All You Need To Know About A Programmer Career

You think about becoming a computer programmer but still need to get additional information before making your final career choice?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about working as a programmer in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much programmers can make, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, career prospects, future outlook, work-life balance, duties, educational requirements and much more.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a computer programmer or rather want to go for a different career instead.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does a Computer Programmer do?

Programmers write, change, test and enhance code and make sure that software applications and operating systems work as smoothly as possible to provide the best possible performance for customers so that people all over the world can work and use their computers in an efficient manner.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Computer Programmer

  • Writing code for software applications and operating systems
  • Changing and enhancing existing code to make it more efficient and versatile
  • Adjusting code according to latest technological developments
  • Adjusting code to make software more secure
  • Troubleshooting system errors and other issues related to programming
  • Debugging
  • Designing computer structures
  • Assuring high level of privacy
  • Making sure that personal data is protected properly
  • Complying with data protection regulations

What a Typical Day of a Computer Programmer looks like?

Most computer programmers get to work between 7 and 9 a.m.

The first thing they do is to check their mails and answer them to assure proper workflow.

After doing some organizational work, programmers get to their actual tasks and write code for operating systems and computer software.

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Not only will programmers work on their own projects, but they will also have to frequently coordinate themselves with software engineers and other parties involved in the process of creating the best software possible for customers.

Hence, while you should be good at working alone for many hours, you should also be a team player who accepts critical feedback if you want to stay successful in this field in the long run.

After working in this style for many hours, you will usually finish your workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Computer Programmer Salary 2021

Computer Programmer salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $139,000> $69.42
Top 25 %$115,000 – $127,000$57.41 – $63.47
Bottom 25 %$62,000 – $67,000$30.88 – $33.39
Bottom 10 %$44,000 – $51,000$21.93 – $25.44
Range$44,000 – $153,000$21.93 – $76.48
Average (Mean)$87,000$43.39
Median$83,000$41.43

Computer Programmer salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$44,000 – $63,000$21.93 – $31.45
Junior$61,000 – $82,000$30.43 – $40.89
Professional$79,000 – $94,000$39.44 – $46.92
Senior Professional$92,000 – $121,000$45.93 – $60.48
Expert$118,000 – $138,000$58.88 – $68.92
Top Expert$136,000 – $153,000$67.94 – $76.48

Computer Programmer salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$76,500$38.23
Alaska$82,800$41.37
Arizona$81,600$40.78
Arkansas$79,800$39.79
California$92,900$46.42
Colorado$86,300$43.13
Connecticut$84,200$42.09
Delaware$86,800$43.37
District of Columbia$88,200$44.08
Florida$87,500$43.74
Georgia$82,100$41.03
Guam$81,600$40.79
Hawaii$86,900$43.41
Idaho$79,800$39.87
Illinois$80,500$40.23
Indiana$82,600$41.28
Iowa$83,800$41.88
Kansas$81,900$40.93
Kentucky$79,700$39.82
Louisiana$83,700$41.83
Maine$82,900$41.44
Maryland$85,800$42.88
Massachusetts$87,300$43.61
Michigan$81,500$40.72
Minnesota$82,400$41.18
Mississippi$79,700$39.83
Missouri$77,600$38.79
Montana$82,800$41.37
Nebraska$85,300$42.63
Nevada$84,700$42.32
New Hampshire$87,200$43.58
New Jersey$88,500$44.22
New Mexico$81,100$40.59
New York$93,800$46.88
North Carolina$84,200$42.07
North Dakota$81,900$40.94
Ohio$83,200$41.58
Oklahoma$85,100$42.53
Oregon$80,700$40.34
Pennsylvania$84,500$42.22
Rhode Island$83,400$41.68
South Carolina$81,800$40.83
South Dakota$85,200$42.58
Tennessee$83,700$41.82
Texas$84,900$42.41
Utah$82,100$41.03
Vermont$85,800$42.89
Virginia$87,200$43.58
Washington$89,300$44.63
West Virginia$83,100$41.54
Wisconsin$84,100$42.03
Wyoming$78,600$39.27

Job Security of Computer Programmers

Computer programmers enjoy pretty high job security since they are in high demand right now and there is a lack of qualified programmers in many regions.

Consequently, you will almost have freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for and also don’t have to worry about losing your job since you will find a new one pretty easily.

