The exact responsibility of employees termed computer programmers will vary from company to company. In their simplest form they are those that develop both the instructions that computers use to operate and the languages that those instructions are written in. A computer program allows a computer to perform a particular operation and a programmer writes the code that said program is made of. They do this by taking the designs that have been developed by software engineers and writing code that causes a program to execute according to those designs.
Computer programmers can roughly be divided into applications programmers and system programmers. Applications programmers develop specific applications and programs. They work with other computer experts such as software engineers to create various types of software such as games and accounting programs. Systems programmers on the other hand work in a far broader field developing entire operating and network systems. Applications programmers are currently the most common type of programmers.
Creating programs can involve the use of multiple different programming languages. As a result of this the majority of computer programmers will know more than one language. The creation of a particular type of software will generally require far more skills than just programming and as such it is common for computer programmers to work as part of a multi disciplinary team. It is a common misconception that programmers work alone on front of a computer but this is actually very rarely the case and as such strong communication skills are essential.
Almost all industries employ computer programmers but the most are found in the software publishing and system design industries. Though this varies from country to country, there are a very high percentage of computer programmers that work on a freelance basis. It is common for a company to require a computer programmer just for an individual task that could last anywhere from a week to a year. It is simply more economical for them to hire someone on a short term contract and hence demand for independent contractors and consultants in this field is always high. Because of this many computer programmers go on to set up small computer programming companies that cater to this demand after gaining just a few years of experience.
There are no set educational requirements to be a computer programmer. Many employers value candidates with practical experience in programming over graduates. Therefore a degree is not strictly necessary. Despite of this however the majority of those employed as computer programmers do indeed have one and twenty percent have studied at a postgraduate level also.
As well as high demand for candidates with practical programming experience, many jobs require specific skills. As more and more programming languages emerge, knowledge of said languages puts an applicant at a distinct advantage, particularly languages with advanced technical features. Possessing other skills such as business or management skills is also highly valued.
If a candidate does not have practical experience, there are many ways that said experience can be gained. For a start, there is an endless amount of opportunities to contribute to open source projects online. There is also very few types of practical experience that can beat a particularly impressive portfolio of personal projects. Becoming a computer programmer is essentially all about showing a potential employer your skills.
The growth in the demand for computer programmers over the next decade is expected to be in line with other industries. However this growth is expected to encompass a decrease in the demand for programmers without specialist knowledge. . Programming that does not require specialist knowledge or design skills is expected to be increasingly out-sourced to countries where it can be done at a lower price. This is expected to be offset however with an increase in the demand for programmers with either design skills or knowledge of new and emerging specialist programming languages.
Did you know?
- The size of the worldwide software industry in 2008 was estimated to be $303.8 billion which illustrates a 6.7% increase over 2007.
- The size of the worldwide software industry is expected to increase by over 50% in between 2008 and 2013 to $457 billion.
- To buy a share in Microsoft in 1986 you needed to shell out twenty six dollars.
- To buy the same share in Microsoft now would cost you over six thousand dollars.