The language of technology
At the most basic level of the job, a computer programmer writes the code that tells a computer what actions to take. They also test those instructions to make sure that the result is as expected and that the process is the most efficient way to complete a task.
The job is very analytical because you have to determine exactly which steps will take you where you want to go, and allow you to do what you want to do. The computer program created tells a computer what information is needed, what needs to be done with it and where it can be accessed. It's like a road map for your PC!
Schools and Education
The nature of computer education lends itself to the online environment - all you need is a PC and some guidance! Some of the best online computer programming programs are found at schools that focus on a computer and IT education.
Learning a New Language
Learning the ins and outs of computer programming is just like learning a new language - because that's exactly what you're doing. Computers don't understand word-based languages like English, but instead operate on their own codified language that typically consists of numbers and symbols. There are a number of different computer languages, and most programmers will be literate in more than one. That way, their skills are easily transferable between different companies and systems.
Types of Programmers
Programmers are often divided into two types: applications and systems. While a programmer can be either of the two, or even both, there are definite differences in the responsibilities involved in the two jobs.
Applications programmers work in a specific industry, and design programs that best address the requirements of their place of business. They work primarily with software applications (hence the job title!) and work to creatively solve problems and anticipate future needs.
Systems programmers work with the software that unites a number of computers into one system (again, hence the job title!). They program the ways in which a group of computers will react to a number of situations. They may also be involved in monitoring what each computer in a system is doing, and are usually responsible for the maintenance of a network that includes a group of computers and printers.
As is true with other industries, a computer programmer can expect to find a wide range of salaries available. Wages are dependent on the size of the company you work for and the level of responsibility involved in your job. However, some of the lowest paid computer programming jobs usually start around $46 000 a year and salaries can top out well above $100 000 a year.