Future Outlook of Computer Programmers

Not only do programmers have excellent job prospects right now, but they also have a pretty good future outlook since due to our technological progress, our world will become increasingly digitalized and computer programmers will be crucial for making this transformation.

Thus, they don’t have to worry about becoming unemployed anytime soon.

Working Hours of Computer Programmers

Computer programmers usually start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Thus, you will work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and while many other people like investment bankers have to work long hours almost every day, you as a programmer will have more than enough time to meet up with your favorite people after work or to spend with your family.

Job Satisfaction of Computer Programmers

Most programmers are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make good money while they still enjoy pretty high job security and also have more than enough time to spend with their loved ones.

Promotion Opportunities of Computer Programmers

Computer programmers don’t have that many promotion opportunities.

They will just work on similar things over and over again and it will take quite long until you get additional responsibilities.

Career Levels of Computer Programmers

  • Programmer intern
  • Junior programmer
  • Senior programmer
  • Senior programmer leading a team
  • Manager of a programming team
  • Manager of a software development company
  • Owner of a software development company

Fields and Types of Computer Programmers

  • Programmer focused on writing code for software products
  • Programmer specialized in operating systems
  • Programmer with expertise in bug fixing
  • Programmer focused on testing software
  • Programmer focused on cyber security
  • Programmer specialized in privacy issues
  • Programmer focused on web development
  • Programmer specialized in spotting future trends
  • Programmer focused on desktop applications
  • Programmer focused on mobile

Educational Requirements for Computer Programmers

Programmers need at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology to be able to work in this field.

Many computer programers even hold a master’s degree or have additional qualifications and you will therefore have to spend many years in college if you want to go for this career which also means that you have to spend lots of money on your education.

How to become a Computer Programmer

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a computer programmer
  2. Finish high school with decent grades
  3. Pick your favorite degree in information technology (IT) or a related field
  4. Apply for an internship in the programming industry
  5. Make a good impression during your internship
  6. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  7. Finish your degree with decent grades
  8. Apply for jobs as a programmer
  9. Master the job interview
  10. Sign your labor contract

Character Traits you need as a Computer Programmer

  • You should be willing to always work on yourself
  • Attention to detail helps you avoid programming mistakes
  • You should be open to critical feedback
  • Persistence helps you overcome difficult times
  • Willingness to work hard to become a real expert in the IT sector
  • Ability to adjust your skills dependent on latest technological developments
  • Willingness to work in a field that changes quite rapidly on a regular basis
  • Ability to work alone for an extended period of time
  • Ability to deal with lots of information in a rather short period of time

Computer Programmer Skills

Hard Skills for Computer Programmers

  • Strong logic reasoning skills
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Good math skills are a plus as well
  • Strong expertise in coding
  • Ability to see problems long before they manifest
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Ability to learn concepts and apply them to various problems that might occur
  • Knowledge of latest technological advancements in the IT sector
  • Writing skills
  • Multitasking skills help as well

Soft Skills for Computer Programmers

  • Ability to digest lots of information within a rather short timeframe
  • You should be open to critical feedback to become better at what you are doing
  • Ability to learn new things in a rather short period of time
  • Self-motivation helps you get things done while you work on projects on your own
  • You should be a good listener
  • People skills help you lead a team of programmers
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Good communication skills help you explain yourself
  • Good time management skills help you get things done

Exit Options for Computer Programmers

Programmers have many exit options since people who understand how computer systems work are needed in many fields.

Thus, if you don’t want to work as a programmer anymore, you can still work as a software engineer, IT consultant, digital marketer or computer technician.

Computer Programmer – Similar Careers

  • IT consultant
  • Software engineer
  • Digital marketer
  • Blogger
  • YouTuber
  • Influencer
  • IT service technician
  • IT analyst
  • Administrator for IT systems

Computer Programmer Career FAQs

Is working as a computer programmer physically demanding?

Working as a computer programmer is not physically demanding since you will do most of the work with your brain and will only use your hands to type code.

Consequently, you will not have to work in the same heavy physical manner compared to carpenters or many other craftsmen out there.

Is working as a computer programmer mentally demanding?

Being a programmer can be mentally demanding since you will have to solve complex software problems all day long and this can really stress your nerves quite a lot since only minor mistakes can mess up the entire code and may lead to serious trouble.

Thus, you always need to stay focused at work to avoid problems in this regard.

Is it dangerous to work as a computer programmer?

Working as a programmer is not dangerous since you will work in a rather safe environment and your risk of suffering from serious accidents at work will be rather low.

