How to Become a Computer Programmer

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Computer Programmer? What Computer Programmer do? Degrees for Computer Programmer, Steps to become Computer Programmer and much more.

What does a computer programmer do?

A computer programmer is an individual who writes and tests code for the smooth functioning of a computer application and software. They provide great help in terms of translation of designs ( from software developers and engineers ) to usable and working code. A computer programmer is also responsible for the update and expansion of code along with resolving of faulty and defective lines of code. A computer programmer can largely be divided into two main categories, a specialist - who is skilled in a particular field of programming, or a generalist - who is a programmer that writes code for various types of software. A computer programmer is also integral in finding and fixing any defects or bugs in the software or code.

Computer programmers are technical specialists who write a logical sequence of instructions or 'code' that can control a computer. They may work with software developers and engineers to turn ideas for programs into code, using computer languages such as C++ and Java. Use code libraries, which are collections of independent lines of code, to simplify the writing. The job of a computer programmer is vitally important in today’s digital-focused economy, which is why the number of openings in this field continues to grow. Programmers write code for computer programs and mobile applications. They also are involved in maintaining, debugging and troubleshooting systems and software to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Programming skills are essential for many technology disciplines but are in especially high demand for software and web development roles. 

Steps to become a computer programmer 

The main prerequisite for becoming an accomplished programmer is to have a working knowledge of foreign languages like c++, java, and visual basics. One must also be proficient in math and data analysis. Computer programmers are divided into two types, application programmers and system programmers: whereas application programmers write programs that perform a specific category of tasks, system programmers write programs that maintain and control computer networks, databases or operating systems. Both of these career paths have similar training paths. The main steps involve the following-

Build a foundation in high school

courses like algebra, computer science, foreign language and chemistry to get yourself acquainted with the foundation of basic and general programming. Such classes as English and social studies would get you ready for the general education requirements in college.

A bachelor’s degree 

In order to be employed as a legitimate computer programmer, one must hold at least a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a generalist position. Most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you may consider majors in computer science or computer information systems, among others. However, if you want to write business, engineering or scientific applications, then you might want to take background courses in those subjects. Many schools will allow you to study them as a minor.

Specialization in a computer language 

In order to be considered for a specialist position, one must be skilled and knowledgeable in one or more computer languages ( java, c++ or visual basic ). Take into consideration , specializing in a particular area of programmings, such as database development or Web development. The first involves writing programs that store, retrieve and manipulate data for databases. The second entails building applications that run over the Internet or an organization's Intranet.


 A valuable way to prove your proficiency over a particular computer language ( whether it is java, basic visual or c++) is to get certified. certification would essentially open up many more avenues of employment. For example, the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals confers the Certified Computing Professional and the Associate Computing Professional designations. Microsoft also offers a variety of certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Application Developer, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.

Participate in an Internship

Further, your computer programmer training with industry experienced - this can help you acquire entry-level jobs in the profession. The BLS states that employers look for applicants with relevant experience and programming skills. You may find internship opportunities through your bachelor's degree program. Some companies, like consulting firms, will put you through intensive training programs upon hiring. 

Up to date 

In order to flourish in the ever-changing world of computer programming, one must always be familiar with any developments in their particular field. 

Potential salary for a programmer

The average / approximate salary for computer programmers is $84,280. The best-paid 25 percentile made approximately $109,120 in the year 2018, while the lowest 25 percentile made $64,410 in the same year. The salary of a program is dependent on multiple factors including but not limited to the geography and the skill of the specified programmer. thus far the best paying states for computer programming are : 

  1. Washington- $126,920

  2. Columbia- $105,200

  3. California - $97,470

  4. Arizona- $95,900

  5. Massachusetts -$95,380

Job outlook

According to the US Bureau of labor statistics the projected percent change in employment from 2018 to 2028. The average growth for all occupations relating to computer programing is 5%.

Types of degrees for a computer programing

In order to be an accomplished programmer, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement, as it demonstrates to potential employers that students have developed the ability of problem-solving and a broad range of experience. 

