2003 was a year of soul-searching for IT pros. The tech bust had slashed the number of IT jobs from 2000's peak. Offshore outsourcing shot to prominence, and companies were ditching custom coding for off-the-shelf software. Just 18% of IT pros considered the career as promising as it had been five years before. Our Nov. 17 cover story on "The Future Of The American Programmer" encapsulated the angst through the lens of the profession most at risk. "The lower echelons of skill levels are going to be washed away," warned Archipelago CTO Steve Rubinow (later NYSE Euronext's CIO). Since then, the U.S. IT profession has survived outsourcing, and another recession, and is among the healthiest job segments. But Rubinow's prediction came true. About 432,000 people are now employed as programmers in the U.S., down from 700,000 in 2000. The dip's partly due to changing Labor Department definitions, but much of it is from a changing workplace that forced people to reinvent themselves or leave the profession.