However, still make sure that you don’t catch a computer virus ;).

How long do computer programmers stay in their jobs?

Programmers often work in this field for many years or even decades since most of them really like what they are doing and are also pretty happy with overall working conditions.

Therefore, they don’t have a strong motivation to quit their jobs anytime soon.

Is it easy for computer programmers to find a new job?

It is pretty easy for programers to find a new job since computer programmers are in high demand right now and almost have freedom of choice for whom they want to work for.

Is it hard to switch from being a programmer to another field of work?

If you no longer want to work as a programmer anymore, it is also pretty easy to switch from being a programmer to an IT consulting career or to work in a related field since people who know how computer systems work are needed in many fields and will have an easy time finding a job.

Do computer programmers have a high social status?

Programmers have a pretty decent social status.

While many of your friends will admire what you are doing for a living, you will still not have the same high social status as a programmer compared to doctors or other people who can save the lives of people on a regular basis.

Can you help out your family and friends as a computer programmer?

As a computer programmer, you can also do good for your loved ones since you can help your family and friends will many computer problems and your loved ones will therefore get support in this regard pretty quickly without having to rely on other third parties to fix their problems.

Can computer programmers work remotely?

Programmers can work from home almost all the time.

Thus, while many other people who have to be present at work in person have to spend lots of time and money commuting to work and back, you as a programmer will not have to worry about these things since you can work from everywhere as long as you have a working internet connection.

Is it easy to find a partner as a computer programmer?

Programmers have a rather easy time in the dating market since they make decent money while they also benefit from high job security and a decent social standing.

Consequently, programmers are considered good providers and have a rather easy time finding a partner for a long-term relationship.

Do computer programmers have to work on weekends?

Programmers don’t have to work on weekends but can rather spend those days making nice trips with their families or on their favorite hobbies.

Do computer programmers have to work on holidays?

Computer programmers also don’t have to work on holidays but can rather relax during those days or spend them with their favorite people.

Do computer programmers have to work at nighttime?

Programmers don’t have to work at nighttime.

Instead, most programmers work in a standard 9 to 5 environment and will have more than enough time to meet up with their favorite people after work.

Do you have to travel as a computer programmer?

There is no need to travel for computer programmers since you can work remotely almost every day as long as you have a working internet connection.

Thus, while many other people are away for business trips quite often, you as a programmer will not have to deal with those issues but will have more than enough leisure to spend with your family and friends.

Are computer programmer pensions good?

Thanks to their good salaries, programmers receive pretty decent pensions.

Moreover, many of them are also able to save and invest enough money during their active careers and don’t get into financial problems once they finish their careers and retire.

Are computer programmer salaries going up?

Programmer salaries have been going up significantly over the past years since there is a lack of qualified programmers in many regions.

Consequently, with rather limited people who are able to work in this field and pretty high demand for qualified people in this industry, wages will likely also go up in the near future.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a computer programmer?

While you will do an important job to keep our IT systems running, you will still not have the same high social impact as teachers or professors who can really shape the thought process and the attitude towards life of many people on a daily basis.

How long does it take to become a computer programmer?

Since you need to get a college degree for working as a programmer, it will take you at least 3 years to start your programmer career.

However, it can also take much longer if you want to get additional education or if you are just a slow learner who needs more time than the average person in this field.

Is it difficult to become a computer programmer?

Since you will have to get lots of formal education, it can be pretty tough to become a programmer.

IT degrees are not easy to get and you will have to spend lots of time studying hard if you want to get your degree with decent grades.

Do you need to be smart to work as a computer programmer?

While you don’t need to be a genius to work as a programmer, you should still have an above-average IQ to pass your exams and to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run since you will often have to work on complex projects.

Do computer programmers have a good work-life balance?

Programmers enjoy pretty good work-life balance since they don’t have to work on weekends and holidays and also don’t have to work in the late evening or at nighttime while they are still able to make really good money from what they are doing.

Do computer programmers have to work many extra hours?

Programmers don’t have to work much overtime. In most cases, they just have standard workweeks and don’t have to deal with lots of time pressure.

Thus, in case something doesn’t work out as planned, programmers don’t have to work many extra hours but rather quit their workday as usual and get back to work the next morning.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a computer programmer?

The more experience you get as a programmer early on, the more value you can provide to companies once you apply for jobs in this industry.

Thus, make sure to work as an intern at a software development company or in different fields in the IT sector while you are still in college to learn some practical skills and to also make some contacts that could help you find a job later on.

