Want to know which IT jobs are on the highway to extinction? Read on

There’s much said and written about the transformative impact of advanced and new-age technologies on businesses. Technology is seeping deeper into the basic fabric of  life with every passing day. Already, a number of businesses have been completely overhauled by new technologies, and several others continue to adopt these upheavals. One of the hot topics of debate, now, is the implication this has on jobs.

Technology is changing the face of job markets

Taxi drivers, accountants, retail-floor workers, salespeople — you name it, and there are employment categories that have witnessed significant impact already. In several other domains, workers are having to change the way they work, acquire a lot more specialized knowledge, or acquire functional knowledge of a lot more related domains. Amidst all this, however, a reality that has flown under the radar for some time now is that the jobs of IT workers are also endangered and under risk of extinction in the not too distant future. It’s odd, yet true, that the perpetrators of constructive change via the force and power of technology are also the ones facing the risk of becoming obsolete. This guide attempts to lift the veil off some of these IT jobs and roles that are facing the heat.

Windows system administrators

IT jobs

The biggest change in the nature and demand of IT jobs relates to the speed at which computer languages and basic technologies are being replaced by their upgrades and alternatives. For instance, about a decade back, being skilled in Windows server administration meant stable and high-paying IT jobs. However, the increased adoption of Azure and Linux-based systems means that these Windows system and server administrators either need to upscale themselves in newer technologies, or need to look elsewhere. As more and more enterprises replace Windows systems with alternatives, the requirements of Windows administrators is on a rapid decline, and this decline in requirement is further fueled by the increasing simplicity of new age Windows systems. We’ve also tried to present the larger lessons hidden behind these market realities.

Programming experts in outdated computer languages

This is an interesting aspect of the impact of better technologies on IT jobs. Consider Cobol, for instance. A huge number of legacy systems used in financial institutions and organizations run on this language. And, because of the critical need for round-the-clock support and maintenance, Cobol experts continue to earn top dollar for their services. However, as these institutes begin to replace legacy systems with better tools, many of these jobs will be obliterated. Moreover, the number of Cobol experts required in the jobs market is not going to grow, and the pace of decline will increase slowly but surely. We took Cobol as an example; the same logic holds true for most traditional computer languages that have failed to upgrade themselves, and have fallen out of favor for commercial use.

Java and .Net have replaced C and C++ in most commercial application development. So, many computer languages have ceased to be platforms for new developments, and just exist because of maintenance requirements. The trend will be present for the times to come, and even languages and systems that are novel today (and programmers and developers who are expert in them) will stare at fates similar to that of Cobol. WordPress, LAMP, and PHP were the buzz a few years back, and are steadily being reconsidered because of availability of alternative frameworks and languages such as React, Scala, and Angular.

IT, network administrators, storage disk administrators, database administrators

IT Jobs

The massive cloud migration undergone by large enterprises as well as small and midsize businesses has changed the dynamics of the market for IT roles such as infrastructure and network engineers. Because so many aspects of infrastructure, storage, database, and network management are managed at the vendor side, the corresponding requirements at the enterprise side have been offloaded. The increase in requirements on the IT vendor side are not correspondingly huge, because these firms have the capability and drive to automate menial maintenance and troubleshooting, resulting in smaller IT team sizes.

IT engineers who’ve only worked on the hardware side of router and storage disks management are facing difficulties in either sustaining their jobs, or being able to understand the changing face of these IT practices because of the cloud revolution.

Larger lesson

Instead of completely vanishing, these jobs have been transformed, and now require deeper understanding of cloud computing. Capable IT experts with knowledge in core concepts, can be absorbed, to some extent, in IT-related roles on product design, vendor-relations management, and business intelligence teams. However, for most of the others, the only option is to quickly upgrade skills to remain relevant for employment. At the core, this is a shift from on-premises IT expertise to on-cloud IT expertise.

