Application Programmer Job Description


Computers are at the heart of most companies’ information processing functions, and the information technology world has provided a number of jobs around the world for people with a technical aptitude. The job of an application programmer is to write instructions that are fed into a computer, which in turn processes those instructions and performs the directed tasks on the company’s data. For those with the skills and training required, the position of application programmer is a rewarding one. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups application programmers under the broader job category of computer programmers. It reports that the median annual pay for computer programmers was $74,280 as of 2012. However, the number of jobs is only expected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is below the average for all occupations.


  • Most computer programming jobs require a four-year information technology or computer science degree, though some employers hire candidates with an associate's degree. These degree programs include classes that cover programming in several computer languages, information security and network technology.


  • Computer programmers must have strong analytical skills to progress logically from one step to the next in developing programs. Programmers must be able to take application specifications from analysts and convert them into computer programs. The top application programmers must have good interpersonal skills, since they have to work with people from business units as well as people from more technical areas. Troubleshooting skills are needed to find and repair code errors. Programmers must also be detail oriented.


  • Programmers develop functioning computer programs using programming languages such as COBOL, Java, C# and C++. Successful programmers are capable of teaching themselves a new language by reading a book and trying the language on a test application. They also must be able to write organized, easy-to-maintain code, as this reduces development and maintenance costs.


  • Before passing their new application code to the testing group, programmers perform initial testing to eliminate as many flaws as possible. Good programmers do thorough testing to ensure they are passing along the cleanest code possible. They perform unit testing, which tests one small piece of functionality, as well as integration testing, which tests the entire application from beginning to end. Bug-free code is every good programmer’s goal.


  • As business processes change, so must the applications that handle these processes. Application programmer trainees often gain experience working with the maintenance team, finding bugs and applying changes. Working with more experienced programmers to perform program maintenance often helps new programmers learn what to do -- and what not to do -- when writing computer programs.

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