Computer Programmer

As a computer programmer you design and create the software tools that make computers tick and computer users sail through their tasks. You analyze, design, develop, test, and maintain computer and Internet-based applications.
You evaluate the project requirements, participate in design meetings, determine the best solution to a problem or feature, and develop detail design specifications. You use development tools and programming languages in creating software. You identify and obtain the best tools and resources to do the job. You are also responsible for documenting your work for those who follow in your footsteps. And of course, you have to test your work to make sure there are no pesky bugs by developing a test plan and coordinating user acceptance testing.
Some projects demand a year or more of intense, focused work. You stay on top of current trends, tools, and skills. With your creativity and problem solving skills, the challenge is the reward-the career opportunities are endless.
Computer Programmer
As a computer programmer you design and create the software tools that make computers tick and computer users sail through their tasks. You analyze, design, develop, test, and maintain computer and Internet-based applications.
You evaluate the project requirements, participate in design meetings, determine the best solution to a problem or feature, and develop detail design specifications. You use development tools and programming languages in creating software. You identify and obtain the best tools and resources to do the job. You are also responsible for documenting your work for those who follow in your footsteps. And of course, you have to test your work to make sure there are no pesky bugs by developing a test plan and coordinating user acceptance testing.
Some projects demand a year or more of intense, focused work. You stay on top of current trends, tools, and skills. With your creativity and problem solving skills, the challenge is the reward-the career opportunities are endless.
Employment Outlook and Salary Survey
Background and Training Required
Sample Training Road Map
Associations and Additional Resources
Employment Outlook and Salary Survey
The Bureau of Labor Statistics\' 1998-99 Occupational Outlook Handbook <http://stats.bls.gov/ocohome.htm> projects computing professional employment will increase by 36 percent or more through 2006-much faster than average. The Microsoft® Skills 2000 July 1998 Skills Gap Survey of Microsoft solution providers and corporate customers reported 647,000 current openings and projected hires over the next 12 months. Thirty-four percent of the current job openings were for computer programmers, sixteen percent for software engineers </skills2000/jobs/softeng.htm>, and six percent for Web developers.
Current and Projected Openings over the Next 12 Months
Key Job Shortages Openings %
Computer Programmer 220,954 34%
Software Engineer 105,095 16%
Technical Support 84,416 13%
Network Specialist 67,136 10%
Database Administrator 50,140 8%
Web Developer 37,959 6%
Computer Analyst 24,362 4%
Technical Trainer 21,246 3%
Webmaster 12,464 2%
Multimedia Specialist 11,898 2%
Technical Writer 11,331 2%
Total 647,000 100%
Check out these additional resources-including salary surveys </skills2000/aboutIT/opportunity.htm>-on the employment outlook for information technology professionals and computer programmers <http://www.tcm.org/html/resources/cmp-careers/cnc-programmer.html>.
Background and Training Required
There is no universally accepted way to prepare for a job as a computer professional. While a bachelor\'s degree is often required and relevant work experience is also very important, many people develop computer skills while working in other fields. Technical or professional certification </skills2000/startIT/msTrain.htm> is becoming a common way to measure a level of competency in prospective employees. Entry-level employees enhance their employment opportunities by participating in internships </skills2000/startIT/msTrain.htm>. Having a related background in the industry-say, financial services, banking, or accounting-is also beneficial, and the continual study of new technologies is necessary to keep skills current. (Source: 1998-1999 Occupational Outlook Handbook <http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos089.htm>)
Top skill areas for current job openings for computer programmers supporting or developing Microsoft products, based on the 1998 Microsoft Skills Gap study, are
Microsoft Visual Basic® programming system
Desktop applications such as Microsoft Office
Microsoft SQL Server™
Desktop operating systems (Windows® 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT® Workstation)
When considering applicants\' background and experience, on-the-job training/experience is the most important factor, followed by a computer science or equivalent degree, a bachelor\'s degree, and certification-level training. Additional soft-skills include, in order of rank: good communication, analysis, and project management.