IT jobs in 2023: Look before you leap

Software developers who have been caught up in the recent surge of tech layoffs can expect to find plenty of job opportunities—they just might have to look beyond tech. Career experts say hiring remains steady in transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, and other sectors. All are looking for developers with the skills to create innovative products and services.

“We are seeing all industries hiring developers because they need to continue to support, or further develop, the technology that they have,” says Thomas Vick, regional director in Texas for the technology practice at employment agency and consultancy Robert Half.

“For most companies, the ongoing need for developers has continued even through hiring freezes or layoffs,” Vick says. “We are seeing that projects related to website refreshes [and] digitalization, security, and data/cloud migrations are the highest priority to most.”

Robert Half expects to see continuing high demand for developers throughout the year. The economy might be slower but the need to maintain or further develop organizational technology is not going anywhere. “We anticipate these needs will be across all industries,” Vick says. “While some companies are taking a more measured approach to their hiring or their internal headcount, we still see that most companies out there anticipate needing to hire this year.”

Every company is a tech company

Software has become integral to most mainstream business operations due to the demand for effective e-commerce, cloud-based data solutions, and the focus on better customer experience. As a result, organizations in many sectors are on the lookout for good developers.

“Every company today is a tech company in some capacity, and that’s certainly true when it comes to software development,” says Nick Kolakowski, senior editor of Dice Insights at technology career marketplace Dice.

“Outside of tech, nearly every industry vertical has a need for software developers, from finance and insurance to manufacturing to healthcare to aerospace/defense,” Kolakowski says. “In finance, there’s an intense need for developers who can build increasingly sophisticated systems; for example, using Python to build financial models.”

Meanwhile, customized software is used to make manufacturing processes more efficient, and developers are needed for everything from customized production scheduling to product life cycle management, Kolakowski says.

“Throughout the pandemic and beyond, we’ve seen strong hiring from defense and aerospace contractors such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin,” he says. “Thanks to continual government spending, these companies have a steady stream of projects that require many types and levels of tech professionals, which includes software developers.”

Even though recent layoff news from big technology companies is making technology professionals feel less secure about their jobs, “job market prospects are still bright for software developers,” says Sinem Buber, lead economist with jobs site ZipRecruiter.

Many non-traditional technology companies in automotive, education technology, healthcare, and food technology had a hard time attracting top talent during the severe labor shortages of the last two years. Now, they are chasing after developers laid off from traditional tech companies, Buber says.

Developer jobs in key industries

High technology has become integral to nearly every area of business, resulting in an expanding field of opportunity for software engineers. Here’s a look at key industries currently hiring developers and the type of work that is available:

  • In financial services, developers are needed to create applications for e-commerce websites; budgeting programs; bookkeeping; online banking; tax management; and for financial forecasting.
  • In healthcare, there is need for applications and systems for electronic health records; medical practice management; online appointment scheduling; online medical billing; scheduling and patient management for specialty practitioners; telehealth; patient engagement; remote patient monitoring; electronic prescriptions; clinical trial management; and hospital management services.
  • In manufacturing, custom applications and systems are needed for production tracking; manufacturing scheduling; time and productivity management; supply-chain management; work-order management; computer-aided manufacturing; environment, health and safety software; accounting; preventative maintenance; and inventory management.
  • In the automotive sector, developers can build applications for real-time status tracking for vehicle maintenance; designing vehicle models; vehicle safety such as automated lighting and braking; vehicle navigation; vehicle diagnostics; dealership management; on-board diagnosis; fleet management; and automobile parts inventory management.
  • In insurance, they can work on applications for internal workflow automation; automating claims management and processing; telematics systems; chatbots for communications; fraud detection; and insurance data analytics.

There’s also hope for those wanting to remain in tech. Despite workforce reductions of late, these companies also have not stopped hiring developers.

