Is it a Good Idea to Pursue Software Engineering in Today’s Climate?

This question has come up a lot in the last several months now that 2024 has started. There has been a lot of news around layoffs in the latter part of 2023, and more layoffs in early 2024. That’s left a lot of people really early in their software engineering career concerned about job prospects. That’s also left people in college, bootcamps, etc. and people considering them, to reconsider their career choices. Given all of that, is it a good idea to pursue software engineering in today’s climate? In short, yes, absolutely. But there’s a lot of information to consider.

Forecast of the next several years of software engineering

When you really think about it, so much of our modern society is built upon software. So there’s an ever-growing need for more software, and thus more software engineers. And AI is not damaging that outlook either. But if you look at research, it shows that the industry will continue to grow by a large margin in the next 5 years and beyond. So if there are lots of projections of growth for the industry, then it’s a healthy industry to pursue.

Why are layoffs happening in 2023 and 2024?

There are important things to remember when looking at the news of layoffs in the IT industry.  If you don’t, then it’s too easy to think that the industry is collapsing, when in reality it’s not. What you’re seeing is expected, and normal for the industry and the economic signs if you’re paying attention.

Layoffs happen, and what you’re seeing is news from major companies announcing layoffs. And layoffs happen the most around the end of the year, and in January. The reasons are because companies want to show healthy reports for their fiscal by the end of the year. Similarly when starting a new fiscal, they’ll try to consolidate, restructure, and trim headcount when starting a new year based on their forecast for the new year. So, all of the news you’re seeing is a common pattern.

You also have to remember the pandemic. The federal rates were almost zero during the pandemic to alleviate unemployment, which drove many companies to borrow money with great ease, and use that money to go on hiring sprees to experience a lot of growth. That’s why in the last couple of years hiring was insane, and we also saw salary inflation in some roles because of it. Now that the federal rates are higher to combat inflation, which means access to money is harder right now. That’s why many companies aren’t hiring, or have slowed their hiring.

Put those two together, and you’ll see a couple of the reasons why there’s layoffs happening. It’s not due to the failure of the industry, it’s just how things have played out due to normal business practices, and the economy.

Should you pursue software engineering in 2024 and beyond?

Simple answer, yes. Looking at the two topics above, it’s clear that the industry is still a good industry. Software engineering isn’t going anywhere. It’s still a good industry to get into, especially if you like the industry itself. This industry isn’t for everyone. And getting a new job right now early in 2024 may not be super easy. But you can still succeed! Some of it is outside of your control, but a lot is still up to you in getting a job, and how well you may succeed at this career.