Jobs for Programmers in 2022

Without computer programmers, our world would be vastly different. For starters, you wouldn’t even be able to read this article. That’s because computer programmers are to thank for the architecture of the web pages and apps we use every day. If computer programmers didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be able to check your email on your phone, book a flight on your tablet, or schedule a doctor’s appointment on your computer.

In short, computer programmers are the people who make the software tools that sustain our lives. It should come as no surprise that coding careers are lucrative, flexible, and appealing in so many ways. Jobs for programmers are in high demand and there are countless valued positions available at companies in a number of different industries.

In this article, we’ll explore why you should consider careers in coding and what coding careers can look like for different people.

Types of Programming Jobs

Coding is not a one-size-fits-all industry. If you’re interested in learning more about coding and programming, there are different paths you can choose from to find a position that’s right for you.

First, let’s start with the basics: What is computer programming, anyway? Computer programming happens when someone writes the code that tells a computer what to do and how to act to achieve a certain goal or process. These instructions are what we call computer programs; each time a computer does something — whether it’s sending you to a website or solving a math problem — it’s thanks to computer code. Computer programmers use various coding languages to create software, games, websites, and apps.

Different jobs use different types of coding. An app developer, for example, focuses exclusively on creating apps, so they will often use coding languages like Java and JavaScript; they also need to be big-picture thinkers in order to successfully build an app from scratch into a functional, engaging platform. People who like working on more detailed, complex code, on the other hand, might be more suited for a job in database architecture or administration.

Of course, there are app developers and database administrators in many different types of companies. Your interests, whether they be in healthcare or gaming, may also dictate the jobs you apply for. One great thing about coding jobs is they apply to a variety of industries.

7 Common Programmer Jobs

Before you consider learning how to code, it’s important to understand the programming careers that are available to you. That way, you can begin tailoring your learning to the programmer jobs you’re most interested in. During the job interview process, it will be especially important to articulate what interests you about the jobs to which you’re applying and why you think you’re a well-suited candidate for them.

We’ll be reviewing seven of the most common jobs for programmers, although it’s worth noting that these careers are just the tip of the iceberg.

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An image depicting the seven most common programming jobs, as outlined in the article.

1. Software Developer/Software Engineer

Software developers and software engineers are the people who design, build, test, and maintain computer software, often for consumer-facing products. Sometimes developers will build brand-new programs, and sometimes they will work on maintaining and fixing existing programs. Either way, they must work to understand user needs and then use that understanding to develop, adapt, and roll out programs that satisfy those needs.

The terms “software developer” and “software engineer” are often used interchangeably. That said, software engineers generally use an engineering approach in their computer science. What does this mean? According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (PDF, 5.6 KB), this is a “systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software.” That software might be an app on your phone, an email client on your computer, or the tool your company uses to track expenses.

Regardless of what you call them, software engineers and developers use different coding languages and have to work with other programmers like data scientists and database analysts as well as product managers and other stakeholders to complete their projects successfully. They don’t just have to develop and write clear, functional code, they also need to communicate their progress, work with other teams, and adapt to any hurdles or fix bugs that come up along the way. Entry-level software developer jobs often entail additional training in programming with a focus on the programming languages that the company uses.

Software development is a lucrative career with a strong outlook for the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for software developers was $110,140 in May 2020. The BLS projects these jobs to grow 22 percent over the next 10 years, far faster than the national average for all jobs.

2. Computer Programmer

Computer programming is possibly the most straightforward coding job, as it entails writing and testing the computer code that makes websites and software run. Computer programmers’ responsibilities are often similar to those of software developers and engineers, as they are working day-to-day with code.

Entry- or lower-level computer programmers may write code for programs that software engineers and developers have designed, and then test that code once it’s written. In senior positions, programmers also design and create software programs, find ways to get systems and software to work together, modify existing source code, compose instructions for their products, and fix those products when bugs arise. Jobs for computer programmers often require knowledge of a variety of programming languages, as well as specialized knowledge like cloud computing, for example.

