Computer Programmer

With the continuing digitization of society, few professionals are as desired as computer programmers. These individuals, trained in computer languages and abstract logic, design and develop the programs that power modern technologies. Computer programmers find employment in many different companies; some programmers choose to work in specialized software firms, but others take up positions in the IT departments of large corporations. Almost every large company requires its own proprietary software; computer programmers can find jobs in biomedical firms, banking firms, government agencies, Internet retailers and more. Computer programmers can find many different positions within these companies; most programmers start out as simple rank-and-file programmers. Over the course of their career, many programmers rise to more prestigious titles, such as senior developers, computer engineers or chief technical officers.

Education and Training

Computer programmers have very demanding educational requirements. All computer programming positions require a four-year degree in computer science or a similar course of study. Most computer programmers supplement their computer science courses with advanced physics, math and logic classes. Computer programmers must have excellent typing skills; a single program may contain thousands or even millions of lines of code, each of which must be typed. Computer programmers must cultivate a strict and logical mindset so that they can efficiently design working programs. Programmers also need to develop creativity; often, the best programming solutions are not immediately obvious. The more prestigious computer programming positions require advanced degrees; to become a senior developer, most computer programmers will have to earn a doctorate in computer science.

Pay for Computer Programmers

Computer programming can be very financially rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for computer programmers is $71,380. Programmers with a Bachelor’s degree and no experience typically earn about $45,000 per year; with a few years of experience, the average salary rises to between $72,000 and $90,000 per year. Holding a Master’s degree will also increase a programmer’s expected salary; even with no experience, a programmer with a Master’s degree can expect to make more than $72,000 per year. Programmers in the peripheral development industry tend to make the most, averaging more than $100,000 per year; quality assurance programmers make the least, at around $59,000 per year. Pay also varies based on geographical location. Workers in the four top-paying cities made between $25,000 and $44,000 more per year than the average programmer. Rochester, New York, topped this list with an average salary of more than $118,000.

Future Prospects for Computer Programmers

With the incredible demand for new software applications, it is unlikely that the demand for computer programmers will slow any time soon. All signs indicate that this industry will continue to experience meteoric growth in both number of jobs and median salary. The number of computer programming positions is expected to grow by 30 percent by 2020. Between 2002 and 2010, the average salary for a computer programmer increased by more than $18,000.