Cracking the Code: What Do Programmers Do?


Whether you’re at the beginning of your professional career or considering a shift to a new industry, many individuals are drawn to the prospect of becoming a computer programmer, particularly in today’s dynamic and ever-changing technological environment. However, you may have questions, such as: What exactly do coders do? How can one embark on this career path? And what should you expect in terms of financial compensation?

Below we will explore this career path, providing valuable insights, highlighting the essential skills, as well as providing information about salary estimates and job prospects. So, if you’re curious to learn more about the exciting world of programming and discover how to kickstart your journey, read on and learn more about all this profession has to offer.

What Do Computer Programmers Do?

Computer programmers use their expertise to write and test code, enabling computers to perform specific tasks. They employ various programming languages like Java and C++ to translate program designs conceptualized by software developers and engineers into executable instructions for computers.

So, what do programmers do on a daily basis? Well, if you pursue a career in this field, some of your responsibilities will include:

  • Identifying and rectifying bugs or issues in applications by examining and troubleshooting the code.
  • Streamlining the coding process by referring to code libraries and utilizing computer-assisted software engineering tools.
  • Working with software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs.
  • Collaborating closely with web developers and software developers to write code for new programs and mobile apps.
  • Updating existing programs by implementing improvements, such as debugging, language changes, and adhering to coding standards.
  • Analyzing and resolving errors or malfunctions in program functionality.
  • Modifying code to adapt programs for different operating systems.
  • Creating technical guides to explain program functionality to users, analysts, software engineers, and other developers.

How Can You Become a Computer Programmer?


Becoming a computer programmer requires acquiring theoretical knowledge and honing technical and practical skills. In this rapidly growing industry, there are multiple pathways to enter. Below we’ll explore the typical educational qualifications, certifications, and training necessary for pursuing a career in the programming field.


Education is a crucial part of the path to becoming a computer programmer. While the requirements may vary, most employers typically expect candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering, or a related field. However, it is worth noting that some employers may consider candidates with an associate degree, which can be completed in approximately two years. In such cases, it becomes crucial to emphasize and demonstrate relevant programming work experience to compensate for the less advanced degree.

When seeking greater opportunities and career advancement, pursuing a master’s degree in computer science can open doors to a range of positions. A master’s degree provides in-depth knowledge, advanced skills, and specialized expertise in complex programming concepts. Moreover, it demonstrates a high level of dedication and commitment to the field, which can enhance your marketability and competitiveness in the job market.


In addition to formal education, hands-on practical training is a crucial aspect of developing the skills needed to become a proficient computer programmer. While classroom learning provides a strong foundation, gaining real-world experience is equally important. You can acquire training in various ways, such as through internships, cooperative programs, or entry-level positions within the industry.

Another way to train in programming is by building a portfolio of programming projects—working on self-initiated coding projects, developing applications, creating websites, or solving coding puzzles. Additionally, engaging in open-source projects or coding communities can help expose you to different perspectives. Such opportunities will enable you to apply your knowledge in a professional setting, collaborate with experienced professionals, and gain insights into the practical aspects of software development.


Certifications are another tool that can boost your credentials as a programmer and demonstrate expertise in specific programming languages or technologies. Some of the most popular programming certifications of 2023 that can help validate your proficiency in specialized areas of programming are:

It’s important to research and obtain certifications that align with your career goals as well as the demands of the industry.

Where Do Computer Programmers Work?


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Computer programmers work in various settings that depend on the nature of their work and the organization they work for. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the primary industries employing computer programmers are as follows:

  • Computer systems design and related services – 32%
  • Self-employed workers – 9%
  • Finance and insurance industry- 7%
  • Manufacturing industry – 6%
  • Software publishers – 5%

In such cases, computer programmers typically work in office settings, including the option of home offices for remote work.

What Skills Do You Need To Be a Computer Programmer?

To excel as a computer programmer, you should possess a blend of technical and soft skills. Some of the technical skills you should work to improve are:

  • Proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, or JavaScript
  • Understanding and application of algorithms and data structures
  • Familiarity with software development methodologies
  • Knowledge of database management systems
  • Proficiency in web development technologies and frameworks

On the other hand, some of the soft skills that will come in handy are the following:

  • Strong problem-solving abilities
  • Capacity to recognize patterns and trends
  • Attention to detail in coding and program design
  • Effective collaboration and communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills

Remember, this list is not definite, as the specific skills required may vary depending on the programming role or industry. In the rapidly evolving field of computer programming, continuous learning and skill development are vital for staying competitive and adapting to new technologies and trends.

Job Outlook and Salary for Computer Programmers

The job outlook for computer programmer positions indicates a projected decline in employment opportunities in the coming years. According to Long-Term Occupational Projections for 2020-2030, the employment of computer programmers is expected to decrease by 9.9%. However, it’s important to note that despite this decline, there will still be opportunities available for programmers, as there are estimated to be around 9,700 new job openings per year.

Regarding the salary, as of June 2023, the median annual wage for computer programmers in the United States was $72,416. However, salaries can range significantly depending on industry, experience level, location, and other factors.


If you’re intrigued by the world of programming and interested in pursuing a career in it, we encourage you to continue exploring and learning. Although the job outlook for computer programmers is projected to decline in the coming years, opportunities still exist, and as long as you show dedication and work hard, you can still carve out a successful career. Take advantage of the excellent educational programs out there, acquire practical training in any way you can, and consider obtaining certifications that align with your career goals. Remember to stay updated with industry trends and continuously enhance your skills to remain competitive. Begin your journey today and reshape the world one code at a time!

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