Computer Programming

 Introduction

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 have the ability to understand the source code from computer programmers. The source codes are then combined through a translator to transform them to machine code. The computers then read this code that the human cannot read.

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Computer programmers are able to convert solutions of various problems into instructions that the computer can comprehend. A computer programmer uses a programming language to write the code. The writing of instructions for a computer is stipulated by a set of rules contained in a programming language. A number of programming languages exist such as C, C++, JavaScript, python, PHP, and Perl, among others (Hermann, 2003). Some of these languages such as PHP, JavaScript, and python do not require separate compilation but rather uses the just-in-time process on the computer for which it is running. Every language requires a set of knowledge, rules, and vocabulary. The art of learning a new programming language is similar to learning a new spoken language. 

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 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 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 common methods applied in this include drawing a flowchart and writing pseudo code which are carried out at the same time. A flow chart contains a pictorial representation of a step-by-step solution to a problem (Hermann, 2003). There are arrows that 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 standards of writing instructions for the computer are defined in the programming language. 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 of a program happens in phases. Desk checking is the proofreading of a code to ensure the accuracy of its logic and its working in the right manner. Changing the source code into a machine code that a computer can understand is referred to as translating which cross-checks the syntax of the programming language. Debugging is a phase that involves, detecting, locating, and correcting any mistakes mostly by running the program. Logic errors in the code are referred to as bugs.

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 have increased in the recent and has sparked great interest among students. It has been noted that programming courses in most cases gets high dropout rates. Computer programming courses offer an effective learning environment and experience for the students. Students undertaking a course in computer science make a conscious choice in full understanding of the level of difficulty. Studies in computer programming go beyond the acquisition of basic computer literacy skills. 

The journey of a computer programmer involves a number of steps that allows 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. The knowledge is organized according to the functional characteristics such as algorithm. An expert in computer programing makes use of both general and specialized problem-solving strategies to efficiently create and understand programs. Gaining expertise in computer programming aims at reducing variability in three ways which includes defining the most efficient way to approach the design task, use of standard set of schemas to answer a question, and constraining the choices on execution of what offers the best solution. To gain the expertise in computer programming implies that one is able to identify a problem and adapt patterns or schemas that are best suited for the specified problem  (Robins, Rountree, & Rountree, 2003). This infers that expert computer programmers perform their tasks in a faster, accurately and are in a position to use different sources of knowledge, and effective strategies.  This is the level that 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 the way the knowledge gained is used and applied when creating a program. The basic foundation in gaining entry in computer programming is based on acquiring the knowledge about computers, programming languages, programming tools, and the most appropriate theory 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. Schema is comprised of a set of propositions that are organized in form of semantic content and that is further broken down to distinguished plans, frames, and scripts  (Robins, Rountree, & Rountree, 2003). A novice computer programmer will be taught on how to read and create conventional and unconventional programs.

Indulging into the career on 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. This is followed by more complex technical concepts where the learners learn how create programs that can solve the problems stated. Other advanced concepts that computer programmers need to understand in order for them to excel in the career include an understanding of the algorithms, software development lifecycle, network architecture, and computer security. 

Gaining entry in a career as a computer programmer requires one to gain a full understanding on the operations of computer system that can help create solutions to problems. As a computer programmer, one is expected to understand the system limitations and how to override them thereby leading to increased efficiency. The general responsibilities under this career will include coming up with new computer programming methods which may range from basic methods in programming to more complex methods. 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 absolutely 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 meant to solve user problems which justifies 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 first understand the problem. The coding process aims at creating a solution for the identified problem. This is referred to as a code 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 have previously been carried out manually. The creation of these programs has revolutionized the operations of business, transactions of money, business communications and operations. Computer programming offers as 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.” (Jaffar, 2016) 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. Most successful apps were initiated 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 a personalized games. Computer programming skills also equip people with relevant potential required in building solutions to global problems. We can all do better in a global environment where operations have been improved, and the world made a better place. It has becoming important for people to continue improving on the current solutions. 

Computer programming skills help people to rethink on how well to propose and create more enhanced solutions. In their pursuit of increasing their efficiency, organizations require new algorithms that can make their processes more efficient (Jaffar, 2016). The logistic function is one area where shows that the use of algorithms can help establish the shortest route that the trucks need to use and how to lower the cost of logistics operation across the world. Most organizations have been able to put in place systems that allow them to collect a lot of data regarding their business and related operations. However, much of this data is just stored in databases without gaining insights. 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. 

Computer programming offers a great learning opportunity on how to use different programming languages. Computer programming languages are used in the creation of forms and functions that are performed by a computer. The languages include a set of detailed instructions on how to write a code. Learning computer programming is a sure way of getting exposure into the various relevant programming languages. Websites are considered to be innovative, responsive, and their capabilities of hosting more features and functions are designed using a single or a combination of the most popular programming languages. C is well known as the foundational programming language for development of another language. Other websites are used for building improved functionality of how websites work, to ensure they accommodate more flexible pages, features, and overall designs. 20 of the global popular technologies use JavaScript 54.4%, SQL 48%, Java 37.4%, C# 31.6%, PHP 29.7%, python 23.8%, C++ 20.6%, C 16.4% and Node.JS 13.3% to power their devices (The University of Florida, 2017). With computer programming, individuals will get a deeper insight and understanding of these languages.

