Posts about jobs

The Software Developer Labor Market

With the economy today you don’t hear much of a desperate need for programmers. But Dr. Norman Matloff, Department of Computer Science, University of California at Davis, testimony to Congress (Presented April 21, 1998; updated December 9, 2002) on Debunking the Myth of a Desperate Software Labor Shortage is full of lots of interesting information (for current and past job markets).

The industry says that it will need H-1B visas temporarily, until more programmers can be trained. Is this true?

No, it’s false and dishonest… The industry has been using this “temporary need” stall tactic for years, ever since the H-1B law was enacted in 1990. In the early- and mid-1990s, for example, the industry kept saying that H-1Bs wouldn’t be needed after the laid-off defense programmers and engineers were retrained, but never carried out its promise. It hired those laid off in low-level jobs such as technician (which is all the retraining programs prepared them for), and hired H-1Bs for the programming and engineering work.

Unlike Dr. Matloff, and many readers of this blog, I am actually not a big opponent of H-1B visas. I believe we benefit more by allowing tech savy workers to work in the USA than we lose. I understand people fear jobs are being taken away, but I don’t believe it. I believe one of the reasons we maintain such a strong programming position is due to encouraging people to come to the USA to program.

I also do believe, there are abuses, under the current law, of companies playing games to say no-one can be found in the USA with the proper skills. And I believe those apposed to H-1B visas make reasonable arguments and this testimony is a good presentation of those arguments.

This obsession with specific skills is unwarranted. What counts is general programming talent – hiring smart people – not experience with specific software technologies.

Very true.

What developers should do.

Suppose you are currently using programming language X, but you see that X is beginning to go out of fashion, and a new language (or OS or platform, etc.) Y is just beginning to come on the scene. The term “just beginning” is crucial here; it means that Y is so new that there almost no one has work experience in it yet. At that point you should ask your current employer to assign you to a project which uses Y, and let you learn Y on the job. If your employer is not willing to do this, or does not have a project using Y, then find another employer who uses both X and Y, and thus who will be willing to hire you on the basis of your experience with X alone, since very few people have experience with Y yet.

Good advice.

Related: IT Talent Shortage, or Management Failure?Preparing Computer Science Students for JobsEngineering Graduates Again in Great Shape (May 2008)What Graduates Should Know About an IT Careerposts related to computer programming
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Mathematicians Top List of Best Occupations

These lists are basically silly but here is one sites opinion on the best occupations. I don’t really accept the methodology used as providing anything very meaningful about the “best jobs” but at least the spell it out. Best jobs

  1. Mathematician
  2. Actuary
  3. Statistician
  4. Biologist
  5. Software Engineer
  6. Computer Systems Analyst

Their criteria really value being able to sit at a desk and not having to do physical work. High salary and limited stress are also significant factors.

Related: The Economic Benefits of MathWho Killed the Software Engineer?Knowledge Is Power – Teaching MathThe IT Job Market in the UK

Evolution, Methane, Jobs, Food and More

photo of sunset on Mars
Photo from May 2005 by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars.

Science Friday is a great National Public Radio show. The week was a great show covering Antimicrobial Copper, Top Jobs for Math and Science, Human-Driven Evolution, Methane On Mars, Fish with Mercury and more. This show, in particular did a great job of showing the scientific inquiry process in action.

“Fishing regulations often prescribe the taking of larger fish, and the same often applies to hunting regulations,” said Chris Darimont, one of the authors of the study. “Hunters are instructed not to take smaller animals or those with smaller horns. This is counter to patterns of natural predation, and now we’re seeing the consequences of this management.” Darimont and colleagues found that human predation accelerated the rate of observable trait changes in a species by 300 percent above the pace observed within purely natural systems, and 50 percent above that of systems subject to other human influences, such as pollution

Very interesting stuff, listen for more details. A part of what happens is those individuals that chose to focus on reproducing early (instead of investing in growing larger, to reproduce later) are those that are favored (they gain advantage) by the conditions of human activity. I am amazed how quickly the scientists says the changes in populations are taking place.

And Methane On Mars is another potentially amazing discovery. While it is far from providing proof of live on Mars it is possibly evidence of life on Mars. Which would then be looked back on as one of the most important scientific discoveries ever. And in any even the podcast is a great overview of scientists in action.

This week astronomers reported finding an unexpected gas — methane — in the Martian atmosphere. On Earth, a major source of methane is biological activity. However, planetary scientists aren’t ready to say that life on Mars is to blame for the presence of the gas there, as geochemical processes could also account for the finding. The find is intriguing especially because the researchers say they have detected seasonal variations of methane emissions over specific locations on the planet.

Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet
The Mars Methane Mystery: Aliens At Last?

Related: Mars Rover Continues ExplorationCopper Doorknobs and Faucets Kill 95% of SuperbugsViruses and What is Lifeposts on evolutionScience and Engineering Link Directory

Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps, another site, provides links to hundreds of internship opportunities. We highlight some science and engineering internships and plenty of other options too. Visit the internship directory site to find options like the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps. The YCC was established to accomplish needed conservation work on public lands and to develop an understanding and appreciation of participating youth in our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage.

The Yellowstone YCC is a program that emphasizes work ethics, environmental awareness and recreational activities. Approximately 30 students are selected each summer from across the country and are expected to complete forty hours of work each week.

In the past, YCC enrollees have been instrumental in building backcountry bridges; trail construction and maintenance; log cabin restoration; painting; and working on a wide variety of resource management, maintenance, and research projects. Many of the projects take place in remote locations within Yellowstone and work crews may be camped out for up to ten days.

Along with the work projects, enrollees spend significant time participating in YCC environmental education and recreation programs. Many of these activities are scheduled in the evenings and on weekends. They include hiking, rafting, fishing, backpacking, ranger led programs, guest speakers, enrollee and staff presentations, and trips throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

To be selected you must be at least 15 and not turn 19 before the term ends in mid August.

via: Send Your Kid to Yellowstone National Park This Summer

Related: Swarm of Yellowstone Quakes Baffles Scientistsposts on internshipsLight-harvesting Bacterium Discovered in YellowstoneWho Should Profit from Yellowstone’s Microbes

High School Students to Intern in Engineering

Pasco high school students to work as interns in engineering

Five area manufacturers announced Tuesday that they will join forces with River Ridge High’s new engineering career academy, which opens in fall 2009, to provide students work opportunities while they are still in school.

“The idea is to start a program of internships starting in the 10th grade,” said Wahnish, who presents the idea to the Florida Engineering Society today.

By the time graduation rolls around, students will have had three six-week apprenticeships and received industry certifications in computer-assisted design and other applications. They also will be ready to go to work or enroll in a university program. Even those who go to work still would attend college at least two days a week.

Related: Engineering Internship OpeningsSummer Jobs for Smart Young MindsToyota Cultivating Engineering TalentInternships Increasingly Popularcareers in science and engineering

Toyota Cultivating Engineering Talent

Toyota has a knack for cultivating engineering talent

Toyota now has more than 1,000 York Township employees dedicated to conducting engineering services on vehicles for the North American market. Early on in its expansion project, the Japanese automaker displayed a canny understanding of how to cultivate talent and acquire engineers fresh out of college.

Toyota established a two-year internship program for recent engineering graduates at schools like the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Lawrence Technological University and the University of Wisconsin. At the end of the two-year period, the automaker and the employee reach a mutual decision about whether the employee should continue working there.

Bruce Brownlee, senior executive administrator for external affairs for the Toyota Planning Center at the Toyota Technical Center, has said the company generated a “large pipeline” for engineering talent by leveraging the internship program.

Related: Engineering InternshipsToyota Engineering Development ProcessToyota RobotsToyota k-12 Science GrantsToyota Production System (TPS) management blog posts

Science Policy Research Virtual Intern is another web site that lists internship opportunities. I am surprised that virtual internships and externships have not grown much more popular in the last 5 years. Scientists and Engineers for America do have such a virtual internship:

Members of the first Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) virtual intern class can be located anywhere in the world and will work remotely on specific SEA projects. Intern will research the positions elected officials and candidates for office take on science policy issues.

The internship is for between 10 to 20 hours per week and can be done anywhere, as long as you have a computer, internet connection, and telephone. The dates of the internship are flexible accepted on a rolling basis.

Also see the science internships and engineering internships. If you have an internship you would like included, please add it (there is not cost for the site, listing or using).

Related: Summer Jobs for Smart Young MindsPreparing Computer Science Students for JobsScience and Engineering Scholarships and FellowshipsScientists and Engineers in Congress

The Technology Job Market is Strong

Technology: It’s Where the Jobs Are by Arik Hesseldahl, Business Week:

Here’s a hint for high school graduates or college students still majoring in indecision: Put down that guitar or book of poetry and pick up a laptop. Study computer science or engineering

Seattle added a net 7,800 jobs [in 2006], followed by the New York and Washington (D.C.) metro areas, which added more than 6,000 jobs apiece. The fastest-growing area on a percentage basis was the combined metro area of Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., which saw its tech-employment figures grow by 12%.

