Computer programmers write code to create software programs, the instructions that computers use to operate. Computer programmers may write, rewrite, test, debug and maintain computer programs and software to help a computer accomplish certain tasks. Using one of many computer languages —such as C++, Java, PHP and Visual Basic – they write what needs to happen in each program, such as storing or retrieving data. Simple programs may take a few hours to create, while complex projects may take years.
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Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree; however, some employers hire workers with an associate degree. Most programmers specialize in a few programming languages. The most qualified applicants for programming jobs will have analytical and logical thinking skills. They need to be able to solve problems and pay close attention to detail in both writing and debugging programs. As their careers progress, they will have to keep up with new programming languages or updates to existing languages.
Earnings vary depending on education and experience, and may begin at around $41,000 and go to as high as $115,000; the median for bachelor’s degree level programmers was $72,630 in 2010.
Employment of computer programmers is expected to increase 12 percent through 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Since computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, companies often hire programmers in countries that have lower wages.