Will AI Replace Software Engineers? Here’s Why Your Job Is Safe

Person sitting on couch working on computer.With all the hype around AI software development tools, you may be asking yourself: Will AI replace software engineers? Is it still worth investing in myself and pursuing a career in software development?

These are important, worthwhile questions, and we’re here to answer them. In this article, we take a look at hiring trends, the role AI software development tools play in existing workflows, and methods that you can best take advantage of generative AI to improve productivity and your value to employers.

Will AI replace software engineers?

Here’s a direct answer, in short: No.

Demand for software developers outpaces supply – meaning businesses need more programmers than are currently available for hire.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that isn’t going to change any time soon. It estimates that employment for software developers and similar roles will grow by 25% through 2032. Additionally, a 2023 survey of over 2,000 IT professionals found that recruiting developers remained their top challenge for 2022 and 2023, with over 37% reporting that they are continuing to struggle to find and hire skilled developers.

Not only do these findings mean developers are in high demand, but they’re being hired on with high expectations to manage project backlogs and to hit the ground running. So the big question changes from, Will AI take my job? to How can AI make me more valuable and productive as a software developer?

Generative AI will drive (and is already driving) AI productivity tools that expand developer capabilities. With them, you’ll have the power to automate repetitive, menial, and tedious tasks so that you can concentrate on more important work – and get more done.

What can AI software development tools do for programmers?

Becoming a software developer is to embark on a career path of continuous learning. Programming has always been a fast-evolving field. Now, mastering AI productivity tools is a necessary aspect of the job, and investing your time in learning how to use AI software development tools is a strong value-add to your career.

A recent Stack Overflow survey of more than 37,000 software developers found that 70% are already using or are planning to use AI in their software development processes. Current AI applications for boosting both developer productivity and your value to employers include:

  • Automating software debugging. This tedious, yet vital task can be difficult for humans to do well. AI tools can learn rules, detect patterns, flag deviations and errors, suggest and execute fixes, and bring attention to issues that require your expertise.
  • Functioning as a smart assistant and trainer. Working with AI can be like having a coworker at your side who knows a great deal about your development environment, can make recommendations, and save you from time-consuming and frustrating trial-and-error.
  • Generating code. AI can generate certain basic blocks in prewritten modules that you can snap into place. It can suggest code that you can customize and tweak. AI software development tools can reduce your workload and speed up your ability to produce applications.
  • Testing thoroughly and rigorously. Manual testing can be difficult; you need to generate many use cases and situations and then test how your program performs. AI productivity tools can look back through logs, create test scenarios, predict outcomes, run tests, and share results that you can use to make improvements quickly.
  • Creating development strategies. AI software development tools can churn through previous development projects, match user requirements with prior solutions, and recommend features, functionalities, priorities, and plans.

Advice for investing in your software development career:

While all of these listed benefits are positive developments, it’s still vitally important to know how to code and understand the fundamentals of software development before relying too heavily on AI tools.

In the previously mentioned Stack Overflow survey, only 2.85% of respondents indicated that they “highly trust” the accuracy of current AI tools. These tools are most helpful when you already understand the ins and outs of the software development process so that you can be aware of mistakes and incorrect guidance.

As companies continue to invest in developing software, your career prospects are wide open.

And no doubt, AI is a transformative force in the industry. So, instead of seeing AI as a threat, consider AI tools as opportunities. Embrace the idea of lifelong learning in your software engineering career, including learning how to use tools that will help you build on your foundational understanding and skills so you can soar to even greater heights.

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Written by Vinny Sanfillipo
Senior Director, Career Development