How Do You Become a Computer Programmer?

If you’re considering a career in the high tech sector, you might be wondering how to become a computer programmer. How much education do you need to get started with computer programming? Which academic credentials are useful for maximizing your opportunities in this field? Do you need any certifications? Which industries hire computer programmers? Read on for the answers to these questions and others about how to launch a career as a computer programmer.

Academic Credentials Necessary for Becoming a Computer Programmer

If you’re a US resident and you want to work full-time for a company in the USA, it’s worthwhile to obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field of study. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most computer programmers employed in the USA hold bachelor’s degrees.

It is also possible to become a computer programmer if you have less formal education. This is a niche where expertise is currently more important than academic credentials. An associate’s degree is satisfactory to some employers, and some employers don’t care at all about your level of education as long as you demonstrate an ability to do the job well. The downside to this is that many companies are outsourcing their programming tasks to low-paid programmers outside the USA.

This sort of outsourcing is the primary reason experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics cite for projecting a decreasing number of available computer programming jobs in the future. There’s no shortage of cheap labor available in the computer programming niche.

Computer Programming Certifications

Many tech companies offer certifications to programmers who can demonstrate competence with the company’s product offerings. The following are a couple examples of certifications you might want to consider:

Certification isn’t usually essential for finding a job as a computer programmer, although there are instances where some employers may require it. Certifications can make you more attractive to employers in cases where the certification is relevant to your intended future job description.

Industries That Hire Computer Programmers

Nearly all industries need computer programmers, but some niches have ongoing needs that make them likelier to hire computer programmers on a full time basis:

  • Manufacturers of computer systems
  • Software companies
  • Hosting companies
  • Digital media companies
  • Banks
  • Securities brokerages

If you’re a high school or college student, it could be a smart strategy to decide on a specific industry to target after graduation; then tailor your education accordingly to prepare yourself for working as a programmer in that industry. This is an outstanding way to distinguish yourself from other job applicants who are not as well prepared. If you want to be a computer programmer who works in the banking industry, it could be beneficial to major in computer programming and minor in finance.

Related Resource: What is PERL Programming Language?

Hopefully you now have a clearer idea of the skills, certifications and education that would set you apart from other candidates if you decide to pursue a career as a computer programmer. If you’re positive you have the analytical skills necessary to succeed in this field, it could be lucrative to pursue a programming career; as of 2015, programmers were earning median annual salaries of $79,530. Now that you’re better informed about how to become a computer programmer, you’re empowered to make smart choices about whether to invest your time in obtaining a degree and relevant certifications.