What you need to know before becoming a programmer

Programmers write, test, and troubleshoot code for software and applications. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% decline in U.S. programmer employment between 2020 and 2030, due to global competition. However, the median annual programmer salary is more than double the median annual wage for all occupations.

Despite the competitive landscape, high-quality opportunities exist for the right programmers. Here, we examine what these professionals do, what they make, and what they need to qualify for employment. 

What’s life like as a programmer?

In general, computer programming involves coding for computer software and applications. Your job duties as a programmer may include:

  • Designing and writing programs in various programming languages
  • Troubleshooting and updating existing code
  • Testing and debugging code
  • Creating or refining code libraries
  • Rewriting code to work on various platforms

Programmers may need knowledge of multiple programming languages, including C++, Java, and Python. If you’re still learning to program, consider checking out a Java bootcamp, Python bootcamp, or coding website.

Programmers should also have problem-solving and analytical skills. 

According to the BLS, industries employing the most programmers include computer systems design services, finance and insurance, and manufacturing. Programmers may work with software designers and developers, software engineers, other programmers, and clients. 

Programmer work-life balance

Programmers typically work full-time hours within a traditional business work schedule. However, they enjoy location flexibility and can work remotely in many cases. 

Most programmers work on deadlines, which can become stressful to meet if problems or errors slow them down. Programming isn’t among the least stressful jobs in tech.

In the fast-changing technology world, continuing education is very important. Programmers who wish to stay ahead of the competition regularly refresh and update their knowledge and skills. They may master new programming languages and platforms. 

Programmer salaries: What can you expect?

Programmer salaries depend on many factors, including experience, the type of coding job, and your qualifications and skill set. According to the BLS, the median annual salary was $89,190 in May 2020. The top 10% of professionals earned over $146,050. 

Salaries vary by industry, too. In software publishing, programmers earned median annual wages

Read More... Read More

How to get a job as a game programmer

Our guides can help you to find the right path to the games industry job of your dreams. You can read our other in-depth guides on how to get a job in the games industry on this page, covering various areas of expertise.

Despite the myriad of fields coming together in the creation of a video game, the game developer cliché is often one of the reclusive, nerdy programmer coding in a corner.

This isn’t not only a misrepresentation of how games are made, but also of how programmers work.

Programming is a creative field that requires technical knowledge and lots of interpersonal communication with other disciplines in order to pin down entire systems and mechanics, fix bugs, create rules, and just code an entire world to life.

“The job of a programmer is to understand a problem, figure out the best solution for that program given a set of constraints, and model that set of solutions as a series of well-engineered abstractions,” sums up Rodrigo Braz Monteiro, CTO at Chucklefish.

Monteiro has been a programmer in the games industry for 16 years, and climbing through the ranks at the Wargroove developer since 2016. We asked him and three other programmers with varying seniority levels how one can come to be in this role.

Rodrigo Braz Monteiro was lead programmer on Chucklefish's Wargroove

Rodrigo Braz Monteiro was lead programmer on Chucklefish’s Wargroove

What education do I need to get a job as a games programmer?

Programming is a field that requires hard skills, meaning that a traditional educational path can be beneficial, for those who can afford it and who are receptive to that approach.

“I have a BSc in computer science and engineering, and an MSc in artificial intelligence,” says Duygu Cakmak, who has been a programmer for over a decade and is now project technical director at Creative Assembly. “I think my education was closely aligned with what I wanted to do, and I would recommend a similar path to people who would like to follow a similar formal route in education.”

Nikhil Ramburrun, gameplay programmer at Ubisoft Toronto, recommends looking into either a

Read More... Read More