IT jobs will grow 22% through 2020, says U.S.

Biennial update says offshoring will limit growth in some occupations, while healthcare IT provides a boost

WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials on Thursday said that offshoring will hurt the growth of U.S. programming jobs in this decade, though expansion of healthcare IT and mobile networks will in turn increase demand for software developers, support technicians and systems analysts.

By 2020, employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22%, but some IT fields will fare better than others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) biennial update of employment projections.

Comparative growth rates

Projected 10-year growth Compared to other categories
Increase 29% or more Much faster than average
Increase 20% to 28% Faster than average
Increase 10% to 19% About average
Increase 3% to 9% More slowly than average
Decrease 2% to increase 2% Little or no change
Decrease 3% to 9% Decline slowly or moderately
Decrease 10% or more Decline rapidly
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Demand for software developers will be the strongest in this period, with increases ranging from 28% to 32%, depending on the type of software development.

The BLS update imagines what IT employment will look like through 2020.

The agency's forecasts, particularly for technology-related jobs, are often controversial because they can't account for rapid market changes and tech disruptions. But its estimates are often cited in various policy debates on issues ranging from education to immigration.

The IT employment growth rate projected by the BLS was characterized as "anemic" by Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, a research firm that analyzes IT wage and employment trends.

"When you consider the overall demand for systems and applications in high-growth markets like China and India, [the BLS projections] mean the U.S. will be doing a diminishing portion of the development and implementation work," said Janulaitis. "If that's the case, the U.S. will no longer be the leader in IT.

"The BLS projections are a bad sign for the U.S. IT graduates from universities. Those numbers do not cover the net growth necessary to give all of the graduates jobs," Janulaitis added.

The outlook varies from occupation to occupation. Here's a look at the BLS projections for various tech jobs.

Database administrators

Demand for database administrators is expected to increase by 31%, with 33,900 jobs being added this decade as enterprises endeavor to cull valuable information from an ever-growing mountain of data.

The field employed 110,800 people in 2010 at a median salary of $73,490.

IT managers

For IT managers, employment is projected to increase by 55,800 jobs, or 18%, to 363,700 jobs by 2020.

The BLS said growth in the healthcare industry and the need for more IT security may spur an increase in the number IT management jobs, but the agency added that "cloud computing may shift some IT services to computer systems design and related services firms, concentrating jobs in that industry."

The median pay for IT managers in 2010 was $115,780.

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Job growth forecast

Job title May 2010 employment 2020 jobs forecast Job growth forecast Pct job growth forecast Expected growth rate thru 2020 May 2010 median wage
Software developers, systems software 392,300 519,400 127,100 32% Much faster than average $ 94,180
Database administrators 110,800 144,800 34,000 31% Much faster than average $ 73,490
Network & computer system admins 347,300 443,800 96,500 28% Faster than average $ 69,160
Software developers, applications 520,800 664,500 143,700 28% Faster than average $ 87,790
Computer systems analyst 544,400 664,800 120,400 22% Faster than average $ 77,740
Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects 302,300 367,900 65,600 22% Faster than average $ 75,660
Computer & information systems managers 307,900 363,700 55,800 18% About average $115,780
Computer support specialists 607,100 717,100 110,000 18% About average $ 46,260
Computer programmers 363,100 406,800 43,700 12% Average $ 71,380
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
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