Computer Programmer

How to Become a Computer Programmer
Job Duties of a Computer Programmer
Skills or Qualities Needed to Become a Computer Programmer
Computer Programmer Salaries
Influential Professionals in this field
Leading Organizations for Computer Programmers
Top Cities for Computer Programming Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Computer Programmer

Most positions in computer programming require a bachelor's degree, but some entry level positions may be obtained with an associate's degree or technical certification. Many programmers have degrees in computer science, math, or information systems but others have taken computer programming courses while earning their degree in business or a related area. Computer programmers are expected to be familiar with traditional as well as newer programming languages. Applicants with relevant programming skills and experience will always have an advantage. Beginning programmers are almost always closely supervised. All programmers must continue to update their skills and knowledge because technology changes so quickly.

What does a Computer Programmer do?

Computer programmers write, test, and maintain the instructions computers use to function. They also create and test programs that allow problems to be solved or specific tasks to be carried out via computer. Programmers work closely with computer software engineers who describe how software will work.

The job of a programmer is to take that design and use a programming language to turn it into a series of logical steps that can be completed by a computer. A different programming language is used depending on the nature of the program being written. Programmers also repair and update existing programs as necessary. Those in this field often use computer assisted software engineering tools or other applications that automate parts of the coding process. They may also customize existing basic code to meet their current needs.

Simple programs can be written in a few hours, but complex ones can take more than year to create. Once a program is written, a computer programmer must test it by running it. If errors occur or the desired outcome is not reached, the programmer must make changes to the code and re-test the program. Some programs require continual testing and debugging.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers are expected to be able to think logically and be detail oriented. Successful programmers are patient, persistent, exacting, and analytical, even when under pressure. Creative and abstract thinking is also key when designing and testing solutions. Employers also want computer programmers who can effectively communicate their ideas with non-technical personnel.

How much does a Computer Programmer make?

Although computer programmers can expect to be well paid, the demand for programmers is expected to decline. This decline is due to several factors, including consolidation and centralization of systems, increased development of packaged software, the growing ability of users to create their own programs, and outsourcing of programming jobs. In 2006, the median annual income of wage and salaried programmers were $65,510. The middle fifty percent earned an annual income between $49,580 and $85,080.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Steve Jobs is the CEO of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976 when he made an easily affordable personal computer become a reality for many households across the United States. In the early years of Apple, Jobs was among the first to realize the commercial potential of a mouse driven user interface. In 1985, Jobs founded NeXT, a computer development company that marketed to the business and higher education communities. He has focused on developing products that have aesthetic appeal as well as functionality. Fortune Magazine named Jobs the Most Powerful Businessman of 2007.

Bill Gates is the chairman of Microsoft Corporation, which he co-founded in 1975. He developed software for personal computers based on his belief that computers would one day become a vital part of every work and home. Gates has always been determined to improve software to make it easier and more enjoyable to use. He has authored and co-authored several books, notably Business @ the Speed of Thought which has been printed in 25 languages in more than 60 countries. As philanthropy is also very important to Gates, he and his wife, Melinda, founded The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help reduce inequities within the United States and globally.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

NWCET (National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies) is based out of Bellevue Community College in Bellevue, Washington. This organization is dedicated to creating national and local leadership in an effort to develop innovative, researched based curricula for information technology education.

The Association for Computing Machinery, or ACM, is the world's largest computing society devoted to advancing computing as a science and profession. ACM has more than 82,000 members from industry, academia, and government organizations world-wide. ACM offers its members professional growth through career development, networking, and learning opportunities. In addition to sponsoring over 120 conferences each year, this organization puts out over 40 publications that contain original research and first hand perspectives from the world's leaders in information technology.

What are the top cities for Computer Programming jobs?

Computer programming positions can be found in all major cities across the United States. By far, New York, New York is the leading city with open positions. In the mid-section of the United States, Chicago, Illinois, Dallas, Texas and Houston, Texas all have many openings. On the West Coast, aspiring computer programmers can find positions in Los Angeles, California.

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