Computer programming is the creative process that involves instructing a computer how to accomplish a task. These instructions exist in the form of codes that create a program written by people. Computer programming involves the process of creating and implementing different sets of instruction that make it capable of accomplishing a given task. Human beings can understand the source code from computer programmers. The programmer then combines the source codes through a translator to transform them to machine code. It is this code, which humans cannot read, but the computers can.
The programming process comprises some steps that look similar to those in problem-solving tasks. These steps include; defining the problem, making plans for the solution, creating the code for the program, carrying out the test for the code, and documenting the code. The first step involves defining the problem. In this case, a computer programmer needs to understand the need that the organization or client needs to solve. The programmer needs to analyze the problem and define the problem. This process includes identifying the input for the problem and the expected output.
The next step after proper identification of the problem involves planning of a solution. The standard methods applied in this include drawing a flowchart and writing pseudocode that demonstrates what the final code should do. A flowchart contains a pictorial representation of a systematic solution to a problem. Some arrows point to the direction that the program follows while boxes and other symbols used represent the actions required. A flowchart points what a program is going to do and exactly how it is going to do it. On the other hand, a pseudo code resembles a nonstandard language that allows one to state the solution to the problem with more precision than the common English language can allow. With the pseudo code, it is possible to concentrate on the logic of the problem without the need of being concerned about the precision of a particular programming language.
The other step involves the actual coding of the program. This step entails converting the solution into a programming language. A computer programmer can transform the logic represented in the flowchart or the pseudo code to a programming language. The programming language defines the standards of writing instructions for the computer. Each program has its own specific set of rules, and it is important for a programmer to adhere to the exact rules and the syntax of a given language.
Testing the program is the next step in the programming journey. The process of testing aims at identifying any errors that may be present in the code and correcting them. Testing a program happens in phases. Desk checking is the proofreading of code to ensure the accuracy of its logic and its working in the right manner. Translating involves changing the source code into a machine code that a computer can understand and crosschecks the syntax of the programming language. Debugging is a phase that involves, detecting, locating, and correcting any mistakes mostly by running the program and it involves removing logic errors called bugs (Zeller, 2009).
The next step in this computer-programming journey is the documentation of the program. This is an ongoing process of writing a detailed description of the programming cycle, and it points to the facts about the program. Documentation is a great step that is necessary for supplementing human memory and facilitating the process of program planning.
A Career in Computer Programming
Computer programing is an important and a rewarding career. The demand for programmers has increased in the recent and has sparked great interest among students. Programming courses, in most cases, get high dropout rates. Some students undertaking a course in computer science make the choice without fully understanding the level of difficultness involved, which according to Yadin (2011), has been responsible for high drop-out rates. Computer programming courses offer an effective learning environment and experience for the students. Studies in computer programming go beyond the acquisition of basic computer literacy skills.
The journey of a computer programmer involves some steps that allow one to move from being a novice to an expert in computer programming. Experts in computers programming have the skills and ability to organize and specialize in schema. A programmer organizes knowledge according to the functional characteristics such as algorithms. An expert in computer programing makes use of both general and specialized problem-solving strategies to create and understand programs efficiently as explained by Robins, Rountree, and Rountree (2003). Gaining expertise in computer programming aims at reducing variability in three ways which include defining the most efficient way to approach the design task, use of a standard set of schemas to answer a question, and constraining the choice of execution that offers the best solution. Gaining expertise in computer programming implies that one can identify a problem and adapt patterns or schemas that are best suited for the specified problem. This fact infers that expert computer programmers perform their tasks in a fast and accurately, and can use different sources of knowledge and strategies. This is where novice computer programmers aim to reach.
A career in computer programming requires one to understand the knowledge and strategies necessary in the field. Knowledge helps one to understand and state how a loop works while programming strategies help a computer programmer understand how they can use the knowledge gained when creating a program. The foundations of computer programming are acquiring an understanding of computers, programming languages, programming tools, and the most appropriate theories and formal methods.
Undertaking a course in computer programming focuses on the content and structure of programming knowledge. This helps the aspiring computer programmer to understand the structured knowledge referred to as schema. A Schema has a set of propositions that organized in the form of semantic content and broken down into distinguished plans, frames, and scripts. A novice computer programmer learns how to read and create conventional and unconventional programs.
Indulging in the career of computer programming provides learners with program comprehension that seeks to help them understand and demonstrate how a certain program works. Program generation is another concept that computer programmers need to have as they indulge in the career where they seek to create a section or a whole program with an aim of solving a particular problem. Computer programmers learn and understand how to formulate definite mappings from problem domain and convert them into a programming domain that solves the problem. This requires a computer programmer to have the knowledge on the structure of the domains and the exact infrastructure on the mappings that connects them.
