There is a fair-to-decent chance that most of us don’t still have the same job title that we did in 1999, whether that title was sales manager or burger flipper. Especially in the realm of IT — where advances in technology open up new areas of specialization with a regularity approaching that more typically attributed to the rising and setting of the sun — there’s always something new and different just around the corner. Even taking that into account, however, you may be surprised to learn what some of us didn’t do, at least not in name, just 15 years ago.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center reveals that IT networking, for example, despite being hugely common in 2014, was still in its infancy just before the turn of the millennium. Today, more than 165,000 Americans are computer network specialists, and more than 141,000 are computer network architects. In 1999, however, neither specialization existed. Ditto for information security analysts, of which there are more than 78,000 today. There were also no web developers in 1999, or at least not who worked under than name., Today, that profession is claimed today by more than 112,000 IT pros.
Some of the work that falls under those specializations was still being done 15 years ago, of course — we just didn’t have nearly as many people doing it. Many technologists submit that there won’t be as many people doing it in the future, either, as machines and computerization push human workers further and further out of the loop. Before you start to contemplate early retirement, however, a related report from Pew suggests that there’s still plenty of IT work for human beings to do.
While computerization and machines could nearly half of all jobs in the United States in the near future, most of those are low-skill, low-wage positions. One measure of susceptibility to computerization is RTI, or “routine task intensity.” The Pew report lists 14 occupations or classes of occupation that have high RTI — and hence could be easily automated — and there’s not an IT specialization in the bunch. Additionally, Pew writer Drew DeSilver notes that two Oxford researchers recently rated 702 occupations and found that those categorized as “computer, engineering and science” jobs were at very low risk of computerization at any point in the next couple of decades.
Rest easy, IT pros. Your jobs appear to be safe for now.