All organizations today rely on computer and information technology to
conduct business and operate more efficiently. Computer software is
needed to run and protect computer systems and networks. Software
publishing establishments are involved in all aspects of producing and
distributing computer software, such as designing, providing
documentation, assisting in installation, and providing support services
to customers. The term "publishing" often implies the production and
distribution of information in printed form. The software publishing
industry also produces and distributes information, but usually it does
so by other methods, such as CD-ROMs, the sale of new computers already
preloaded with software, or through distribution over the Internet.
Establishments in this industry may design, develop, and publish
software, or publish only. Establishments that provide access to
software for clients from a central host site, design custom software to
meet the needs of specific users, or are involved in the mass
duplication of software are described in
computer systems design and related services.
is often divided into two main categories—applications software and
systems software. Applications software includes individual programs for
computer users—such as word processing and spreadsheet packages, games
and graphics packages, data storage programs, and Web browsing programs.
Systems software, on the other hand, includes operating systems and all
of the related programs that enable computers to function.
Establishments that design and publish prepackaged software may
specialize in one of these areas, or may be involved in both. Some
establishments also may install software on a customer's system and
provide user support. In 2008, approximately 10,400 establishments were
engaged primarily in computer software publishing, or in publishing and
Internet has vastly altered the complexion of the software industry over
the last decade. Much of the applications and system software that is
now developed is intended for use on the Internet, and for connections
to the Internet.
constantly seeking to implement technologies that will improve
efficiency. For example, Enterprise resource planning (ERP), which is
typically implemented by large organizations with vast computer
networks, consists of cross-industry applications that automate a firm's
business processes. Common ERP applications include human resources,
manufacturing, and financial management software. Recently developed ERP
applications also manage a firm's customer relations operations and
supply chain logistics.
widespread use of the Internet and intranets also has led to greater
focus on the need for computer security. Security threats range from
damaging computer viruses to online credit card fraud. The expansive use
of e-commerce increases this concern, as firms use the Internet to
exchange sensitive information with clients. As a result, organizations
and individual computer users are demanding software, such as firewalls
and antivirus applications, that secure their computer networks or
individual computer environments.
In a recent trend,
software services that are provided over the internet have become more
common. While online e-mail and data storage have been offered for
several years, word processing, spreadsheet, ERP, and other services are
increasingly moving to the World Wide Web. Establishments in the
software publishing industry are expected to be involved in the
development and design of many of these products.
2008, workers in the software publishing industry averaged 37.0 hours
per week, compared with 33.6 for all industries combined. About 43
percent of individuals in this industry worked 40 hours per week, but
about 25 percent worked 50 or more. Only about 4 percent of the workers
in the software publishing industry worked part time. Most workers in
this industry work in clean, quiet offices. Given the technology
available today, however, more work can be done from remote locations
using e-mail and the Internet.
2008, there were about 263,700 wage and salary jobs in the software
publishing industry. Although the industry has both large and small
firms, the average establishment in software publishing is relatively
small; about 62 percent of the establishments employed fewer than five
workers. Many of these small establishments are startup firms that hope
to capitalize on a market niche. About 77 percent of jobs, however, are
found in establishments that employ 50 or more workers. Relative to the
rest of the economy, there are significantly fewer workers 45 years of
age and older in software publishing establishments. This industry's
workforce remains younger than most, with large proportions of workers
in the 25-to-44 age range. This reflects the industry's explosive growth
in employment in the 1990s, which afforded opportunities to thousands of
young workers who possessed the latest technical skills.
Paths into this Industry
a wide array of information services to clients requires a diverse and
well-educated workforce. The majority of workers in the software
publishing industry are professional and related workers (table 2). This
major occupational group accounts for about 60 percent of the jobs in
the industry, reflecting an emphasis on high-level technical skills and
make up the vast majority of professional and related occupations among
software publishers, and account for about 52 percent of the industry as
a whole. Their duties vary substantially, and include tasks such as
developing software applications, designing information networks, and
assisting computer users.
write, test, and maintain the detailed instructions, called programs or
software, that computers must follow to perform their functions. They
often work under the supervision of computer software engineers, whose
main jobs is to design software. Following the specifications that are
developed by software engineers, programmers break down each operation
into a logical sequence of steps, and convert the instructions for those
steps into a language that the computer understands. While some
programmers still work with traditional programming languages like
COBOL, most programmers today work with more sophisticated tools.
Object-oriented programming languages, such as C++ and Java,
computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools, and artificial
intelligence tools are now widely used to create and maintain programs.
