Nalea J. Ko has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and New York covering news and entertainment. She currently writes about tech, with a focus on coding. Nalea received her MFA degree in fiction from Brooklyn College and bachelor in journ...
Madison Hoehn is an Associate Editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on coding bootcamp rankings and the skilled trades. She is passionate about providing readers with alternatives to a traditional four-year college. She holds a BA in English Lit...
Monali Chuatico is a data engineer at Mission Lane and a data analytics captain at the nonprofit COOP Careers. There, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on ...
Updated December 2, 2022
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- Data science is the fastest-growing computer programming career.
- Coding bootcamps offer training for programming jobs, plus career services.
- Computer programming jobs may require a bachelor's degree or higher.
- Many programmer jobs offer higher-than-average job security and coding salaries.
While most other jobs are projected to grow by 5% from 2021-2031, computer and information technology jobs are projected to grow by 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS also projects many programming jobs to exceed other occupations' job outlooks. For example, the BLS projects data scientist jobs to grow by 36% from 2021-2031. This demand enhances job security for computer programming jobs, which also pay higher-than-average salaries. The median annual wage for computer and information technology jobs as of May 2021 was $97,430 —over $50,000 more than the median annual salary for all jobs.
Continue reading to learn about what computer programming jobs pay the best and what educational requirements you need to kick-start your tech career.
Tips on How to Land a Programming Job
- Gain coding and programming skills.
- Identify your career objective.
- Curate your portfolio.
- Get a mentor at college or in a coding bootcamp.
- Network through college, a coding bootcamp, or professional organizations.
- Practice interviewing.
- Build your resume with internships and projects.
- Earn certifications and access free online workshops.
- Ask for job referrals and recommendation letters.
How Much Do Coders Make?
Tech jobs pay higher-than-average salaries. But how much do coders make? Employees who worked in computer and information made a median yearly salary of over $97,000 in May 2021.
Tech workers who hold a bachelor's degree make more than professionals who do not have a degree. Computer science professionals with bachelor's degrees make an average of $81,000, according to September 2022 Payscale data. In comparison, Payscale reports that those with an associate degree who work in information technology make an average of $66,000 as of September 2022.
Job projections vary by position, with some tech careers projected to increase at rates that far exceed the industry averages.
Best Computer Coding and Programming Jobs
Computer programs and applications function because computer programmers write, test, and maintain code. These workers collaborate with software developers and engineers.
They may write code according to diagrams written by software developers. It takes keen problem-solving and analytical skills to become a computer programmer, an occupation projected to see a decline in new openings.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$93,000
- Common Education Requirements:Bachelor's degree in computer science or mathematics or coding bootcamp certificate
- Common Skills and Languages:Proficient in Java and Python with basic math and coding skills, plus knowledgeable of data types
Full-Stack Web Developer
Full-stack web developers work on client-side and server-side software projects. They create scalable front-end and back-end architecture. The front end includes anything that the user interacts with, while the back end involves what they don't see.
Aside from designing and creating software, full-stack web developers also test and debug software and applications. They write code and develop application programming interfaces. They also often work with graphic designers to create applications.
- Average Annual Salary (November 2022):$80,230
- Common Education Requirements:Employers may prefer a bachelor's degree in computer science or engineering.
- Common Skills and Languages:Experience in CSS, HTML, Java, Python, Ruby, and SQL, plus web architecture and basic design skills
Mobile Application Developer
Mobile application developers design and implement products for different platforms —including Android, Apple, and Windows devices. It takes a mastery of coding and design to become a mobile app developer.
These professionals debug, test, and manage applications throughout their life cycles. Mobile app developers design, develop, and deploy applications. They also continue to provide maintenance and support for apps. Programming languages such as Java help mobile app developers build Android apps, or they use Swift for iOS devices.
- Average Annual Salary (November 2022):$76,170
- Common Education Requirements: Bachelor's in computer science or software development training through a coding bootcamp
- Common Skills and Languages:Experience in Java, Python, Kotlin, Swift, and React Native.
Responsibilities for software developers vary by project. Software developers, often called software engineers, too, oversee the entire software development lifecycle. They often work with UX designers to create interface mock-ups and develop design docs with other software engineers. Then, software developers run tests. As they deploy products, users report problems that software engineers fix.
