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Computer Programmer Salary Range

    Job Description

    • Computer programmers write sequential instructions that detail how a computer is to process information. Programmers are often at work on a variety of projects, the specific nature of which depends on the individual employer. They receive comprehensive instructions from systems analysts or computer software engineers that explain the goal of the program. Then, a computer programmer often prepares system flow charts that depicts how information will flow through the computer and its related equipment. Finally, the programmer writes the actual program using the necessary "computer language," such as HTML and XML for web applications, and COBOL for business applications. Afterwards, the programs are tested in the debugging process, and any errors are corrected. It can take up to a year to write a complicated computer program.

    Work Environment

    • Computer programmers find work for employers in the manufacturing, engineering, government, medical and educational industries. They can be asked to work independently or as part of a team. Programmers tend to work extended hours in order to meet deadlines, and those who are employed for a consulting company must sometimes travel to a client's location for work purposes.


    • Prospective computer programmers should begin their preparation in high school, taking classes in mathematics, computer science and physics, while simultaneously learning computer languages or basic programming outside school. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or information systems, in addition to competence in the major programming languages. Potential employees should also be familiar with database systems like Oracle and Sybase. National courses are available to individuals who wish to become certified in the major languages, such as C++, Java and XML.

    Salary Range

    • As of July 2009, the average salary of a computer programmer in the United States is $73,000, though this number varies according to experience, education, industry and location. According to a survey conducted by the Economic Research Institute in 2005, the entry-level salary for a computer programmer is $48,481, while programmers possessing considerable experience can bring home an annual salary upwards of $89,931.

    Job Outlook

    • Employment opportunities for computer programmers are projected to decline slowly, at about four percent, over the course of the 2006 to 2016 decade. This will be largely due to recent advancements in programming languages and tools that enable more users to design, write and implement their own programs. Thus, computer programmers are expected to be replaced by computer software engineers and other kinds of information workers.

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