To work as a computer programmer, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education after high school
Most new computer programmers have at least a bachelor's degree. In the past, formal training was not as important. Many programmers learned on the job or through technical or associate programs. Now, with increasingly complex programming tasks and a growing number of college-trained applicants, a bachelor's degree is the common way to prepare.
Computer science is the most common major. However, a major in math or information systems is also acceptable. Another approach is to major in a specialty area such as engineering, science, or business. If you do not major in computer science, be sure to take programming courses.
You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
Many new programmers receive on-the-job training. In general, training lasts up to one year. You work under the guidance of experienced programmers. As you gain knowledge and experience you receive greater independence and work on more difficult tasks.
Because of the fast changing nature of this field, employers often offer training in the newest computer technologies, languages, and applications.
Some branches of the military train people to be computer systems specialists. Training lasts from seven to 13 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.