How to become a computer programmer
Computer programmers are responsible for creating everything from web platforms that support online schools to computerized coffeemakers that have automatic brewing.
As a computer programmer, you might find a job in the following industries, to name a few: software publishing, finance and insurance, manufacturing, or computer systems design and related services. Working as a computer programmer or software developer can be challenging and rewarding; while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth numbers have shifted toward the negative as of late due to many companies preferring to hire code writers abroad for less cost, it's that very flexibility with not always needing to be present in an office to work, that some find rewarding.
For more insight into how to become a computer programmer and what to expect on the job, read on and explore the visual guide below.
Educational requirements for computer programmers
In addition to having strong analytical and troubleshooting skills, concentration, and an attention to detail, computer programmers benefit from a computer programming education.
While companies prefer a candidate to hold a bachelor's degree in computer programming, computer science or a related major, some employers will hire you if you have an associate degree and an appropriate amount of knowledge and experience. You might also want to become familiar with the different programming languages that exist. These include:
One of the perks of a computer-focused career is that it typically has many possibilities for completing your education online. Certificates, associate degrees and even bachelor's degrees in computer programming or computer science are available through distance-learning programs around the country. Be sure to explore the top schools for computer programming to understand more about your educational options.
Computer programmer responsibilities
As you embark on your journey to become a computer programmer, consider the duties that will likely be expected of you. Typical responsibilities for computer programmers might be:
- Writing programs in the aforementioned computer programming languages that exist
- Testing programs for errors
- Fixing faulty lines of existing computer code
- Updating and expanding existing programs
- Creating and testing code in an integrated development environment (IDE)
- Using codes libraries -- collected of independent lines of code -- to simplify the writing
How much do computer programmers make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the mean annual wage for computer programmers nationwide was $87,530 as of 2017, but salaries vary depending on your location, the company you work for and your own work experience.
For computer programmers, the five top-paying states and their average annual wages as of 2017 are:
- Washington: $121,000
- District of Columbia: $101,640
- California: $96,270
- Colorado: $96,100
- Virginia: $95,520
Long Term Occupational Projections for Computer Programmers, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Occupational Employment and Wages: Computer Programmers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2018, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm
Computer Programmers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2018, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm#tab-1