Computers can do incredible things, from basic laptops capable of simple word processing and spreadsheet functions to incredibly complex supercomputers performing millions of financial transactions a day and controlling the infrastructure that makes modern life possible. But no computer can do anything until a computer programmer tells it to behave in a specific way. This is what computer programming is for.
At its core, computer programming is little more than a set of instructions to facilitate specific actions. Based on the requirements or goals of these instructions, computer programming can be as simple as adding two numbers. It can also be as complex as reading data from temperature sensors to adjust a thermostat, sorting the data to complete complex planning or critical reports, or showing players multi-layered worlds and challenges in games.
Dr Cheryl Frederick, executive director of STEM programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), said computer programming is a collaborative process, with a variety of programmers contributing to software development. Some of this development can last for decades. For software like Microsoft Word released in 1983, for example, programmers have been tweaking and improving it for years.
“The hope is that the computer program becomes such a widely adopted system that it needs long-term support, especially to extend its current functionality,” said Frederick. “The terms computer software and computer programming are used interchangeably, except that the software can grow quite large. “
What do programmers do all day?
Computer programmers create instructions for a computer to execute by writing and testing code that allows applications and software to function properly. Computer programmers use specialized languages to communicate with computers, applications, and other systems to get computers and computer networks to perform a specific set of tasks. Languages like C ++, Java, Python and many more allow programmers – often working closely with software developers and engineers to create programs that allow “searching, browsing and selfies,” according to ComputerScience.org.
There are many programming languages, but some have become the most popular. CareerKarma has listed the most common programming languages in 2021 based on job vacancies.
Some of the common tasks that a computer programmer must master have been compiled by O * Net online and include:
- Test the performance of the software.
- Solve computer software problems.
- Modification of software to improve performance.
- Writing computer programming code.
- Collaborate with others to solve information technology problems.
How do you become a computer programmer?
Many computer programmers start out as avid self-learners, and a lingering interest in programming can be an asset in your career, as lifelong learning is vital for a computer programmer.
“Getting a degree is a good way to start a career and it gives you a basis for organizing your experiences,” said Curtis Georges, technical program coordinator in computer science at SNHU. “At the end of the day, it’s the experience that makes you a great programmer. In addition to having experience, a successful programmer always keeps abreast of the latest computer languages, algorithmic processes and industry trends. software industry. “
Frédéric accepted. She held positions in the Ministry of Defense and in the finance and telecommunications sectors before turning to education. “It takes a lot of courage and it’s not enough to get a degree; you need work experience, ”she said. “We give students a foundation – based on data structures, algorithms, math, and logical engineering – but you have to be able to plan, write, design, test, and manage software. You should know at least two or three programming languages, including proficiency in JAVA and C ++.
Beyond classroom and experiential learning, however, computer programmers need to understand that when they write a program, it never works the first time. “This area requires patience and the ability to troubleshoot and identify errors. You have to be a learning worker, be self-disciplined, have the motivation to learn on your own, be able to reflect with others, and have a lot of hands-on practice, ”said Frederick. “You have to be a practitioner and adapt to the trend. “
While working towards a computer science degree, students are encouraged to create a portfolio of their software work. “While this portfolio is unrated, students can share it with potential employers as proof of their coding skills,” said Frederick. “The entire degree program provides students with broad exposure and skills in traditional and trendy technologies, including specialties such as computational graphics, software testing, and writing code for fluent programs. used, as well as more in-depth and specific skills. “
Is it worth getting a programming certificate?
Most computer programming positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, depending on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and many graduate programs are also available. In addition to these academic pathways, there are dozens of professional and non-profit professional certifications available. BLS notes that there are certifications for specific programming languages and that some employers may require programmers to be certified for products used by the company.
Some of the professional certifications available include:
- CISCO – Certified Network Associate, Certified Network Profession Routing and Switching, Certified Network Associate Security Credential
- Microsoft – Certified Solution Developer for Web Applications, Certified Windows Server Solutions Associate
- Professional Affiliations – Software Development Associate Certification, Comptia’s Security +, Comptia’s A + Certification, Comptia’s Linux +
- Non-profit – Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Information Security Officer, Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional Diploma
Learn software engineering
George was previously employed by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other high-tech leaders, and was integral in developing the university’s computer science curriculum.
“In my job, I trained a lot of junior software engineers, and I supported them, showed them pieces of code and, giving them hands-on experience, they would eventually improve,” said George. “Having a basic knowledge of software programming, including working with other (in) teams, is a good starting point for any job. “
When pursuing a computer science degree with a specialization in software engineering, it is important to learn in a collaborative environment, whether in person or virtually, as these experiences will reflect what will be expected in the workplace. George noted that students learn computer programming and create software in online labs that provide opportunities for freelance work as well as team collaboration.
If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a computer programmer, find your degree here.
Joe Cote is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on twitter @ JoeCo2323.