Fewer people choosing computing science

By Derek Sooman on August 11, 2004, 1:08 PM
I work for a multinational investment bank as an operate programmer. Prior to that, I was a computer systems administrator in a university. Prior to that, I was a computer technician. But my degree is in political science. Does this matter?

USA Today reports that fewer college students are choosing computing majors. Last year, the number of newly declared computer science and computer engineering majors in the USA and Canada fell 23% vs. the year before.

IT isn't the cool place it once was. The dot-com bust and the bleak job market are to blame. Wages are not what they once were. IT isn't as attractive now.

However, as is noted on Slashdot, there are many, many fantastic IT people out there who don't have computing degrees. To be an IT high flyer, do you positively HAVE to have a computing science degree? I don't think so, what so you think?




User Comments: 24

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Unregistered said:
No, it's not absolutely necessary to have the degree in computer science. However, the way the job market is right now, at least in the US, it's nearly impossible to find a job right now, even with a degree. So if someone wants to increase his/her odds of finding a job, they better think seriously about the degree. In your case Phant, you weren't affected by the dot-com crash, because you had a job in IT by the time that happened. Now imagine this scenario: you trying to barely get your foot into IT after the dot-com crash. That would probably have a different ending compared to your current outcome. I might be wrong, but those are my $.02. That's coming from someone with a CS degree and barely starting off into the working world (within IT, that is.).
Phantasm66 said:
I do feel sorry for people trying to break into the IT world right now, yes. If you are already in, times are tough but they can be survived.
TS | Thomas said:
Yeah I've 3 friends, who all at least have degrees in engineering, who've all had a rough time getting jobs here (Ireland). 1 couldn't find a job so went back, did a masters, still no luck & works with an architect now (after spending near a year jobless). Similar story with another, he went back to try do some add on course, still no job. While the other managed to get a job, but according to him it's a basic minimum wage job with crap working hours & bad pay (considering what you'd be doing) in 2 different american owned companies, though the new place is seemingly better thanks to free vending & coffee machines, as well as subsidised canteen ;).
Phantasm66 said:
The job I have in the investment bank affords me with the chance to work with some very good and interesting technologies.However, the money is not the best and the hours can be long. The job is very demanding and there is a high turnover of staff.
Astro said:
Well I have a computer science degree with a minor in math - graduated in May 2003 but still no full-time job. The market is just saturated with qualified people and the employers are like at an all-you-can-eat buffet where they just pick and choose what they want. Without any experience, nobody will hire you. Yet how do you get experience when nobody will hire you? Companies just don't care.It's just one reason why I'm seriously considering getting into the teaching field. I think I'd rather teach twenty 8-year-old kids than deal with bad hours and fixing computers all day long everyday. Heck, I can have a side business building computers for people. Plus there's a lot more women working in education than IT...hehe.
Phantasm66 said:
Teaching can be very rewarding, however please be aware that the public sector is loaded up with problems. Lack of proper budget, poor management - even incompetent management. I was working in a team of about 20 people in the university and only about 4 of them actually did any work. The politics are evil (there is a lot of backstabbing and empire building) and its an area that seems to attract weird people.That said, it can be very quiet. You can work in this fairly relaxed atmosphere whilst you learn other skills and build up stuff to put on your CV. Then you can move to the private sector when you are ready.All of this is possible whether you have an IT related degree or not.
Nic said:
Its obviously better to have a degree in Computer Science, if that's the field you will be working in. Ultimately, what counts to employers is experience and skills, followed by qualifications. I have a Masters in IT, but my degree was in electronics. I was also unemployed (until recently) for nearly 2 years, despite my qualifications.Something that bugs me a lot is how some IT training companies (e.g. CompuTeach) still run advertisements telling people that they can help to get them a highly paid rewarding career in IT. Considering there are lots of unemployed IT graduates and other experienced ex IT workers currently jobless, I find such advertising extremely irritating. Taking advantage of people in this way and giving them false hope is inexcusable. Even with the decrease in students taking IT courses, there are still too many surplass workers looking for IT jobs, and this situation will not change any time soon.Even a job that sucks is better than no job at all, so I guess I still have something to be grateful for. :)
Julio said:
I still have to finish my college years and I've been seriously reconsidering whether I should go for an IT career or not.As you can imagine I like computers a lot and I was looking forward working on the IT industry, as a matter of fact I planned to move to the US in the coming months/year seeing that it would the best place to study MIS or CS... I wonder however if I'm better off going for a Marketing degree or something else, even though computers is what I like the most.
Phantasm66 said:
You should study something that you know you will enjoy studying.
Nic said:
The legal profession is always a good earner. Accountancy, medical, or even a trade, such as plumbing will get you a lot more money than working in IT. Marketing is also a good number. Take your pick, just don't count on an IT career to help you earn a living. Slim pickings indeed.
TS | Thomas said:
