We live in a time when computers control and manage just about everything, and more and more smart devices connect to the internet. The common denominator of all of this technology is software. Software runs the world, and all of this software depends on programmers. It's no wonder that computer programmers are highly paid, and the demand for them keeps increasing.
If you're looking for an entry-level job where a few months of training and practice can help you get your foot in the door and set the course for a career with plenty of options and potential for advancement, computer programming might be for you. But just what does a computer programmer do? Let's take a look.
What does a programmer do?
Of course, a computer programmer writes code, but there is more to a programming job than just writing code. Here are some of the other tasks a computer programmer might do daily:
- Planning development projects: A great project starts with a great plan. Programmers spend a lot of their time planning the best way to do things. Regular meetings with project managers and product owners allow the development team to collaborate and produce good solutions.
- Testing code: Most businesses test the code automatically as part of the coding process. Programmers write unit tests, integration tests, and other types of tests that run automatically to ensure that the code works as expected.
- Reviewing peer code: Part of a programmer's job is reviewing the code that their peers write and suggesting improvements if needed.
- Fixing bugs: Software will have bugs. It's a given. A big part of a programmer's job is troubleshooting bugs and coming up with a fix for them.
- Scripting deployment processes: Software must get from where it is being developed to where it will be used, whether it is a web server, a mobile app store, or an on-site corporate data center. Programmers write scripts that build software, package it, and then deploy it to where it will be released.
Computer programming jobs
While computer programmers do the same general things on a daily basis, there is a wide variety of specialized roles in computer programming, and each specialization is unique. Here is a shortlist of the many jobs available to computer programmers.
Mobile application developer
Mobile application developers create mobile apps. The mobile app market took off with the invention of the smartphone. Low-priced smartphones gave more people access to the internet than ever before. Whether you own an Android phone or iPhone, you have probably noticed that there is an app for just about anything, some with hundreds of thousands of downloads. The mobile app market is enormous.
The demand for mobile application developers is also high. Some companies base their whole business model on selling mobile apps. Other companies have found that converting their website into a mobile application makes the user experience better and reaches more people.
Web developers are another type of computer programmer that is in demand. Just about every company needs web developers to build, manage, update, and troubleshoot their site. A website or web app has many parts to it, and web developers will sometimes specialize in one part of the web development process.
Back-end engineers work on the part of a website or web app that runs on the web server. These applications receive a request from a web browser and return a response. There are a lot more technologies to choose from if you are a back-end web developer. Back-end web developers build web applications using PHP, Ruby on Rails, Django, Node.js, and ASP.NET.
Many web developers choose to learn both front-end and back-end development to better grasp how the complete web development process works. These developers are called full-stack engineers and can build complete web applications by themselves.
Video game developer
Video game developers build video games that run on the web, mobile phones, or desktop computers. A video game can comprise millions of lines of code, complex logic, and gigabytes of graphics. Video game developers spend their time animating 2D and 3D characters, building character models, and writing game logic.
Data analysts make sense of the tons of data that businesses generate. They use programming languages like Python or R to parse this data and spot patterns and trends that could be important to the future of the business. They then produce internal or client-facing reports that present these patterns and trends to decision-makers in terms they can understand. This could include generating graphics, charts, or other types of data visualization.
A data scientist's job is like a data analyst's in that they both deal with data. A data scientist, however, analyzes business data with machine learning for actionable insights. Machine learning has advanced in recent years more than ever before. Data scientists build machine learning models that can use past data to predict future events and help businesses make more informed decisions.
Getting started in computer programming
Computer programmers are in high demand. There are consistently more programming job openings than there are working programmers. For this reason, you may not even need a computer science degree or any degree at all to land a computer programming job. But you will still need to learn how to program and build some experience by completing code projects.
Here at Codecademy, we have a wide variety of courses that will teach you what you need to know to become a professional computer programmer — no matter what type of computer programming job interests you!