Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and Profiles » Computers, IT & Telecommunications

Computer Programmer Job Description, Career as a Computer Programmer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

programmers systems software languages

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$62,890 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Computer programmers write the step-by-step instructions that direct computers to process information. These instructions, or programs, tell the computer what to do in a series of logical steps. Programmers work on a wide range of projects. The kind of work a programmer does depends on the employer. Programmers work in manufacturing, industry, engineering, government offices, hospitals, and educational institutions.

Programmers receive detailed job descriptions that identify the goal of the program. Programmers then may prepare systems flow charts that show diagrammatically how information will flow through the computer and its peripheral, or related, equipment. If much creativity and expertise are demanded at this step, systems analysts or computer software engineers may prepare the systems flow charts. In most medium to large computer installations, programmers receive their instructions from systems analysts or computer software engineers.

When the preliminary stages are completed, programmers write the actual program using special computer languages. Different computer languages are used for different applications. For instance, HTML and XML are useful when creating Web applications, and COBOL is useful for business applications. Since most programs are long and complex, they must be tested to see whether they run as expected. This step is called debugging. If the test run is not satisfactory, the programmers examine the program for errors in logic and data and make corrections or report the problem to a software engineer. It may take a few days to write a simple program, while more than a year may be required to develop a sophisticated one.

Most programmers are involved in applications programming. They work on specific tasks that have a direct application, such as designing accounting procedures. Applications programmers usually specialize in either writing programs just for one professional field, such as science or business. Applications programmers meet with clients and designers to understand the scope of the project before they begin to write the code. They work alone or in teams depending on the budget, deadline, and the size of the project.

Systems programmers write programs to maintain and control systems software that may run systems such as a large office's computer network. They would, for instance, write a program that enables a new printer to work with an old computer. They generally work for computer manufacturers or for companies that have large computer installations. Some are involved in developing new computer languages. Computer software engineers, who are very experienced programmers, design and implement complex programs from scratch. They are familiar with computer hardware design, memory, and the inner workings of computers.

Education and Training Requirements

Educational requirements usually include at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, or information systems, as well as knowledge of the major programming languages. In addition, employers often require that new hires know how to work with database systems such as Oracle and Sybase. National certification courses are offered for most major computer languages, including C++, Java, and XML. Private companies will also offer certification on their newer programming languages and software. Certification on a language increases a programmer's job prospects, because it proves to an employer that a programmer knows that language.

Sometimes employers will hire inexperienced college graduates who show promise and send them to special computer training schools to update their skills at the company's expense. Larger firms may have their own formal training programs. It usually takes a year or more before new programmers are capable of working without supervision. Programmers usually continue their training for the rest of their careers as new programming languages and technologies continually arrive on the marketplace.

High school students interested in pursuing this type of work should study mathematics, computer science, and physics. They should also take computer programming courses in school or learn computer languages in their spare time.

Getting the Job

Many job openings for computer programmers are listed on the Internet and in the classified sections of newspapers. College placement bureaus and employment agencies can also help a person enter the field. Another way to get a job as a computer programmer is through direct application. If candidates want to work for the government, they should apply to take the necessary civil service exam.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced programmers can advance to various supervisory positions that concentrate on either administrative or operational areas. Those interested in the analytical aspects of programming can become systems analysts. Additional education and training may be required for this position.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 455,000 people were employed as computer programmers in the United States in 2004. Employment of computer programmers, however, was expected to grow more slowly than average for all occupations through the year 2014. Sophisticated computer software now exists that automatically writes basic code and software routines. This software allows analysts and computer engineers to design and write programs without help from computer programmers. Many low and mid-level computer-programming jobs have also been outsourced to India, China, and Eastern Europe where wages are lower. Jobs for programmers in the United States should be available in data-processing service firms and computer consulting businesses.

Working Conditions

Computer programmers work in especially clean, comfortable surroundings. Most programmers work a forty-hour week that at times includes evenings and weekends. Often programmers work long hours to meet deadlines. They are expected to work both independently and as part of a team. Programmers who work for a consulting company may have to travel to a client's location to work. Because they spend all day at a computer, programmers are susceptible to eye strain, back problems, and injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(212) 626-0500
http://www.acm.org

IEEE Computer Society
1730 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 371-0101
http://www.computer.org

Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals
2350 Devon Ave., Ste. 115
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 2899-4227
http://www.iccp.org

Earnings and Benefits

Computer programmers generally earn salaries much higher than those earned by nonsupervisory workers in other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for computer programmers in 2004 was $62,890. According to the "Computerworld Salary Survey 2005" (Computerworld, October 24, 2005), the median yearly wage for a computer programmer/analyst was $67,685 in 2005. Benefits vary according to individual employer, but most programmers receive paid vacations, sick leave, and insurance plans. Some companies offer profit sharing and pension plans.

