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Computer Programmer Career and Salary

For some students, vocational schools may be a good way to get a start on a career in computer programming. Some of these programs strive to provide a solid foundation in computer software programming, information technology, computer repair, networking and computer support. Students may also be able to study such topics as video game design, systems analysis and website design.

Although a career in computer programming may eventually require a bachelor's degree, an associate degree or certification could lead to a job as a Web developer, which involves designing and creating websites, or as a computer support specialist. Computer support specialists help people use their computer software and equipment, or assist those who are having problems with their computer.

What the job is like

Computer Science

Although some computer support specialists work a regular 9-to-5 job, some support specialists work odd hours so they are available to help clients at any time of the day or night. Much of the job is done on site where the work is being done, but often support specialists can handle problems over the phone or the Internet from their home.

Most Web developers work full time, some work from home, and about 25 percent were self-employed in 2012. Some Web developers are able to study both programming and graphic design in vocational and technical schools.

Higher-than-average job growth expected

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), the number of jobs for computer support specialists is expected to grow 17 percent over the next several years, a faster pace than most occupations. Businesses are always upgrading their computer systems, creating a demand for expert support. Some computer support specialists have to be well-versed in both PC-based and Mac-based platforms.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

CareerProjected Number of New JobsProjected Job Growth Rate
Computer and Information Systems Managers53,70015.4
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

The greatest demand for computer support specialists will be with firms that provide cloud computing. Jobs will also be plentiful for computer support specialists in the health-care industry and in the field of computer systems design.

The demand for Web developers is expected to grow even more than other computer jobs, with the BLS predicting a 20 percent increase in jobs by 2022. The increasing popularity of mobile devices and e-commerce is driving the demand, the BLS says.

Opportunities for promotions

Possibilities for advancement are expected for those with a career in computer programming who qualify. Candidates with strong technical backgrounds are expected to be highly sought. All told, there were more than 700,000 computer support specialists employed in the United States in 2012, and another 123,000 job are expected to be added by 2022.

National annual median salaries for computer user support specialists in May 2013 were $46,620, with the lowest 10 percent earning up to $27,780 and the highest 10 percent earning at least $78,410. The BLS reports the higher salaries typically go to workers with a bachelor's or advanced degree. The highest-paying jobs were in the sectors of finance, insurance and telecommunications fields, while the top five paying states included Massachusetts, California and Washington.

Web developers in May 2013 earned a national annual median wage of $63,160, according to the BLS. The lowest 10 percent earned up to $33,320, while the highest 10 percent earned at least $110,350. The highest salaries for Web developers in May 2013 was paid in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Those who are interested in a career in informational technology or computer programming may wish to explore the options available at technical and vocational schools.

Sources:

Computer User Support Specialists, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151151.htm

Computer Support Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm

Web Developers, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151134.htm

Web Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151134.htm

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