Computer programmers essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $72,630
- 2011, number of jobs: 320,100
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 12 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Computer programmers; what they do:
Not everyone can speak a computer’s language, but that’s precisely what computer programmers do for a living. Computer programmers write the code which creates software programs, turning the program designs created by software developers and engineers into code computers can understand and follow, such as Java or C++. Computer programmers often work closely with software developers, sometimes having overlapping responsibilities.
Computer programmers perform numerous tests on software programs locating or anticipating problems; this process is called debugging. When a problem is located, the computer programmer must revise the code as needed to eliminate the problem.
A computer programmer career includes updating, expanding upon and improving existing programs. When building new code, a computer programmer builds and uses computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools, which automates the writing of some code. Code libraries are also used to help simplify the writing.
Computer programmers increasingly work with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which means applications created using SaaS work on all platforms without needing any code rewriting.
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Computer programmers job titles:
- Program Analyst
- Analyst Programmer
- Computer Programmer
- Software Developer
- Applications Developer
- Computer Programmer Analyst
- Internet Programmer
- Java Developer
Computer Programmers Education, Certification and License Requirements
The majority of computer programmers have a Bachelor of Computer Science degree or a related subject. Occasionally, those seeking a computer programmer career can find entry-level work with an Associate’s degree. If a computer programmer plans to enter a specialized field, such as healthcare or accounting, classes in that field in addition to their degree, are highly recommended.
Most employers are also looking for computer programmers with experience, which new computer programmers can gain through internships while still in school. Typically, a computer programmer specializes in a few computer languages.
Many computer programmers take continuing education classes and professional development seminars to remain updated on changing technology and to learn new programming languages or updates on computer programming languages they already specialize in.
Computer programmers degree programs cover subjects such as:
- IT practices
- Computer concepts
- Software design
- Data modeling
- Web server administration
- Computer forensics
- Data communication concepts
Although only some companies require certification, certification demonstrates mastery in the field and provides an edge when competing for a computer programmer job. Computer programmer certification programs, typically offered through product vendors or software firms, allow computer programmers to become certified in specific programming languages or for vendor-specific programming products.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Computer programmers with general business experience may advance in their career to a computer systems analyst job. Computer programmers with experience and specific knowledge of a computer language may advance in their computer programming career to become a computer software developer or a manager.
Computer Programmers Job Outlook
Forecast: 12 percent employment growth for computer programmers from 2010 to 2020, on par with the average for all occupations.
Computer programmer employment growth in the U.S. has been stunted by the outsourcing of computer programming jobs to countries with lower wages.
The majority of computer programmers work in computer system design and related services, which is an industry with a healthy growth prospect due to increasing demands for new computer software. Applications are also needed for developing mobile technology, computer systems built into electronics, and the healthcare industry.
Computer Programmers Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $72,630
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $92,510
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $54,850
Computer Programmers Major Employers
- Computer systems design and related services
- Finance insurance
- Administrative and supportive services