While it’s helpful to get a computer programming degree, it’s not always necessary. Many universities offer bachelor’s and even master’s degrees in computer science that allow for a focus on computer programming, but there are faster and more efficient ways to receive the necessary training to apply for computer programming jobs. Many people choose to enroll in coding boot camps instead, which are skills-based programs that only take a few months and prepare students for jobs in computer programming and other coding-related careers.

According to data from Burning Glass, the median salary for computer programmers is around $76,267.

3. Computer Scientist

If you’re more interested in ideas and theory than code, a career in computer science might be right for you. Computer scientists research the hows and whys of computers and people; they seek to understand how computers function, how they store and use information, and even how people interact with them. They are interested in theories of software and technology development, rather than focusing exclusively on developing that software.

Unlike their software engineer peers who build software tools, computer scientists work to figure out how they can build on that technology and find new uses for it. They create models to understand how people will interact with computers, software, apps, or devices. Computer scientists often work for software development firms, but they may also work as consultants, as they can apply their theoretical knowledge to a wide variety of companies, products, and situations. Some computer scientists do work on a more technical level, whether that’s developing algorithms or working with robotics engineers to find new artificial intelligence (AI)-focused solutions.

According to Burning Glass, the median salary for this role is $91,472, and there is a projected growth of 9.3 percent over the next decade. This strong growth has likely resulted from more companies wanting to enhance their technological products. To do that, they need computer scientists to help them think through how to get there.

4. Computer Systems Engineers/Architects

Computer systems engineers focus not just on software, but also on how software and hardware work together to create complex computer systems. These tech professionals design and build technological infrastructures, which are composed of hardware, software, and the networks that connect them. They need to understand not just how to write code, but also how web portals, firewalls, and servers operate. This is a highly technical job that often requires an understanding of engineering and advanced mathematics.

Many computer systems engineers and architects will design computer systems from scratch, test existing computer systems to ensure they are working properly, make maintenance plans, and analyze the security of the systems on which they are working. They are interested not just in the utility and efficiency of their systems, but also in the cybersecurity that keeps all the contained information safe. They have to work with various other teams at their jobs, so communication skills are key. They even need to prepare reports on the functionality and security of the systems they work on, so strong analytical skills are also a plus.

According to CareerOneStop, the median salary for a computer systems engineer or architect is currently $92,870. Jobs in this sector are likely to grow by 9 percent over the next 10 years, making this a promising career for anyone with strong technical skills, a background in math or engineering, and a holistic interest in how systems work.

5. Database Architect

As the amount of data that companies collect and use continues to increase exponentially, so too does their need for systems that help them store and make sense of that data. Database architects build complex integrated data systems for their companies or clients. These systems allow companies to not just store data, but also to use, analyze, and report on it, as well as keep it safe.

Database architects need to understand their company’s needs so they can design database structures through computer modeling and simulation programs. It’s especially important that these structures and their parameters are well-suited to the information being processed. They then have to build those structures and integrate that data into a secure system that allows their employer to process it efficiently and effectively. They also set company-wide standards for how to use and store data, and help to troubleshoot and debug any issues that may appear in their databases.

Database architecture is a highly technical job that requires deep knowledge of computer systems, databases, statistics, advanced mathematics, and design. Of course, database architects must have the ability to analyze and communicate findings and what they plan to do with it, making communication a critical skill. They also need to write reports and share them with all relevant stakeholders, and should have a working understanding of a variety of programming languages so they can communicate directly with the computer programmers who will be helping them.

Given its high technical requirements, this is a lucrative job. According to Burning Glass, the median salary for database architects is $107,689, and these jobs will grow by 12.1 percent over the next 10 years.

