Programming as a Career
Computer Programmers are at the center of the information technology (IT) field. These days, we rely on all kinds of programmable devices-our laptops, personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), in-car global positioning systems, factory robotics systems, and more. None of these things would function without programmers, though, who give programmable devices specific, accurate instructions on how to perform their various functions. Your PC, for example, is nothing more than a dumb box without the input of programmers. It can't solve even a simple math problem without a series of programming commands to tell it how to do so.
A computer programmer creates the code for software applications and operating systems. After a software developer or computer software engineer designs a computer program, the programmer writes code that converts that design into a set of instructions a computer can follow. He or she tests the program to look for errors and then rewrites it until it is debugged or error-free. A programmer continues to evaluate programs that are in use, making updates and adjustments as needed.
Two types of Programmers:
Programmers are referred to as being one of two types:
- Applications programmers: Applications programmers write code designed to complete specific tasks; the programmers who wrote the code for Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word, for instance, are applications programmers.
- Systems programmers: System programmers write the system software that runs other software, such as Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS X.
Requirements for being a Computer Programmer
To work as a computer programmer one usually needs a bachelor's degree, generally in computer science, mathematics, or information systems. Alternatively, one may take coursework in computer science while earning a degree in another subject such as accounting, finance, and business. There are some programmers who have only an associate degree in computer science.
Apart from degree, it's important that computer professionals continue to update their skills. Software development tools and technologies are always advancing and evolving. Programmers have to seek out trade shows, seminars, periodicals, and professional education classes to help programmers stay abreast of changes in their industry.
A Day in a Computer Programmer's Life:
These are some typical job duties for computer programmer positions:
- Develop, test and implement computer programs on multiple computer/operating system platforms
- Help develop a new web-based information system (IS).
- Performs all activities necessary for the definition, design, construction, testing, and implementation of automated computer systems.
- Review programs on a frequent basis and make adjustments as are necessary to ensure proper working of the program.
- Confirm program operation by conducting tests; modifying program sequence and/or codes.
- Create and publish technical diagrams to support coding efforts.
- Integrate new functionality into existing applications.
Benefits of Choosing Programming as a Career
- Wide Range of Career Options: Computer programmers can find work with either large corporations or small businesses, or they can opt to freelance or work on a contract basis. Highly experienced programmers can often find lucrative work as consultants.
- Intellectually Challenging Work: There is no formulaic, cookie-cutter approach to computer programming. Computer programmers are required to use their creativity, intellect, personal vision, problem-solving skills, and initiative. There are always bugs to fix, new software applications to visualize and develop, and human and business needs to satisfy. Because "IT is a field that evolves very quickly, computer programmers must be lifelong learners and able to constantly seek out new challenges."
- Positive Job Growth Outlook: The computer systems design and software publishing industries are forecasted to be among the fastest-growing industries through 2019.
- Good Prospects For Advancement: Computer programmers starting out can look forward to becoming a mid-level programmer, senior software developer, software architect, software manager, IT director, or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).