The highest concentration of technology workers – 286 for every 1,000 workers – was in, no surprise, Silicon Valley. Boulder, Colo., came in second, with 230, and Huntsville, Ala.; Durham, N.C.; and Washington rounded out the top five in density.

Now for the answer to the question on everyone’s mind: Where are the highest salaries? That would be Silicon Valley, where the average tech worker is paid $144,000 a year. That’s nearly double the $80,000 national average for tech jobs.

More than 850,000 IT jobs will be added during the 10-year period ending in 2016, which would be a rise of 24%. Add all the jobs that will replace retiring workers, and the total increase could be a tidy 1.6 million. That means one job in every 19 created over the course of the next decade will be in technology.

And while demand for tech-savvy employees is certainly multiplying, another survey, this one from the Computing Research Assn. and released in March, found a 20% drop in the number of students completing degrees in computer-related fields, and the number of students enrolling in these programs is the lowest it’s been in 10 years, as far back as the data go.

Related: Engineering Graduates Again in Great ShapeWhat Graduates Should Know About an IT CareerIT Employment Hits New High AgainThe IT Job Marketposts on technology, science and engineering careers

Engineering Graduates Again in Great Shape

Once again engineering and computer science graduates are receiving the highest starting salaries. Previous posts: Lucrative college degrees (2006)starting salaries for engineers (2005)High Pay for Engineering Graduates 2007.

According to a survey, these are the top-paying majors for 2007-08 bachelor degree graduates:
$63,616 — Chemical engineering (up 6.5%)
$59,962 — Computer engineering
$59,873 — Computer science (up 14.7%)
$58,252 — Industrial/manufacturing engineering
$57,821 — Mechanical engineering (up 5.7%)
$57,999 — Aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering

Source: Spring Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

Engineering Jobs Top U.S. Skills Shortage List

Engineering positions are the most difficult jobs to fill for U.S. employers, according to Manpower Inc.’s 2008 Talent Shortage Survey released April 24. Of 2,000 U.S. firms responding, 22% said they had difficulty filling positions, ranking engineers, machinists/machine operators and skilled manual trades as the top three toughest positions to fill, respectively

Grads’ job prospects weakening by degrees

In one year, the former hydraulic repairman will have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University Calumet. And, as far as he can tell, he can write his own ticket.

“I’m finding jobs pulling at me left and right,” he said last week at a manufacturing industry job fair at the college. “The professors told us there’s such a demand, if you go to a job fair, you can walk out with a job.”

Vela, 35, happens to be in a field where demand remains strong, despite the uneven economy. Overall starting wages for mechanical engineering grads will be up 3.4 percent this year, with an average salary offer of $56,429, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. For many other college grads looking for a job at this time of year, the prospects are not as sweet.

Related: Career Center report high increase in demand for computer science graduatesIT Employment Hits New High AgainS&P 500 CEOs – Again Engineering Graduates Lead

Starting salaries: What the future holds (UK)
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Jobs Increasing for German Engineers

Growth in jobs rises for German engineers

Employment in Germany’s engineering industry is expanding at its fastest rate in 40 years, highlighting the strength of Europe’s largest economy as global financial storms intensify.

Jobs in the sector – the backbone of Germany’s manufacturing industry – rose by 27,000 in January, the highest monthly increase since the 1960s, according to figures published on Tuesday by Gesamtmetall, the engineering employers’ federation. Some companies reported losing production because they could not fill vacancies quickly enough.

He said that about one in eight of the approximately 6,100 engineering companies were having difficulties in recruiting qualified engineers and mechanics, with this in some cases leading to production cutbacks. “Many companies misjudged how quickly the economy would recover and therefore failed to take on sufficient trainees,” Mr Vajna said. There also remained a shortage of engineering graduates, he added.

Related: Germany’s Science ChancellorTop 10 Manufacturing Countries 2006Best Research University Rankings (2007)Country H-index Rank for Science Publications

Google Summer of Code Projects

Over the last three years Google Summer of Code has provided 1500 students from 90 countries the chance to work on open source projects. Each participant will receive $4,500 as a stipend. Student applications will be accepted from March 24th to March 31st.

Details on the software projects are available now. Given the short time that the application is actually open getting a start looking for projects that interest you might be wise. offers listings of science internships and engineering internships.

Related: Preparing Computer Science Students for JobsOpen Source for LEGO Mindstorms Open Source: The Scientific Model Applied to Programmingposts on fellowships and scholarships