Seeking a career in computer programming will require one to undertake a course in computer science and applications. In the course of learning this program, which assures one of a career in computer programming, learners are offered an opportunity to understand the real-world situations to help them relate with how the desired solutions are created. Concepts that are more complex follow, where learners learn how to create programs that can solve the problems stated. Other advanced concepts that computer programmers need to understand to excel in their career include an understanding of the algorithms, software development lifecycle, network architecture, and computer security.
Gaining entry into the career as a computer programmer requires one to gain a full understanding of the operations of a computer system that can help create solutions to problems. As a computer programmer, one needs to understand the system limitations and determine how they can be resolved leading to increased efficiency. The general responsibilities under this career include coming up with new computer programming methods, which may range from basic methods in programming to those that are more complex. A computer programmer will need to develop new programs that will prove to be useful in solving problems affecting an organization or industry. In this career, one will be required to use knowledge on computer programming to shape their mode of thinking in a sensible manner that will benefit people in the field. This requires one to make rational choices and be logical when creating these solutions. A career in computer programming requires different skills, which include problem-solving, sharp memory, efficiency, self-motivation and independence, and perseverance. The need of programs is solving user problems hence justifying the need for people taking up computer programming as a career.
How Programming Works
Computer programming is always goal oriented and it makes it possible to create and build things. When writing a program, it is essential to understand the problem first. The coding process aims at creating a solution for the identified problem. This is coding with purpose. Practicing the art of programming implies that we can come up with a new way of automating the process. The process of creating something depends on how well it can teach the computer to follow a command. In this sense, programming presents an opportunity for creating something new. The tools used for the process of creation of something new include languages, machines, compilers, and interpreters. In this digital era, computer programming is one avenue for innovation. This requires the building of new programs and systems that take over the processes that people previously did manually. These programs have revolutionized the operations of business, transactions of money, business communications and operations. Computer programming offers an opportunity for people to create systems that help solve the problem at hand. New computer programs improve the efficiency and effectiveness of organization’s operation, reduce operation errors, and save on costs.
Computer programming has the potential of causing a change in the world. Barack Obama recognized this when he launched the program, “Computer Science for ALL.” This initiative aims at ensuring that the students have some hands-on skills in computer science and math classes enough to help them be ready for future roles. The program indicated the benefits attributed to learning computer programming. Computer programming equips one with the capability of building apps that solve simple problems. Programmers create most of their successful apps as an attempt to solve a problem. This increases the rate of innovations. With some programming skills, one can be in a position to create apps that provide entertainment such as personalized games. Computer programming skills also equip people with relevant potential required in building solutions to global problems. Humans can thrive in a global environment with improved operations making the world a better place. It has become important for people to continue improving on the current solutions.
Computer programming skills help people to rethink how to propose and create more enhanced solutions. While trying to increase their efficiency, organizations require new algorithms that can make their processes more efficient. The logistic function is one area where the use of algorithms can help establish the shortest route that trucks need to use and how to lower the cost of logistic operations worldwide. Most organizations have put in place systems to help in the collection of relevant business data and related operations. However, much of this data is only stored in databases without providing insight. Computer programming helps such organizations to analyze the data and discover meaningful trends. It is clear that the magnitude of the vast data makes it impossible for an individual to spot any insight, but analytics and business intelligence tools will help organizations discover new trends in their business and even possibly deduce innovative solutions to complex problems surrounding the organization’s operations. Programmers can help such organizations to develop the right algorithms and organize the data into meaningful information that the organization can put to use and improve its productivity.
Jobs and Opportunity in Computer Programming
Computer programming skills can fit in any industry. Every industry is continuously seeking innovative ways to automate its operations to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, and cut costs. The capabilities of technologies have increased thereby creating a demand for programmers in all sectors. Computer programming comes with flexibility and adaptability that allows it to fit in diversified industries. Different industries have different software needs as per the nature of their business. A computer programmer can address any of these needs, as they are not limited to operate in a single industry.
The finance industry requires computer programmers to develop software and systems for use in market prediction and perform tasks related to client management and online software development for users. The finance sector helps to collect massive data that introduces a need for database management software. The gaming industry is another major consumer of computer programming skills. It is fast-paced, fun, and where one can see and play with their results. Software development companies also use the skills of a computer programmer to create a solution that seeks to solve the problems of their clients. Clients in the software industry will cut across different industries thereby making one a relevant player for different industries in need of computer application and systems. Such organizations must be knowledge based and as described by Hertog (2000), they are co-producers of innovation.
The healthcare industry is another important industry that computer programmers have a niche to fill. It is a common knowledge that the healthcare industry uses computers in a more complex manner. The use of electronic health records is essential in coordinating treatment plans and schedule appointments. In this industry, a computer programmer may serve in the field of research or software engineering. Manufacturing industries need computer programmers to help in the creation of systems for inventory management, logistics, and operations planning. All industries rely on technology, which offers an opportunity for a computer programmer to penetrate these industries. Where systems already exist, a computer programmer may take the role of maintenance and improvement.
