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Is Software Engineering Dead?

By Steve Jones,

Is Software Engineering dead? It's a premise that's in this article from Bloomberg. It calls the job a career dead end where job prospects decline after one reaches 35 years of age. I think that's a naive view of the industry, despite the quotes from Craig Barrett and Mark Zuckerberg. While the best of the best might peak in their careers at the same age as many athletes, that doesn't imply that the career choice is a poor one.

There's a discussion on Slashdot as well, and I was struck by a few of the comments, which seem to suggest that if you are still just a "software engineer" at age 40, you aren't very good at your job. It seems that some people seem to think that everyone in this business is constantly looking to move to a new job and advance into management or they aren't successful . I saw analogies with other industries thinking that same thing, that experienced people would not still be doing the same job after 20 years.

That seems crazy to me. So many people in various industries continue to improve at their jobs, and do the same work for decades. Carpenters, doctors, accountants, all continue to improve their skills over time, and while some may more into management or open their own firms, many will continue to do their same jobs until they retire. And they'll enjoy their careers.

I don't deny that ageism exists, and that older programmers often can't, or won't, work as many hours as younger ones, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth their salaries. Good, experienced programmers produce better code, with fewer bugs. Once managers learn that working more hours doesn't equal better code, or even more code, the entire industry will start producing better applications.

Steve Jones


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