Computer programmers are responsible for building the computing world that more or less controls everything we see around us. They convert software design into computer codes that the computers can read. They are also responsible for designing operating systems as well as applications that people use on a daily basis. In this day and age, the interaction of the people with computers has dramatically increased. Desktop models now provide entertainment and information constantly. Meanwhile, more advanced systems work behind the scenes to provide the users with a great experience. Computing power is only growing in demand thus opening up career possibilities for those who want to pursue a career in computer programming. This field is only going to increase with time and has a high chance of being lucrative.
Duties of a computer programmer
Computer programmers convert concepts into reality. Once the developer makes a software program, the programmer then makes the instructions, known as code, so that the program can function. Programmers create software that runs on smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. With the advancement in software technology, apps for mobiles have become increasingly common. When the program is fully functional, the programmers might also be put in charge of testing the program for bugs, installing updates, and removing errors. The user interface is also designed by a programmer.
An in-depth look at the career in computer programming
There are two kinds of computer programmers; system programmers and application programmers. The application programmers are responsible for creating and upgrading software applications and customizing programs so that they fit a particular context. On the other hand, system programmers are responsible for creating the operating systems. They undertake a holistic approach when it comes to how different applications work on a certain platform. Sometimes, application programmers work together with system programmers to ensure that the programs are compatible with the operating system. The primary responsibility of the computer programmer is to write the code, so, they must be proficient in various programming languages. A computer programmer also updates the code for various programs so that they function better and are more secure. Programmers also routinely test the code by keeping an eye out for errors. These errors are basically parts of the code that cannot be understood by the computer. Lastly, they also debug the program.
Average Computer Programming Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median income for a computer programmer back in 2014 was around $77,500. This amount was almost $3000 more than the average salary in 2012. This is a rate that significantly out paces inflation. Programmers that were in the top 10% easily earned more than $127,000 in one year. In fact, the bottom 10% also earned over $44,000 which was still more than the national average salary for all existing occupations. The average salary does vary according to the country, however, on average, the career, in the US, is a high paying one.
What are the job prospects?
By the year 2022, the jobs for the computer programming sector are expected to only increase by a rate of 8%. However, experts also predict that by the year 2020, around a million of the jobs in the sector will be unfilled. In simple terms, the demand will outstrip the supply quite significantly. In this era, all kinds of industries need some kind of software services. Thus, the jobs for programmers will continue to increase at a decent rate. Moreover, numerous firms prefer to use applications from individuals who are able to work from home, to lower the overall management costs. So, a computer programmer can easily help out a business from the comfort of their own house. The significant increase in the healthcare industry is also beneficial for programmers, particularly for those who have a bachelor’s degree and are efficient enough to work with numerous programming languages.
Step 1 – Find a School and Earn your Degree
A few employers only need an associate degree. However, surveys suggest that the majority of companies prefer to recruit those applicants who have studied at a four-year institution. On the other hand, the two-year degree is best suited for those students who attend a community college due to financial problems. A two-year degree is also good for those who want to test out the interest they have in this field. Some of the students accept jobs in the field of technology right after completing the associate degree while others opt for the four-year program. With a bachelor’s degree, the student can diversify the set of skills he or she has as the course includes numerous programming languages. Moreover, students who want to work in a particular industry like accounting can take up additional courses according to their chosen field.
Step 2 – Select a Computer Programming Focus
Students enrolled in a bachelor’s program can get an idea of the aspect of programming that appeals to them the most. During their bachelor’s, students start leaning towards application programming or system programming. Some also take an interest in databases and networks while many figure out whether they want to deal with hardware or not.
Step 3 – Continue Learning
Technology is one of those industries that evolve continuously. Therefore, it is vital for the people in the field to be up to date with all the recent innovations. To be on top of the competition, the programmers should keep on going back to class and get additional training so that they can build up competency in the updated versions of languages, as well as in the emerging languages. Similarly, getting further degrees can help the programmers get senior roles. As a result, they can become analysts, managers, and software developers.
The Different Degrees for Computer Programming
The least education needed for a job in such a field is the bachelor’s degree which proves to the employers that the student has quite a lot of experience with regards to concepts and programming languages. They are equipped with the problem-solving skills that are vital for such jobs. However, the bachelor’s degree for computer programming is not really available. The associate’s degree is, instead, commonly available in education structures. Take note that computer programming is basically included as a component of a bachelor’s degree in some related field such as computer science, information technology, software engineering, and computer engineering.
