A hot potato: It used to be that becoming a software engineer virtually guaranteed a high salary and job security, but the market has slumped as companies continue to make mass layoffs and AI threatens to replace many workers. It's led to a situation where there is massive competition for jobs and low confidence within the profession.

Software engineering has long been a lucrative career for the majority who enter it. Google once offered $200,000 per year plus perks for those at the entry level, while an L5 engineer at OpenAI could make over $900,000 a year.

Despite being so well-paid, most software engineers are worried about the way the market is heading, writes Motherboard. The number of layoffs in the tech world may have slowed down slightly, but plenty of people are still losing their jobs.

The tech industry saw almost 165,000 people laid off in 2022, according to layoffs.fyi. The following year was one of the worst, with 262,682 being laid off from technology companies. We've not even reached the first two weeks of 2024 and already 27 tech firms have laid off 4,541 people, including the hundreds that were let go from Amazon this week.

Another major concern for software engineers is generative AI. The technology has been hailed as a new co-worker for those in the profession, able to drastically cut down project times. We've also heard companies such as IBM pledge not to get rid of programmer roles due to AI. But as with so many professions, artificial intelligence's impact on jobs in this field can't be understated; Emad Mostaque, CEO of Stability AI, believes most of India's outsourced coders will see their positions wiped out by 2025 due to generative AI.

According to a survey of 9,338 software engineers performed by Blind, an online anonymous platform for verified employees, 9 out of 10 believe it is more difficult to find a job now than before the pandemic. Sixty-six percent say it's "much harder."

Almost eight out of ten participants agree that the job market has become much more competitive over the last year. Only six percent of software engineers are "extremely confident" that they could find another job with the same compensation if they lost their current one, while 32 percent are not at all confident about doing so.

An unemployed software engineer told Motherboard that since losing his job in March, he has applied for over 250 jobs without success. Another said the job offers from recruiters have dried up, and that his decision to major in computer science at college now feels "very naïve." He summed the situation up in one sentence: "There's just so much f**king competition."