Computer programmers are responsible for writing the code that allows computer software systems to function. Programmers write code for programs small and large, ranging from simple mobile phone applications to complex operating systems such as Windows. Computer programmers generally need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers earned an average of $78,260 per year in 2012. This is the equivalent of $6,521 per month. Computer programmers at the median, or midpoint, salary range reported salaries of $74,280, or about $7,004 per month. The bureau also reported that the highest-paid 10 percent of programmers made $117,890 or more per year and $9,824 or more per month.
Pay by State
As of 2012, computer programmers in Washington state reported the highest average salary, $7,781 per month. Those working in Washington, D.C. ranked second, with an average monthly salary of $7,580. Other high-paying states for programmers included Colorado, at an average of $7,419 per month; Maryland, at $7,300 a month; and California, at $7,263 a month. Programmers working in North Dakota reported the lowest average monthly salary by state, $4,356.
Pay by Industry
As of 2012, more computer programmers worked in computer systems design than in any other industry and earned an average of $6,658 a month. Those employed by software publishers averaged slightly more, at $6,978 per month. Programmers employed by data processing and hosting services earned an average of $6,230 per month, and those working for insurance carriers brought home an average monthly salary of $6,374. Those who found employment with securities and commodity exchanges reported one of the very highest average salaries by industry, $8,395 per month.
The Job outlook for computer programmers is good. As the use of computers continues to increase in modern society, more programmers will be needed to code software. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of programming jobs will increase at a rate of 12 percent between 2010 and 2020, leading to about 43,700 new positions by the end of the decade. Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree related to computers and are knowledgeable in the newest programming languages will have the best chances of finding employment.
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