How to Become an Applications Programmer


To become an applications programmer, you first need to determine if this career path is well suited to your skills and interests. If the following description sounds like you, then you might be well suited for this profession:


• You are competent in multiple programming languages

• You are passionate about developing and improving software applications and programs

• You enjoy working with other information technology professionals

• You have a high degree of focus when working

• You have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an applications programmer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Educational Requirements

You'll likely need to have a university degree or college diploma in computer application development, computer programming, computer science or a related field to find work in this field. This however, is not always true, as many applications programmer are self-taught; the requirements will vary from job to job.


Pursuing coursework in various programming and coding languages is typically required, as you'll need expertise in multiple programming and coding languages. These courses can be pursued as part of a degree program, or independently.





What is an Applications Programmer?

An applications programmer is an information technology professional that is responsible for developing new or modified computer applications. 



General Job Description

Applications programmers are responsible for using their knowledge of programming languages to develop concise programming code based on specific software requirements.


Applications programmers may develop computer applications in different development environments, such as video games or e-commerce. Depending on the size of a project, the involvement of an applications programmer might only be in the coding stage, although they may also be involved in the project during all stages; from research and design to implementation, training and support.



General Job Duties and Responsibilities

• Confer with clients in order to establish detailed program requirements

• Have clear understanding of the actions to be performed by the program

• Break down program specifications to their simplest elements and translate that logic into programming language

• Write specific sections of the program

• Combine all elements of the program design and test it

• Check sample data sets to confirm that the program’s output works as it was intended to

• Troubleshoot problems that are uncovered

• Install application and perform final testing

• Evaluate the program’s effectiveness

• Create document outlining how users are to operate the program



Who Employs Them?

Applications programmers are hired on a part-time, full-time, contractual or per-project basis by many different types of small, medium and large organizations, such as:


• Web service companies (such as web design companies)

• Websites (e-commerce based and others)

• Consulting firms

• Non-profit organizations

• Computer design and manufacturing companies

• Video game development companies

• Software developers

• Insurance companies

• Financial institutions

• Oil, gas and mining companies

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal governments

• Colleges and universities

• Self-employed (as consultants or freelancers)





Skills and Traits Needed

To be successful as an applications programmer, you'll need to posses a certain set of technical skills, soft skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will help you to perform your job duties with competence, and by help you to maintain a positive attitude towards your work.


Many of these skills and traits are also in high demand with companies that hire applications programmers; you will see many of these skills and traits, or variations of them, listed on Applications Programmer job postings.


Personal Characteristics


• Enjoy modifying and creating new software applications and programs

• An interest in maintaining up to date knowledge in programming languages

• Enjoy working with other information technology professionals


Soft Skills


• Able to work under pressure and tight deadlines

• Able to identify and communicate technical problems

• Able to follow the direction of project leaders

• Strong team building and relationship skills


Hard Skills


• Competent in multiple programming languages, such as C, C++, Java and others

• Knowledge of Object Oriented (OO) practices

• Knowledge and experience in Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook

• Application development experience of entire life cycle through conceptualizing to implementation



Career Advancement Possibilities 

A career as an applications programmer is a good base for a career as a systems analyst. Many graduates of computer science and related programs begin their careers as programmers and move into analysis once they have gained some experience.


With additional training and experience, applications programmers may also move into other related fields such as database administration, systems security or network design.



Job Opportunities - Current Vacancies

Our job board below has "Applications Programmer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Salary Level Typical to This Field

The income level of applications programmers can vary depending on their level of education, their level of experience, the size and type of their employer, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.


Salary in Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Computer Programmers occupational group earn an average of salary of $81,522 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 3, 2019).


Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Computer Programmers occupational group is $74,280 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are below $42,850, and the top 10% are above $117,890 per year.



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our System

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'applications programmer', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities:


Computer Programmer

Multimedia Programmer

Network Architect

Systems Administrator

Video Game Audio Programmer



References for This Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this occupation.


Occupations in Alberta:Computer Programmer.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 22, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Computer and Information Technology: Computer Programmers.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 22, 2019.

Careers Blog:How to Become a Software Developer Without a Degree.” James Burt (November 3, 2014). The Guardian website. Retrieved October 22, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming an Applications Programmer

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as an applications programmer. Scholarships matched to those fields of study can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an applications programmer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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