Computer Programmers create applications and programs that people can work on. They take the foundations and possibilities of any existing software and use it to create an interface on which all users can work. The use of these programs can be for business or leisure. Most Computer Programmers specialize on a specific market niche, meaning they will work on creating programs that serve a particular use, such as Accounting software, mobile applications, games, or graphic design software.
The programs and applications Computer Programmers create can be designed to fit a single system such as Windows, Mac iOS, or mobile devices. However, many companies create versions of each particular program to fit each system depending on market demand.
Computer Programmers work for agencies and companies that specialize in designing and creating new programs and applications. The work divisions for Computer Programmers are not standardized; nevertheless, most companies divide their teams in three fractions: analysts, designers, and testers. Moreover, the programming language they specialize in can become part of their title (e.g. Java Programmer).
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Computer Programmers are required to complete.
- Understanding users’ needs:
- Reading market research reports and users’ suggestions.
- Creating new software programs or applications:
- Researching what users need;
- designing the program or application; and
- writing the program or application in programming language (e.g. HTML, XML, and PHP).
- Defining the technical specifications of new programs or applications:
- Writing program or application documentation.
- Testing new programs or applications:
- Running the program to look for bugs and errors;
- fixing bugs and errors; and
- repeating the process until no bugs or errors are found.
- Testing code for new programs or applications:
- Writing code for new programs or applications;
- running code to look for bugs or errors;
- rewriting or refining code where necessary; and
- repeating the process until no bugs or errors are found.
- Upgrading existing programs and applications:
- Identifying parts of the program that could use improvement; and
- developing the modifications and improvements.
- Monitoring the performance of existing programs or applications:
- Verifying that all involved technologies and systems work according to the specific program’s instructions.
- Integrating existing programs to work on different platforms and systems.
- Working in tandem with other staff members, Project Managers, Graphic Artists, UX Designers:
- Assisting Software Developers.
- Researching and learning about new technologies and trends as they become available.
- Designing new programs or applications.
- Establishing parameters for new programs or applications.
- Writing code for new programs or applications.
- Testing and troubleshooting new programs or applications.
- Testing and proofreading code.
- Reading clients’ feedback or users’ suggestions for improvements and implementing them.
- Meeting with clients and Project Managers.
The average Computer Programmer salary in USA is $49,742 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $35,000 while most experienced workers make up to $70,000. These results are based on 43 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding knowledge of computers and informatics systems.
- Good communication skills:
- Communicating with colleagues; and
- explaining updates and issues to clients and Project Managers in a polite and clear manner.
- Outstanding organizational and time management skills:
- Being able to work with complex systems and equipment;
- completing tasks in a timely manner;
- meeting deadlines and goals;
- being detail-oriented;
- being able to work on several tasks at the same time; and
- being able to work on their own, especially if telecommuting.
- Excellent problem-solving skills:
- Having a logical and analytical approach to problem-solving;
- being able to identify bugs and errors in coding; and
- having the ability to think outside the box and solve problems in a creative manner.
- Good customer service skills:
- Being able to identify and anticipate the needs of possible clients;
- thinking of ways to fulfill their clients’ needs; and
- selling projects and ideas to possible clients.
- High drive for self-improvement:
- Looking to expand existing knowledge of technology;
- learning new skills and tools; and
- being aware of the advancements made by others.
- Ability to work as part of a team of professionals:
- Helping other staff members;
- training new employees and trainees; and
- working as a unit.
By definition, the work of a Computer Programmer is packed with complex and technical details that require a lot of attention. A Computer Programmer is expected to have extensive knowledge in at least one programming language, as well as the latest technologies available. Most Computer Programmer job offers require 2 to 5 years of experience in the area or some education background in the field.
Most entry-level jobs as a Computer Programmer require all applicants to have a degree or some kind of equivalent higher education background. The most common degrees companies demand from their applicants are Computer Science, Software Engineering, Electronics, Information Technology, and Mathematics. However, some employers are likely to require Computer Programmers to have a master’s degree and they often encourage applicants to get a degree in Business, Finance, or any other related fields.
Most professionals may become experts in programming languages, as their academic preparation allows them to easily learn any of them. Programmers are usually offered the opportunity to take extra courses and seminars to improve their skills and knowledge in order to be promoted. Some organizations offer certificates (e.g. Oracle, Cloudera, or Microsoft certification) that can improve an applicants’ profile. Said certifications are not obligatory, but they are very useful as they highlight Programmers’ skills and abilities.
Unlike many other positions in the IT field, it is uncommon to find Computer Programmers working as freelancers. The most usual form of work for them is in a company or agency specialized in creating, designing, and selling new software. These companies or agencies generally have a particular niche of the program or application market. Some companies develop business-oriented programs, such as Accounting or database management, whereas others devote themselves to creating leisure programs such as games. Since the nature of their job often allows it, Computer Programmers can telecommute, but this option will depend on any of the company’s applicable regulations.
Depending on the size of the company, they could have entire departments taking care of each step involved in creating new programs or applications. However, in smaller companies, it is common to find a single team or person taking on the whole process.
Most Computer Programmers work on a standard 9-to-5 schedule, Monday through Friday. However, extra work and hours are not unheard of for this position when deadlines are approaching. This is especially true in the testing stage of creating a new program or application, as it is the stage that can take the most time and require the most attention. Sometimes extra hours may involve working weekends or on national holidays.
The nature of the job includes sitting on a desk for extended periods of time. It is advisable to take regular breaks during work hours to avoid possible health hazards.