Computer programming careers are a good choice for a people who like working with technology and who are able to tackle problems in a systematic manner.
What Computer Programmers Do?
Computer programmers take software design specifications from computer software engineers and systems analysts and convert it into step-by-step instructions that the computer follows to execute commands. Computer programmers accomplish this task by writing code using a programming language like C++, C#, Python, or one of many others. While programmers are often tasked with creating new computer applications, they also often update or modify existing software programs.
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Career Path for Computer Programmers
A computer programmer who is working for a large company that employs a number of programmers may be promoted to a lead programmer position. A person with experience in systems programming can focus on this type of work. A computer programmer who also studied business at the post-secondary level who gains practical experience may be able to become a systems analyst or a programmer-analyst.
Not all computer programmers work in an employer-employee work arrangement. There are opportunities for experienced computer programmers to work on a contract basis or to offer consulting services to clients.
Training for Computer Programmers
Training for Entry Level Positions
For some entry-level positions, an Associate's degree will be accepted by an employer. Completing the requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Programming will open more doors to employment for those interested in computer-related work. Students in the Bachelor's degree program will take courses in subjects similar to the following:
- Business Information Systems
- Computer Architecture
- Database Development
- Data Communications
- Data Structures
- Information Security
- Java Programming
- Management Information Systems
- Management Theories and Practices
- Systems Analysis and Design
- UNIX Operating System
Training for High Level Positions
For specialized computer programming jobs in scientific or engineering fields, applicants may be required to have an advanced degree to be considered. Those people interested in studying at this level will be taking these kinds of courses:
- Advanced Computer Programming Languages
- Algorithm Design and Analysis
- Artificial Intelligence Concepts
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Operating Systems
- Concepts of Database Systems
- Distributed Systems
- Multimedia Networking
- Network Design and Analysis
- Network Performance Modeling
- Networking Architecture and Protocols
- Organizational Behavior
- Software Concepts
- Web Applications Security
Computer programmers typically work in on office environment. Full time jobs typically require between 35 and 40 hours of work per week Overtime and/or weekend work may sometimes be required.
Job Satisfaction and Computer Programming Careers
Some people who enter this field find their work tremendously satisfying, while others report feeling bored or even burned out at times. Programmers who are expected to sit at a terminal all day and work on the same type of programming without having a lot of variety are more likely to report job dissatisfaction that those who have positions that are less routine.
Job Outlook for Computer Programmers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for computer programmers is expected to decline a total of three percent in the decade from 2008-2018. As programming languages become more advanced and users can use them to write their own programs, the number of available positions will be reduced. Employers who are looking to reduce costs may look to offshore outsourcing for computer programming positions.
Even though the outlook for computer programming careers is on the decline, thee will still be positions available with companies who need people to develop and support their software applications. A person who wants to work in this field and has the flexibility of relocating for work will likely have a better chance of being hired than one who is not willing to move.
A Word of Caution
A person who spends a lot of time in front of a computer terminal may experience eye strain. Developing a sore back or shoulders is not uncommon for people working in these kinds of careers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is another workplace issue that can be painful and interfere with the programmer's ability to function on the job.