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Computer/Software Programmer


Description

Along with the invention and advancement of computer technology came computer languages used for programming computers. HTML and Java are two common program languages that currently exist. If you can understand and communicate in Java, you're ready to start your career as a computer programmer.

Java, along with Pascal, Visual Basic, and C++, to name a few, are computer languages used by programmers who create, modify, and test the forms, scripts and codes that tell computers what to do. They use the languages to teach the computer how to respond to users and different programs.

Most computers or networks will function with one or two languages. Using that language, software programmers develop software. Software is a general term for the various programs used to operated computers. Software programmers combine and adapt existing programs. They may also write new programs in computer code, for daily use and for problem solving. Programmers sometimes test and debug pre-written computer programs or software packages.

In order to know what kind of programs are required, they speak with the people who will be using them. They must be good at communicating not only in computer languages, but with real people, as well. They not only develop the programs, but write up descriptions about them, prepare manuals, help screens, or explain the new software to users. They might have to adapt the programs once they're in use, to make them more suitable to the users.

Computers are inescapable. They are everywhere. Children use them to research for school projects, adults use them to file their taxes and pay the bills. Computers and their programs connect us in many ways, and nearly all industries require the expertise of a software programmer in order to keep up with the changing world.
 
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The Art Institutes system of schools

With an education from an Art Institutes school, imagine what you could create.

Programs Offered:
  • Software Development for Creative Technologies (Bachelor of Science)
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$35,080
 
Median Salary:
$60,290
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$96,860

  Interests and Skills  
Programmers must have lots of experience with hardware, software, and computer systems and processes. They need to know about programming languages and techniques. They should have a genuine interest in computers and computer capabilities. They should be methodical, logical, patient, careful, and accurate. Programmers should be adaptable to new things, and work well under pressure. They also need to be good communicators, and be able to work well with others, as well as independently.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Discuss the user's requirements
  • Plan how the programs will be developed
  • Write programs
  • Write manuals or explain program's function
  • Run tests to ensure programs and computer systems are working properly
  • Find faults in programs
  • Prepare reports on programs
  • Maintain and upgrade programs
  • Solve software problems for users
  • The typical day for a software programmer will involve working with computers, analyzing, developing, and implementing programs. They will spend some of each day with others, answering questions, explaining how the programs work, and troubleshooting problems with existing programs. The job doesn't allow for much travel, as most of the work can be done from home or a head office, unless they need to examine computers at locations all over their community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Programmers can find work just about anywhere that computers are in use. Software development and consulting companies, government agencies, electronics companies, hospitals, universities, banks and law enforcement agencies are some of the places they could find work. They can also work independently, and contract out their business to different clients.
  • They work regular hours in offices, or set their own hours and work from home, depending on the nature of their employer. They work alone, or in a small team of other programmers and computer staff.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Programmers can specialize, and become programmer analysts, systems programmers, or software programmers, to name a few. There are also jobs in administration, PC support, and web design and maintenance. Programmers can open their own businesses, or write a column or book about computers for the general public. There is also IT instruction, at colleges and universities.
 

  Educational Paths  
In order to become a programmer individuals should complete either a bachelor's degree in computer science or in another discipline with a significant programming component, such as mathematics, engineering, or a college program in computer science. There are a number of three-year and four-year degree programs, two-year diploma programs and one-year certificate programs in this field offered by universities, colleges, technical institutes, and private vocational schools.

You may also look to becoming a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. This will prepare you to design and develop business solutions with various Microsoft tools and technologies. The exams are available through Microsoft, so it's a good idea to check their websites for information about the certification process.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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