Software Programmer Career Facts

A software programmer's job can be a smorgasbord of tasks. Programmers are the mechanics of software, as well as the creators. Their jobs often involve handling multiple programs and languages.

The work environment

This is a profession based on personal skills. Programming is highly technical, and frequently difficult, work. Programmers work in different environments depending on their specialties. They're often distinguished by the type of programming they do.

Types of programming work include: 

  • Java programming: Working with Javascript programs.

  • Applications programmers: Working with particular program functions or tasks.

  • Systems programmers: Programmers may have to deal with a range of issues related to system communications and make different parts of the system work together.

This is a selection of common issues for programmers:

  • Making programs run on systems: This is troubleshooting in its most literal form, and may involve complex delving into programs and compatibility issues.

  • Debugging: Another classic problem for all programmers, this can involve rewriting code in detail, just to get programs to run.

  • Working with old codes on new systems: In the US, a lot of old code exists on systems and it's naturally difficult to operate.

  • Repairing programs: Restoring program functions after failure.

  • Expanding programs: This is an "evolution" of programs into new forms.

  • Testing programs: Before a program can operate, its running has to be checked for proper operation.

  • Patching: Programs with errors, serial running problems or security issues have to be patched, and this work is quite common in higher level programming jobs.

Although programmers don't work on IT help desks, they're just as likely to get emergency repair jobs and be given the truly difficult program problems. They operate as the in-house problem solvers. All of the tasks here may be part of a daily workload and, although some jobs are basically routine, others require a lot of time and effort.

The development environment

A quite different environment is the development environment, where programmers build new programs. This is the media image of the programmer, creating new software. It's a big money environment for expert programmers, and the professional competition is intense.

This work can be in the form of projects, research and development, and other advanced areas of programming. This work may include all aspects of basic programming environments. The software development programmers are also required to debug new programs, difficult work, because there are many fewer known fixes in new software and in these cases even the debugging processes have to be developed.

The career environment

Although computer programming does involve a lot of hard work, the rewards are excellent for those who hit the upper levels of the profession. Computer programmers aren't just "people who work with computer programs". In many cases they invent those programs and share in intellectual property rights which may be worth billions of dollars.

Computer programmers have earned their reputation as the new monks of technology. They're largely responsible for the massive advances in computer technology. In the 1970s, 1kb of computer RAM was the leading edge of computer science. Now, it’s multi-gigabytes. Computer programmers are the drivers of the future.