What is the Best Degree to Become a Computer Programmer?

Only a few short decades ago, the path to becoming a computer programmer was fairly straightforward and direct. It required a lot of work, but there simply weren’t that many different avenues available; the home computer was still very much a novelty, and industrial computers worked in ways that were quite similar to one another. Today, that simplicity is a thing of the past, with computers providing varied and essential support functions throughout every industry, and in virtually every aspect of day-to-day life. We’re even developing computer applications which can improve upon their own programming, diagnose illnesses, remember personal preferences, and dispense dating advice. The world of computer programming opens up the door to more opportunities than ever, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So, what is the best degree to become a computer programmer in today’s modern, computer-dependent world?

Avenue of Employment

Computer programmers write the software that is executed by computers to perform specific tasks. They may work independently on separate projects, but in today’s corporate world they’re more likely to be found working in teams, each person being assigned specific pieces of a much larger application. This requires typical business-related skill sets for personal advancement, such as administration and communications. On the other hand, mobile software applications, or apps, may be the work of a single individual. These small, lightweight programs generally have a shorter and less intensive development process; a programmer working on mobile apps would need to have a sound understanding of the specific platforms to which their work is being released. In either case, there are a wide range of tools and programming languages which will come into play. Most programmers specialize in specific groups of languages that are particularly important to the fields they’re interested in pursuing.

More Varied Opportunities

Today’s computer programmers work within a wide range of industries, from research to manufacturing, and are often not the general practitioners they once were. In order to get a job within a specific industry, it helps to have a focused knowledge base relating to what that industry is, and how it works. Someone with specific educational credentials or experience at working within a given industry is the best choice for a specialized computer programmer, producing software and applications tailored to the needs of a particular business enterprise or industry.

Expertise in Programming

Programming expertise, in and of itself, remains the critical component of the computer programmer’s toolbox. Unlike many other highly desirable qualities in today’s professional world, such as leadership and communications skills, programming skills are not latent: they need to be taught, or learned independently. In the world of programming, demonstrable ability is still of significant importance, with some employers accepting skilled programmers with an associate’s degree. In general, the basic qualification for a solid programming job is a bachelor’s degree in computer programming or computer science, with a master’s degree allowing an individual to stand out amongst coworkers and applicants. For a computer programmer with a bachelor’s degree in programming, and the right mix of programming languages, this occupation pays an average of approximately $79,000 U.S. per year.

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The best degree to become a computer programmer is most likely a bachelor’s degree in computer programming. This opens up the door to the field, and is often more than the basic requisite educational requirement. However, as in certain other technical fields, a varied set of unrelated skills and a demonstrable ability with the core fundamentals are also extremely important, as is the right set of programming languages and platform-specific knowledge.