Embedded Head Count - Embedded.com

Embedded Head Count

Does anyone know how many embedded engineers there are in theU.S.?

That was the question posed in the comp.arch.embedded newsgrouplast August. My first thought was “no, nobody really does.” But then Isaw that another poster, a frequent contributor to the group, hadalready responded:

“There are presently over 2.4 million Embedded Engineers in the U.S.This figure increases 21% to 35% annually.”

The author quoted an analysis he had done himself as the source ofthis information and linked to his website. But when I went to hiswebsite I couldn't find any material related to this topic at all. So Iposted a response stating that I felt his figure was way off the markand asking to see his analysis.

If there were really 2.4 million “embedded heads” in the U.S., we'daccount for approximately one out of every 115 Americans. While afigure like that is not out of the question for certain occupations-policeofficers and teachers are even more prevalent in our society-it seemsat least an order of magnitude too big for embedded engineers. Oneout of every 1,150-about 240,000 individuals-seems far morereasonable.

Needless to say, after some back and forth (both public and private), itbecame clear that the guy who seemed so confident that 2.4 million ofus are out there and so eager to announce this to the world couldn'tgive any actual justification for his numbers. At one point he mentionedthat he “based the results on figures obtained from the U.S. Bureau ofLabor Statistics.” (He claimed to “have the raw data broken outsomewhere,” but never did provide anything of the sort.) Judging fromtwo-year-old statistics I found on the BLS website(http://stats.bls.gov), 2.4 million might be an accurate figure for theentire category of “computer/hi-tech” workers. But that group alsoincludes every computer programmer, database analyst, sysop,network administrator, web developer, webmaster, and many others.We are certainly far outnumbered even within that subpopulation.

So what is the true number of embedded engineers? I don't know;probably nobody does. What I can tell you is that an extrapolation of1992 data from the National Science Foundation could put the “numberof engineers [of all types] in manufacturing” at over a million, and thatBLS reported about 350,000 “electronic/electrical engineers” in 1998.IEEE-USA has about 220,000 members (including students), the ACMhas “over 80,000 worldwide,” and ESP has 60,000 qualifiedsubscribers. My book aimed at embedded newbies has sold about20,000 copies in two years-making it an all-time best-seller in theembedded category. Finally, about 10,000 of us (not countingexhibitors) are expected to gather at the Embedded SystemsConference in San Francisco in April.

Mulling over all of these numbers and considering the likely weight ofeach to the calculation, my mind keeps coming back to the figure of200,000. Though by no means scientific and probably off by as much as25% one way or the other, that's about the best estimate I can giveyou today.

I'm not even going to discuss the ludicrous annual growth ratesuggested by the same poster. By no surprise, this guy is now inmarketing.

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