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Computer programmers write the instructions that list the steps a computer must do to perform a task. These instructions that a computer follows are called programs or software. Programmers use a special computer code to write the software programs. Programmers must also debug the programs—that is, test them to ensure that they produce the expected results. If a program does not work correctly, they check the code for mistakes and fix them.
Programmers need to be logical, detail-oriented, and able to concentrate on writing lines of code for long periods of time. Some computer programs are relatively simple and usually take a few days to write, such as creating mobile applications for cell phones. Other programs, like computer operating systems, are more complex and can take a year or more to complete.
Most programmers can write programs in a variety of computer languages, such as C++ and Java. A computer science degree gives students the skills needed to learn new computer languages easily. To keep up with changing technology, computer programmers may take continuing education and professional development seminars to learn new programming languages or about upgrades to programming languages they already know.
Programmers usually work in offices, but because writing code can be done anywhere, many programmers telecommute. Programmers usually work in the computer systems design and related services industry. They may also work in a specific area such as engineering, health, or science. Programmers can become certified in specific programming languages or for vendor-specific programming products.
Programmers work closely with software developers to turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow. With experience, some programmers may become software developers. Programmers who have general business experience may become computer systems analysts.
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