What does a programmer do?
As a computer programmer, your day-to-day work is often determined by the type and number of coding projects you're involved in. Typical duties may include writing and testing code for existing or new programs. You will work closely with other IT roles such as web developers, including UX and UI designers or iOS engineers. Together, you’ll build scalable mobile applications, websites, and even internal tools that you or fellow engineers will use.
Updating existing programs
Maintaining and updating existing programs are also tasks that fall under the responsibility of computer programmers. Once you launch a program, you'll have to work on patch updates to fix bugs reported by users and to improve features based on customer feedback.
Writing code with scalability and compatibility in mind
As a computer programmer, you will focus on building products that are scalable. Oftentimes, you'll need to rewrite code in different languages in order to create programs and applications that support different operating systems. Compatibility is key to mass market adoption, something that you as a computer programmer will have to factor in when writing code and building applications.
What is the average salary of programmers?
The average base salary for computer programmers is roughly $73,000 yearly with an entry level salary starting of $58,000 yearly. Key factors that affect your salary package include years of experience, specializations, and location.
While a highly decorated academic background is not necessary to secure a job as a computer programmer, an undergraduate degree in computer science, software engineering, or other relevant fields can help improve your chances of employment.
Currently, the highest paying locations for computer programmers are Washington, DC;, California, Virginia, and Texas. As for hourly wage, programmers make an average of $46 per hour as of 2020.
Perks and bonuses
Salary, however, is only a portion of what you can make as a software programmer. Many companies, particularly big tech firms like Google and Amazon, offer very generous compensation packages that include stock options, RSU refreshers, year-end bonuses, financial coaching, and life and health insurance coverage. You may also get discounts on services such as car rentals and mobile app subscriptions.
Other ways to increase earning potential as a programmer
If you want to earn more as a computer programmer, there are various side income hustles that are open to you, such as building your own mobile app, monetizing blog content, publishing an e-book, and doing contract freelance work.
Working as a programmer
Before applying for your first job as a programmer, it's good to know anything and everything about the role. Below, you'll find out:
- What a programmer's main responsibilities are
- What type of equipment you'll be working with on a day-to-day basis
- What the typical work environment is like
- Who your fellow teammates are
- What the work schedule is like
What are the responsibilities of a programmer?
- Collaborate with UX and UI designers and content producers to build out fully functional websites, mobile applications, and other tools.
- Write code in a clean, scalable, and secure format that the business can run on multi-threaded networked server applications.
- Use tools like source debuggers, program dumps, and performance monitoring metrics.
- Follow standard debugging practices to troubleshoot programs and fix functional or cosmetic features.
- Rigorously test your software program to identify bugs and improve application functionality.
- Protect your program against cybersecurity concerns by helping identify malicious software, fixing server vulnerabilities, and preventing security breaches and data leaks by creating and enforcing cybersecurity protocols.
What type of equipment do programmers use?
As a computer programmer, the bare minimum requirements you'll need are a computer and a network connection. Depending on the specific role and project you are working on, you may also need to install software programs, including a command line terminal, version control software, and database management interfaces.
What is the work environment of a programmer?
One of the main advantages of working as a programmer is that you are typically allowed to work fully or partially remote, which means your work environment varies based on where you choose to work. For programmers who decide to come to the office, you are typically issued a desk space of your own, but you can work from anywhere in the campus.
Who are your colleagues as a programmer?
Depending on your specific role, such as a front-end designer or a devOps engineer, you'll be working with other tech professionals regularly to build out both the customer-facing and back-end side of the end product. Some colleagues you'll likely meet include project manager, team and tech leads, QA leads, and full-stack engineers.
What is the work schedule of a programmer?
In addition to remote work potential, software programmers are also ordinarily allowed to choose their work hours. As long as you produce results, update your co-workers, and attend meetings, it should not be a major issue to work on specific time frames that you are most comfortable with.
What is the career outlook for a programmer?
The employment outlook for computer programmers is set to slow down by 10% between 2020 to 2030. Despite a gradual drop in employment, you can still expect close to 10,000 openings for computer programmers and related roles on average per year.
The skill sets you add onto your resume will determine your marketability as a programmer going into the next decade. Within the tech field, some of the emerging trends you may want to become knowledgeable about include:
- Big data
- Artificial intelligence
- Edge computing
- Quantum computing
Learning and mastering these technologies by building real world applications can be a good way to market yourself as a computer programmer over the next couple of years.
What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a programmer?
Working for Spherion as a programmer has a number of perks, including:
- Receiving your paycheck on a weekly basis
- Cultivating work-life balance through flexible schedules
- Getting access to numerous training opportunities and job results curated based on your location
- Having a point person you can rely on for technical support
What education do you need as a programmer?
As mentioned earlier, becoming a programmer does not require you to go through the traditional undergraduate degree track. However, you can improve your marketability and accelerate your career track by working toward a bachelor's degree in computer science or any tech-related field.
Online courses and specializations
In addition to four-year degrees, you can also take online courses and specialization programs about specific technologies or skills that an employer is looking for. Research a company's technology stack to see which programming languages or databases you should learn before applying for the job. Some companies may require you to train and get certified in the products that you'll be using as a programmer. If you have any general business experience, you can also apply to become a computer system analyst or get promoted to a managerial position within your organization.
Skills and competencies
While technical training and academic background are vital areas to hone mastery of the field, you can learn some skills and competencies you'll need to become a successful computer programmer outside of the classroom. For instance, you'll need a problem-solving mindset to systematically and efficiently identify and solve problems through code.
Communication skills are very important because you'll be working on projects where your output can affect the work of others. As a programmer, the ability to write concisely is an essential skill. You may need to write documentation for specific libraries or products that others will use to gain a better understanding of the product. You will need to be able to write clearly and in a way that others of all technology proficiencies will understand.
Programmers are in great demand in today's tech-driven day and age. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about how to become a programmer.