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Whenever I fill out a survey (especially, but not limited to trade-papers/mags/sites), there’s one question (or any derivation thereof) that always trips me up:

Which industry classification best describes your line of work

This is usually followed by a list of things like Retail, Health, Education, Construction, Manufacturing, etc.

I can never figure out exactly what industry computer programming falls in. I usually just end up picking either Manufacturing because I suppose in a way, I’m manufacturing something, Retail since in a way, I am producing goods, or else whatever option happens to mention either “computers” or “electronics” (if any).

I tried Googling it but came up empty. Does anyone know what the “correct” answer is? What do other programmers enter in these surveys?

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Usually "engineering" is an option, so I check that one. –  Jeremy Heiler Aug 16 '11 at 0:58
"Retail" means selling goods, not making them. You are definitely not in retail. –  tdammers Aug 16 '11 at 7:03
what's wrong with other? –  jk. May 22 '12 at 7:35
@jk, the other option usually causes a prompt of some sub-options taht rarely includes computer stuff. Of course, if it displays a text-field, then it can be manually entered (though at that point, I may as well just say starship captain or Jedi). –  Synetech May 22 '12 at 14:28

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Well, according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), computer programming is classified as:

54 : Professional, scientific, and technical services

-> 5415 : Computer systems design and related services

-> -> 541511 : Custom computer programming services

So I would think that if you have an option for "Professional Services", that would be appropriate.

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Just today I filled one out which included Personal services (and think it mentioned computers in the parenthesized list following it). I guess that’s it then. I’ll look out for that (or its sub-classifications as you indicated). Thanks. –  Synetech Aug 16 '11 at 4:30

Your "occupation" is your job description. Your "industry" is your company's job description.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common industry for computer programmers is "Computer Systems Design and Related Services," meaning essentially what your company "sells" is the services of your time. "Software Publishers" is second most common, which is companies that sell software in a box as their product. But that only makes up 14% of programmers. The rest of us are spread out in just about every other industry there is.

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What about independent developers? I suppose it could be argued that we don’t really qualify for such surveys because they usually target companies, but then again, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen surveys that should apply to any programmer. (I’ll have to look through my trade mags and newspapers again; there’s always plenty of charts and stuff.) –  Synetech Aug 16 '11 at 4:27
If you're independent then you are selling professional services. The categorisation would depend on what's available in your list, but your industry is basically the same as a freelance accountant or lawyer. –  Kirk Broadhurst Aug 16 '11 at 13:01
+1 This is clearly the correct answer. Surveys ask for your industry so they know how many people work in, say, Retail or Manufacturing - for the purposes of economic analysis, where they should market their own products, etc. If you do programming for a car company then your job is dependent on the automotive industry; you work in the automotive industry, not in the IT industry. –  Kirk Broadhurst Aug 16 '11 at 13:03

Other: Information Technology

I don't think there is a "correct" answer as IT is broadly spread across almost all industries.

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I answer based on the company I work for. When I worked for a publishing company, it was "Publishing" or "Media". For an eCommerce company, "Retail" may be appropriate, etc.

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