The software engineering / software development / programming profession often receives high rankings in various career surveys. Although I do think there are some differences in these various job titles, they're used interchangeably enough that I intentionally mix them here. Last year, CareerCast ranked Software Engineering as the #2 job in the United States for 2010 and I blogged on that then. This year, Software Engineering has moved ahead of Actuary to take the #1 spot on CareerCast's rankings for top job in 2011. As with last year, there is an article in the Wall Street Journal based on this study.
It is interesting to see why Software Engineering moved to the #1 spot for 2011. The actuary profession apparently saw reduced overall outlook and greater stress due to concerns about the insurance industry and potential regulation. Perhaps even more interesting is the reasons for the positive momentum of software engineering. The study called software engineering job market "broader and more diverse" thanks primarily to cloud computing and mobile device development. The greater number and variety of positions leads to greater potential for an industry and reduces the competitiveness factor. It's just a study subject to mistakes and weaknesses of generalization, but it was particularly interesting to see that the stress factor for Software Engineering improved from 25th best to 15th best. That certainly fits the theory that more positions means less stress.
Not surprisingly, the study includes the statement that software engineering and other top careers "require proficiency in math, science or technology, and all of them require higher education or specialized training." Besides Software Engineering being #1 in this study, Computer Systems Analyst is ranked #5.
The article and its methodology are interesting enough, but the feedback comments have value of their own. Some are ridiculous, but worth a laugh. The contention about what is a software engineer versus a programmer versus a coder is the same old arguments, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing that some things never change.
In the end, I've never believed that I need a study to tell me if I have a good job or good career. That being said, I have always felt that software engineering is a reasonably good choice of career when looking at the ratio of reward to effort. There are few careers that I'm aware of with the type of compensation for a bachelors degree (typical educational level of software engineers though some have more and some have less formal secondary education). Most importantly, most software engineers I know do find satisfaction from their work.