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Computer Programmers are responsible for creating code that essentially tells a computer how to operate. They write, test, and maintain these coded instructions, also referred to as programs. The work of programmers has been expanded in today's world, due to the innovative and advanced technologies that now exist. Programmers are now heavily involved in all aspects of technical problem solving for companies. Common computer languages that programmers use include COBOL, C++, BASIC, Java, and HTML. Most programmers know several computer languages because they tend to be similar, making them relatively easy to learn.
Programmers are usually referred to by the language or function they specialize in, for example Java programmers, or Internet programmers. They are also usually separated into two main types, applications and systems programmers. Applications programmers write code to handle a specific function within a company, for example, order tracking. Or they may update and change a company's current computer programs or purchased software.
Rather than focusing on individual programs, systems programmers are involved in creating code for entire computer, network, and database systems. Because of their involvement in the system as a whole, they are often able to assist programmers in troubleshooting errors in various programs. It is common in smaller companies for a combination of these two types of programmers to exist; this position is commonly referred to as programmer-analyst. These individuals are responsible for both the programming work and systems maintenance within a company.
Characteristics of programmers have changed in recent years, with more emphasis being placed on communication and people skills, as today's business world tends to focus more and more on teamwork. Candidates will also need to be analytical and detail-oriented thinkers who possess a great deal of patience.
A day in the life?
Education and training
While degrees are important in this field, employers tend to place more emphasis on work experience. This means that recent college graduates with good GPAs are having a hard time finding work because of their lack of practical experience. In general, those individuals with less education but strong knowledge and experience in several programming languages will have a better chance of finding employment than recent graduates. Therefore, students should try to take advantage of available work opportunities, including internships and work co-ops, while attending school.
Continuing education is extremely important for programmers, as software and technologies are constantly changing and advancing. Programmers seek out trade shows, seminars, periodicals, and professional education classes to keep their skills up-to-date and remain competitive in their field.
Job prospects will be best for those applicants with college degrees and experience in different languages and tools like C++ and Java. Those with vendor or language certifications will also have an edge in the job market, as well as those with up-to-date skill sets and practical work experience.
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