Can computer programmers work part-time?

Computer programmers are also able to work part-time.

However, most programmers still work full-time since they want to make as much money as possible and also really like what they are doing.

Do computer programmers work indoors or outdoors?

Programmers work indoors and don’t have to worry about adverse weather conditions outdoors as garbage collectors, roofers and many other people have to do on a regular basis.

What does the workplace of a computer programmer look like?

Computer programmers usually work in a classical office environment or also work from home quite often.

Thus, you will be rather flexible regarding how your workplace will look like and how you want to decorate and furnish it to feel as well as possible during work.

Do you have to look good for working as a computer programmer?

You don’t need to look good as a computer programmer.

If you work remotely from home, your looks will not matter at all since people will not even see you and you will even be able to work from your bed if this is what you like to do.

Is a computer programmer career beneficial for your private life?

Since you can make good money and enjoy decent job security while you will still have free weekends and holidays and also don’t have to work at nighttime, being a computer programmer can be greatly beneficial for your private life since you will have a rather easy time planning your life.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a computer programmer?

You need at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a related field to be able to work as a programmer and this means that you will have to spend some time in college and also spend lots of money on education before can make significant money with your skills.

Do you need to be certified to work as a computer programmer?

While you don’t urgently need to get additional certifications apart from your college degree for becoming a programmer, it can still help having additional qualifications to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible.

How much does it cost to become a computer programmer?

Since you will have to spend some years in college, you will also have to spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college education and you may also have to take on student loans to finance your degree which you have to pay back later in your life.

Is being a computer programmer a good career?

Working as a computer programmer can be considered a good career since you can make good money while you still don’t have to work many extra hours and also don’t have to deal with lots of pressure at work compared to many other people out there.

Is it easy to start your own business as a computer programmer?

It is pretty easy for programmers to start their own business since they don’t have to spend lots of money on machinery or other equipment upfront but can rather start out with just a single computer and scale from there once they have built a solid customer base.

Can computer programmers teach themselves?

Programmers are able to teach themselves many skills they need on a daily basis.

However, they still need to get a college degree in IT to be able to work as a programmer for most companies out there.

Do computer programmers make good money?

Computer programmers can make good money from what they are doing and can make far more than the average person.

However, you will still not be able to make as much money as a programmer compared to dentists or judges who will make far more on average.

Is it ever too late to become a computer programmer?

While it is never too late to become a computer programmer, technology advances at rapid speed and the older you get, the harder it may be for you to adjust to current trends and the less flexible you might be in general.

Thus, it still makes sense to start your IT career as early as possible.

Do computer programmers have to quit their careers early?

Since programmers don’t have to work in a heavy physical manner, they can often work until they reach official retirement age while many other people like welders will often suffer from physical health problems and will have to quit their careers early before they get to retirement age.

What is the hardest thing about working as a computer programmer?

The hardest part about being a programmer is that the computer industry changes quite rapidly and what has been state-of-the-art just a few years ago might already be outdated by now.

Hence, you will always have to adapt to those changes if you want to stay ahead of the game in the long run.

Can you provide for your family by working as a computer programmer?

You will have a rather easy time providing for your family as a programmer thanks to the good money you are able to make from your job and will also be able to afford some luxury for your loved ones.

Will computer programmers suffer from old-age poverty?

Programmers usually don’t suffer from old-age poverty since they receive decent pensions and are also able to save and invest enough money during their active careers so that they don’t get into financial trouble once they get older.

Can computer programmers retire early?

While programmers can make decent money, most of them still can’t retire early since they are not able to save enough money compared to doctors or consultants who can often already retire in their 50s or even 40s.

Do computer programmers get a fixed or variable salary?

Programmers often mainly get a fixed salary while their variable component is rather low.

However, the more senior you get, the higher your variable component usually gets.

Can you get rich as a computer programmer?

While you can make good money as a programmer, you will still have a hard time getting rich.

If getting wealthy or even rich is your goal, you should not work as an employed programmer but rather start your own IT business or work in the financial or medical industry instead.

Do computer programmers need a second job?

Programmers usually don’t need a second job to pay their bills since they can make good money from what they are doing and barely struggle financially at all.

Do you get continuous training as a computer programmer?

You will also get lots of training as a computer programmer since you always need to stay up-to-date with latest technological developments.

However, it is also on you to hone your craft to become a real expert in your field.

