Masters in Computer Programming: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about possible careers with a master's degree in computer programming. Examine typical job duties and earning potential for various positions. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers write, update, and expand computer code to create and revise software programs. They're also able to test for, identify and fix malfunctions. They often work alongside software developers, which leads to program design. In the design stages, it's decided how code needs to be written and how to make an application suitable for systems interface. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Write programs in specific computer languages
Coordinate with software developers
Identify and debug programming errors
Training Required Certification in specific programming products
Job Outlook (2014-2024)-8%*
Median Salary (2015) $79,530*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Jobs Can I Apply for with a Master's Degree in Computer Programming?

A master's degree in computer programming can qualify you for advanced programming positions. After graduation, you may start working as a second-level programmer or lead programmer and, with experience, eventually take on more supervisory roles. You may work for software publishing companies, management companies, insurance firms, finance firms, universities and scientific laboratories. In addition to working as a computer programmer, you might qualify to work as a software technician, consultant or software engineer.

Depending on your interests, you could also pursue a more specialized programming career and work as a network, scientific, applications, systems or artificial intelligence programmer. Individuals with business experience could become programmers or systems analysts for businesses and organizations.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Computer programmers have fairly similar job descriptions regardless of their places of employment or industry. However, the specific programming languages you use and types of programs you write will be based on the particular needs of the company or organization for which you work. You may develop a proficiency in one language that is used most often in your industry, such as Java, Python, Visual Basic or C++, or you may switch between multiple languages in your work.

The majority of computer programmers are responsible for coding a set of instructions, usually designed by software engineers, into a programming language that the computer can read. You might also write documentation to explain the purpose and function of each program for other users. Additional duties can include maintaining, updating and resolving issues with existing programs, including testing and debugging programs on an ongoing basis.

If you're employed as a specialized programmer, you may have slightly different responsibilities. For instance, systems programmers prepare computers for whatever applications they will run. This can include allocating enough memory on the computer, establishing the priorities of computer functions and setting up other equipment that the computer will control, such as printers. Applications programmers are responsible for writing, coding, testing and debugging detailed program designs for scientific or commercial institutions, which may include manufacturers, banks and businesses.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of computer programmers was $79,530 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The top paying industry employing computer programmers was computer systems design and related services, paying an average annual salary of $84,370.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers include computer and information systems managers, computer hardware engineers and computer network architects. Computer and information systems managers work to meet the information technology (IT) needs of an organization, such as document security or equipment maintenance. Computer hardware engineers develop protocols for advancing technology, such as circuit boards and processors. Computer network architects create communication systems, like intranets. All of these professions require a bachelor's degree for entry.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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