The impact on ITeS jobs

IT Jobs

The impacts of machine learning, AI, and micro-automation span across ITeS (IT-enabled services) as well. Not long back, SEO, social media marketing management, and webmaster were distinct roles; now they are clubbed into one profile of “digital marketer.” Even roles such as Big Data administrators and analysts are shrinking and fitting into single profiles, which will eventually reduce the headcounts in enterprises. Data, on one side, is most important, but there isn’t any equivalent representation in terms of the number of database handlers and data researchers required in an organization. As tools for analysis become more sophisticated and intuitive, these jobs will continue to shrink, necessitating incumbents to become proficient in better and more value-adding technologies.

What works today may not work in the future

Today, coders and programmers who are knowledgeable in IoT operating systems and languages are in huge demand. However, as IoT markets mature, these developers will face the same challenges that have rocked the boat for programmers in traditional languages. Also, because of the advancements in machine-written codes (powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence), the global requirement of programmers and coders will decrease within the next decade.

The writing on the wall is clear enough. Anybody employed in IT roles has to stay up to date with the latest developments, and become more flexible in their skills and areas of expertise to stay relevant and valuable in this quickly shifting job market.

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25 thoughts on “Want to know which IT jobs are on the highway to extinction? Read on”

  1. Hi Sharma – Well said. I am one of the victim of this market change. I have tried to upgrade the skills covering cloud, virtualization, exchange hybrid, sccm and O365 Migration – yet having hard time to find work in Canada.

    I will advise all I T employed people in the market to upgrade their knowledge to keep the job – if not will be replaced by a more qualified and diverse individual.

  2. Indranil Chatterjee

    I have read your article but let me remind you “Your Cloud is nothing but someone else’s Hardware”…….This is only applicable to Mid to large sized business….but small product based companies will never move to cloud as the minimum required changes will not be in their hand, every time you got to change something in infra you have to raise a ticket, If not, the company itself will train the System Admin about AWS or Azure, And I think we should not forget the “DevOps” model….Stop scaring people….get a life

    1. Michael Howard

      @Indranil Chatterjee:

      I agree. I work for a manufacturing company of around 100 employees… the majority of which are production workers. I see NO advantage to move to the cloud; just extra expense and then you suddenly have no control over your systems. Azure or AWS may be fine for this size organization, but I doubt it.

  3. The post about c and c++ is totally incorrect…it’s the basis of all other languages and it’s still used in foundation of major OS like Windows,linux,fandra,apache….so programmers will always be needed…

  4. JAVA and .NET have not and will never replace C++.
    C++ is still widely used in OS development, Financial applications, flight simulators etc.

  5. That’s so very true and relevant to the current times. Thumb rule if you have keep winning your bread and butter, you need to keep yourself updated. What is in top demand today, won’t even exist tomorrow. Be flexible enough to learn and sustain for good 30-40 yrs of job life, or else build something of your own TODAY!

  6. All the content in the article seems fine, but the topic changed a little,I too agree with previous comments that c and c++ are not replaced with java and .net.if you can clarify on this it will be helpful for beginners.

  7. Pema Dorji Sherpa

    You worry about yourself
    we will upgrade ourselves so please update the article that C++ is not replaced else
    give prove that it is replaced by Java.

    1. Hello everyone,

      let me address the concern around the idea of C++ getting replaced.

      Developers’ laptios and desktops are getting cheaper and powerful by the day, and hourly wage rates for developers are soaring, which means that development environments need to help developers accomplish a lot more. Legacy businss apps will continue ot use C++, but new apps are icnreasingly being preferred to be developed using Java or C#, unless there are specific compatibility and performance issues that only C++ can address. More importantly, developers need to acknowledge the need to stay updated with upcoming programming environments and languages, because everything is replaceable, considering the speed of technological evolution.

