Computer programmers, or coders, use computer languages to create programs across many different technological platforms. Working as a coder can be a lucrative and fulfilling career once you've gained experience in the field. You can continue to increase your earning potential as you gain expertise in a particular specialization.
In this article, we explain how much coders make, list top-earning careers for computer coders, tell how you can pursue a career as a web developer and share areas where you can use coding.
How much do coders make?
The national average salary for a computer programmer or coder is $48,381 per year. However, once you specialize in a certain area of coding, you have the potential to earn a higher wage.
Salary expectations differ based on your job location and years of experience. Some of the highest-paying areas for coders include parts of New York, California and Texas.
Read more: Q&A: What Is Coding?
Highest paying states for coders
Computer coders can earn the highest salaries in the following states. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please check Indeed Salaries.
How to become a coder
Consider following these steps to begin your career as a computer coder:
1. Get familiar with coding language
Before you enter a coding training program, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most used coding languages like Java, Python and C platforms. Working from a base knowledge of the main coding languages may help you progress more easily through training courses. You can actually teach yourself a lot of coding without going through a program, however, it may still be better to complete official training, so you become a stronger candidate for potential jobs.
Here are some ways you can begin to expand your knowledge of computer coding:
- Using tutorials: Look for interactive coding tutorials that will help take you through the steps of beginning and some advanced coding methods.
- Take free online courses: Many reputable websites offer free online coding classes where you can begin to understand the basics of coding languages and programming. You can choose courses that focus on one coding language or others that teach multiple coding languages. This is a good way to prepare for a more official training program.
- Play games: Coding games are a fun way to get used to simple coding commands. You can find a large variety of online games or mobile apps that teach coding through gaming platforms. Some games may even teach you more advanced coding structures.
- Follow coding professionals online: Find blogs, podcasts and video channels dedicated to coding instruction and information. Reading from thought leaders in the industry is a great way to get to know more about a career in computer coding before you get started.
2. Enroll in a training program
There are multiple options for training and earning an education as a computer coder:
- Go through coding bootcamp: Coding bootcamp is a training program that introduces you to the major coding languages. One of the benefits of training through a coding bootcamp is the accelerated class schedule. You can learn coding basics in a shorter timeframe than it takes to earn a degree, allowing you to begin working as a computer coder more quickly.
- Earn a degree in computer science: A four-year degree in computer science may provide more marketable credentials to help you earn a position after you graduate. Over the course of your degree program, you'll learn basic and advanced coding languages and processes. You'll also have the opportunity to pursue a specialization within the coding industry. When searching for four-year degree programs, make sure you find one from an accredited university.
3. Network with other professionals
Even before you graduate, start creating your networking circle by attending career training seminars and forming networking relationships with other students, instructors and other professionals you meet. Find industry events, participate in internship programs and seek out mentors from the technology sector. Many professionals are ready to help incoming computer coders who ask for assistance and advice getting started in their careers.
4. Find a position in the tech industry
Entering the technology industry as a beginning programmer may take you on a different career path than you first expected. You may find an opportunity in an entry-level position that gets you started in a big tech company. Once you begin to gain experience, it can be easier to move to a more ideal job within the company or a similar workplace. You may be able to use your networking connections to help you secure a beginning position.
Read more: 20 Ways You Can Learn To Code
Below are the main specializations for computer coders:
A software coder specializes in creating and formatting computer software programs. They write the code that instructs software to perform various functions including word processing, creative design programs and other industry-specific platforms. Software coders also perform checks on the systems they design, completing program updates as needed.
Computer and network security coder
Computer coders who specialize in network and computer security use their programming skills to identify and eliminate potential threats for users. Security coders test programs and may need to repair systems as they isolate risk factors. These coders learn to use encryption techniques to complete a forensic analysis when a breech compromises a system.
A computer hardware coder is responsible for writing all the system language a piece of equipment uses to operate. This means creating all hardware system files that make a computer work from powering on to shutting down. These coders may help write the interface between a computer and human user including dialog instructions used to run programs and operate the machine.
Web coding or web designing is a popular specialty for computer coding professionals. With so many internet-based programs for cloud computing and general website content, web designers can find niche areas within this broad area of coding. Web coders write language that controls the entire look and interactivity of a website from eCommerce to graphic displays.
Coders working in app development create applications for smartphones and other mobile technology. They are involved in testing apps to ensure an engaging and functional user experience through mobile platforms. Computer coders who learn to work in this part of the tech industry may design their own application programs, work for small firms or create for major developers.
5 top paying computer coding jobs
When you learn coding language, you can work in many different positions including the following. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each job title below.
National average salary: $76,754 per year
Primary duties: Web developers write the computer code for the front end and back end of websites. They work with clients and other computer professionals including graphic designers to create the overall appearance and functions of a website. Web developers perform diagnostic tests to make sure all software systems are operating correctly. They may also need to make periodic changes to websites due to software updates.
Read more: Learn About Being a Web Developer
National average salary: $77,245 per year
Primary duties: A computer systems analyst uses their coding and computer knowledge to examine and evaluate data systems. They prepare reports and communicate data needs with other technology professionals. System analysts research current data and technology trends to advise users and upper level management on the changing role and structure of data warehousing.
Read more: Learn About Being a Systems Analyst
National average salary: $95,720 per year
Primary duties: Computer engineers write and design systems to test computer hardware and networks. They are responsible for creating the coding for programs used in a variety of computer platforms both for software and hardware. A computer engineer also manages the operating systems of computer hardware.
National average salary: $97,405 per year
Primary duties: Database administrators oversee the functions and performance of database systems. They check for efficiency and lead programmers in solving problems to correct database malfunctions. A database administrator may be responsible for maintaining user accounts, updating old databases to merge with new or existing systems and testing any changes made to databases.
National average salary: $107,722 per year
Primary duties: A software engineer is responsible for working with a client to develop a software program according to their needs and specifications. Software engineers work with other computer coding professionals to manage projects and create code for software programs. Their duties may also include assessing software systems for necessary updates or revisions.
Read more: Learn About Being a Software Engineer
Ways to increase your salary as a coder
Here are some ideas that can help increase your wages as a computer coding professional:
- Earn additional certifications: Most computer programming languages offer certification courses and official licenses once you pass an exam. After you earn a certification in a specific language, you have the opportunity to work as an expert using that particular code.
- Move to a technology center: Some areas of the United States are hubs for computer technology including major cities in California, Texas and New York. Relocating to a location with a high number of tech jobs and opportunities may also provide you with a job that compensates you more.
- Consider earning an advanced degree: A master's degree in computer science can provide increased opportunity for leadership roles within the coding industry