Computer Programmers

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Computer Programmers Overview

Employment for computer programmers is expected to decline 3 percent. Computer programmers with a bachelor’s degree or higher as well as relevant work experience will have the best job opportunities.

Nature of the Work for Computer Programmers

Computer Programmers

The work of a computer programmer is to take the design from a software engineer and convert into a logical series of instructions that a computer can follow, otherwise known as writing programs. Computer programmers then use programming languages to code these instructions, common languages being Python or C++. With all of this said, the basic goal of a computer programmer is to write various programs.

Computer programmers may also work with existing programs to modify, repair or update them. For larger projects, computer programmers may use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) to help automate the coding process. For smaller environments, computer programmers may use “programmer environments” that help increase productivity. In order for computer programmers to produce more reliable, consistent and productive programs, some use libraries of basic code that can be customized or modified to a specific application.

Many computer programmers have begin assuming some of the responsibilities once designated to software engineers thanks to advancements in software design and the automation of some programming functions.

The work environment of a computer programmer is usually comfortable and clean. Though the typical workweek for a computer programmer is 40 hours a week, some even work 50 hours a week. Computer programmers may experience back discomfort, eyestrain and hand or wrist problems due to long periods of time spent at the computer. Some computer programmers who travel to various work locations may also have to take into consideration their travel time when calculating the hours they work in a week.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Computer Programmers

Recommended Education Level

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for computer programmers looking for employment. Some employers may also accept a 2-year degree or certificate as well. Those who are up to date with the latest technology as well as those with relevant work experience are sought out by employers.

Many computer programmers have degrees in information systems, mathematics and computer science. Others choose degrees in accounting, finance, and other areas of business.

Participating in internships as well as relevant programming skills is extremely important to employers when they are hiring computer programmers. Some computer programmers will be asked by their employers to partake in development seminars or continuing education classes so they can keep up with technological advances and any other emerging programs.

Vendors and software firms usually offer computer programmers’ certification programs which can help them find employment.

Problem-solving skills, creativity, working well with abstract concepts, communication skills, and being able to work in teams are important qualifications for computer programmers. For computer programmers who eventually want to advance to managerial positions, business skills are an important qualification as well.

Advancement for computer programmers can include supervisory roles or being promoted to lead programmer. Computer programmers can also advance to programmer-analysts or systems analysts after acquiring enough business experience. Computer programmers can even become computer software engineers by becoming experienced with a language or operating system.

Job opportunities will be best for computer programmers who are experts in a specific area so they can work as consultants for outside firms. Computer programmers with many years of experience can also advance easily as well as have more job opportunities as opposed to those without such experience.

Top 10 Most Popular Computer Science Schools

1. University of Phoenix (Multiple Campus Locations)

2. ECPI University (Multiple Campus Locations)

3. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)

4. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)

5. Kaplan University - online (Multiple Campus Locations)

6. Colorado Technical University (Multiple Campus Locations)

7. University of Maryland - University College (Hyattsville, Maryland)

8. San Jose State University (San Jose, California)

9. New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, New Jersey)

10. DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois)

See All Computer Science Schools

Top 10 Most Popular Online Computer Science Schools

1. University of Phoenix - Online School

2. Colorado Technical University - Online School

3. American InterContinental University - Online School

4. Jones International University - Online

5. Kaplan University - Online School

6. Ashworth College - Online School

7. DeVry University - Online School

8. Ashford University - Online

9. Penn Foster High School

10. South University - Online Programs

See All Online Computer Science Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Computer Programmers

Number of People in Profession


Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to decline slowly or moderately (decrease 3 - 9%)

Out of the 1.3 million jobs held by computer software engineers and computer programmers, 367,880 are held by computer programmers. Many computer programmers work for computer system designers and other related services while others work for software publishers, financial institutions, insurance providers, and computer manufacturers.

Job prospects will be best for computer programmers with a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience.

Due to people learning how to write and implement their own programs, offshore outsourcing and advancements in programming language and tools, jobs for computer programmers will decline.

Since programs are transmitted digitally, computer programmers can work anywhere in the world, giving employers the incentive to hire workers in countries for lower wages. The work of a computer programmer can be made routine once a programming language is mastered, meaning the need for localized and specialized computer programmers will lessen. Local programmers will still be necessary for many employers for different circumstances. Though many companies are choosing to outsource domestically, some are beginning to ire works in low-cost areas of the United States.

Those who retire or leave the occupation all together will create jobs for computer programmers. Those with a bachelor’s degree and knowledge of a variety of programming languages will have the best opportunities. Computer programmers must also update their skills as much as possible due to changing technological advances and sophisticated tools that are quickly emerging. Computer programmers looking for an extra edge when applying for jobs should also obtain a language-specific or vendor specific certification.

Earnings and Salary for Computer Programmers

Median annual wages of wage-and-salary computer programmers are $70,940. The middle 50 percent earn between $53,620 and $91,000 a year. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $40,640, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $113,380.

Annual Salary for Computer Programmers

On average, Computer Programmers earn $ 70,940 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $ 40,640/yr $ 53,620/yr $ 91,000/yr $ 113,380/yr

Hourly Wage for Computer Programmers

On average, Computer Programmers earn $ 34.10 per hour.

10% 25% 75% 90% $ 19.54 $ 25.78 $ 43.75 $ 54.51

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

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