“The lion’s share—80% of job postings—are still listed within the traditional tech sector,” Buber says. “The remaining one in five software developer jobs are spread across industries, including business and support services, manufacturing, engineering, education, healthcare services, financial services, and science.”

Fields to watch: IoT and cybersecurity

There’s also a demand for developers in fast-growing segments that spread across multiple industries, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity.

IoT applications include enterprise solutions such as customer analytics and product tracking systems; smart homes that use sensors to control and maintain lighting, resource management and security systems; smart cities that use sensors for traffic monitoring and management, lighting and other functions; smart power grids; smart factories; and supply chain management. 

Industries such as manufacturing, retail, and healthcare have been particularly active in deploying IOT.

As for cybersecurity, organizations in every industry are looking to enhance their data protection capabilities, and developers have opportunities to create new security tools or make enhancements to existing applications.

Software development is still the top job

All of this adds up to significant growth forecasts for the development profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), part of the Department of Commerce, says overall employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow 25 percent between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 163,000 openings for these professionals are projected each year, on average, over the decade, according to the bureau. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, says the BLS.

In its 2023 Best Jobs report, released in January 2023, U.S. News & World Report named software developer the number one job. To calculate its Best Jobs ranking, U.S. News draws data from BLS to identify jobs with the greatest hiring demand. Jobs are then scored using seven component measures including 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, median salary, employment rate, future job prospects, stress level, and work-life balance.

What companies are looking for

Regardless of the industry, certain developer skills are especially coveted by organizations. The most in-demand development professionals are full-stack developers who are experienced with a variety of programming languages.

“Companies need software developers who have mastered some of the world’s more popular programming languages, including Java, SQL, JavaScript, and Python,” Kolakowski says. “These companies have already built their tech stacks on these languages, and they need developers who can work within those frameworks.”

Newer languages such as TypeScript and Kotlin are also seeing upticks in popularity, as developers prize the features within these languages, Kolakowski says. “But it will take quite some time for them to impact the marketshare of the more ingrained languages,” he says.

Employers are not just looking for technology skills.

“Despite the fact that software development is a highly quantitative field, employers value soft skills such as collaboration and communication skills in some cases as much as must-have technical skills,” Buber says. “Companies want to hire software developers who can communicate with and collaborate across teams across all functions in the company, to meet the needs of both internal and external end users.”

Among the top skills ZipRecruiter has seen with developer job postings so far this year are collaboration, communication, innovation, customer service, mentoring, proactive thinking, multi-tasking, and ability to work independently.

As for future high-demand skills, careers experts see a growing need for individuals who have knowledge and experience in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and other types of technologies that support automation.

“Organizations everywhere are exploring the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence to make their apps and services ‘smarter,’ and developers who’ve learned AI tools and platforms such as TensorFlow may find their skills in high demand,” Kolakowski says. “For the moment, however, the number of AI job postings remains comparatively small.”

A knowledge of cloud computing will also remain in strong demand for the foreseeable future, Kolakowski says. “Developers who know their way around Amazon Web Services [AWS], Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud will see more opportunities emerge, especially as organizations move their tech stacks off-premises into the cloud,” he says. 

The future is bright, if you know where to look

Despite recent staff cutbacks by companies in the technology sector, including the biggest names in public cloud services, career experts are optimistic about the hiring opportunities for software developers.

Demand remains extremely high for technology talent, Kolakowski says, even amidst the shakeups in the technology market. “Development remains perhaps the most important core tech skill for nearly every company today,” he says. “Software developers are tasked with improving user experiences, bringing innovative products and features to market, and are heavily involved in initiatives around safety, productivity, and efficiency.”

As a result, software developer jobs have routinely been the top-posted technology job by volume over the past few years, Kolakowski says. “Even with the rise of engineering, data science, and cybersecurity roles—all of which are also business-critical—we expect that the demand for developers will only continue to grow, especially in the industries undergoing large-scale digital transformation efforts,” he says.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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