6. Database Administrator

Beautifully constructed databases don’t just run on their own — they need tending, like a garden. Enter database administrators. These individuals ensure that databases and warehouses that a company uses run smoothly and stay bug-free. While database architects are often involved in making sure things go smoothly after their systems are built, they don’t stay involved in those systems forever — they need to move on and build new ones. So, a database administrator is a person who takes over from a database architect as the steward and caretaker of these systems.

Database administrators make sure that data is consistent across a database. Are currencies consistent across the database? Are numbers formatted in the same way across categories? Is the data clearly presented? Are users able to access what they need? These are all questions that concern database administrators, who must understand the needs of their users and write database documentation, including data standards, standard procedures, and metadata.

While this isn’t the most technical coding-related job, it’s still important that database administrators understand the basics of coding and know a few programming languages. After all, computer code makes up the building blocks of the databases they manage. According to the BLS, the median salary for database administrators is $98,860 per year, with a projected growth rate of 8 percent through 2030, which is about as fast as the national average.

7. Video Game Developer

Do you love gaming? Video game development is a great way to combine computer science with creativity to create exciting, innovative games for public consumption. Video game developers are the people who build the technology behind video games, taking them from a concept or storyboard to a visually rich piece of playable technology. Video games require extensive coding, from creating character designs to deciding the array of available controls, sounds, and movements.

Video game developers need to be expert coders. Some of the most common programming languages used in game development are C++, Java, HTML5, JavaScript, and C#. The coding language that a game uses will depend on its design and intended platform. Some games may even use multiple programming languages.

An image showing some of the programming languages used in video game development.

Video game development has a few stages. First, a team comes up with the original concept. Maybe it’s a role-playing game, an open-world game, or perhaps a sports game. Maybe it exists within a virtual reality headset or can be played on a phone. Once they have an established concept, a video game developer (or team) sketches out what the game will look like and then executes that vision. Developers often meet with the design team to develop concepts and communicate what is possible within a given concept. They also work on developing game scripts and storyboards. On a more technical level, they code every aspect of the game, animate characters, and often help with the audio design. As with any coding job, developers must also test each aspect of the game and fix any bugs or issues.

Interested in a Programming Career? Enroll Today!

If you are interested in a programming career, one of the best and fastest ways to get started is to enroll in a coding boot camp. These fast-tracked courses allow you to learn code online, and will prepare you for entry-level programming jobs in a wide variety of industries and companies.

A coding boot camp will introduce you to many programming languages that have real-life applications, from gaming to data science. They also offer professional training that will help you best prepare not just for a career in coding, but for the job interview process as well. In short, it’s one of the best ways to jump-start your coding career.

Jobs for Programmers FAQs

Coders are the people who write the computer code that makes up every app, website, and piece of software you’ve ever used. Coders work with many different programming languages, from JavaScript to Python. Their job is to write efficient, clean code that will turn into high-functioning products.

Computer programmers design, build, and maintain software by writing code. They take the designs that a software developer has written and turn it into instructions (code) that a computer can follow. Computer programmers work in many industries and companies and work on anything from healthcare products to social media apps.

If you begin in an entry-level software engineering role, you will likely be testing code and learning the existing code at your workplace. You will then likely move on to writing code that has been specified by higher-level engineers. The next step is to become a higher-level engineer, and then possibly a team lead or product lead.

Many people are attracted to programming because it offers flexible work hours, and coders often work remotely. While it’s a good idea to start at a full-time job because it will give you the security of mentorship and peers to work with closely, it’s possible to become a freelance programmer who works with various clients. Sometimes the hardest part about this is building the relationships that lead to freelance work.

As we’ve explained, some of the highest-paying coding jobs are the most technical ones. These include database architect since it requires a deep knowledge of science, math, and coding. Jobs in robotics and AI are also high-paying since they are advanced and highly specialized.

Yes, programmers are in high demand. This is because companies have a growing need for computer solutions, whether those be apps, robots, databases, or games. As technology continues to infiltrate every part of our lives, programming jobs will continue to grow.

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