Or at least that is what Money magazine claims. I’m not sure I agree with their ratings in each of the categories.

Low Stress?
I suppose compared to being shot at, or having someone’s life in your hands it’s low stress, but I’ve experienced plenty of stressful situations in my career, including going through two mass layoffs (both of which I escaped without job loss, but not without stress), countless overtime hours, ridiculously imposed deadlines, outrageous client demands, writing software that is vital to a company’s daily success where one bug can bring it to its knees, poor Project Management (ie. micro-management), and constant shifting skill sets required to maintain “hirability”.

I don’t know what they mean by flexibility. I see they say, “Telecommuting is quickly becoming widespread.” However, I have found extreme resistance to telecommuting. Ten years ago I thought by now most Software Engineers would have the option to work from home. But old habits die hard, and human psychology changes much slower than technology does. While countless studies have shown that working from home improves productivity and reduces employee stress, many old school managers are still resistant to it, and somehow feel you aren’t working if they can’t see you in front of your computer in your cube. Thankfully, I’m currently enjoying telecommuting, and as long as it lasts, I plan to stay on my current contract. I have as flexible hours as I could want, so for me, right now, yes flexibility is a benefit. But, from past experience, and hearing from others in the field, I’m surprised a study would show this to be a strength.

This category has been one of my biggest complaints over the years. It really depends on your management. In many environments you are told exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done by. That doesn’t leave much room for creativity. I have had the good fortune to be on some projects, including my two year project at IBM, that gave me great freedom for creativity. But I have also had many projects where I was completely constrained to follow antiquated architectures, development methodologies, and project management styles, that squashed any hope of thinking creatively and allow for problem solving. Tip for IT managers: Software Engineers will work harder and with more passion if given the chance to be creative!

Ease of Entry
So on this category they give it the worst grade and yet this is the one category I’d give an A to. Why you ask? No, not because I think its an easy to skill set to pick up, but because IT managers seem to think it is, and hire just about anybody. They either hire because someone memorized an API (but can’t use the API, learn on their own, problem solve, etc), or because they seem to have great potential (aka. they came cheap). This field should be a lot harder to get into than it currently is.

I thoroughly enjoy my job, when I’m on the right project, but I’m not sure the grades from MONEY magazine are accurate, but this is what so any are told in high school, so its no surprise that seemingly millions and millions get into this field every day.