Associate degrees

students interested in programming can always start by earning an associate degree. wherein they will learn fundamental programming skills. They would be trained in entry-level information technology (IT) positions like programing and software designing. this program usually lasts for 2 years approximately at the end of which each student has the ability to analyze what users require and design and develop programs to cater to their needs and requirements. Examples of courses in this particular degree include the following:

  1. Introduction to computing 

  2. Programing fundamentals 

  3. Java programing/data structures 

  4. Computer programing (c++)

Bachelor’s degree

a bachelor’s degree in computer science is a valuable option for aspiring computer programmers. This degree entails the fundamentals of computer programming as well as the mathematical and theoretical backing to the aforementioned proofs. Students develop proficiency in discrete mathematics ( deals with objects that have a distinct value ) potential bachelors degree courses include :

  1. Algorithms 

  2. Discrete mathematics 

  3. Computer architecture

  4. Computer networks 

Masters degree

computer science degrees at a master’s level provide an extensive level of knowledge, including math and theoretical foundations, artificial intelligence, and computer systems. This degree is where students can choose to specialize in an area of their choice. such as a computer or network security. graduates from this degree will have a thorough knowledge in the following areas :

  1. Utilization of software development tools 

  2. Designing and implementing algorithms 

Concentrations for computer programming

Concentrations to consider for becoming a computer programing : 

  • Software engineering -  students learn how to develop software products and services. Such skills depend on gathering expertise in fundamental programming languages, so this degree can aid in the preparation of students for a career as a computer programmer or a software engineer. 

  • Information technology - This degree gives students the skills and knowledge they need to design and develop multi-user networks, as well as to configure and administer complex information technology systems. Coursework also covers application programming, databases, and security.

  • Information systems security -Privacy and information protection are becoming increasingly important in our data-driven society. A degree in information systems security provides a student with working knowledge of how to set up secure networks, use coding languages, and analyze systems.

  • Computer engineering -A degree in computer engineering focuses on the seamless integration of hardware and software components. Professionals in this field must have a solid understanding of computer programming, including the ability to develop, design, and test software or hardware.

  • Computer science - This is the degree of choice for many students planning to become computer programmers. Such programs take a thorough approach to study the uses and operations of computers. They cover fundamental mathematical and computational principles and teach students how to design computer software and hardware systems.

Job Concentrations

Job concentrations for a computer programmer :

The job opportunities for an accomplished programmer are plentiful and generous in nature. a programmer can pursue positions like a support specialist, software engineer, system analyst and so on so forth. A bachelor’s degree would enable you to pursue a general position whereas a master’s degree would enable you to bag a specialist position that would pay significantly more. 

  1. Web developers: a web developer can be further categorized into a client-side and service- side developer. The former is responsible for writing code that determines how the website looks and how the content would be received by the general audience. Service side developers write web apps and other complicated programs.

  2. Software programs: they are inherently responsible for creating software, they usually take a certain design or concept and write and execute the specified code to convert it into a working product.

  3. Data scientists: these individuals are usually concerned with research and academia, where they exclusively python to analyze and manipulate data. The first step toward a data scientist is being a proficient programmer. 

  4. Database administrator: an administrator is responsible for a myriad of roles  but they mainly emphasize taking large amounts of data and securing and organizing it.

  5. Mobile app development: this is a very lucrative and highly profitable job offer as it helps to cater to the rising demand for app development

Skills required for a programmer

  • Reading and comprehension- the ability to understand written instructions is a must. 

  • Problem-solving -  the simultaneous identification and solving of a particular problem or defect is a necessity.

  • Critical thinking - while problems are being solved a programmer must have the ability to weigh all variables and make a calculated decision. 

  • Active listening - it is imperative for a proficient programmer to be an active listener so they can incorporate ideas from their team to make their overall product or venture better and more efficient.

  • Self-reliance - self-reliance extends up to every choice a programmer might make whether it is what computing language to use or the to start from the service end or from the client end. self-reliance is integral for the success of a programmer and is in fact a very important skill to have.

  • Language - but in order to write code, you’ll have to learn at least one programming or scripting language. Python is considered one of the easiest coding languages to learn. It’s free, open-source, and most often classified as a scripting language (meaning it doesn’t require an explicit compilation step). It’s one of the most ubiquitous programming languages. Ruby is a similar beginner-accessible, extremely prevalent scripting language. The knowledge and application of such languages are an essential skill for a programmer.

  • Abstract thinking - Abstract thinking is thinking done without the object of the thought present or even physical. It’s a foundation of coding. Because the written code, and what it produces can never be observed and measured physically, successful coders have to develop an ability to think abstractly, in larger, more comparative ways than they may be used to.