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How To Become A Computer Programmer: Degree and Career Guide
You may find a great appeal in telling people that you are a computer programmer. Perhaps you have heard someone else call themselves a computer programmer, or perhaps you have always found yourself naturally drawn to the path of digital and computer operations.
If this is something that has always tickled your fancy, let us take a closer look at how you can pursue this career path.
The basic steps that you would need to follow would be to first learn and gain experience in computer programming, find a specialty, build a portfolio, and gain experience. From here, you can refine your skills, advance your qualifications, and grow your career as a computer programmer.
Let us take a closer look at this career path and how you can ultimately pursue this career path.
What Is A Computer Programmer?
We often take our digital functions for granted. We know that we have a plethora of information available to us and we often don't stop to ponder how this information got to us. All we do is hop onto our phones or our computers and access this information without forethought.
The only way this information was made available to us was through the mastermind and work of a computer programmer whose duties are dedicated to designing and developing the technological functionalities that exist in the digital sphere. They are the architects who design and develop the digital interfaces that many people use.
Using program language or code, computer programmers write, test, and conduct maintenance of digital programs to create the interfaces and digital software that people use almost every day.
Working together with others in a digital software team, they work hand-in-hand with software developers, and software engineers to create the instructions a computer receives to carry out a specific task or function.
Over and above doing the creation and maintenance of a digital program, they also play a direct hand consistently updating the programs as the need arises. The reality is that if a program is left the same way it was without being updated, it will not be functional. Everything in the world constantly needs to be updated and software is no different.
This means that they are responsible for finding and fixing bugs that may exist in a software program, reducing the number of errors that a program faces, and troubleshooting issues that users may find. This means that, for the most part, a computer programmer's job never ends. This is actually beneficial in this field because you know for a certainty that you have a certain level of job security and that your role will never be obsolete.
Steps To Become A Computer Programmer
Step One: Learn Programming
The first step to becoming a computer programmer is to learn to program or to have an understanding of what programming is. This is something you can either familiarize yourself with on your own, or you can pursue a traditional degree program, an online degree program, or you can attend a technical institute or coding boot camp.
This gives you a variety of options to earn a qualification without necessarily pursuing a traditional program.
Step Two: Choose A Field Of Specialty
Once you have the knowledge and expertise in this field, you can then decide to specialize in a specific field within programming. You could decide to pursue software development, front-end development, back-end development, full-stack development, or several other sub-fields within computer programming.
Step Three: Gain Experience
It is important to not only have knowledge and expertise in the field of computer programming but also have the ability to apply your skills in a practical setting. You could either pursue an entry-level role or you can consider getting an internship to gain practical experience.
Step Four: Build A Portfolio
It is now time to showcase your skills and your knowledge. You need to be able to show samples of your work and your abilities so that potential clients can gauge your skills and experience. This is an opportunity for you to get extremely creative because you can use real-time examples of work you have previously done for clients, you can use samples that you have created specifically for your portfolio, or you can use examples from your own personal websites.
Step Five: Maintain Your Expertise
Considering that the field of computer programming is always developing and advancing, it is important for you to stay abreast of the developments that take place in the field. This would mean taking smaller short courses and placing yourself in a position to constantly develop and learn as new opportunities present themselves within the field.
What Are The Education Requirements For A Computer Programmer?
While it is not always a necessity, many companies may require potential employee candidates to have a degree in the field of computer programming. There are several traditional degree options that you could choose from, namely an associate's degree which is a two-year course, a bachelor's degree which is a four-year program, or a master's degree which is an additional two-year program on your bachelor's degree qualification.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Computer Programmer?
There are several skills that you will need to be successful in your career as a computer programmer. You would need to have hard skills in computer programming such as skills in a programming language, software development, data structures, data algorithms, databases, an understanding of Linux, C++, NET, C#, and SQL, as well as a deep knowledge of coding.
You will also need to have a number of soft skills such as communication skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills, organizational skills, an ability to multitask, and a keen attention to detail.
Considering that your work environment may be vastly different in different organizations, you would need to have a keen and sharp focus, and you would need to have patience.
What Environment Does A Computer Programmer Work In?
As a computer programmer, you will work in multiple diverse fields. You will work in multiple different sectors in a variety of different industries because each and every organization requires programs to carry out their specific functions.
Additionally, while you may work in-house for a large organization as a part of their software engineering and digital team, you may also work as a consultant in a digital development organization, or you could work for yourself or as a freelancer. This gives you the freedom to dictate how you operate within your career.
As a computer programmer, you also work alone quite often, giving you the freedom to work remotely, and you may find yourself spending long hours sitting in a chair in front of your computer. However, you may also have the opportunity to collaborate with other software developers and software engineers, allowing you the versatility of working quite successfully with or without a team.
Salary And Job Outlook For Computer Programmers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer programmers earn a median annual salary of $93,000. The projected job outlook for computer programmers expects to see a projected decline of 10% over the next ten years, but despite this decline in employment, about 9,600 job openings will be available on average each year. These openings are primarily a result of people who exit the labor force or who transfer from out of the field.
Are The Disadvantages Of Being A Computer Programmer?
All careers have upsides and downsides, and computer programmers are no exception. However, there are some instances when the codes that you develop do not work. Also, if you do work remotely, this career can make you feel isolated.
Can I Become A Computer Programmer Without A Degree?
While many employers may prefer someone who has a degree or a qualification, you can still pursue a career as a computer programmer by attending coding boot camps.
If computers are your passion and you find an attraction to the technological and digital aspects of life, then this may be the best career path for you to follow. Having a natural inclination to the field, coupled with a pursuit of education in this field, you can experience multiple successes.
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