Are you fascinated by computers? These machines have a colorful and quite amazing history in our country, and they offer millions of people a faster and easier way to complete many tasks today.
Many businesses use computers on a daily basis for accounting, marketing, training, creative processes, and more. It seems like these machines have endless possibilities when it comes to aiding us humans, and we’ve come to rely on them heavily.
However, everything our computers can do is made possible by computer programmers. These people have the ability to create the programs which allow us to use our computers for any number of projects.
So, what exactly is the computer programmer job description? This is a challenging position which encompasses many factors. You’ll need certain skills and training to get the job. If you think you have what it takes, read on to discover everything you need to know to become a computer programmer, including duties, salary, and more.
Computer Programmer Job Description: The Basics
A computer programmer may do any number of things, but the job basically involves writing out code for computer software. What exactly does that mean?
Understanding Software The Basics
Any program you use or run on your computer uses software. Software is composed of instructions which tell the computer what to do and how to run when you, the user, decide to use it for any purpose.
Without software, you would not be able to perform even the simplest task on your computer because it would have no instructions telling it what to do.
The computer programmer job description is comprised mainly of writing these instructions. However, not just anybody can write them. They have to be written in a language the computer understands, called code or source code.
Code isn’t any language we speak naturally. You won’t learn it by traveling to a foreign land and living among the natives. You have to learn it from somebody who already knows it or, ironically, from a computer program.
Furthermore, code is not a single language. There are hundreds of programming languages being used today, and people are thinking up more every minute. However, there are some more popular ones which many computer programmers rely on:
- C+, C#, and C++
So, is this the equivalent of learning eight human languages? Absolutely not. Programming languages overlap each other at many points. Experienced programmers report being able to successfully learn a new language in only a few weeks, so it isn’t like learning German. Once you learn one language, the others will come much easier.
It’s a good idea to stay on top of trends as you search for a job in computer programming. That means knowing which languages are popular within which industries, especially industries local to you. Then you can familiarize yourself with them and at least have a small amount of knowledge.
Computer Programmer Job Description: Duties
So, what will your duties be as a computer programmer? There are a few aspects of the job which you need to be prepared for.
1. Planning Software
Before you can implement your foreign-language skills at work, you need to know about the software you’ll be writing for. Programmers often work hand-in-hand with software developers in order to fine-tune the program’s design.
Expect to thoroughly go over whichever piece of software it is that you’ll be working on. This is the stage of the job which deals with the translation of an idea or desire into a program which can actually make it happen.
What types of projects you work on depend on the company which hires you. Your own passions will dictate which jobs you choose to accept. You could work on programming for a game, a specific website, or anything you choose (and the current market allows for).
2. Writing Code
Once the program is designed on paper, it’s time to write the code. This constitutes much of the work which comes along with the job. The code you’ll write can be for any number of tasks. These range from specific actions like automated control of factory equipment to broader applications like data analytics.
How much code you have to write depends on the complexity of the project. You might take a few days to program one piece, but another piece could take you a year. In order to simplify the process, you have tools at your disposal.
One of these is called a software library or code library. Every piece of code for a specific action is unique, but there are many parts which are the same for similar types of programs. You don’t want to waste time writing a piece of code which has already been written a thousand times before. The software library stores these pieces of code so you can access them and use them in programs. This cuts down on valuable time and resources, allowing you to work faster and complete projects as easily as possible.
3. Upgrading and Repairing Programs
You’ll need to constantly review your programs. No matter how awesome your programming skills are, your programs will break down – it’s an inevitability of life. That’s because technology is always evolving, and something which worked a few months ago under a certain system may not work once that system goes through upgrades and changes.
A big part of the computer programmer job description consists of running analytics to see how well your programs are working. When they have glitches, you have to repair them. This basically means writing more code which updates your own program so that it can run smoothly in the midst of technological changes.
Computer Programmer Job Description: Education and Training Requirements
Though perhaps there once was a time in the golden era where simply knowing what to do could get you a job, those days are mostly gone. Competition is high, and employers will look at your education before they give you an interview — and your education needs to meet some requirements.
At the minimum, you’ll need a 2-year associate’s degree or certification. However, actually landing a job with an associate’s degree requires that you have significant previous experience in the field and a proven track record of getting things done.
You’ll be able to land many mid and entry-level jobs with a bachelor’s degree. Keep in mind that many employers won’t consider anything less than this, and some jobs require a master’s degree. You’ll need to earn your degree in a field related to computer programming like computer science, information systems, or even physics or mathematics.
However, this level of education is only required if you pursue long-term employment at a company. Many computer programmers choose instead to take on freelance work. This entails working on a variety of projects for a variety of companies or private entities.
Freelancing allows you to choose which work you’ll take, when you’ll work, and generally gives you more autonomy with your job. A freelancer’s job outlook does not normally depend on a level of education but on their proven history within the field, references, and skill level.
Computer Programmer Job Description: Salary and Benefits
Becoming a computer programmer is a difficult thing to do, and you can expect to be compensated accordingly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary is a cool $82,240 per year. That translates into nearly $40 per hour. That’s working for a company.
A freelancer’s income is much different. You could find yourself earning more or less than a company employee. That’s because your income will be dependent on many factors. You’ll have to market yourself, collect references, and constantly update your own training and knowledge. You’ll negotiate your price, and you’ll have some control over what you earn. It’s possible to charge more for jobs once you gain experience and confidence in the field.
However, you won’t receive any of the employment benefits as a freelancer that you’ll receive as a full-time employee of a business or corporation. These employment benefits vary by employer but oftentimes include payment into a retirement fund, paid time off, and health insurance.
Computer Programmer Job Description: Culture and Work Environment
Unsurprisingly, the work environment of a computer programmer involves a lot of sitting at a computer in order to perform the job duties. Many companies are understanding of this and allocate breaks, but it’s also important to counteract the effects of sitting on one place for such a long time on your own.
Oftentimes, the culture will be dictated by the specific company you work in. If you work for a banking company, expect to wear office attire in a formal setting. If you work for an indie gaming company, you might expect something a bit more relaxed. If you work as a freelancer, you’ll get to choose your own environment and create your own company culture.
Become a Computer Programmer and Help Build the World of Tomorrow
Computer programming is an exciting and dynamic field. If you want to have an impact on how we as a society use computers and interact with them, it could be just the job for you.
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