Computer Programmer

Computer Programmer career image of data and application programming visualized in a colorful abstract digital collage
Career Clusters: Information Technology

What you need to know


Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

What is this career like?

Programmers usually work in offices, most commonly in the computer systems design and related services industry. Because writing code can be done anywhere, many programmers work from their homes.

Some of the things a computer programmer might do:

  • Write programs in a variety of computer languages, such as C++ and Java
  • Update and expand existing programs
  • Test programs for errors and fix the faulty lines of computer code
  • Create and test code in an integrated development environment (IDE)
  • Use code libraries, which are collections of independent lines of code, to simplify the writing

Watch this video to learn about some of the things our computer programmer role models do in their careers:

What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: Computer programmers must understand complex instructions in order to create computer code.
  • Concentration: Programmers must focus their attention on their work as they write code or check existing code for errors.
  • Detail oriented: Computer programmers must closely examine the code they write because a small mistake can affect the entire computer program.
  • Troubleshooting skills: An important part of a programmer’s job is to check the code for errors and fix any they find.

Watch this video to learn more from our computer programmer role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for computer programmers in the United States was $99,700 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 6,700 new job openings for computer programmers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of computer programmers is projected to decline 11 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower. This ongoing trend is projected to limit employment growth for computer programmers in the United States.

Despite declining employment, many openings for computer programmers are still projected. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

What education is required?

Most computer programmers get a degree in computer science or a related subject. Programmers who work in specific fields, such as healthcare or accounting, may take classes in that field to supplement their degree in computer programming. In addition, employers value experience, which many students gain through internships.

A computer science degree gives students the skills needed to learn new computer languages easily. Students get hands-on experience writing code, testing programs, fixing errors, and doing many other tasks that they will perform on the job.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Computer Science.

Watch this video to learn more from our computer programmer role models: