Computer Programming: Career Exploration For Students

Computer programming

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Curious about computer programming as a career? In this post, we’ll talk about what Computer programmers do, why they are essential for the economy, what skills you need to be a programmer, industries you can expect to work in, schools and programs that will equip you for a programming career, and other resources.

So, what is computer programming? It is the process of writing code that instructs the computer, an application, or a program on how to function. Basically, computer programming consists of providing the computer with sets of instructions to facilitate specific actions.

So you’re probably thinking apps, software, and other digital tools. That’s right! But it’s so much more.

This quote describes it simply:

Computer programming is nothing but communicating tasks to the computer in their language. But without it, there would be no cell phones, no Facebook, no Twitter, no television, no fans, no cars and absolutely nothing that runs on a programmed code. There would be no automatic cars, no Google to help you along every step, no social media platform. Even the medical technologies like prosthetics are based on codes. Life would truly be medieval without codes.”  by Kinjal Sethia

Check out this video for a little glimpse into what programmers actually do.

 

Skills needed for a computer programming career

So let’s talk about the skills you need to be a successful computer programmer. Some of these are hard skills like analytical and logic skills required to understand complex instructions to create viable computer codes; While others are soft skills like strong attention to detail, communication, and problem-solving skills.

You also need to be independent and self-motivated, possess a sharp memory and the ability to persevere in order to be a successful computer programmer.

Industries that require computer programmers

Some of the industries you could potentially work in as a programmer are: Administrative & Support, Construction, Manufacturing, Arts and Entertainment, Mining, Finance and Insurance, Media, Real Estate, Retail and Wholesale Trade, Transportation, Healthcare and Social Assistance, etc.

The title you hold and the role you perform will depend on your specialization as a computer programmer. For example, Computer and Information Research Scientist, Computer and Information Systems Manager, Computer Hardware Engineer, Computer Network Architect, Computer Support Specialist, Computer Systems Analyst, Database Administrator, Information Security Analyst, Network and Computer Systems Administrator, Software Developer, and Web Developer.

Economic outlook

Computer programmers are some of the highest-paid professionals in the US. The top 3 highest paying regions for computer programmers are Washington with an annual mean wage of $164,610, the District of Columbia with $117,350, and California with $103,790. You can find the annual mean wage for computer programmers in your state or the state you’re interested in working in by visiting the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics website. You find the link on our resources page.

Your next steps

There are various routes you can take to become a certified computer programmer. You can choose to pursue a Bachelors in Computer Science which can usually be completed in 4 years. Some top learning institutions to acquire a bachelor’s in Computer Science are UCLA, Stanford University, MIT, Cornell University, and Columbia University. There are also many state colleges and Universities with excellent computer science programs. You can use a directory to search for relevant institutions in your desired state.

You can also choose to pursue an Associate Degree in Computer Science, which takes about two years to complete.

As many professionals will tell you, there are also other non-conventional means to acquire the skills to become a computer programmer. One of them is through online learning. With online learning, you can either choose to enroll in online schools that offer full computer programming courses such as West Governors University, Champlain College, Davenport University, Bellevue University, etc or you can choose to get certified for each specific programming language you study. For example, you can choose to learn Python or C++ and get a certificate to prove your skills in that language.

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If you’re interested in computer programming as a career, you can check out some of the schools mentioned here. Visit their website and search for more information. You can also contact the program representatives, and I’m sure they will be happy to provide you with more information on their school and admission process. Most of the schools I have mentioned also offer financial aid and scholarships should you happen to need help funding your studies.

The ball is in your court now.

Do your research. Talk to your guidance counselors at school or professionals who can help you understand more about the field. Research schools and programs that will be a good fit for you and, most importantly, believe in yourself and keep your dreams alive.

Please share this post and don’t forget to check out the Computer programming video and other career exploration videos here.

See you in the next one.

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