Actually, I just remembered this now, one other guy I know off went through literally 24 hours of interview before getting an 11-month contract! It wasn't even for a crucial position or anything like that, but he ended up having to do like 5 different interviews to get it, 2 3 hour phone interviews & 3 interviews in person which lasted up to 6 hours each, just crazy.Experience probably is really the most important thing. Course getting experience is the problem as always.Those ads are funny though - get our basic PC skills & you'll make a load of money in IT. Yeah right. The only thing I'm half heartedly doing at the moment is trying to get another MOUS done, walk in tests preferably ;)
tdvtech said:
I'm going into my last year of college and I decided to switch from an MIS degree to a marketing degree. I made the switch because I have friends who graduated with MIS and CS degrees who are still unemployed after graduating more than a year ago. A lot of the high paying IT and programming jobs in the US are getting shipped to other countries, so its hard to justify getting a CS degree. I think the most important thing is to do what you enjoy and keep your options opened. I really enjoy IT stuff, but I found that I enjoy marketing just as much and I can still come home and rip my PC apart.I had a friend who attended one of those technical schools that you see all the ads for. He was always telling me about the big bucks he was going to make after graduation, and was constantly showing me the ads for the big houses he was going to buy. I didn't believe him, but he proved me wrong. He got a good job answering phones at a car insurance company and lives in his parents garage.
BrownPaper said:
Ack...I guess I am screwed. :(But I want to do computers. I suppose I have to be really good, and hopefully that will be good enough.Or else I need to go get a business degree I suppose.
Astro said:
tdvtech, you made a smart choice in moving out of an MIS degree. There are just no jobs at all out there for someone just out of college with a CS or MIS degree. Not unless you know somebody on the inside, and even then it's no longer a guarantee with this economy.Yeah, I'm aware that there's a lot of politics and bulls**t that goes on in the education field. But that stuff goes on in almost any business...it's just human nature and not anything you can avoid unless you own your own business.
tdvtech said:
BrownPaper, You're definately screwed :-). Hahaha! Just kidding. If you like computers I would recommend doing MIS because it has a business background, then find a second option in the business field. A marketing or finance degree can get your foot in the door and then you can move into the IT department once you have been in the company a while. Its a lot easier to get that IT position when your on the inside, rather than coming off the streets.
Unregistered said:
damn, I should have seen this coming 4 years ago, before I started college. Still, even if I had known that it would happen, it wouldn't have made much difference. There's nothing else I can see myself doing, I just like computers too much. Maybe I could have turned out to be a car mechanic, I guess I could do that. I'm pretty good with cars, I can do pretty much anything from the surface of the engine to removing the cylinder heads. $hit, I should have studied automobile technology. Too late I guess..... I have a job as a systems administrator, the pay is decent for the area where I live, but they don't give me that many hours a week. If I could score 30 hours a week I would be more than happy.
BrownPaper said:
I think I will dual-major CS with Finance now. Hopefully, that will work.I still got time.
---agissi--- said:
[quote][i]Originally posted by TS | Thomas [/i]Yeah I've 3 friends, who all at least have degrees in engineering, who've all had a rough time getting jobs here (Ireland). 1 couldn't find a job so went back, did a masters, still no luck & works with an architect now (after spending near a year jobless). Similar story with another, he went back to try do some add on course, still no job. While the other managed to get a job, but according to him it's a basic minimum wage job with crap working hours & bad pay (considering what you'd be doing) in 2 different american owned companies, though the new place is seemingly better thanks to free vending & coffee machines, as well as subsidised canteen ;). [/quote] Thats why I live in america :D Litterly (well its why my family moved here anyways).What is an IT career/the IT industry? (more specifically)Im mainly into gfx but who knows, I plan on getting an Engineering degree..
Rick said:
It's computers or nothing for me. I'd rather starve and die poor than work in any other field.We should all be able to devote our lives to something we enjoy doing. :)
Phantasm66 said:
I agree with Rick. I was put on this Earth to work with computers.As far as degree choices go, I think you will find you will wind up doing whatever job you were always going to do anyway, regardless of what degree you pick.Pick a degree you will enjoy studying. You will forget 99% of it afterwards anyway. It just shows employers that you can learn and that you have the endurance for something like that.By the time you get the piece of paper, its already out of date.
BrownPaper said:
The degree doesn't really matter after you get a job right? Once you get the degree, the only thing that matters is job performance (at least that is what I heard). A piece of paper doesn't help after starting a career.I can only see myself doing computers right now. I will get a business degree too so I can be more well-rounded.
Phantasm66 said:
Where a computing degree would really help you is to get entrance into a company by means of a graduate programme.Also, don't misunderstand JUST HOW MUCH you can learn from doing a 4 year degree in computing, especially if you have the opportunity to choose between lots of different technical modules. You can learn much about programming and databases which you will not get from mucking around on your own.
Spliffmeister said:
I find that experience in the industry in which you are working is as important as experience in the IT industry itself, which in itself is as least as imortant as an IT qualification in many cases. My role plays on my business experience built up over 8 years added to what I have learnt in IT over the last 4... both are more useful because of my experience in the other...
Brighter Hell said:
A friend of mine got a CS degree from Waterloo almost a year ago and he only now got a job in the field. And he had to go to Orlando to get it, after going through interview after interview in both Canada and the US. He had something like 5 or 6 co-op work terms under his belt too.
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