Programmer Analyst: Salary and Career Facts

Programmer analysts develop new software applications and upgrade existing ones. Learn about the salary potential and education and training options for this career. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Programmer Analyst?

As a programmer analyst, you will design, code and test original software or customize computer programs purchased from vendors. You may work work closely with vendors to analyze and test their product before going to market. Proficiency in a variety of coding languages is essential to this profession. You'll likely work with other programmers, software developers and related IT personnel.

The following table presents an overview of this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer science, software engineering or a related field
Key Responsibilities Work with programming languages, maintain client-server databases, develop workflow charts, manage operational problems
Projected Job Outlook (2014-24) -8%* (computer programmers); 21%* (computer systems analysts)
Median Salary (2017) $65,664**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bachelor's degrees are required for those working in both programming and systems analysis positions. For systems analysts who perform highly technical tasks, the BLS reports that a master's degree may be beneficial as well. You can earn a bachelor's degree in management information systems (MIS), computer science or a related area. At the graduate level, you can pursue a master's degree in MIS or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with an information technology concentration.

In a MIS bachelor's degree program, you'll gain business skills and receive an education in computer macroeconomics, managerial accounting, systems analysis, database management and business programming. Programs in computer science and related areas tend to focus more on information technology, with popular course topics involving operating system architecture, programming logic, database management and network security. Master's degree program curricula may differ based on area of study, and you'll learn advanced concepts relevant to your career of choice. Required course topics may include object-oriented design and programming, data mining, business outsourcing and information technology project management.

What Will I Do As a Programmer Analyst?

Duties of a programmer analyst include examining company databases, networks, and any other computer programs or applications. If you see potential for an improvement or upgrade based on user needs or technological advancements, you'll also be responsible for programming the application to the new specifications. Programming may entail working with engineers to create algorithms or other data structures, as well as actually entering programming code into the computer to make the application operable.

You need to be familiar with several programming languages; C++ and Python are both examples of frequently used programming languages. For large-scale projects, you may use automated systems to speed up the programming process. Once your programming is complete, the finished product can be installed on office computers and accessed daily.

What Is My Salary Potential?

According to Payscale.com, programmer analysts had a salary range of $45,084-$90,262 and a median of $64,664 per year, as of January 2017. The BLS does not currently collect salary data specifically for programmer analysts. However, it reported median annual earnings of $85,800 for computer systems analysts and $79,530 for computer programmers as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One related career might include working as a computer hardware engineer, planning and designing computer products like processors, circuit boards, and wireless memory devices. You might consider working as a database administrator, which involves organizing and storing information for a variety of businesses. You would be vital at keeping high-priority information safe and secure. If you're interested in networks, you might look into working as a computer network architect, a job that entails designing and building local access networks or wide area networks.

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:

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