CHOOSING A CAREER / OCT. 10, 2014
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How to Become a Computer Programmer in the US

Every day, millions of people around the work use computers to perform a variety of tasks, including sending emails, surfing the internet and writing CVs. Computer programmers are the technology gurus behind the functions of computer programs. They convert the ideas of computer engineers and software designers into instructions that a computer can understand.

If you are an adept problem-solve with a genuine interest in technology, look no further than becoming a computer programmer.

The Work

Mot programmers collaborate with software developers to write codes. Their day-to-day duties include:

  • Writing programs in various computer languages such as Java, Python, C++, C-- and HLSL
  • Using code libraries to simplify writing
  • Debugging programs by testing them and fixing errors
  • Conducting trial runs of software applications and programs to ensure they work properly
  • Performing and directing repair, revision, or expansion of prevailing programs to adjust to new requirements or boost their operating efficiency

Work Conditions

Computer programmers usually work in offices. Since codes can be written from anywhere, some programmers work from their homes.

Most computer programmers work 40 hours a week, but technical problems and tight deadlines might demand more hours.

Salary

The following table shows the top-paying cities for programmers in the US:

City

 

Average annual Salary

Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

$120,050

Bethesda, Maryland

 

$114,020

Anniston, Alabama

 

$109,740

Durham, North Carolina

 

$104,910

Lawrence and Salem Massachusetts

 

$100,840

Source: U.S. News

Entry Requirements

For entry level positions, employers prefer candidates who have secured an associate or bachelor’s degree in the following areas:

  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems

During the second or third year of study, students often secure internships to acquire some hands-on experience debugging programs, writing code and performing other practical tasks.

Some tasks, such as developing accounting software, typically require additional industry-specific knowledge, which you can obtain by pursing short-term courses in finance or accounting.

Important skills and Abilities

As a computer programmer, you need:

  • Strong complex problem-solving skills
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Proper time-management techniques
  • Active listening and technical skills
  • The ability to reason mathematically

Career Development

Computer programmers should be prepared to continually advance their knowledge since technology is very dynamic. To get ahead, you can pursue:

  • A master’s degree in computer programing or business administration
  • A doctoral degree in computer science.

There are also numerous professional certifications which you can obtain to prove your competence to employers or clients. Examples include:

Professional organizations such as the National Association of Programmers and the IEEE Computer Society also provide membership opportunities, which are ideal career advancement avenues.

Job Opportunities

Although some computer programmers work on a freelance-basis, others find full-time jobs in:

  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Business consulting firms
  • Software and IT consulting firms

Programmers who obtain advanced degrees especially in business can progress to become IT managers. Those with a PhD in computer science can land teaching jobs in universities where they will be tasked with molding the next generation of programmers.

Useful Links

Between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8 percent growth of job opportunities for computer programmers. Competition in this field is high since companies can hire programmers from anywhere in the world. Since technology changes quickly, continuous learning is key to a long and successful career in computer programming.

It is time to monetize your love for computers!

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