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Computer Programmer

Computer programmers can be employed in a variety of work settings - including computer software development and systems design firms, information technology consulting services, and information technology departments in the private sector (e.g., businesses), public sector (e.g., universities), or the government. If you are a computer programmer, you can also be self-employed and work from your own home.

This job usually requires a four-year bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or related at a college or university.

Previous Experience

Previous experience working as a computer programmer in any capacity is preferred. Some companies will prefer that you have worked with a particular type of program before. If this is the case, they will specify this requirement in their job advertisements.
If you have the required education and skills, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways– everybody has to start somewhere!

Job Duties

  • Produce or write computer code for software applications and computer systems.
  • Code instructions and algorithms into computer-readable form.
  • Test computer code for errors and recheck programming for accurate results.
  • Maintain, review, and evaluate current coding and programs for accuracy and quality.
  • Adjust or revise existing computer code if needed.
  • Create, develop, and customize software applications as required.
  • Take direction from managerial and supervisory staff regarding program intent and changes.
  • Work with colleagues (e.g., other programmers) to combine your code with theirs.
  • Support computer users by answering technical questions.
  • Consult with required personnel regarding their programming needs.
  • Perform systems analyses.
  • Gather and write documentation for coding.
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work "Out of the Scene."  If you are working as a computer programmer, you may not be working with the public on a regular basis, although if you are in technical support, you will be helping others with computer problems.   You may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (depending on if you work alone from home or in an office) as well as your supervisor to help meet his/her programming needs. 

Skills / Abilities

Computer Programming and Electronics - You will need to know how to use computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program and write software applications and their packages. This includes the ability to categorize and calculate data. Many of these skills and abilities will be provided by your college education.

Mathematics - Having knowledge of higher level arithmetic, including algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics will be helpful. Many of these skills and abilities will be provided by your college education. However, the foundation for this knowledge will begin with high school-level math.

Critical Analysis and Complex Problem Solving - This job requires the ability to critically examine complex problems by analyzing information or data. It also requires the ability to develop and evaluate solutions based on a critical analysis of the problem.

Written Expression - You will be required to write and spell correctly.

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Organization and Prioritization - This job requires the ability to clearly organize and categorize work priorities to complete your work.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your hands, wrists, and fingers to use and type on a computer keyboard, requiring the use of fine motor skills.

Environmental Demands

Location - A computer programmer typically works indoors in a climate-controlled office setting. If you work from home, you may choose your own work location.

Noise Level - The noise level will be low (fairly quiet).

Lighting Level - The lighting level will be dependent on your employer. If you work in an office setting at work, you may have to work in florescent lighting. If you are able to work from home, then you can choose your lighting level.

Work Hours - This job may have fulltime hours (40 hours per week), during regular business hours (9am-5pm), however sometimes you may be working on a project with a deadline that requires you work more than 40 hours a week. It will be up to your employer to decide if you are allowed to work flex time (working before 9am or after 5pm) and/or overtime. If you work from home, you may be able to come up with your own schedule.

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you sit for long periods of time. It also requires that you work long hours at a computer keyboard, therefore you will need to have good fine motor skills.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting is typically quite clean, although it may be dependent on how well you maintain the cleanliness of your office or cubicle.

Work Attire - Work attire will range - if you are in an office setting, work clothing will typically be business casual clothing. If you work from home, you can choose what you want to wear.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a higher degree of structure and predictability.  This means that you will usually complete the same tasks each day and you may be able to complete these tasks in the same order each day.  You will not always know how long each task should take you to complete.  You will probably work in the same areas each day, and you will probably interact with the same people each day.

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that you will always have some work to do.  When the work pace is steady, you are working at a level “5” on a scale of “1” (nothing to do) to “10” (extremely busy, rushed pace).

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