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Computer and IT Degrees are on the Decline: Should We Worry?

Why we're seeing fewer computer and IT degrees now than a decade ago, even though the demand for these workers has increased.

Supply is sometimes higher than demand – take Kardashian family photo ops or Heinz EZ Squirt (RIP), for example. Often, however, demand is higher than supply — as new research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists reveals. Believe it or not, though demand for graduates with computer and IT skills continues to rise, U.S. colleges and universities are producing fewer of these graduates than they did a decade ago.

The CareerBuilder and EMSI research, pulled from EMSI’s labor market and education database, shows that on a national scale, the number of computer and IT jobs in the U.S. grew 13 percent from 2003 to 2012. The number of computer and IT degrees completed in the U.S., however, declined 11 percent during that same period. The drop in tech-related completions was especially stark in some of the largest metropolitan areas, where one would expect them to be higher because of the prevalence of tech jobs in many of those areas.

Matt Ferguson has a clue as to why we’re seeing this trend – and why it’s concerning for today’s employers:

“The slowdown in IT degrees over the last decade may have been influenced, in part, by the dot-com bubble collapse and by more recent trends of tech workers being trained by employers or trained through informal programs outside of a traditional academic setting. The deficit in IT degree completions is concerning when you consider that there is already a considerable gap between the demand for and supply of IT labor in the U.S. today. Degrees in health professions, engineering, business, liberal arts and education are growing rapidly and we need IT degrees to keep pace.”


Some other industries are currently off the charts when it comes to the percentage of students earning them, particularly when compared to computer and IT degrees:

  • Health degrees climbed 112 percent from 2003 to 2012 (most in nursing and allied health fields).
  • Liberal arts and humanities degrees increased 47 percent, followed by engineering (37 percent).
  • Business, management and marketing followed at 33 percent.
  • Education climbed 18 percent.

The Computer and IT Degree Decline, at a Glance:

  • There were 13,576 fewer computer and IT degrees in 2012 than 2003: an 11 percent decrease.
  • Related jobs in the U.S. have increased 13.1 percent from 2003-2012 — equating to the addition of 311,068 jobs.
  • Of the 15 metro areas with the most computer and IT degrees in 2012, 10 saw decreases from their 2003 totals.
  • The biggest decreases in computer and IT graduates among the largest metros included New York City (a 52 percent drop), San Francisco (55 percent), Atlanta (33 percent), Miami (32 percent), and Los Angeles (31 percent).
  • Notable metro areas that increased their computer and IT higher education output were Washington, D.C. (a 31 percent rise), Minneapolis-St. Paul (14 percent), and Salt Lake City (117 percent).

A Look at How Other Industries are Faring

  • Health Professions: 288,194 more degrees in 2012 than 2003, a 112 percent increase.
  • Engineering: 37,138 more degrees in 2012 than 2003, a 37 percent increase.
  • Education: 52,391 more degrees in 2012 than 2003, an 18 percent increase.
  • Business, Management and Marketing: 176,972 more degrees in 2012 than 2003, a 33 percent increase.
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities: 124,681 more degrees in 2012 than 2003, a 47 percent increase.

Get all the details on the fastest and slowest-growing industries and a look at the breakdown by metro area.

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.

DON'T GO INTO  COMPUTING!! Seriously, the reality is that the tech sector is shell of what it once was and no shortage exists. There are still way too many for too few jobs in IT. And, current cloud and outsource trends make it overwhelmingly clear that it is only going to get worse.


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