Published on Aug 25, 2020

Programmer Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who creates computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computers, or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software.

A programmer’s most oft-used computer language (e.g., Assembly, COBOL, C, C++, C#, JavaScript, Lisp, Python) may be prefixed to the term programmer. Some who work with web programming languages also prefix their titles with web.

A range of occupations that involve programming also often require a range of other, similar skills, for example: (software) developer, web developer, mobile applications developer, embedded firmware developer, software engineer, computer scientist, game programmer, game developer and software analyst. The use of the term programmer as applied to these positions is sometimes considered an insulting simplification or even derogatory.


Computer programmers write, test, debug, and maintain the detailed instructions, called computer programs, that computers must follow to perform their functions. Programmers also conceive, design, and test logical structures for solving problems by computer. Many technical innovations in programming — advanced computing technologies and sophisticated new languages and programming tools — have redefined the role of a programmer and elevated much of the programming work done today. Job titles and descriptions may vary, depending on the organization.

Programmers work in many settings, including corporate information technology (“IT”) departments, big software companies, small service firms and government entities of all sizes. Many professional programmers also work for consulting companies at client sites as contractors. Licensing is not typically required to work as a programmer, although professional certifications are commonly held by programmers. Programming is widely considered a profession (although some authorities disagree on the grounds that only careers with legal licensing requirements count as a profession).

Programmers’ work varies widely depending on the type of business for which they are writing programs. For example, the instructions involved in updating financial records are very different from those required to duplicate conditions on an aircraft for pilots training in a flight simulator. Simple programs can be written in a few hours, more complex ones may require more than a year of work, while others are never considered ‘complete’ but rather are continuously improved as long as they stay in use. In most cases, several programmers work together as a team under a senior programmer’s supervision.

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