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Programmer/software developer

A programmer writes code – but that’s not all there is to the job. Programmers must have a range and depth of skills and a strong knowledge of related areas to create “good” code.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Software developer
  • Systems programmer
  • Applications programmer
  • Hardware programmer

Introduction

What’s the difference between a programmer and a software developer? Well, programmers write code. They sometimes have the technical skills needed to build meaningful products. A software developer works with stakeholders and develops a solution or product that fulfils their needs. A programmer often works alone using a variety of computer languages, such as Visual Basic (.Net), Java (J2EE), XML and C++ to write software programmes. They manipulate the programme designs made by engineers and developers into a language that the computer can understand and follow.Software developers control the entire development process behind an application. They are the creative minds behind programmes. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. They design the programme and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it. There are two distinct areas within programming: applications programming and systems programming. Applications programmers write programmes to process and manage incoming information. Systems programmers deal with the internal operations of the computer such as designing diagnostic programmes to identify faults.

What the job involves

  • Use programming languages to write new programmes
  • Expand and update existing programmes
  • Run tests to find any errors or bugs
  • Work with software developers to help create a product
  • Write and design coding flow charts and models
  • Use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) to automate the code writing
  • Use code libraries
  • Redesign programmes to suit other platforms

How your career can develop

Opportunities for promotion are good; a background in programming is valued for most IT careers as it provides a solid backbone of knowledge. Programmers with a flair for teamwork and communication often end up becoming project managers.

Why programming matters

Computer programmers are at the forefront of designing ever more elaborate artificial intelligence systems, crossing over into the fields of robotics and computer science.

Skills

  • Mathematical aptitude and strong problem-solving skills
  • Excellent IT and coding skills
  • Excellent organisational, time and project management skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • An understanding of the latest trends and their role in a commercial environment
  • Teamwork skills because most projects require input from individuals with different roles
  • Self-development skills to keep-up-to-date with fast-changing trends
  • Professional approach to time, costs and deadlines.

Typical employers

  • Financial services
  • Manufacturing firms
  • Educational institutions
  • Banks
  • Specialist software development houses
  • Consulting firms
  • Telecommunications firms
  • Public sector organisations
  • Self-employed

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €28,000 to €30,000
  • Senior/Potential up to €75,000 for experienced Java or C++ coders

Typical qualifications

Degrees in computer programming, computing, information technology, software development and software engineering are common gateways to the profession.

Further information

The Code Institute of Ireland: http://www.codeinstitute.net/

Irish Software Association: www.software.ie

Irish Computer Society: www.ics.ie

Irish Software Research Centre: www.lero.ie