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Operating Systems Programmer


Description

A lot of people understand more than one language. French, Mandarin, Portuguese...Java. Java? 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, is a computer language 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 companies or networks will function with one or two languages. Using that language, operating systems programmers, combine and adapt 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 systems in person to users. They might have to adapt the programs once they're in use, to make them more suitable to the users.

An operating system programmer writes and modifies operating systems, which are programs that, after being loaded into the computer, manages all the other programs in the computer, known as application programs. THe operating systems help the application programs work together, share memory, and take turns during multitasking. This is where that special computer language comes in.

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 an operating systems programmer in order to keep up with the changing world.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
In order to be a successful operating systems programmer, you should have lots of experience with hardware, software, and computer systems and processes. You should know about programming languages and techniques. You should have a genuine love for computers and computer capabilities. You should be methodical, logical, patient, careful, and accurate. You should be adaptable to new things, and work well under pressure. You need to be a good communicator, and be able to work well with others, but also possess the self-discipline and stamina to work on your own.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Discuss the user's requirements
  • Plan how the systems and the programs will fit together
  • Write systems
  • Write manuals or explain program's function
  • Run tests to ensure programs and computer systems are working properly
  • Find faults in systems
  • Prepare reports on systems
  • Maintain and upgrade programs
  • Solve computer problems for users
  • The typical day for an operating systems programmer will involve working with computers, analyzing, developing, and implementing systems. They will spend some of each day with others, answering questions, explaining how the systems work, and troubleshooting problems with existing systems. 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  
  • Operating system 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 in a small team of other programmers and computer staff.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Operating systems programmers can specialize, and become programmer analysts, software programmers, or web developers, 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 an operating systems programmer you should complete either a bachelor's degree in computer science or in another discipline with a significant programming component, such as mathematics, commerce , or business administration, 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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