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Are you interested in a career in tech, and you’re wondering, “What is computer programming?” In this article, we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about this dynamic career path. We’ll explore job expectations, how to break into the field of computer programming and earning potential for computer programmers.
What Is Computer Programming?
Computer programming is a high-tech field that’s growing in popularity. Programmers work on code to find and solve issues. They come up with strategies for enhancing and streamlining code, and they use code to implement company initiatives.
While computer programmers come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, all computer programmers must have knowledge of different programming languages.
Today’s more popular programming languages include C++, Java, Python and Go. Programmers should be familiar with multiple coding languages, especially these.
What Does a Computer Programmer Do?
Computer programmers’ main task is writing code. Code provides instructions to a computer, written in a language the computer can understand. Many programming languages exist, and computer programmers typically know several coding languages.
Computer programmers might also:
- Write and test code for programs and apps
- Update existing software programs in order to fix bugs or patch security vulnerabilities
- Test and troubleshoot existing code for errors
- Rewrite existing code to move it from one programming language to another
Computer Programmer Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% decline in computer programmer employment from 2020 to 2030. However, skills for computer programmers—especially coding in a variety of languages—could translate to several other positions as well, many of which have better growth projections. For example, the BLS projects software developers to grow by 22% and information security analysts to grow by 33%.
The BLS lists the median annual salary for computer programmers as $93,000. Workers in this role often enjoy other corporate perks like an annual bonus and a 401K package.
Computer Programming Degree Options
Regardless of job and industry, many employers prefer candidates to hold college degrees. The field of computer programming is no different. Aspiring programmers can pursue a variety of degrees in both computer programming and related fields. Below, we’ll take a look at just a few degree options for computer programmers.
Associate in Computer Programming
You can earn an associate degree in computer programming at a community college. Associate programs tend to be shorter than bachelor’s programs, lasting only two years versus four, respectively. They also tend to cost less: Two-year programs cost an average of $3,900 per year, versus $9,400 for four-year programs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Moreover, many community colleges offer programs that expose students to a variety of programming languages. Associate programs entail fewer non-technical courses as well.
Bachelor’s in Computer Programming
A bachelor’s degree in computer programming typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. This degree involves both general education courses and programming-related courses, preparing students to work as computer programmers.
Degrees that may qualify you to work in computer programming include information technology, computer science and information systems.
Master’s in Computer Programming
Most master’s programs entail two or three more years of study after you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree. Master’s students can usually study either part-time or full-time.
Master’s programs are a good option for those hoping to change careers or enhance their skills as software engineers or computer programmers.
Computer Programming Bootcamp
If you’d like to pursue a job as a computer programmer without attending a college or university, your best bet is to attend a computer programming bootcamp.
A bootcamp provides you with an immersive learning experience in a condensed schedule. Most bootcamps take four to 20 weeks of full-time study to complete, or up to 12 months for part-time students.
Bootcamps cost $11,900 on average, according to a report by RTI International. If you’re wondering how to pay for a coding bootcamp, consider scholarships and payment plans. In some cases, your employer might be willing to subsidize the cost of your bootcamp. Speak to your boss or HR manager for more information.
If you’re wondering whether you can find a job after completing a bootcamp, the answer is likely yes. Most computer programming bootcamps have a high rate of job placement upon completion, as per RTI International’s report. Some bootcamps even offer job guarantees.
Most bootcamps structure their learning modules specifically to prepare learners for their future careers. They may assign portfolio-building projects, teach interview skills and provide networking opportunities.
Once you complete a computer programming bootcamp, you’ll be eligible for computer programming roles and similar job titles like web developer, data analyst, technical support specialist and web designer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Programming
What do I need to become a computer programmer?
Most employers prefer computer programming candidates to hold bachelor’s degrees, but you may qualify to work as a computer programmer by completing a coding bootcamp.
How much money does a computer programmer make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer programmers is $93,000. However, salaries can vary widely based on experience level, location and other factors.