Learn about the career field of software applications programming, and explore job options. Get info about the required education for working in this field, and check the salary potential.
Software programmers take algorithms and instructions and turn them into codes that a computer can understand. Computer software applications engineers sometimes do programming work, but the majority of the coding is usually done by programmers. Computer programmers develop, modify and test computer applications and make comments in the code so other programmers can understand the program.
Programmers typically work in an office or laboratory setting. You usually work a standard 40-hour week as a software applications engineer or computer programmer. You should have good communication skills, because you often design programs and write code with other programmers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that software application developers would see a 23% increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022, which is considered to be much faster than the average growth of all occupations during that period of time (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that this significant growth will be mostly due to the increase of products being offered that use software. Computer programmers would experience an 8% increase in employment openings. In 2013, the BLS also reported that computer programmers earned a median annual income of $76,140, and software application developers earned $92,660, so opportunities for higher salaries are also possible.
You can find some programming jobs with an associate's degree, but employers may prefer to hire applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science. Software applications engineers need at least a bachelor's degree, and some positions may require a master's degree. Certifications can give you an advantage over other applicants who have comparable education and experience.
Degrees such as an associate's degree in game design can give you the basic skills needed to become a software applications programmer. This type of program may offer courses such as C++ programming, multimedia programming, web scripting and portfolio presentation. If you are interested in completing a bachelor's degree in computer science, some schools offer a concentration in software development. After you complete core courses in calculus and basic computer operations, you can choose courses such as game development, computer architecture, programming languages, parallel algorithms and computer graphics.
Each programming language has different certification options. For instance, Oracle offers the Sun Certified Java Associate, Sun Certified Java Programmer and Sun Certified Java Developer designations for programmers who use the Java programming language. It is a good idea to check out different vendors that offer certifications for the programming language you use. You can obtain most certifications by passing an exam and having work-related experience.