for computer and information systems managers, and 26 percent job growth for IT managers is expected in the insurance carriers industry.

As the nation’s reliance on information technology grows ever stronger, particularly information available on the Internet and through devices such as iPads, GPS devices, and tablet PCs, software professionals will be needed to develop robust applications to meet these information needs. The growing popularity of handheld computing on wireless devices such as the iPhone and Android will also spur the need for more software applications for these specific platforms. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that while growth in this industry will not rival the considerable boom it experienced in the 1990s, job opportunities will still be strong for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to salaries, computer software professionals typically enjoy higher than average salaries. The DOL reported the median annual wage for computer and information technology professionals was $86,320 in May 2018.

Staying current with new or upgraded products is extremely important for software professionals to improve chances of getting a job and being promoted. The software industry changes quickly, and professionals must keep up with new technology. Meanwhile, the impacts of cloud computing and the outsourcing of IT jobs to countries in which wages are lower may lead to a slowdown in the overall growth of the software industry and demand for employees.

At the end of the decade, computer software applications were growing in a wide range of emerging categories. These included the "Internet of things" (the growing constellation of Internet-connected items that encompasses everything from security cameras and household appliances to windmills and industrial machinery); aerial drones; autonomous vehicles; smart homes; and more.

Spending on computer software services is expected to hold steady through the coronavirus pandemic, thanks in part to the gradual but overwhelming transition from a perpetual-license model for consumers to a cloud-based subscription model. The effects of the pandemic will nonetheless be felt; growth is projected at 1.7 percent for 2020 as opposed to 10 percent the year before. Some types of apps, such as videoconferencing and online collaboration programs, experienced surges in usership as professionals adjusted to working from home. Supply chain disruptions that hurt other industries affected software less because most apps can be downloaded from the Internet or accessed via cloud accounts rather than with physical media. Industry analysts predict that worldwide IT spending will reach $3.8 trillion in 2021, growing by 4 percent compared to 2020. As described in an article by Gartner, "While there have been unique stressors imposed on all industries as the ongoing pandemic unfolds, the enterprises that were already more digital going into the crisis are doing better and will continue to thrive going into 2021."

According to the market research group IBISWorld, in late 2020, the U.S. software publishing industry was valued at $293 billion, with 18,234 businesses, and a total of 787,311 employees. Expansion in this industry is expected from 2021 through 2025. U.S. software publishing industry growth post pandemic will be due, in part, to the increase in the number of households with at least one computer, as well as increases in mobile internet connections and the ownership of smartphones. The research group also predicts that "strong corporate profit among downstream industries, such as health care and finance, and rising per capita disposable income are expected to contribute to revenue growth over the next five years, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic dissipate."