Critical Read

Census report shows massive shifts in IT professions

Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

WHAT: The Census Bureau's American Community Survey Report on Occupations in Information Technology.

WHY: The growth in IT occupations has tracked with the incredible growth and reach of computers into everyday life. The report charts changes in IT jobs over the past 44 years, as computers and the internet fueled a flowering of IT occupations.

The report focuses on the growth and evolution of IT occupations from the 1970s through 2014 and contains detailed demographic and employment characteristics of workers in 12 IT occupations in 2014.

According to the study, the number of men and women in IT occupations rose from 450,000 in 1970 to 4.6 million in 2014. The Census Bureau said it classified only three IT occupations in 1970 -- computer programmers, computer specialists and computer analysts. By 2010, there were a dozen IT occupations, including computer network architects, database administrators, web developers, and network and computer systems administrators.

During the 44-year span, IT occupations were "born" or "evolved" into new occupations. For example, from 1990 to 2000, the position of computer support specialist was "born," while computer systems analysts and scientists "evolved" and split into new occupations.

In 2014, software developers represented the largest computer occupation with 1.1 million workers, amounting to 25 percent of IT workers. Computer and information research scientists represented the smallest IT occupation, with 15,580 workers (0.35 percent of all IT workers).

Furthermore, more than half of IT workers are 25 to 44 years old.

Women have always been underrepresented in IT occupations, but the report reveals that their participation peaked in 1990, when they comprised 31 percent of the IT workforce.

By 2014, the characteristics of IT workers veered sharply from those of the average worker. According to the study, IT workers are more likely to be male and have higher education levels and higher median earnings than the average worker. They're also more likely to work from home, be of Asian descent and foreign-born.

VERBATIM: "Their distinct composition makes IT workers a unique subset of the labor force that is expected to expand in the future, along with the increased use of computers."

Read the full report.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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