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Careers in Computer Applications

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in computer applications. Read on to learn more about career options along with job duties and education requirements.

What Careers are Available in Computer Applications?

In general, computer applications professionals design and develop software and computer applications, help implement and test software, and write instruction booklets for potential users of the software. Three possible careers in computer applications include computer programmer, software developer and computer systems analyst.

Computer programmers code software to make it operable by computers. This may involve taking programs developed by software developers and writing the coded instructions computers use to run it. Often they are trained to use programming languages such as C++ and Java. Once they have completed this step they test the software to ensure it operates correctly.

There are two different types of software developers; applications software developers, and systems software developer. Applications software developers create software that complete specific tasks for users, but is not required for the function of computer system. These types of software may include data bases, spread sheets, word processors and games. Systems software developers create the software that compose an operating system, necessary for computer operations. Before starting a project, professionals in both professions meet with clients to determine their software needs. They then determine what programs are used in that software and map out how they work together. Following this step, they assemble the software and run it through a series of tests to determine if it's functional and meets the client's needs.

Computer systems analysts are hired to help companies determine their information technology needs. They need to have a strong knowledge of the technologies available to improve a company's IT system and how to incorporate those technologies in existing systems. They may also be hired to create and install new systems. They manage the installment of these systems, then test the systems to ensure they work as planned. Finally, they train users how to use the system.

The table below will give you an overview of what you need to know about entering this career field.

Computer Programmer Software Developer Computer Systems Analyst
Degree Required Bachelor's degree, or associate's degree in some cases Bachelor's degree; master's degree preferred in some cases Bachelor's degree; master's degree preferred in some cases
Education Field of Study Computer science Computer science, software engineering Management information systems
Key Responsibilities Write programs in various computer programming languages, update existing codes, run debugging programs to test for and fix errors Design and test software, construct flowcharts to tell programmers how to write software Analyze new software and technologies to determine if it could benefit an organization, write instruction manuals for the software's users, prepare cost-benefit analyses of the program for management
Job Growth (2018-2028) -7%* 26%* (for applications software developers); 10%* (for systems software developers) 9%*
Median Salary (2018) $84,280* $103,620* (for applications software developers); $110,000* (for systems software developers) $88,740*

Source: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Computer Applications Professional?

While working as a computer application professional, you work with a team of specialists to develop, design and implement software systems, applications and networks. If you work as a software developer, you may also help identify user needs and assist with the design, coding and testing of new software programs and platforms. Additional responsibilities include collecting data and compiling research documents in order to create and analyze diagrams and flowcharts.

What Skills Do I Need?

In order to execute computer tests, you troubleshoot, analyze, debug and fix software and network defects. You need to be familiar with a variety of software platforms and applications as well. It's important to understand coding languages such as C++, Java, Ruby, Python and PHP, as well as CSS and HTML. As a computer application professional, you have to perform object-relational modeling, software modeling, database design and software architecture.

What Type of Degree Should I Earn?

Earning a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science or computer engineering is one of the basic requirements for a full-time position as a computer application professional. If you want to become a software developer, you may want to earn a degree in computer programming. After graduation, you must have knowledge and experience of at least one programming language, as well as an ability to perform and develop tests, and generate system reports.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2018, computer programmers earned a median salary of $84,280 per year. In the same year, applications software developers and systems software developers earned $103,620 and $110,000, respectively. Additionally, computer systems analysts earned median salaries of $88,740 in 2018 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Computer and information systems managers typically have a bachelor's degree and are responsible for ensuring companies meet information technology goals. This involves managing computer related activities as well as ensuring security. Computer hardware engineers are responsible for designing the physical components used in computer systems. In addition to needing a bachelor's degree, these professionals need to research what hardware technologies are available in order to make proper assessments. With a professional or doctoral degree in computer science, individuals may go on to become a computer and information research scientist. These professionals develop new uses for existing computer technology as well as new computer technologies.