Computer programmers translate project specifications from software and systems engineers into a script of logical instructions that computers can understand and interpret into functioning programs. Essentially, computer programmers make computer systems and applications work.
Explore high-quality, flexible online degrees in computer programming and software development.
Universities, colleges and private computer schools offer a range of programming courses and accredited degrees that fulfill computer programmer education requirements. Compare top-reviewed computer programming courses in the U.S. and online below.
a.k.a. Application Programmer | Software Programmer | Programmer Analyst | Coder
Computer Programmer Salary
Computer Programming Jobs
Computer Programmer Job Outlook
Frequently Asked Questions
Programmer Skills and Responsibilities
Typical day-to-day activities and in-demand skill sets for this position include the following. On a daily basis, computer programmers:
- Write code using a variety of languages, e.g., C, C#, C++, PHP, Python, Perl and Java.
- Update, optimize the performance and expand the functionality of existing programs.
- May work in a team setting to design complex computer systems and business applications.
- Meticulously test for and correct code errors (a.k.a. “bugs”) in a process called debugging.
- Create and use snippets (pre-defined chunks of commonly used code) to speed up coding jobs.
- Should insert detailed comments into their coding projects so coworkers can follow their process.
- Work closely with software developers, application architects and engineers to keep projects on scope.
- Employ database development skills, e.g., MySQL, SQL Server and Oracle, to build data-driven applications.
Computer Programmer Salary
The median annual wage for computer programmers is $89,190, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average salary for programmers and related positions, according to Indeed.com:
- Computer Programmer: $73,000
- Application Programmer: $75,000
- PHP Programmer: $81,000
- Programmer Analyst: $83,000
- SQL Programmer: $84,000
- VB .Net Programmer: $88,000
- SharePoint Programmer: $89,000
- Web Developer: $90,000
- Software Developer: $91,000
- User Interface (UI) Programmer: $93,000
- Java Developer: $94,000
- C++ Programmer: $94,000
- Coldfusion Programmer: $94,000
- Python Programmer: $94,000
- Perl Programmer: $94,000
- Oracle Programmer: $98,000
- Websphere Programmer: $98,000
- Lead Programmer: $100,000
- J2EE Programmer: $102,000
- Lead Java Developer: $108,000
- Programmer Analyst Lead: $155,000
Top paying U.S. cities for computer programmers:
- San Francisco / Oakland, CA: $125,000
- San Jose / Santa Clara, CA: $114,000
- Dallas / Fort Worth, TX: $112,000
- Providence / Warwick, RI: $108,000
- Madison, Wisconsin: $108,000
The hourly pay for computer programmers ranges from $21 to $61, depending on the individual's geographic location, known programming languages, mastery of each language and experience level.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics • Indeed.com
Hands-on programming experience remains the key requirement for securing a job in computer programming. Hiring managers will typically ask to see a portfolio with samples of your best computer programming projects and applications. Those new to this field can learn the requisite programming languages and start compiling a portfolio through an accredited degree program or specialized certification in computer programming, web development, computer science, or a related programming-centric field of study.
Choose the learning-style that works best for you, as campus-based and online training formats work equally well with the subject matter in computer programming.
Research and compare the top-reviewed computer programmer training programs in the U.S. and online below.
Computer Programmer Training
Compare the top-rated undergrad & graduate degrees, professional certificates, and self-paced online courses matching the computer programmer education requirements and career path.
- Python, Java & C++ Coding
- Agile Project Management
- Data Structures & Algorithms
- System Analysis and Design
- Web, Mobile, Cloud & AI Development
- Study the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Agile Software Project Management
Desirable certifications for computer programmers include the following:
- Oracle Certified Associate (OCA): Java Programmer
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java Programmer
- MCPD: Microsoft Certified Professional Developer
- MCSD: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
- MTA: Software Development Fundamentals
- MTA: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals
- MTA: Software Testing Fundamentals
- CIW: Web Foundations Associate
- CIW: Web Design Professional
- CIW: Web Development Professional
- CIW: Web Security Professional
- CIW: Web and Mobile Design Professional
Your experience and education in computer programming qualify you for a variety of roles including:
- Computer Programmer jobs
- Programmer Analyst jobs
- Web Developer jobs
- .Net Programmer jobs
- Java Programmer jobs
- SQL Developer jobs
- PHP Programmer jobs
- C++ Programmer jobs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts employment for stateside computer programmers to decline by 10% from 2020 to 2030, making it one of the only IT career paths not growing its job count this decade. While overall demand for coders is strong, computer programming can now be done from anywhere in the world, driving many organizations to hire programmers from other countries that pay lower wages. This globalized hiring strategy also has its downsides, such as the challenges of managing projects and remote workers across timezones, language and culture barriers, which can lose companies the cost-savings they gained from hiring overseas in the first place.
The best way to improve your computer programmer job outlook in America is to keep up your skills and experience in the most demanded and versatile programming languages. For instance, programmers with Objective-C and Java skills can branch out into mobile app development, one of the world's fastest growing computer jobs and home to a massive skills gap and top-tier salaries. Health care is a key growth industry for computer programmer employment, as medical practices are developing a host of new applications to adopt and improve electronic health record (EHR) management, e-prescription programs, and other digital services.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook
Frequently Asked Questions
IT insiders answer common questions from aspiring computer programmers.
Do computer programmers travel?
Most computer programmers don’t travel for work on a daily basis; in fact, many coders can now opt to work remotely on most or all days. For those programmers who enjoy traveling for recreation, becoming a computer programmer is a great career path as the remote-friendly nature of the work allows for the freedom to explore.
How much does it cost to become a computer programmer?
Because the education requirements for computer programming jobs vary widely, so does the cost of becoming a coder. Most programmer jobs require a relevant bachelor’s degree - the average net price (after financial aid) for a bachelor’s in computer programming is $18,981, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For those seeking more entry-level coding roles or just don't have the time and money for a bachelor’s, the average cost for a programming associate degree is $12,314, and the average cost for an accelerated coding boot camp is about $13,000.
How much do computer programmers make an hour?
The average pay for computer programmers is $46.46 per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is well above the average hourly wage for all jobs in the nation which is $28.01.
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