The role also requires optimizing code to save companies money on server costs. The job may require writing algorithms or using algorithms designed by other software engineers. Many software engineers specialize in C# or DevOps.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$120,730
- Common Education Requirements:Bachelor's degree in engineering, computer science, or hands-on work experience
- Common Skills and Languages: Experience with C and C#, Java, and Python, plus a strong grasp of algorithms and data structures
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts help design and manage the security network infrastructure and security technology solutions. On a daily basis, information security analysts protect a company's information by performing SOX compliance, audits, and risk assessments.
They also recommend security enhancements to business and technology stakeholders. In addition, many companies want information security analysts who can implement cloud security.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$102,600
- Common Education Requirements:High school education, a bachelor's in computer science or engineering, and work experience in information technology risk management
Data scientists solve business problems. To fix business issues, data scientists extract data and use different techniques and theories to provide solutions. Much of the job requires cleaning data, but data scientists also run algorithms and extract meaning. They do data analysis and apply appropriate machine learning models. Data scientists translate their findings and make recommendations that they deliver to business stakeholders.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$100,910
- Common Education Requirements:Many data scientists have a bachelor's in computer science or statistics. Employers may seek out candidates with a master's degree.
- Common Skills and Languages:You need hands-on experience in Java, Python, SQL, or R. You also need to know Amazon Web Services, cloud-based technologies, machine learning models, and statistical algorithms.
Nearly every company relies on network administrators to do essential repairs to computer server problems. Network administrators make updates to networks and perform routine tasks, such as giving network access to new employees.
In addition, any hardware or software upgrades go through the network administrator, who may also double as tech support for the staff.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$80,600
- Common Education Requirements:An associate degree or certificate from a coding bootcamp may suffice, but some employers prefer a bachelor's in computer science.
- Common Skills and Languages:System administration requires knowledge of C# and Java, while hands-on experience in Python helps with networking projects.
Computer Systems Engineer
These workers configure, program, and oversee the daily technical and business operations of an organization's networks and infrastructure. This field requires an understanding of engineering principles and project management to ensure successful deployment.
Exact responsibilities depend on the company, with many computer systems engineers working at Homeland Security, NASA, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
- Average Annual Salary (November 2022):$82,000
- Common Education Requirements: A bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering and sometimes a master's degree
- Common Skills and Languages:Experience using C++ and project management skills
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists, sometimes called help-desk technicians or IT technicians, may provide network help or user support. Companies need computer support specialists to test and troubleshoot issues with networks or help customers by email, web chat, or phone. The job also may require onboarding new employees and helping with infrastructure expansion projects.
Having technical knowledge helps computer support specialists work with customers and network with computer systems administrators, who often serve as their supervisors. Depending on the company, computer support specialists may need diverse technical knowledge of company-specific programs.
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021):$57,910
- Common Education Requirements:A high school diploma; a certificate or an associate degree for more technical positions
- Common Skills and Languages:Excellent communication and problem-solving skills
Business Intelligence Analyst
Business intelligence analysts look for trends and patterns in data and make predictions that inform a management's decisions. To make data-informed decisions, these workers build dashboards and reports used to measure a company's effectiveness. Companies use these forecasts to improve processes and identify potential risks.
- Average Annual Salary (November 2022):$71,620
- Common Education Requirements:On-the-job work experience and/or a bachelor's degree in business administration, computer science, or statistics
- Common Skills and Languages: Proficiency in SQL and Python, plus strong interpersonal skills and ability to work on a team
Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Programming Jobs
Can a coding program get you a job?
Graduating from a coding program can get you a job in tech on a faster timeline than a college degree. Coding bootcamps let people with busy work lives train on a schedule that works for them, whether that's on weekends and during evenings or completely online.
That said, not every employer values the training from a coding program. Some may prefer candidates who hold an undergraduate degree — or even a graduate degree.
Does coding require math?
Yes, but basic math. In fact, most people already have the essential math skills to learn basic coding. To land a coding job, you need a foundation in basic arithmetic, boolean algebra, binary math, and introductory statistics. More advanced tech careers, such as data scientists and engineers, need advanced math skills.
Is coding easy or hard?
It depends on the person. Not everyone can easily learn to code. For that reason, coding bootcamps often require tech assessments and introductory courses to get all students on the same level. Generally, coding is not difficult to learn if you have the time and passion for learning. And the level of complexity depends on your career end goal.
Feature Image: PIKSEL / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images