Computer programmers provide valuable services across economic sectors, creating code for software and computer applications and programs. These professionals work in information technology, academia, government service, and medical fields — with additional career opportunities as independent and contract workers.

Requirements for computer programming positions vary, but with advanced education and credentials, programming professionals increase their earning potential and career options. To expand their prospects, computer programmers can network through professional and career resources. Computer programmers should also consider how location factors into their job options.

What Does a Computer Programmer Do?

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and programs to function. They may translate designs from software developers and engineers into workable code. They may also update or expand the code of existing programs or test programs for errors, finding and resolving faulty lines of code.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for computer programmers in the U.S. will decrease by 7% between 2018 and 2028, largely due to the availability of remote workers from countries with lower wages.

Still, programmers with at least a bachelor’s degree and knowledge of the latest programming tools should continue to qualify for lucrative positions in the industry. The BLS reports that computer programmers earned a median salary of around $82,280 in 2018, well above the national median salary. The highest 10% of earners, typically those with the most education and experience, earned more than $134,630 that same year.