Internet usage has grown by 5 percent in the past year alone. Every single day, more adults are using the Internet. It’s probably difficult to imagine life without the Internet, or even the computer. This means that computers and the related skills are in high demand. Presently, the number of unique, specialized skills is so great that it’s nearly impossible to know everything. One of the most highly demanded among those skills is that of the computer programmer.

The programmer writes code through the computer language so the computer understands every single command. Computer programmers generally share some of the same traits such as analytical thinking, extreme attention to detail, and ability to collaborate and work in a team. If this sounds like you and you have a deep interest in computer programming, understanding software, learning how to code and how to operate various computer languages, then computer programming may be the perfect career path.

What Is a Computer Programmer?

A computer programmer is somebody who has been trained to code and understand computers. They write code and test computer software and applications to make sure they running correctly and efficiently. They help turn programs that businesses desire into a code that the computer can understand, therefore bringing it to life. A computer programmer must make sure that the software works, and if it doesn’t or needs to be modified, they are then responsible for fixing the issue.

Computer Programming-Infographics

Duties of a Computer Programmer

  • Have an extensive knowledge of computer language, such as C++ and Java
  • Update and expand existing computer programs, software, and applications
  • Work closely with information and technology staff and managers, users, and potential clients
  • Build and use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools to help automate parts of code

Skills of a Computer Programmer

  • Have analytical skills
  • Be able to concentrate on elaborate tasks
  • Have a sharp eye and attention to detail
  • Troubleshooting experience and skills
  • Able to collaborate and work on a team as well as with users and clients

Is There a Need for Computer Programmers?

The computer programmer career is expected to increase 8 percent by 2022. Computer programmers are usually employed by software companies, though more recently governmental and private companies need them as well. These types of companies include banks, firms, and small businesses. Computer programmers are also needed for small jobs, like if a small business owner needs to set up a website and a mobile phone application for their product, like Venmo, they may hire someone to assist with the development. Computer programmers can also freelance and work odd jobs or be independent contractors.

A man and a woman discussing their work on their computer

Computer Programmer Career Outlook

Recently, computer programmers have been employed by other countries that offer lower labor costs. This means that despite the job need increase, many basic programmers will be outsourced to contractors in countries to save money. However, there is a silver lining: computer programmers that can write code and create software and applications will be in the highest demand. We will discuss types of computer programmer jobs below.

Education and Certification

Required education and certifications vary from job to job, but generally, companies will hire a computer programmer with an associate’s or a certification in computer programming with some relevant work experience for entry-level positions. Ideally, a computer programmer will have a bachelor’s degree, as this is most often required. For some high-end work, a master’s degree is required, though this is less common. It is also useful to have relevant coursework, such as information and technology, computer science, and mathematics.

If you are interested in getting a certificate instead of attending a two- or four-year school, many professional and academic organizations offer computer programming certifications. Getting a certificate is helpful for building experience and expertize as many entry-level positions and software companies require a certificate. However, some require a computer programming certificate in addition to an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.

Popular schools and universities for computer programming include many ivy leagues, such as Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, University of California and its branches, and Yale. However, there is no need to feel overwhelmed when hearing these accredited and rather expensive names. Many community colleges and other schools that offer certifications and 2- and 4-year degrees are all over the nation. Many smaller schools and online courses also offer certificate courses that you can finish in a matter of weeks. Be sure to search for schools near you for the right certification program.

Hours and Salary

Most computer programmers are full-time employees in software companies. Since much of this work requires diligence and competence, most employers find it beneficial to work in an office, but there are still many computer programmers who are freelancers and work from home. After all, the entire job is entirely on a computer with Internet access.

Most recently reported, the average salary for a computer programmer is about $78,000, with less for entry-level positions, and more for those with experience and perhaps a master’s degree. A computer programmer salary typically starts at around $33,000 but can exceed $130,000 for those with the right skills and experience. This is a very well-paid job, considering the national median salary is about $44,000.

Computer programming mainly consists of 4 types of jobs. The most popular jobs that computer programmers work in are computer systems design, where about 38 percent of computer programmers work. 7 percent of computer programmers work in finance and insurance; 7 percent are software publishers; 5 percent work in manufacturing; and 5 percent are self-employed.

Computer Hardware Programmers

A computer programmer that specializes in hardware helps build and code the computer so that when software is installed, the computer can understand what ‘language’ it is in. It’s important that the computer is compatible with the applications it needs to run, and this can be done through coding correctly because the computer needs to understand basic instructions. This means that every time you turn on your computer, move the mouse, or open an application, your computer is hard at work at understanding everything you want to do. In return, the computer presents what you are trying to do with visuals and text in a language you understand—which, in this case, would be English. A computer hardware programmer can expect an average salary of about $75,000.

Software Developers

Software developers are a bit on the creative side of a computer programmer and engineer. A software developer designs and manages software, applications, and other functions for the computer. A software developer works closely with clients and other developers who are looking to create an application or perhaps change an existing one. Software developers create and update, but must also fix and debug software if there is a problem. They must be able to identify the problem and know how to solve it. An experienced software developer can expect an average salary of about $104,000.

Database Developers

Database developers are important to businesses and companies alike. A database developer runs the behind the scenes, meaning they collect, analyze, arrange, and sort information. They may also improve databases, expand the functionality, and develop submissions for a company’s information and technology department. Companies like Amazon rely heavily on database developers to write instructions for computer systems so they can quickly get the information a user needs. A database developer can expect an average salary of about $74,000.

web design

Web Developers

Web developers are the left-brained in the computer programmer field. Web developers help create and design websites. Even on websites like WordPress where you can download a theme, a web developer was hired to create those themes. A web developer will use hypertext markup language (HTML) and JavaScript to build a website. A more experienced web developer will use ASP or PHP to generate HTML content. A web developer can expect an average salary of about $64,000.

Room for Advancement

The wonderful thing about the computer programmer career is that there is always room for improvement and growth. Since computer programmers are advised to build their experience with jobs and courses, they could easily become lead programmers, supervisors, or analysts. With advanced knowledge and education, computer programmers can become top-paid systems architects, project managers, information security officers, systems managers, and consultants.

On average, those who acquire some experience, certification, or a degree have an average salary of $39,000. Those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher (master’s, PhD, Doctorate) have an average salary of $62,000. This is something to consider when you are looking at the educational requirements that come with being a computer programmer.


A computer programmer is responsible for writing code that allows computers to operate. We are in the middle of a new digital age, with computers, tablets, and cell phones holding all of the information in the world at our fingertips. As such, computer programmers are in high need and the career path offers a lot of variety with education, certifications, specific jobs, salary ranges, and job flexibility. The world is changing fast, and it’s revolving around computers and like technology. This career is in high demand, so it might be a good idea to join the career path and get started by getting your certification.