Jobs and Opportunity in Computer Programming

Computer programming skills can fit in any industry. This is because all industries are continuously seeking innovative ways to automate their operations to achieve efficiency, effectiveness, and cost-cutting. 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. All these needs can be addressed by an individual with computer programming’s skills as they are not limited to operate in a single industry. 

The finance industry requires computer programmers to develop software and systems to be used in market prediction as well as 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 a database management software. The gaming industry is another industry that consumes the computer programming skills. The gaming industry is known to be fast-paced, with fun, and where one can see and play with their results. Software development companies is another that uses the skills of a computer programmer to create a solution that seeks to solve the problems of their clients. The clients in the software industry will cut across different industry thereby making one a relevant player for different industries in need of computer application and systems. 

Healthcare industry is another important industry that a computer programmer have a niche to fill. It is a common language 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. 

A computer programmer does not work in isolation, but must operate in an environment where different people serve in diversified capacities. The people that computer programmer interact with are determined by the industrial sector where they operate. Most computer programmers work hand-in-hand with other programmers and collaborate with different specialists such as software engineer, back-end programmer, front-end programmer, designer, quality controller, and project manager. 

Computer programmer gets a fair amount of compensation for their job. The average annual wage for a computer programmer is approximately $61K. The range of the pay earned by the computer programmers in $36-$99 k. Other forms of compensation include bonuses that may amount to $10k and profit sharing deals that may be close to $17k. Computer programmers working on contract charge from $30/hour-$65/ hour (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). The compensation level of the computer programmer is influenced by a number of key factors. Experience of the programmer is a key determinant of the level of compensation. Location including the city and country affects how much one is paid as a developer. The market demand for certain programming skills is also a factor affecting the compensation whereby some languages may be on more demand thereby earning more. The negotiation skills of a programmer may also influence how much they get paid. 

Computer Programming Overview: Facts and Statistics

The United States Bureau of Labor statistics indicates that computer programmers are engaged in the process of creating, modifying, testing of codes, forms, and script that make it possible for a computer application to run. Software developers analyze the needs of the clients and then design a software solution. The programs created may be used to store, locate, and retrieve a specific document, data, and information. 

The national estimates for computer programming indicated that there were 271,200 computer programmers making up each 1, 7% of the employment RSE. The mean hourly wage is $40.95 with a mean annual wage of $85180 making up a wage of 0.9%. The industries with highest levels of employment include computer systems designs and other services that absorbs about 110340 or 5.60 of the industry employment, software publishers with 18530 (5.44%), management of companies and enterprises 13520 or 0.59%, employment services 8170 (0.23%), learning institutions 717 (0.26%) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). Industries with the highest concentration of employment include computer systems design and related services (110340), software publishers (18530), data processing, hosting, and related services (6930), other information services (3270) 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 37570 and an average pay of $44.41/hour, Texas 20430 in employment and a mean pay of $40.97/hour, New York 17790 in employment and a mean pay of $42.56/hour, Illinois 13350 in employment and pay of $40.07/ hour and New Jersey with 13080 in employment and average pay $40.91. The top paying states are Washington with an average rate of $55.85, District of Colombia $46.19, Colorado $46.03, Massachusetts $45.92 and Virginia $45.52 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).

Becoming a computer programmer requires one to acquire 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 the 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 the programs, fixing errors, and accomplishing other tasks (Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor). The fast-changing pace of technology requires that the computer programmers continue improving their skills through attending education classes or attending professional development seminars. This offers an opportunity for the programmers to learn a new language or upgrade the skills they already have. The computer may be certified in using 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 information system managers. Computers programmers require to exhibit the following qualities but not limited to them: analytical skills, concentration, detail oriented, and troubleshooting skills. 

Conclusion

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. The source code that is understandable by human requires to be converted 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 to be addressed, making plans for the solution, creating the code for the program, carrying out the test for the code, and documenting the code.

With computer programming, it will be great learning how to use different programming languages. Computer programming languages are useful in the creation of forms and functions that are performed by a computer. The languages include a set of detailed instructions on how to write code. Some of the common languages include C++, Java, JavaScript, PHP, RUBY, Objective C, and Python. Computer programming is a skill that is required across different industries but in different capacities. Various industries are always searching how to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their operations. Industries such as manufacturing, finance, software development, and health sector are just examples of industries where the computer programming skills are required. Computer programmers account for 1.7% of the employment with about 270,000 programmers, and an average annual pay of about $85180.(reference again)

References

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

Hermann, N. (2003). Redesigning Introductory Computer Programming Using Multi-level Online Modules for a Mixed Audience. ACM SPecial Interest Group Computer Science Education , 196-200.

Jaffar, A. (2016). The Importance of Computer Programming. Universiti Malaysia Pahang.

Robins, A., Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2003). Learning and Teaching Programming: A Review and DIscussion . Computer Science Education, 137-172.

The University of Florida. (2017). The Languages of Computer Science. Retrieved from https://ufonline.ufl.edu/infographics/languages-of-computer-science/

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