Computer Security Specialist Job Description, Career as a Computer Security Specialist, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job [next] [back] Computer Operator Job Description, Career as a Computer Operator, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

Very Helpful for homework.

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

thx that was helpful

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

thanks finally found what i needed for my homework(:

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

im in junior high and im in a finace class and im looking for a career and chose computer programming do u think this is a good choice?

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

this is a really helpful page

it helped me in my homework

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Pie mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..............

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

try bls.gov too. it got some good info

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Tnx it was very useful

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

@josh
software engineer will be a better option as based off the bls.gov website programmers jobs will be cut by 12,300 in 2018 and software engineer will raise by 295,200. So basicly this field is in the negative while software engineer is in the positive and more pressure will be placed on the remaining computer programmers, probably more demand and the fields maybe harmed by it. because of the unnecessary amount of engineers and so few programmers being cut for the simple fact of being cheaper. When really it should be cutting the software engineers. as they should be basically managing the programmers and telling them what to do under a team. Meaning less people designing but more people working on those designs.

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

I WALKED INTO A DOOOR!!!!!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

Thank You for your information in finding a new career, I found your article very informative.

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

I'm currently a junior in High school and i was wondering where the best school for computer programming was in the U.S. any suggestions?

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

This was really helpful. I didn't know there were so many computer languages that you had to learn.

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

Sooooo... uhm. this helped me in my home and careers class. thanks you. and TTAAAATTTSS!!!!!!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

hello, im so in love with your site.

thx 4 the info.

Vote down Vote up

over 7 years ago

i received my b.s. in computer science in 2004 and haven't broken into the industry, yet. any help or advice.

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

hi

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

I Hate You Ryano0ik

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

great help thanks

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

i am only 14 and i can createprograms on my own

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

It's a job descriprion. It's not supposed to tell you how to do the job. it tells you what you can expect as far as what training you need, what your pay will be, how high the job demand is, and what the working conditions are. just the basics. It does what it's supposed to. i don't see what kind of help you were hoping for from a job description.

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

Computer Programmer Job Description, Career as a Computer Programmer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

hi

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

hi

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

hi

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

I'd like to share that W3schools.com is a good start.

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

great help thanks

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Today i learned how to fart, isnt life great?

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

mein gootch hurten

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

wonderful for helping with my homework

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

this is gay

Vote down Vote up

about 5 years ago

this some bull***t !!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

Computer Programmer Job Description, Career as a Computer Programmer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Vote down Vote up

over 6 years ago

you suk hahaaa

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

sup. ppl. nice info.

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

im sexxy

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

gf

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Im Totally NOT Brandon!!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

SsSSSSSsSsSSSssss.........

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

penis inside hole

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

Tata hata!

Vote down Vote up

about 5 years ago

suck it

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

Why is this so complicated? i wantn a version that a 6 year old can understand. you diont need to make it so long. a 4 se

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

yall websites do not help us cuz its dumb...........................lol

Vote down Vote up

almost 5 years ago

hiiiii

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

Wassuup???

Vote down Vote up

almost 6 years ago

Why is this so complicated? i wantn a version that a 6 year old can understand. you diont need to make it so long. a 4 se

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Great help hope some of you guys think so too.









..

--

Vote down Vote up

about 5 years ago

NOT HELPFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

about 5 years ago

NOT HELPFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vote down Vote up

over 2 years ago

What kind of benifits do the achieve

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

This is too short

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL AT ALL I NEED TO KNOW THE FUDGING PODTION NOT THIS BULLSHIP THANKS A LOT YOU RUINED MY CHANCES OF PASSING MY CLASS YOU WINCHES

Vote down Vote up

about 4 years ago

When was this article published?

Vote down Vote up

5 months ago

Shut up.

Vote down Vote up

9 months ago

Thanks I needed this information for a project it has been very helpful!

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

hello,this really helped me and i couldn't help notice that theres comments from over 6 years. know to who every reads my comment i will tell you this leave another comment and see how long till you see it again.

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

FAWISFHWQIO4GHQIOH

Vote down Vote up

over 2 years ago

thank u so much!! this was very helpful for my career project. I would love to become a computer programmer when I grow up, and im already taking computer programming classes in my middle school!! thanks again!

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

Thanks that's what I'm shooting for