Computer Programming Associate Degree
Individuals interested in computer programming can start by enrolling in an associate degree. In this program, they will learn all the basic programming skills. They will also get practical preparation for various entry level positions in the IT field as database designers, web developers, and computer programmers. At the end of the degree, which takes two years usually, the student will be proficient enough to figure out the demands of the end user and design, as well as code programs that fulfill their requirements. As part of the training, students learn how to test, as well as debug various applications so that they become efficient and more functional. They are also taught how to match specific programming languages with the specifications of a project. Students also get knowledge of computer technology and systems along with enough practice using various programming languages for creating applications and designing databases. Since computer programming involves logic, students are expected to continuously develop their problem solving and mathematics skills. Students who don’t enroll themselves in a bachelor’s degree after the associate degree use these skills to learn further as they increase their knowledge while on the job and become an expert in different programming languages. Of course, all the degree programs vary; however, the courses listed below include the skills that students will gain in an associate degree.
Basic introduction to computing
The course comprises of a brief overview of the different computer systems ranging from software applications and hardware to the operating systems. It is for those who have minimum knowledge of the subject.
• Students become familiar with computing history
• Students are able to use software for presentations, spreadsheets, databases, and word processing
• Students are perfectly able to use the computers in educational, as well as business settings.
• Fundamentals of programming
In this course, the student learns the logic behind programming. The course also lays out the basic groundwork for the students to learn programming languages in details in further classes.
• The students should be able to manage the various operating system filed using commands
• The students should be able to design basic algorithms with the help of a programming language and implement it as well.
• Data structures/Java programming
In this course, the student gains familiarity with object-oriented programming techniques for structuring software. The course also familiarizes the students to a common programming language called Java.
• The students will be able to build the Java programs.
• The students will be able to test, as well as debug the Java programs to make sure they function properly.
• Programming using C++
As apparent by the name, the course involves the concepts of a programming language, C++. Moreover, it also includes arrays, control structures, and strings.
Knowledge and skills gained
• The student is able to code fundamental programs with C++
• The students can debug and test various programs to make sure it works properly.
Computer Programming Bachelor’s Degrees
For students who want to become high-level programmers, the most common choice is a degree in computer science. Students of computer science who enroll themselves in a Bachelor of Science degree are taught all the fundamentals of programming along with the scientific and mathematical principles. Moreover, students become quite efficient in discrete math, which is a part of math that deals with such objects that come with distinct values. Moreover, the students also become proficient in computer architecture, software design, programming, computer organization, and algorithms. There are some schools that offer a BA degree in computer science. This degree focuses more on general education and less on science and math. However, since each school varies, students should thoroughly research all the various options to figure out the program that fits their needs. Apart from coursework, the majority of schools require the students to do a culminating project which includes the skills and knowledge they have earned. The students meet an adviser on a regular basis that offers guidance and advice while gauging the progress made by the student. The different skills that enrolled students typically gain once they get their bachelor’s degree are listed below:
In this course, the students learn the method of designing and analyzing algorithms for efficiency, as well as correctness.
The knowledge and skills gained
• The student can create particular algorithms that search databases for particular criteria and sorts out lists as well.
• The students can break down various problems using algorithms and look for optimal objects
• Students can structure data in an efficient manner
• With the help of algorithms, the students can create graphs
• Discrete mathematics
In this course, the student learns basic techniques for solving problems that have various countable possibilities. The course also includes graphs, counting techniques, difference equations, set theory, and graphs.
• The students can solve problems using inductive reasoning and math.
• Using the advanced counting techniques, the students can figure out the complex objects and their size
• The students can apply algorithms to various problems
• Students can create math proofs
• Computer architecture
In this course, the students learn how software programs and hardware work together. The course covers the basics of how computers and systems interact with each other. Moreover, the course also familiarizes each student to high-level programming languages.
• Students can use digital logic, as well as digital representation
• The students have a clear understanding of the internal structure and organization of computers
• Students will be able to use assembly, programming languages, and machine in tandem
• Computer networks
In this course, students learn communication-based on the internet. It also teaches students how to solve problems related to access, security, and size of the network.