  8. “Java and .Net have replaced C and C++ in most commercial application development.” ??
    Java is a high level, purely object oriented programming language suited for end-user applications that do not require much interaction with and management of the system’s resources. Whereas .NET is designed for web programming.
    C/C++ are system programming languages that are neither truly high level nor object oriented. But they are used in tasks where Java would fail utterly (or at least prove costly and infeasible). Examples can be : Operating System development, Game development, application software requiring access to memory and system resources and much more…
    So comparing languages designed for utterly different tasks and saying some of them are replacing the others just shows your ignorance of the software industry…
    Sorry, but C/C++ ARE NOT on the decline in any way!

  9. I know legacy platforms are getting replaced with new fancy systems and then what… Cloud platform doesn’t run on air, it requires every single thing a normal data center needs, Just migrating business applications to cloud companies managed services or even trying to implement it internally make things looks cool,
    but it already has serious performance and security implications which no one will highlight… Companies are just jumping around technologies just because my neighbor does the same and also a great deal of newborn techies are happy introducing a bulk load of complex application suggestions even for a pretty straight forward simple business that can’t even sustain in next 5-10 years….
    Mostly the moment someone learns a technology and starts working , in another 5 years something else will appear in between with some new eye catching….From my personal experience the underlying stuffs remains the same as old as legacy systems, so expert IT guys won’t have any difficulty moving away from one stuff to other… Just old wine in
    New bottles..

  10. The author disappoints me on many levels and I’m not going to even mention the C++ fallacy he makes because enough people already have. Also Azure is a Microsoft product that runs guess what? Windows OS , Office 365 run Exchange online which is guess what ? The same base code as Exchange on-prem. who is best qualified for learning these skills in the first place? “Windows system Administrators”. One thing I would mention is that with advance of Big Data Devops, machine learning, Inter-cloud connectivity and security is probably more of a future proofing strategy that anything mentioned. I’m thinking of getting into VMware NSX more now. The line between Developers and Infrastructure guys is diminishing, The line between System admins and Network Admins also.

    1. Hey Juky

      Appreciate you dropping in your opinion.

      Behind the ‘urgent’ sounding changes I’ve suggested in my article are several slow but sure forces that might take long to re-shape IT jobs, but will eventually do so.

      DevOps is certainly not a ‘fancy’ term reserved for big enterprises. And automation is at the core of DevOps. This also means steering away from known GUIs and learning Powershell. Scripting skills, in my opinion, are core to a system admin now.

      The system admin job that once could be had by a standard resume is a multi-dimensional and more complex job now. There are much different infra management methodologies and technologies than there were 5 years back, and we’ll probably say the same 5 years from now too.

      Of course, Windows system admins that keep on updating themselves will keep on surfing on these waves.

  11. I usually dont comment on these kind of topics however doing so this time around. No job is at stake. The job requirements or designations are changing that is all. Cloud existed earlier it has simply moved into limelight with AWS & Azure and GCP and so on in recent years. The majority of big businesses especially BFSI will hardly ever move to a public cloud offering completely only some parts of the application might but the core is still managed in house and will always be done so until the time some weird super man comes up with a security protocol which will be impenetrable. Data privacy issue is the most biggest challenge. IT budget is not shrinking, it is simply being redistributed in a different manner. The traditional datacenter setup has been impacted however no jobs as I said is going to go extinct. They will simply evolve. A windows administrator will simply have to upgrade himself to administration in cloud that is all.

    One concern I do see now-a-days is the concept of DevOps & ProdOps being spoken about like it is nothing. The requirements in any job description is a joke. No one human being can have expertise in multiple languages & tools as mentioned in the JD. This is truly worrisome.

    C or C++ please for the love of God dont compare them with Java or .Net. In real life application environments you have no idea what you are talking about. This line in your article made me chuckle.

    Yes it is true technology shift is happening however it is in Cognitive, ML and AI and IOT environments. However let me assure anyone who reads this article ……these technologies will require lots of time to evolve and it is not immediate.

    IT requires storage, system, infra administrators like any other time. It also requires architects & programmers too.

