Computer Programming Careers: Becoming a Computer Programmer

If you have a knack for working with computers, then you may find computer programming careers to be appealing. Computer programmers write new programs and update, repair, and modify existing ones. Computer software engineers design software programs, and then computer programmers convert those designs into a series of instructions using programming languages. The most common programming languages in use are Python and C++.

Computer programming careers generally require you to work in offices or laboratories with computer equipment, although telecommuting is becoming increasingly common in the field. Computer programmers working on large projects typically use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools to automate the coding process. Other tools that help to increase computer programmers’ productivity include “programmer environments,” which are applications that combine code generation, code walk-through, test data generation, compiling, and debugging functions, and libraries of basic code, which programmers can modify or customize for specific applications.

Computer Programming Training

Computer programming training typically consists of earning a bachelor’s degree. Some employers may hire applicants who only have a two-year degree if they have relevant experience. Many computer programmers have a computer science degree, while others major in computer programming, information systems or mathematics. Aspiring computer programmers who have degrees in non-computer fields can supplement their degrees by taking courses in computer programming. For some jobs, having a master’s degree in a related field is required.

Companies that use computers for science or engineering applications generally prefer applicants who have graduated from computer programming schools with a degree in mathematics, engineering, the physical sciences or information science. Companies that use computers for business prefer to hire people who, in addition to computer programming training, have also taken business courses.

Along with education, employers value applicants who have relevant experience. Students who want to become computer programmers can enhance their future job opportunities by participating in internships to gain practical work experience. It’s also critical for those in computer programming careers to take continuing education courses and attend seminars to keep up with the latest technology. Such courses and seminars are offered by employers, software vendors, private training institutions, and professional computing societies.

Typical Salary for Computer Programming Careers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of computer programmers was $69,620 in May of 2008. In industries that employ the highest number of computer programmers, those working in software publishing earn the highest median annual wage.

Projected Growth of Computer Programming

The employment of computer programming careers is expected to decrease by 3 percent from 2008 to 2018. The decline in computer programming jobs is happening, in part, because of offshore outsourcing. Furthermore, advances in programming languages and tools have made it easier for users to write and implement their own programs.

Despite these changes, there will still be a demand for local computer programmers who have an in-depth understanding of their employers’ businesses and needs. Computer programmers who are familiar with various programming languages and tools and keep abreast of the latest programming languages and techniques will likely have access to the best career opportunities. To get started on your computer programming career today, begin exploring the schools featured throughout our site.