Do you get sick pay as a computer programmer?

Most programmers also get sick pay.

However, if you are not sure in this regard, you should ask your colleagues or other people who work in the IT sector in your region to get additional information on this topic.

Do computer programmers have a high level of responsibility?

Programmers don’t have a high level of responsibility.

Even though their mistakes may lead to financial losses for the company they work for, programmers still don’t have the same high level of responsibility compared to doctors whose mistakes could really take away the lives of many people.

Can computer programmers work abroad?

Programmers are able to work from all over the world since they are location-independent as long as they have a working internet connection.

Thus, you will be pretty flexible when it comes to where you want to spend your life.

Is it stressful to work as a computer programmer?

Being a computer programmer is not that stressful.

Even though you will have to use your brain quite a lot, you will still not have that much time pressure and can spend your time at work in a rather relaxed manner.

Is it boring to work as a computer programmer?

Working as a programmer will also not become boring since you will work on many interesting and demanding projects and will have to use your brain quite a lot to solve complex issues along the way.

Is being a computer programmer hard?

Working as a programmer is not hard from a physical standpoint.

However, you still need to stress your brain quite a lot to find solutions to complex problems that may occur during your projects.

Are computer programmers at risk of burnout?

Programmers are not at great risk of burnout or other mental problems since they don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work most often and can enjoy their workday in a rather relaxed manner.

Is there a dress code for computer programmers?

There is no dress code for programmers.

Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in and don’t have to dress up for work as much as many other people who work in fancy office jobs in the financial industry.

What kind of computer programmers are paid the most?

The more experience you have in the IT sector, the faster you will be able to do your work and the more you will get done.

Consequently, the more senior you are, the more value you can provide for the company you work for and the more money you can make on average.

What percentage of computer programmers are women?

While only around 8% of all programmers are women, 92% are men.

Thus, this industry is still dominated by men and chances are that this will not change in the near future.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a computer programmer?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a programmer.

What’s much more important is that you are willing to really learn your craft and work hard to stay ahead of the game and successful with what you are doing in the long run.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a computer programmer?

As an employed programmer, you will often not be personally liable for mistakes you make at work.

However, you should still consult a lawyer if you are not sure in this regard to be on the safe side.

Do computer programmers have a high life expectancy?

Programmers have a relatively high life expectancy since they work in a rather safe environment and are not at great risk of suffering from serious accidents at work.

Do computer programmers suffer from sleeping problems?

Most programmers don’t suffer from sleeping problems since they don’t have to work at nighttime and can therefore maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

What states are best for working as a computer programmer?

Since you can work remotely as a programmer, you can choose the location you want to live in according to your personal preferences and don’t have to worry about your job in this regard that much.

Who do computer programmers work with?

Programmers often work on their own for a longer period of time.

Thus, if you need lots of social interaction at work, you should not become a computer programmer but rather aspire to a different career.

Is working as a computer programmer cool?

Being a programmer is considered cool by many young people out there.

However, you may also get made fun of by others and you should therefore rather do what you think is best for you instead of listening to the advice or opinions of others in this regard.

Can you start a side hustle as a computer programmer?

It is also easy for programmers to start a side hustle since they often have excellent digital skills and can start a blog or other things that can make money on the side in a rather passive manner.

Do you have to be creative as a computer programmer?

Being creative helps you succeed as a computer programmer in the long run since you will often run into complex problems and need to find creative turnarounds to solve them.

Do computer programmers suffer from being overweight?

Since computer programmers don’t get lots of exercise at work and don’t burn lots of calories during their workday, many programmers suffer from being overweight.

How employable are computer programmers?

Programmers are pretty employable and have an easy time finding a new job in the IT industry.

Consequently, they don’t have to worry about getting unemployed anytime soon.

Are computer programmers happy with their jobs?

Most programmers are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make good money while they still don’t have to work much overtime and can also spend their workday in a rather relaxed manner.

Is working as a computer programmer exciting?

Being a computer programmer is not that exciting since you will do similar things over and over again and may also develop a certain routine rather quickly.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a programmer?

Since you will mainly focus on writing code, your impact on our environment will be rather limited and if you want to protect our environment, you may rather want to become an activist instead of a programmer.

What are the pros and cons of working as a computer programmer?

If you still consider becoming a programmer, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a programmer career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/258157/number-of-software-developers-employed-in-the-us/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1127240/worldwide-hours-worked-developers/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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