• Students can design a network protocol
• Students will be able to secure and scale up communication networks
Master’s Degree in Computer Programming
Just like the bachelor’s degree, no particular degree for computer programming exists at the master’s level. However, this doesn’t imply that there are no advanced options for students. The degree in computer science at the master’s level includes wide academic knowledge, and it allows the students to gain insight on specific areas. A typical master’s degree in computer science requires the student to enroll in courses in various areas like artificial intelligence, theoretical foundations, computer systems, and math. The students can either specialize in any of these, or they can also focus on other areas like network security, human-computer interaction, database systems, and scientific computation. By taking courses in operating systems, computer architecture, and computer networking, the students get to understand how systems work. In a master’s degree, students get to practice building functional networks and software that can fit into computer systems. Computers have the ability to perform tasks at such a pace that is much greater than that of humans. However, for this to be possible, the computers need to be programmed in the right manner which is why complex algorithms are needed. Students enrolled for a master’s degree will learn how to apply math for computing results.
Computer programmers know that there is no point in reinventing the software. Programmers don’t want to spend money, effort, and time in making a program right from scratch when they can use an existing program. They will also be proficient in established systems and software, and they are expected to make use of the skills they have gained to build such systems that can handle multiple applications at once.
Getting a certificate or degree in programming is only one of the many methods of entering the profession. If the student earns a degree in a wider technology field, then the student can explore further concepts while they become an expert in programming. Since programming involves math, architecture, logic, and computer engineering, the degrees listed below are also ideal for those aiming to become the best programmers:
Students enrolled in this program learn how to develop services as well as products related to software. Since these skills are needed for becoming an expert in programming languages, the degree can help students in their career as software engineers or computer programmers. The degrees are offered at the doctoral level as well. The majority of the software engineers have a bachelor’s degree at least.
The majority of students aiming for becoming computer programmers go for this degree. In this degree, the students receive a thorough approach to the operations and the uses of computers. Apart from covering computational principles and fundamental math, the program also teaches the students the method of designing hardware and software systems.
With this degree, the students get the knowledge and the skills required to develop and design multi-user networks. Moreover, the students learn how to administer and configure complex systems. The course also includes classes on databases, application programming, and security.
In today’s world, which is primarily driven by data, information protection and privacy have become quite important. This degree also teaches the student the method of analyzing systems, using the coding languages, and setting up security networks.
This degree is vital for the integration of software, as well as hardware components. Individuals in the field of computer programming should have a vast understanding of programming. Moreover, they should have the ability to develop, designing, and testing hardware and software.
Computer programming is one of those degrees which are ideal for studying online. You only need to have the right software and a good internet connection. However, you should not just pay money to the first online institution you see offering the degree.
Online schools vary significantly, and each one has a different course and quality. The ideal degree should have at least the following:
Since computer programming involves the person to spend extensive hours in front of a computer, it becomes a reason why tech-inclined people prefer it as an education. However, the student should ensure that they will be provided with the chance of interacting with other students as well as the faculty as this is quite beneficial for future careers. Since a majority of programs involves various programmers working on different parts of the projects, the employees will need to interact with the different kinds of people that are part of their team. Therefore, students should make sure that the program they have chosen has some participation integrated into the course outline. They need to experience healthy teamwork.
The biggest advantage of taking online classes is that the computers of today have such webcams that can record the lectures easily so that they can be used later. A majority of schools use this to their advantage and archive lectures. Students can then view these lectures later when they study or when they get stuck in a problem.
Of course, accreditation is vital for all degrees as it ensures that the program has fulfilled academic standards. Proper accreditation is also important for those students who want to apply for a federal financial aid.
What Makes a Successful Computer Programmer?
Two basic things are vital to your success as a computer programmer
1. Programming Skills
Apart from being efficient in numerous programming languages, programmers should also have a keen eye out for detail. While debugging code, or even writing one, a misplaced character can lead to a program malfunction. Critical thinking skills are also essential since there are numerous ways of approaching a problem. Programmers should be patient and focused as they might have to write code for an extended period or they might even have to conduct tests repeatedly to evaluate the performance and the quality of the program. Programmers need to be strong communicators and active listeners as they need to pay close attention to the client’s request.
Programmers can get a certification in platforms, as well as languages. A number of vendors of major systems like Microsoft offer certifications after conducting a test. Some employers do look for certifications at the time of hiring while others can be promoted if they have the proper credentials. So, if you’re thinking of starting a career as a computer programmer, here’s to hoping you were able to receive all the required data.