Computer programming is a fascinating field that can lead to many different job opportunities in a wide variety of industries. Computer programmers are skilled in using coding languages, developing software, and creating artificial intelligence.
If you’re curious about what it’s like to be a computer programmer, this article is for you. We’ve put together this guide that covers a typical day in the life of a computer programmer, the technical and soft skills you’d need to acquire, and the average salary of a computer programmer. Let’s get started.
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What is a Computer Programmer?
A computer programmer is a professional that writes code to build, test, or update computer software applications or operating systems. Another common term for computer programmer is a software developer. Their primary technical skills are using popular programming languages such as Python, Java, and Ruby.
Code is the backbone of software. Computer programmers use these languages to write lines of code that instruct the computer on each action. Computer programmers also carry out tasks such as generating algorithms, conducting software analysis, and testing resource consumption. To become a computer programmer you need to learn one or more programming languages.
What Does a Computer Programmer Do on a Daily Basis?
So, you understand that computer programmers write code for a living. But what does a typical day in the life of a computer programmer actually look like? Below we’ve outlined a list of key tasks required of a programmer role. While the responsibilities might vary depending on the job description and industry you’re working in, the following list of tasks is common for most coders.
- Write and test programs. Computer programmers write code for software and test it to see if the code is working properly. To write code, computer programmers tap into their analytical reasoning abilities and problem-solving skills.
- Review and rewrite programs. Software developers review and rewrite programs to meet new challenges. For example, you might need to update the code in an application to fix a bug and upgrade the user experience. Updating a program may take between a few hours and several months depending on the complexity of the project.
- Correct coding errors. Most often, programmers troubleshoot software programs or websites that are not working properly. Some coding errors are fundamental while others are minute. An error in the code is capable of damaging an entire program if it’s not detected.
- Cyber security. A computer programmer is also responsible for protecting programs or websites against cyber security threats. To do this, programmers often write programs that prevent security breaches.
- Consult with the managerial team. Computer programmers don’t work alone. Computer programmers work in a team environment with achieving business requirements as the main goal. They have to align their program’s intent with suggestions from software engineers, systems analysts, and UX designers.
How Can I Become a Computer Programmer?
Computer programming requires acquiring coding skills. Fortunately, there have never been more opportunities to gain the necessary skills, certification, and experience that will land you a position in this field. There are multiple routes to becoming a computer programmer. Read on to find out what your options are.
Computer Programming Degrees
The traditional route to becoming a computer programmer is to acquire a college degree. Many companies require a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Programming, so completing one would set you apart from other candidates. A degree in computer programming takes three to four years to finish.
Computer Programming Online Courses
You can also learn coding skills through online courses. There are thousands of online computer programming courses in different formats and price ranges. Online courses are perfect for self-paced learners and you can learn remotely from anywhere. Learning online is also a great option for people who want to switch careers while continuing their current employment.
Computer Programming Bootcamps
Coding bootcamps offer intensive training in programming skills and can be completed within three to 12 months. Companies often hire bootcamp graduates as they are trained in the most up-to-date skills required in the modern workforce. Bootcamps are less expensive than a college degree and usually include career services to help you land your first programming job.
Computer Programming Certification
Computer programmers must continuously update their skills in the ever-changing field of tech. Learning one set of coding skills is not enough to stay relevant and advance in your career. As a computer programmer, you can invest in your professional development by gaining IT certifications in an array of skills and specializations.
How Can I Get a Job as a Computer Programmer?
The best places to look for computer programming jobs are on online job boards in your area, or on the websites of companies you’d be interested in working for. As pursuing a career in computer science and programming opens you up to a wide range of opportunities in different fields, don’t limit your search to Silicon Valley. Consider checking for positions in industries such as government or education.
Also, as computer programmers can go by many titles, be sure to check for positions such as software developer, front-end developer, or security analyst. You can also set up a profile on LinkedIn where recruiting companies can find you. Don’t forget, you can also advertise your job search on your social media accounts.
Steps to Finding a Job as a Computer Programmer
- Prepare a Resume
Your resume is the first impression you will make with the recruiting manager, so it’s vital to make a great impression. You can learn how to write an effective resume in 10 minutes.
- Create a Portfolio
The best way to impress an employer is to show them samples of your projects and the process of achieving the finished work. To do this, you need to create an outstanding coding portfolio. Create a web-based portfolio of your best coding projects to highlight what you can do.
- Visit Job Boards
You can search job boards for positions in your field and check career pages of your favorite companies to see if they are hiring. Once you find a relevant position, carefully follow the application steps and requirements. Many employers immediately disregard any applicant that failed to follow the specific application instructions.
- Reach Out to Employers and Recruiters
Draft a list of top IT companies that would likely need the services of a computer programmer. Reach out to these companies with your resume and photocopies of your credentials attached through email or courier. You can also send potential employers a message via their social media profiles.
- Seek Referrals
There is no harm in contacting your previous employers to ask for an introduction to computer professionals who might need your services. Make sure you had a good relationship with the former employer you seek to refer to you.
What Is the Average Salary of a Computer Programmer?
The average computer programmer’s salary is $65,142, according to ZipRecruiter. But a computer programmer could earn more than the estimated average. Usually, a computer programmer’s salary is based on their level of experience and skills.
Salary for an Entry-Level Computer Programmer
Entry-level computer programmers have an average salary of $43,370, according to ZipRecruiter. Entry-level computer programmers don’t have too many responsibilities which is why their salary is below average.
Salary for a Mid-Level Computer Programmer
Mid-level computer programmers earn an average salary of $65,142 per year. To earn this much yearly, you must have acquired additional technical skills or improved on the basics.
Salary for a Senior-level Computer Programmer
The average annual salary of a senior-level computer programmer is $97,141 per year, according to ZipRecruiter. A senior-level computer programmer could earn more depending on their employer and clients.
Job Outlook for a Computer Programmer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of computer programmers is expected to decline by 10 percent between 2020 and 2030. Despite the decline, about 9,700 jobs will be available for computer programmers each year. These openings for computer programmers will be available as a result of workers who change to other careers or retire.
Should I Become a Computer Programmer?
Yes, if you love technology, then get involved with computer programming. Computer programmers enjoy a lot of benefits. For instance, computer programmers can work remotely and their job can offer a work-life balance. Top technology companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will always need the services of computer programmers.
A Day in the Life of a Computer Programmer FAQs
Computer programmers work between 40 to 50 hours weekly. In other words, a computer programmer works between eight and 10 hours daily. Usually, computer programmers can have flexible working hours but may be required to work overtime.
Yes, like most tech jobs, computer programming can be stressful too. Some complex programming projects may take months to complete. However, the job security and paycheck make it worth the stress.
Computer programming is not considered a hazardous job. But computer programmers are prone to certain health conditions like eye strain, poor posture, and obesity. To avoid some of these health challenges, make sure to get plenty of exercise, eat healthy food, and reduce screen brightness.
A computer programmer earns an average wage of $31 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Senior-level computer programmers may earn twice that amount. Your computer programming skills determine what your hourly earnings would be.
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