Computer Programmer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Computer Programmer, or Systems Programmer, writes code to help software applications operate more efficiently. Their duties include designing and updating software solutions, writing and updating source-code and managing various operating systems.

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Computer Programmer duties and responsibilities

The following are the duties and responsibilities of a computer programmer:

  • Reviewing operating systems and software frequently and making any adjustments necessary to keep them running well
  • Writing code and implementing computer programs on multiple systems in the business
  • Building and using computer-assisted software engineering tools to automate some coding
  • Performing all requirements needed for the implementation of automated computer systems from start to finish
  • Using code libraries to simplify the writing of code
  • Collaborating with software developers in the creation of programs for their organization
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What does a Computer Programmer do?

Computer Programmers typically work in the information technology department of an organization developing and managing its computing infrastructure and different software systems. They review an organization’s current software programs and find ways to update and enhance them for users. 

Computer Programmers are also responsible for finding and bugs or defects in the system and implementing methods to get rid of these issues and prevent them from reoccurring. They may also build status updates and reports on the functionality of programs and present this progress to senior-level employees.

Computer Programmer skills and qualifications

Computer Programmers need skills that allow them to create effective programs for their clients and employers. A successful Computer Programmer candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Ability to find and fix any errors in programs, systems and software
  • Comprehension of algebra concepts to apply to data and to generate reports
  • Ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines, handle multiple tasks and set priorities
  • Willingness to work independently or with a team
  • Analytical skills when creating computer code
  • Attention to detail
  • A bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields where these skills are studied in depth

Computer Programmer salary expectations

A Computer Programmer makes an average of  $46,188 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Computer Programmer education and training requirements

Computer Programmers can have an associate’s degree, but most programmers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics or information systems. Programmers who work in a certain area like health care can get certifications or take classes to supplement education. They can also get certified to work on specific programming languages a company uses. If your business requires a specific certification, then a candidate who already has or is willing to get certified in the particular products you use is a strong point.

Computer Programmer experience requirements

Employers typically look for Computer Programmers with previous experience in the field. For entry-level positions, it’s helpful for the candidate to have internship or volunteer experience. For more advanced positions, general business experience where leadership tasks were taken are good. Anywhere from one to five years of direct computer programming experience is also a nice addition to have as a candidate for a computer programmer position.

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Frequently asked questions about Computer Programmers


Do Computer Programmers hold different responsibilities for different industries?

There are many industries Computer Programmers may work in where they mainly share similar responsibilities. Most work in a business’ office within the information technology helping them build their platform or software system and provide updates and improvements when customers report them. 

Others may work for government entities to build user-friendly databases for both employees and community members to access. They may also work for private sector businesses, like banks or law firms, helping them build functional systems that enhance their workday efficiencies. Some Computer Programmers with extensive experience work independently traveling to different companies adding updates and enhancements to their software systems. 


What makes a good Computer Programmer?

An effective Computer Programmer should have advanced coding knowledge and abilities, as they’re regularly adding updates and fixes using various coding languages, like C++, Java and HTML. They should also be able to focus and concentrate for several hours at a time, since they’re usually handling complex programming and coding situations that last a while. System users regularly approach Computer Programmers with complex errors and bugs, so they must have problem solving and critical thinking abilities to provide creative solutions. 


What's the difference between a Computer Programmer and a Software Engineer?

Both of these roles share many similarities when it comes to building and fixing software applications, but they have many differing qualities. Software Engineers focus on designing full application programs that meet the users goals and needs. They usually develop the big-picture goals and functionalities of a program for Software Developers and Computer Programmers to eventually take over and provide updates and enhancements for. 

Software Engineers usually act as the architect of certain programs as they develop the overall system and then work with developers and programmers to build and maintain it further. Computer Programmers work more closely with the program and use coding languages to apply updates and fix bugs as they arise. 


Who do Computer Programmers report to?

The person a Computer Programmer reports to typically depends on the industry and environment they work in. If they work in an information technology department, they often have an Information Technology Manager who addresses any big-picture items or technical issues the company may be facing. 

If the Computer Programmers have several software application projects they work on, there may be a Project Manager the Computer Programmer reports to that plans and builds strategies, then delegates responsibilities to the Computer Programmers. 

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