These languages and tools allow portions of code to be reused in
programs that require similar routines. As some of the programming
process has become automated, many programmers have begun to assume more
responsibilities, such as customizing purchased software or creating
better software to meet a client's specific needs.
software engineers design, develop, test, and evaluate software programs
and systems. Although programmers write and support programs in new
languages, much of the design and development is the responsibility of
software engineers. Software engineers must possess strong programming
skills, but are more concerned with developing algorithms and analyzing
and solving programming problems than with writing code. These
professionals develop many types of software, including operating
systems software, network distribution software, and a variety of
applications software. Computer systems software engineers coordinate
the construction and maintenance of a company's computer systems, and
plan their future growth. They develop software systems for control and
automation in manufacturing, business, and other areas. They research,
design, and test operating system software, compilers—software that
converts programs for faster processing—and network distribution
software. Computer applications software engineers analyze users' needs
and design, create, and modify general computer applications software or
specialized utility programs. For example, video game programmers are
software engineers who plan and write video game software.
support specialists provide technical assistance, support, and advice to
customers and users. This group of occupations includes workers with a
variety of titles, such as technical support specialists and help-desk
technicians. These troubleshooters interpret problems and provide
technical support for software and systems. They answer telephone calls,
analyze problems using automated diagnostic programs, and resolve
difficulties encountered by users.
specialists include a wide range of professionals who specialize in
operation, analysis, education, application, or design for a particular
piece of the system. Many are involved in the design, testing, and
evaluation of network systems such as local area networks (LAN), wide
area networks (WAN), the Internet, and other data communications
systems. Specialty occupations reflect an emphasis on client-server
applications and end-user support; however, occupational titles shift
rapidly to reflect new developments in technology.
A substantial number
of marketing and sales workers also are employed in this industry. In
order to compete successfully in the online world, the presentation and
features of software and other content related to information technology
becomes increasingly important. For example, publishers of software that
provide Internet services must be able to differentiate their products
from those of their competitors. Marketing and sales workers are
responsible for promoting and selling the products and services produced
by the industry.
Employment of wage and salary workers in software
publishers, 2008 and projected change, 2008-2018.
(Employment in thousands)
business, and financial occupations
information systems managers
and related occupations
representatives, services, all other
representatives, wholesale and manufacturing
do not add to totals due to omission of occupations not
directly related to science, technology, engineering, or
mathematics. Original Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics National Employment Matrix, 2008-18
in software publishing is projected to grow as firms continue to invest
heavily in software and other information technology. Job prospects
should be excellent, especially for computer specialists.
Wage and salary jobs
in software publishing are expected to increase by 30 percent between
2008 and 2018, almost 3 times as fast as the 11 percent growth projected
for all industries combined. Growth will not be as rapid as it was
during the technology boom of the 1990s, however, as the software
industry continues to mature and as routine work continues to be
Demand for software
publishing services will grow as a result of an increasing reliance on
information technology. Individuals and organizations will continue to
invest in applications and systems software to maximize the return on
their investments in equipment, increase efficiency, and remain
growing reliance on the Internet will be a major driver of job growth.
The way the Internet is used is constantly changing, and so is the
software required to run new and emerging computer applications. The
proliferation of "mobile" technologies, has created demand for a wide
variety of new products and services. The expansion of the wireless
Internet brings a new aspect of mobility to information technology by
allowing people to access the Internet without the constraints of
physical connections. In addition, the rapid development of handheld,
Internet-enabled devices is making the World Wide Web accessible from
virtually anywhere. As businesses and individuals become more dependent
on this technology, there will be an increasing need for new software
applications that maximize the potential of wireless products.
In a growing trend, a
wide variety of software services are being offered over the internet.
Rather than being stored and accessed on the individual computers of
businesses and users, word processing, spreadsheet, enterprise resource
planning, and other types of applications can now be accessed remotely.
This is attractive to many organizations, as it reduces the need for
costly storage equipment. Much of the design and development of these
applications will be completed by establishments in the software
significant factor contributing to growth among software publishers will
be computer security. Organizations invest heavily in software to
protect their information and secure their systems from attack. And, as
the amount of data transmitted across the Internet increases, the
importance of maintaining computer system and network security will
grow, leading to greater demand for security software.
Given the increasingly
widespread use of information technology and the overall rate of growth
expected for the industry, most occupations should grow, although some
faster than others. Employment of computer specialists, such as computer
software engineers and computer systems analysts, will be particularly
strong, as they are integral to the software-design process.
Job opportunities in
software publishing should be excellent for most workers, given the rate
at which the industry is expected to grow, and the increasing
integration and application of software into all sectors of the economy.
Computer specialists should enjoy the best opportunities, reflecting
continuing demand for workers with high-level skills to keep up with
changes in technology.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.