Why I'm Not Worrying about Saturation in Tech, If It Exists

I often hear fresh concerns about saturation in the job market for tech. It seems that a lot of computer science students worry that they will struggle finding a job; and if they might struggle, whether computer science is still a good career. On the extreme side, these concerns devolve into conspiracies such as “tech companies and the government are encouraging more people to go into CS to lower wages.”

Judging from statistics, there isn’t reason to believe that the job market for computer science will be saturated anytime soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 24% increase of “software developer” jobs from 2016 to 2026, compared to the average of 7% across all job occupations. And while computer science enrollments have indeed exploded in the 2010s, degree completions haven’t grown as quickly. I’m skeptical that the number of computer science degrees conferred will ever catch up to the number of computer science enrollments; quite a few students drop out of computer science early.

Also, computer science students shouldn’t worry about bootcampers. Successful computer science students end up with a more holistic technical background than virtually any bootcamper will have. This proves to be useful when searching for generalist entry-level jobs. Coding bootcamps tend to focus on popular languages and frameworks such as JavaScript and React.js. However, computer science students usually have enough time outside of school to explore those frameworks, too.

In the grand scheme of things, speculating about saturation tech industry is pointless and counterproductive. Instead, the correct question that you should ask is whether working in the tech industry the best choice for you. And I suspect that the answer might be yes.

Gaining some perspective

First, breaking into the tech industry is much, much easier than breaking into similarly prestigious fields such as medicine, law, or investment banking. Medical students endure at least ten years of school and residency, and law students have to cope with the high cost of law school and the competitiveness of high-paying jobs.

Investment banking has a similar career path to tech jobs in terms of schooling; many investment bankers have either a bachelors degree or an MBA. However, the hours for investment banking jobs are really long, especially at the lower levels.

In comparison, the tech industry is chill. Many successful tech workers only have a bachelors degree, and some don’t even have a degree. The working hours are generally good outside of early-stage startups, and the pay is high. As a computer science student, life is good.

Focus on what you can control

Now I’m sure that the job market in tech will become more competitive, especially at the entry level—that is inevitable. However, it is futile to complain about it.

Instead, you should focus on what you can control. If you don’t have previous work or internship experience in tech, pick up a side project in something you’re interested in. I suggest starting with web development or mobile development. Make that side project look good and see it to completion. Now you have something relevant on your résumé that you can show to companies.

From there, you rinse and repeat. Build up your technical skills, network with peers and mentors, and become excellent at what you do. You’ll start to get more callbacks from applying to jobs, more interviews, and more offers. And most importantly, you’ll stand out from your peers. Even in a competitive job market, you’ll be doing fine.