A computer programmer uses programming languages like C++, Java and Python to come up with software programs. For example, you could create mobile applications for mobile devices like tablets and mobile phones, software programs for computer operating systems and Internet applications.
To be able to do your work, you need to plan the project carefully and collaborate with other computer professionals like software developers in the undertaking. You will craft flowcharts that will detail how the code is going to be written. However, this happens only after the consultation with the end users of the program has been completed. Programmers must also work together with the managers and employees of the company asking for the computer program to be designed. You need to understand what is expected of the program so that you can craft it to meet their needs. Any miscommunication or misunderstanding during the consultation stage will result in an inferior program.
When you start writing the code, you will be able to simplify the process by consulting independent lines of code which have already been written and stored in what are known as code libraries. You will also create and use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools so that writing of some code can be automated. You’ll be working on your own in the program design stage.
Once you have created the program, your job is not yet over. You will need to check if the program has issues in a process called debugging. This is an important part of your work before the program finally gets released so that problems that cause the program to hang or crash are addressed and solved.
To succeed as a computer programmer, you need to have very clear understanding of computer code. You must also be very analytical since creating code is no simple matter. This is also a career that requires you to be comfortable working on your own for long periods of time. This means you need to have the patience and are able to sit in front of your computer writing code for hours. You also need to be very particular with detail. A relatively minor error in the code written can result in the program failing or giving erroneous results. Finally, you should also have a knack for troubleshooting. Your work as a programmer doesn’t end when the program is already released. In fact, you will be maintaining the program so you need to determine what its problem is and give periodic updates to improve its performance.
Individuals who are keenly interested in computers and writing code for different kinds of programs would definitely thrive as computer programmers. It is a career that would constantly put those who are inclined in this line of work at the forefront of making code for applications that would help improve how people live, work and communicate. Being part of a team that creates very useful software programs that are able to lighten the workload and improve an organization’s efficiency is very fulfilling. On the more practical side, one of the main reasons to strive for this career is because computer programmers are also paid very well.
Computer Programmer Work Environment
Computer programmers usually work full-time in companies engaged in the computer systems design and related services industry, such as software firms, hardware developers and gaming companies. The work is usually done inside an office but it’s not uncommon for computer programmers to work for home inasmuch as the job can be done anywhere for as long as the programmer has a computer, an Internet connection and necessary software to perform the task.
In many cases, computer programmers work by themselves. However, they may be part of a large team of computer programmers during large projects. In this case, they will be focusing on just a particular aspect of the entire program.
Computer Programmer Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that computer programmers receive a mean annual wage of $80,930. This is a bit lower than the $96,260 paid to applications software developers and the $104,480 given to systems software developers. The mean annual wages of computer programmers, however, is higher than the $67,540 paid to web developers.
Computer Programmer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the job outlook for computer programmers is positive in the next few years. For the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate for this occupation is about the same as the national average. At a growth rate of 8 percent, it is expected that 28,400
computer programmers will be added to the 343,700 computer programmers employed in 2012. This would bring the number of professionals in this occupation to 372,100 in 2022.
Although the job prospects are good, programmers in the United States can expect competition from programmers abroad. This is because some companies may outsource the job to programmers living in other countries and are willing to receive lesser pay. However, programmers in the United States who are familiar with a variety of programming languages and are updated with the latest trends in the industry are bound to get good opportunities. Having a bachelor’s degree in the field will also be an advantage.
Computer Programmer Degree
The most common entry point for a career as a computer programmer is a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field. The curriculum in these programs may only teach students a few languages but they will prepare them to learn other programming languages with ease on their own. These programs also expose students to what the real world job is like through internships where they will have the opportunity to work with other more experienced programmers in various companies and help them in creating code and debugging programs. Because computer languages evolve very rapidly, programmers also need to undergo continuing education to be able to keep up with the latest trends in the industry.