How to Become A Computer Programmer

Should I Become a Computer Programmer?

The primary role of computer programmers is to write different codes and develop programs that tell computers what to do. This is usually done by converting software programs, created by software developers, into a bundle of instructions that the computer system can follow.

The field of computer programming is quite multifaceted. In your day-to-day job as a programmer, you will be creating, modifying, adapting, troubleshooting and maintaining different software programs. The most commonly required qualification for computer programmers is a bachelor’s degree. Some jobs accept an associate’s degree holder with a few years of experience under their belt while there are also higher level positions that require a master’s degree.


Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree; Certificate or Associate degree in Computer Science/Programming

Major Requirement

Bachelor’s degree is commonly required.


Programming certification mandatory in some cases.



Key Skills

Programming, critical thinking, complex problem solving, active listening, quality control analysis, communication, inductive and deductive reasoning, web development, database management system software, compiler and decompiler software, object or component-oriented development software, development environment software.               

Annual Mean Wage

$89,580 (May, 2018)

Job Outlook

Decline of 7% in job opportunities expected between 2018 and 2028.

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

To be successful in the field of computer programming, you will need a solid foundation in different web development tools and database management software. You must also be a good communicator and critical thinker in order to do your job well. Gaining command over one or more computer programming languages will be important too.

Career Requirements

Entry-level positions in the field of computer programming normally require a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree may also suffice if you have ample work experience to go with it. However, the majority of employers tend to hire candidates holding an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, mathematics, information systems, software development, etc. Some jobs may require a master’s degree as well.

Steps to Become a Computer Programmer

To become a computer programmer, you will need to do the following.

1)    Complete Your High School Diploma

To start off, you will need to obtain a High School Diploma or an equivalent GED (General Educational Development) certificate. Once you have that, you can then go for specialized education in the field of computer programming.  

2)    Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Aspiring computer programmers normally study for a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, mathematics, computer engineering, software development, information technology, etc. During this program, students take courses in web development, software management, business communication, network essentials, database design, etc.

Another approach is to obtain an associate’s degree while taking on programming projects on the side to gain work experience. You may also skip a formal degree program and learn things online using platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, edX, Udacity, etc. However, a bachelor’s degree is recommended as it is required by most employers.     

3)    Get a Master’s Degree (Not Usually Required Except In Specific Circumstances)

A master’s degree, though not mandatory in most cases, will enhance your skillset and employability. Also, there might be some higher level positions in the field that demand postgraduate education. It will ultimately come down to your career aspirations and the nature of your work.

4)    Hone Your Craft By Mastering One or More Programming Languages

You will not be an expert in all of the programming languages that are currently in use. There are just too many of them. You can, however, specialize in a few that are more in demand such as Visual Basic, C++, Java and Python.

5)    Get a Certification

Obtaining a certification in any aspect of computer programming is not a binding requirement. But, given the intense competition and ever-changing nature of the industry, you can improve your career prospects and certainly get ahead.

Earning a few certifications can show employers your mastery of different languages and put you in good stead. So, go for a certification in your chosen field if you have the chance to do so. Such professional courses are offered by different training and professional development institutes.

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