How to Become a Computer Programmer

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How to Become a Computer Programmer: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a computer programmer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a computer programmer:

 

Those who become computer programmers are typically individuals with a natural aptitude in computers and writing code. They are individuals who can visualize complex processes, while also having the persistence to ensure they properly map out those processes in the appropriate programming language. 

 

Those who become computer programmers are typically individuals who enjoy learning new computer languages and programming styles, and developing innovative solutions to problems.

 

If you want to become a computer programmer, you must be comfortable working in front of a computer for long hours. You must also be willing to continuously update your knowledge in the field, as it is constantly evolving.

 

Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a computer 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!

 

 

Education Needed to Become a Computer Programmer

To become a computer programmer, you typically need to complete a post-secondary education program in computer science or a related discipline that has a significant programming component. Your work won’t end once you you’re your degree; programmers must continuously upgrade their knowledge in this rapidly changing field.

 

Success Tip: If you know what type of programming you want to do before you enroll in school, then talk to potential employers about what qualifications they require candidates to have for that specific type of programming, and choose your school or program based on that information.

 

 

 

What is a Computer Programmer?

A computer programmer is an information technology professional that uses application design and development tools, as well as different computer and database languages to design and create computer and web applications.

 

 

Computer Programmer Job Description

Although the job description of a computer programmer may vary depending on the specific objectives of the project they are working on, they are generally responsible for writing code for software or web applications that tells computers to accomplish certain tasks, such as retrieving a specific set of data.

 

This involves using specific codes or computer languages, like Java and C++, to transform the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that the computer can follow. They may also be responsible for rewriting, de-bugging, maintaining and testing these programs. 

 

 

Computer Programmer Job Duties

• Liaise with systems analysts and future users of the program in order to determine the programming requirements

• Analyze programming requirements in order to determine a proper sequence of development actions

• Translate steps and sequence of actions into computer language commands

• Test program to ensure it functions as intended

• Resolve any issues identified during testing

• Perform minor adjustments and upgrades to existing computer and web-based programs

• Reference code libraries to simplify writing

• May build or use computer-assisted software engineering tools to automate coding

• Maintain current industry knowledge 

 

 

Who Hires Computer Programmers?

Computer 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)

• Consulting firms

• Non-profit organizations

• Computer design and manufacturing companies

• Software developers

• Insurance companies

• Financial institutions

• Oil, gas and mining companies

• Utility companies

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal governments

• Colleges and universities

• Self-employed (as consultants or freelancers)

 


 

Find Computer Programmer Job Opportunities 

Computer Programmer Jobs - Canada

 

Computer Programmer Jobs - United States

 


 

Career Advancement for Computer Programmers

Computer programmers typically begin their careers in junior-level positions. Once they further their skills and competencies by gaining a few years worth of experience, they may move into roles of greater responsibility, or specialize in an area, such as applications or systems programming.

 

With even more experience, computer programmers may become lead applications programmers or systems analysts. With specialized training and further experience, programmers may move into related fields such as database administration, systems security or network design.

 

Gaining specialized knowledge and experience with a language or operating system can also lead to a computer programmer becoming a computer software engineer. Some programmers may decide to move into management roles; they may also work as freelancers or being their own computer programming company.

 

 

 

 

Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Computer Programmer

In order to become effective in a career as a computer programmer, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits, as they will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, as well as overcome the challenges of this career.

 

• A natural interest in computers and coding

• Able to understand complex instructions

• Able to visualize complex processes

• Must be able to work in front of a computer for long periods of time

• Must be able to pay extremely close attention to detail

• Knowledge of object-oriented languages and tools such as C++ and Java

• Willing and able to constantly update skills to keep up with changing technology

• Must be able to remain patient and persistent when de-bugging programs

 

 

Work Conditions for Computer Programmers

Work Setting: Many computer programmers work in offices, and work directly with other team members on large projects. However, since writing code can be done anywhere, many computer programmers work from home.

 

Working Hours: Programmers may work a wide variety of different schedules; some work a typically 40-hour work week, or work on rotating shifts that can include evenings and weekends, while others may work on their own schedule from home. Many programmers are required to put in long hours from time to time, in order to de-bug programs, or to meet tight deadlines.

 

Work Environment: The work of computer programmers may be done independently or as part of a team, although they must typically take direction from either managers, computer engineers, or directly from clients. Their work may become stressful when complex coding is needed, when deadlines are approaching, or when the client is not happy with the result of their work. Computer programmers must also ensure they follow ergonomic work practices, as they must work in front of a computer for many hours a day, which can strain the eyes, back and wrists quite easily

 

 

Certification Needed to Become a Computer Programmer

Employers typically don’t require their computer programmers to be certified in specific programming languages, although some companies may require their computer programmers to be certified in the products they use.

 

Success Tip: Earning certifications for specific programming languages may be helpful for your career, as it demonstrates competence to potential employers or clients

 

 

Computer Programmer Jobs

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

Computer Programmer Salary

The salary level of computer programmers can vary, depending on their personal qualifications, their employment status, the size and type of employer, the region in which they are employed, and the responsibilities of the job.

 

Computer Programmer Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers occupational group earn an average of between $27.52 and $45.98 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $36.70 per hour.

 

Computer Programmer Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers occupational group is $53,589 per year.

 

Computer Programmer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Computer Programmers is $74,280 (2012 figures). The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are below $42,850, and the top 10% are above $117,890 per year.

 

 

Careers Similar to Computer Programmer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Computer Programmer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Applications Programmer

Java Developer

Multimedia Programmer

PHP Developer

Webmaster

 

 

References: How to Become a Computer Programmer

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Computer Programmer.

 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

Forbes website: www.forbes.com

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

Western Governors University website: www.wgu.edu

 

 

How to Become a Computer Programmer

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming a Computer Programmer

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Computer Programmer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on the following pages:

 

Computer Science Scholarships

Computer Engineering Scholarships

Software Engineering Scholarships

 

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!

 

 

Becoming a Computer Programmer: Applicable Majors

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

 


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