As a profession, computer programming demands flexibility and intense focus – programmers must be able to work alone and with teams, and they routinely must put in long hours of mentally grueling work. Good programmers are capable of shifting from small, simple assignments that take just days to complete – such as creating mobile applications for smart phones – to complex, intricate projects that may take a year or longer. They are usually required to have a degree in computer science or a related field.
A common task for a programmer might be to write code with the intent of creating new software programs. They typically work closely with software developers and engineers to turn program designs into directions a computer can follow, using a variety of computer languages like Java, HTML and .NET/C#.
In addition to creating new software programs, daily tasks may include updating and expanding current programs, debugging through testing and correcting or building and using computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools to program code.
So, what do people in this dynamic, highly specialized and oftentimes demanding profession earn? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for computer programmers in 2013 was $76,140; the best-paid programmers earned roughly $123,000.
Variations in Salary
Programmers should note that salary expectations must be adjusted based on their location, their experience and the size of the company for which they work. For example, The Software Guild, a fast-paced apprenticeship program that teaches programming and software development, has locations in Akron Ohio, Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnesota and Louisville Kentucky. The BLS reports that programmers earn an annual mean wage of $70,440, $79,330 and $64,080 in Ohio, Minnesota and Kentucky, respectively.
Job Outlook and Opportunities for Advancement
The expected growth in employment of computer programmers is about eight percent between now and the year 2022; this growth projection is roughly average when compared to other occupations.
Programmers in the computer system design field, specifically, may see higher demand based on an increasing need for newer and more advanced computer software. Those who specialize in mobile technology and the healthcare industry will be especially attractive in the eyes of employers.
Programmers who have experience in business, whether through previous positions or through formal education, are likely to advance furthest in this career path. Many go on to become software developers or computer systems analysts. Managerial positions where the programmer manages a team of programmers or testers are common promotions.
More on The Software Guild
While some employers will require employees to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, those interested in this occupation should also consider TSG’s 12-week boot camp program. Program enrollees will receive staff expertise and personalized attention they may not get in traditional classrooms. This boot camp is intended to help students master the techniques they’ll need to create software programs from the ground up, for companies in a number of industries – health care, finance, retail, manufacturing, e-commerce, insurance, etc. – in a collaborative, hands-on way. The variety of modern programming languages future programmers will learn in this boot camp will increase their employability exponentially.