2 minute read


Education and Training: Bachelor degree in computer science or computer engineering
Average Salary: $69,620
Job Outlook: Excellent

As the name suggests, a programmer writes computer programs. Once a software engineer has designed a basic framework, the programmer converts the design into a set of instructions that can be carried out by a computer. For this reason, a computer programmer must be knowledgeable about programming languages like C++ and others.

A programmer also tests, expands, and updates a program once it has been created. Most programmers work in a team unless they are freelancing or work in a small business setup.

With the evolution of computer assisted software programs, a lot of the work done by programmers has become automated so they now work alongside software engineers to design software.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor degree in computer sciences or information technology is recommended. Some employers may also hire graduates with a two year degree. However, those wanting to work in business, healthcare, and science should have a few years of work experience in programming. This can be done by taking internships while at college. Choose majors such as information technology, mathematics, computer science, and computer engineering.

Additional programs that are related to the industry you want to work in can greatly improve your chances of getting a job.

Advanced certifications are available via software firms such as Microsoft or even nonprofit societies.

Getting the Job

Getting a programming job will not be difficult for someone with the right credentials. Many software firms in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere have a requirement for those with programming experience.

Student internships may lead to full time positions as well. The interview process can be grueling since you will be tested on your programming knowledge and may have to answer a lot of technical questions.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

The requirement for computer programmers is expected to grow 21% by 2018 due to the expanding reach of the internet. Programmers with experience writing code for the web and intranet will have better job opportunities.

Over a period of time, advances in computer technology may lead to a decline in computer programming jobs, however, programmers can move on to software development by working with software engineers and system analysts.

Programmers will need to update their skill set with changes in technology to remain ahead of their competition. A typical growth path leads to positions like senior programming or chief information officer.

Working Conditions and Environment

Programmers work in comfortable environments in office or computer laboratories. Those working for vendors may have to travel to onsite projects.

Most programmers work forty hours a week although some may be putting in longer hours at work, especially those employed in research organizations.

Since they spend most of their time working on the computer, posture related problems and hand and wrist problems are common.

Salary and Benefits

As of 2008, the median annual wages of computer programmers was $69,620. The starting salary of graduates without any work experience is approximately $60,000. Salaries in excess of $100,000 are not unheard of in Silicon Valley companies.

Programmers get the same benefits as any other employees working in the company such as sick leave, medical insurance, bonuses, and paid time off.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery
2 Penn Plaza, Ste. 701
New York, NY 10121
(800) 342-6626

National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies
Bellevue College
3000 Landerholm Circle SE, N211
Bellvue, WA 98007
(425) 564-4229

University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1695

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications