What Is the Typical Salary for Entry-Level Computer Programmers?

The nature of a computer programmer's work varies greatly, and thus so do typical starting salaries. Some possible job titles include software developer, applications programmer and systems programmer. Read on to learn more about the entry-level salaries for each of these careers. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

Computer programmers in general made a median annual wage of $84,280 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Additionally, PayScale.com reported that entry-level computer programmers earned a median wage of $54,707 as of May 2019. The BLS stated in May 2018 that average salaries for some of the industries employing most of these professionals included $89,550 for computer systems design, $105,150 for software publishing, and $87,250 for company and enterprise management. Notable job titles for computer programmers include software developer, applications programmer and systems programmer.

Important Facts About Computer Programmers

Key Skills Analytical, detail-oriented, problem-solving
Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree
Median Salary (2018) $84,280 (for all computer programmers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -7% decline (for all computer programmers)
Similar Occupations Information research scientists, computer hardware engineers, software developers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Software Developer

Computer programmers who work in software development typically work with other experts to create custom software for clients. Software may include gaming, financial and educational programs. These programmers create the coded instructions for the program to work. Those who made applications software were paid a median wage of $103,620, while those who made systems software earned a median wage of $110,000 in 2018, per the BLS.

PayScale.com reported that software developers in general made a median wage of $76,031 in 2019. The median wage for entry-level systems developers was $72,079.

Applications Programmer

Specialists in applications development create customized programs for clients to accomplish specific tasks. These professionals might alter existing programs or create new ones using different types of programming languages, such as C++ or Java. PayScale.com reported that the median salary for an entry-level applications programmer was $56,059 in May 2019. The median salary for those of all experience levels was $63,084.

Systems Programmer

Systems programmers write programs that manage networks, databases and operating systems. These programs oversee the tasks and communication between various computer components that run programs. These professionals often work with applications programmers, who do not have as broad knowledge of computer systems as a whole, notes the BLS.

Although a salary figure for entry-level professionals was not available, PayScale.com reported in 2019 that the median salary for an operating systems programmer was $95,000.

Education Options

Many entry-level computer programmers have associate's degrees, but companies are coming to expect new employees to have bachelor's degrees with majors in computer or information science, according to the BLS. Having a strong background in programming languages may improve your chances of landing a job.

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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