Programmer
Computer & Systems Management

What's the difference between a programmer and a software developer? Well, programmers write code and they sometimes have the technical skills needed to build meaningful products, while a software developer works with stakeholders and develops a solution or product that fulfils their needs. A programmer often works alone using a variety of programming languages to write software programs. They manipulate the program designs made by engineers and developers into a language that the computer can understand and follow.

Work Activities

Duties include:

  • Using programming languages to write new program, such as .Net, C++ and C#
  • Expanding and updating existing programmes
  • Running tests to find any errors or bugs
  • Working with software developers to help create a product
  • Writing and designing coding flow charts and models
  • Using computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) to automate the code writing
  • Using code libraries
  • Redesigning programs to suit other platforms

There are two distinct areas within programming: applications programming and systems programming. Applications programmers write programs to process and manage incoming information. Systems programmers deal with the internal operations of the computer such as designing diagnostic programs to identify faults.

A background in programming is valued for most IT careers as it provides a solid backbone of knowledge. Programmers with a flair for teamwork and communication often end up becoming project managers.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills required for programmers

  • Mathematical aptitude and strong problem-solving skills
  • Excellent IT and coding skills
  • Excellent organisational, time and project management skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • An understanding of the latest trends and their role in a commercial environment
  • Teamwork skills, because most projects require input from individuals with different roles
  • Self-development skills to keep-up-to-date with fast-changing trends
  • Professional approach to time, costs and deadlines.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of programmers

  • Financial services
  • Manufacturing firms
  • Educational institutions
  • Banks
  • Specialist software development companies
  • Consulting firms
  • Telecommunications firms
  • Public sector organisations
  • Self-employed

Programming jobs are advertised online, by careers services and by recruitment agencies.

Qualifications

Qualifications and training required

To apply for many of the junior programmer roles advertised you need to be a graduate, holding a degree in computer science or a related subject.

There are also apprenticeships in programming or in a digital field including an introduction to programming, but these opportunities are currently less common than graduate programming vacancies.

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