    Let me leave you with a simple thought….AWS has got massive Cloud infra where companies dont know where their infra sits….which shared environment etc etc….who do you think manages S3 or EC2 environments for AWS. Their very own administrators. 🙂 If I am wrong do let me know your thoughts.

  12. Its seems author doesn’t have fair knowledge , C & C++ are used in kernel programming, drivers, system programming,RTOS, embedded, sockets,embedded Linux, …. c & c++ is core of IOT, And IOT has huge demand.

    1. Hi Raghu

      Thanks for chipping in with your thoughts.

      IoT is indeed being seen as a revival for C. There are other forces too, however that will potentially suppress it’s demand, such as its security vulnerabilities (or let’s say, the other languages’ robustness as compared to C).

      I am a believer that for a technology (C, C++) to thrive, it’s success can’t be explicitly tied to a specific trend (IoT).

  13. “Also, because of the advancements in machine-written codes (powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence), the global requirement of programmers and coders will decrease within the next decade.”

    This is a very funny statement.

    > “Machine learning” (Very general word for a lot of applications) is being developed in practice by mathematicians, programmers, biologists, text analysis experts, etc. So how do you think machine learning is going to thrive next decade. By itself ? I don’t think so.

    It is more this Idea which prevails: “The job requirements or designations are changing”.

    So YES its maybe harder to find a job if you are a COBOL expert than back in the days. So what do you do? You upgrade your skills to more actual programming languages. Is you have the basics in cobol, It shouldn’t be though switching to newer programming languages right, and its also interesting?

    But stating that those jobs will disappear (on the highway of extinction) or less in demand within the next decade. I find this really funny, because programming is the very basis to every user interface, data center, etc etc.. we get nowadays. I do not think that “Machine learning” is going to take care of everything within the next 10 years. 40 years? Noone knows.

  14. I really do not fully agree with the article as Gov and Law firms will never keep the confidential data on someone else cloud. small and big size companies i worked with they had their own servers till date working with ship management company and due to the sensitive nature of work and data we were maintain 200 over server in house and never had thinking to move to cloud storage.

    Jobs for Windows Server administration and Work Stations are in demand as end users will never use Linux based systems and mostly due to Windows Server environment and Feature like Active directory never migrated to Linux because Linux do not have such capabilities and Windows Server holds power of Software-defined networking / Hyper-convergence /Nano server. Linux do provide IT pro like us a lot of benefits of Speed and straight FWD setup but still Windows Server doing pretty good job.

    May be i agree about software engineers as trend change so do they have to change.

    1. Hello Faisal

      Thanks for your comment.

      Let’s acknowledge the our world is ‘practical’ and not ‘ideal’. Just read about the last year’s major data leaks, and you’d understand how organziations (gov included) learn their lessosn the hard way.

      I welcome your difference of opinion; the future is near.


  15. I’m an AWS Solutions Architect and I’m all for migrating workloads to a cloud platform WHEN IT MAKES SENSE. This article, however, doesn’t make sense…to me, at least:

    Windows System Administrators, IT Administrators, Network Administrators, etc. are not going away. The statement “…the increased adoption of Azure and Linux-based systems means that these Windows system and server administrators either need to upscale themselves in newer technologies, or need to look elsewhere.” Azure, AWS, and GCP is not a replacement for an operating system.

    If someone moves their on-prem servers into a cloud provider, you end up with operating systems that still need Windows Administrators…except now the operating systems are running on someone else’s hardware.

    Network Administrators will still be needed as setting up SDWAN requires network knowledge.

    IT Administrators going away? Who manages the cloud platform if you have no IT Admin or Director? This just doesn’t make sense.

    As an AWS Solutions Architect, I also must add that a cloud platform doesn’t work for everyone. Some people will realize cost savings, some people will realize performance gains, but it can also cost people more money and cause a performance DECREASE.

    I disagree with this article…very strongly. It seems close to click-bait.

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