A computer programmer does not work in isolation, but must operate in an environment where different people work in diversified capacities. The people that computer programmers interact with the industrial sector where they operate. Most computer programmers work hand-in-hand with other programmers and collaborate with different specialists such as software engineers, back-end programmer, front-end programmers, designers, quality controllers, and project managers.
A computer programmer gets a fair amount of compensation for their job. The average annual wage for a computer programmer is approximately $61,000. The range of the pay earned by computer programmers in $36,000-$99,000. Other forms of compensation include bonuses that may amount to $10,000 and profit sharing deals that may be close to $17,000. Computer programmers working on a contract charge between $30 and $65 per hour. A number of key factors influences the compensation level of a computer programmer. His or her experience is a key determinant of their level of compensation. Location in terms of their city and country affects how much it costs a client to get their services as well. The market demand for specific programming skills also affects how much a client may have to pay for them. The negotiation skills of a programmer may also influence how much they are paid.
Computer Programming Overview: Facts and Statistics
The United States Bureau of Labor statistics indicates that computer programmers create, modify, and test codes, forms, and scripts that make it possible for a computer application to run. Software developers analyze their clients’ needs and then design a software solution. The programs created may store, locate, or retrieve a specific document, data, or information. They may also run specific commands and return certain results.
The national estimates for computer programming indicate that there were 271,200 computer programmers making up 1.7% of the employment RSE. The mean hourly wage is $40.95 with a mean annual wage of $85,180 making up a wage of 0.9%. The industries with the highest levels of employment include computer systems designs and other services that absorbs about 110,340 or 5.60% of the industry employment, software publishers with 18,530 (5.44%), management of companies and enterprises 13,520 or 0.59%, employment services 8,170 (0.23%), and learning institutions 717 (0.26%) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). Industries with the highest concentration of employment include computer systems design and related services (110,340), software publishers (18,530), data processing, hosting, and related services (6,930), other information services (3,270), and manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media (160).
The top paying industries for computer programmers include securities and stock exchange at $55.64, other financial services – $54.19, dry-cleaning and laundry services – $53.16, natural gas distribution – $49.92, and automobile dealers $48.15. The states with the highest employment level in the United States include California with 37,570 and an average pay of $44.41/hour, Texas has 20,430 programmers under employment and a mean pay of $40.97/hour, New York has 17,790 programmers and a mean pay of $42.56/hour, Illinois 13,350 in employment and pay of $40.07/ hour, and New Jersey with 13,080 in employment and an average pay of $40.91. The top paying states are Washington with an average rate of $55.85, District of Colombia with $46.19, Colorado with $46.03, Massachusetts with $45.92, and Virginia with $45.52 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).
Becoming a computer programmer requires one to acquire a bachelor’s degree in computer science or other relevant subjects. Programmers working in specific fields such as health and accounting may take up a supplementary course on top of their computer programming degree. The education program only teaches programmers a limited number of computer languages while in school. However, the fundamentals of computer science give the students ability to learn new languages with ease. The students need internships to get experience in writing codes, testing programs, fixing errors, and accomplishing other tasks (Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor). The fast-changing pace of technology requires that computer programmers continue improving their skills by attending education classes or attending professional development seminars. This offers an opportunity for them to learn a new language or upgrade the skills they already have. The programmer may be certified to use specific programming languages or for vendor-specific programming products. Programmers with experience in business may fit well as computer systems analysts. Experience may create an opportunity for a computer programmer to become a software developer, or even join higher managerial positions such as being information system managers. Computer programmers require analytical skills, concentration, attention to detail, and ability to troubleshoot different computer systems.
As discussed, computer programming is the creative process that entails the creation of instruction that dictate to a computer what to do and how to do it. The instructions are contained in a code. A programmer then converts the source code, which is understandable by humans, into machine code, which is the language that the computer understands. The programming process is comprised of a number of steps that look similar to those in the problem-solving tasks. These steps include defining the problem, making plans for the solution, creating the code for the program, carrying out the test for the code, and documenting it.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Occupational Employment and Wages: Computer Programmers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm#ind
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. (n.d.). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Programmers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm\
Hertog, P. D. (2000). Knowledge-intensive business services as co-producers of innovation. International journal of innovation management, 4(04), 491-528.
Robins, A., Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2003). Learning and teaching programming: A review and discussion. Computer science education, 13(2), 137-172.
The University of Florida. (2017). The Languages of Computer Science. Retrieved from https://ufonline.ufl.edu/infographics/languages-of-computer-science/
Zeller, A. (2009). Why programs fail: a guide to systematic debugging. Elsevier.
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