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Computer programmers write the language that enables computer operating systems to use the technology developed by software engineers and system analysts. A large percentage of computer programmers have a 4-year college degree, and many have a graduate degree. This trend is expected to continue, and the percentage of programmers with undergraduate and graduate degrees is expected to increase. Programmers may be employed by computer systems design companies or software engineering firms. They also find employment with financial, healthcare, and educational institutions.
Many computer programmers specialize in certain industries and take additional courses to familiarize themselves with the requirements of those industries. Computer programmers who work with businesses may take business and management courses, those who work with scientific and engineering companies may take classes in mathematics and engineering. Computer programmer may take certification courses to become proficient in additional computer languages, and to keep up with the rapid changes in the technology of the industry. Many computer programmers return to school on a regular basis to receive formal training in new technologies.
While the computer programming career field is projected to decline slightly in the near future, programmers with formal degrees should continue to have a good employment future. Programmers with graduate degrees and multiple certifications should continue to be in demand.
The median annual income for computer programmers in 2008 was $69,620, and the highest 10 percent made in excess of $111,450 annually. The advances in computer technology continue to come rapidly, and the need for educated computer programmers to write language to implement the advances should continue.