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Become A Systems Programmer

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Working As A Systems Programmer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Systems Programmer Do

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow. In addition, programmers test newly created applications and programs to ensure that they produce the expected results. If they do not work correctly, computer programmers check the code for mistakes and fix them.

Duties

Computer programmers typically do the following:

  • Write programs in a variety of computer languages, such as C++ and Java
  • Update and expand existing programs
  • Test programs for errors and fix the faulty lines of computer code responsible
  • Create and test code in an integrated development environment (IDE)
  • Use code libraries, which are collections of independent lines of code, to simplify the writing

Programmers work closely with software developers, and in some businesses their duties overlap. When such overlap occurs, programmers can do work that is typical of developers, such as designing the program. Program design entails planning the software initially, creating models and flowcharts detailing how the code is to be written, writing and debugging code, and designing an application or systems interface. Programmers often use an IDE, which allows them to create, edit, and test code.

A program’s purpose determines the complexity of its computer code. For example, a weather application for a mobile device will require less programming than a social-networking application. Simpler programs can be written in less time. Complex programs, such as computer operating systems, can take a year or more to complete.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS), which consists of applications provided through the Internet, is a growing field. Although programmers typically need to rewrite their programs to work on different system platforms, such as Windows or OS X, applications created with SaaS work on all platforms. Accordingly, programmers writing SaaS applications may not have to rewrite as much code as other programmers do and can instead spend more time writing new programs.

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How To Become A Systems Programmer

Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject; however, some employers hire workers with an associate’s degree. Most programmers specialize in a few programming languages.

Education

Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree; however, some employers hire workers who have an associate’s degree. Most programmers get a degree in computer science or a related subject. Programmers who work in specific fields, such as healthcare or accounting, may take classes in that field to supplement their degree in computer programming. In addition, employers value experience, which many students gain through internships.

Most programmers learn a few computer languages while in school. However, a computer science degree gives students the skills needed to learn new computer languages easily. During their classes, students receive hands-on experience writing code, testing programs, fixing errors, and doing many other tasks that they will perform on the job.

To keep up with changing technology, computer programmers may take continuing education and professional development seminars to learn new programming languages or about upgrades to programming languages they already know.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Programmers can become certified in specific programming languages or for vendor-specific programming products. Some companies require their computer programmers to be certified in the products they use.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in computer programming by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Advancement

Programmers who have general business experience may become computer systems analysts. With experience, some programmers may become software developers. They may also be promoted to managerial positions. For more information, see the profiles on computer systems analysts, software developers, and computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Computer programmers must understand complex instructions in order to create computer code.

Concentration. Programmers must be able to work at a computer, writing lines of code for long periods.

Detail oriented. Computer programmers must closely examine the code they write because a small mistake can affect the entire computer program.

Troubleshooting skills. An important part of a programmer’s job is to check the code for errors and fix any they find.

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Systems Programmer Jobs

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Systems Programmer Career Paths

Systems Programmer
Consultant Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Consultant Information Technology Manager Information Technology Director
Senior Director Of Information & Technology
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Project Manager Development Manager
Senior Development Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Information Technology Infrastructure Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Project Manager Information Technology Director
Director, Technical Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Senior Project Manager Information Technology Director
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Analyst Information Systems Manager
Information Systems Director
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Senior Programmer Analyst Manager Applications Development
Application Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Network Engineer Network Administrator
Information Technology Systems Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Technology And Services
11 Yearsyrs
Software Developer Software Development Manager Director Of Software Development
Vice President Of Software Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Analyst Information Systems Manager
Director Of Information Services
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Senior Programmer Analyst Application Manager
Director, Applications
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Programmer Analyst Manager Applications Development Application Development Director
Vice President Of Application Development
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Information Technology Consultant Information Technology Analyst
Information Technology Supervisor, Information Technology
6 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Senior System Administrator Infrastructure Manager
Director Of Infrastructure Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Technical Consultant Senior Technical Consultant
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
Software Developer Software Development Manager
Information Technology Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Software Developer Information Technology Consultant Information Technology Operations Manager
Manager Information Technology Applications
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Systems Programmer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Systems Programmer 5.0 years
Staff Programmer 4.7 years
Cobol Programmer 4.4 years
Programmer 2.5 years
Junior Programmer 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Systems Programmer
Programmer 11.4%
Consultant 5.7%
Top Careers After Systems Programmer
Consultant 11.1%
Manager 4.0%
Programmer 3.8%

Do you work as a Systems Programmer?

Systems Programmer Demographics

Gender

Male

76.4%

Female

15.7%

Unknown

7.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.3%

Hispanic or Latino

12.9%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

11.2%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

39.1%

German

13.0%

French

10.9%

Chinese

7.6%

Italian

3.3%

Arabic

3.3%

Hindi

2.2%

Mandarin

2.2%

Russian

2.2%

Greek

2.2%

Carrier

2.2%

Portuguese

2.2%

Japanese

2.2%

Swedish

1.1%

Gujarati

1.1%

Dutch

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Afrikaans

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%
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Systems Programmer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.7%

Pennsylvania State University

6.7%

University of Maryland - College Park

6.2%

University of Pittsburgh -

5.5%

University of Houston

5.2%

University of Maryland - University College

4.8%

Northern Illinois University

4.8%

University of Southern California

4.5%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.5%

Texas A&M University

4.5%

Florida State University

4.3%

George Mason University

4.3%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.3%

University of Kansas

4.0%

New York University

3.8%

Purdue University

3.8%

University of South Florida

3.6%

Regis University

3.6%

University of Texas at Dallas

3.6%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

3.6%
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Majors

Computer Science

37.5%

Business

13.6%

Computer Information Systems

7.6%

Electrical Engineering

5.7%

Computer Engineering

4.4%

Mathematics

4.1%

Information Technology

3.5%

Information Systems

3.4%

Computer Programming

3.0%

Management Information Systems

2.6%

Management

2.1%

Project Management

1.8%

Accounting

1.6%

Finance

1.6%

Data Processing

1.4%

Computer Applications

1.4%

Education

1.2%

Computer Technical Support

1.2%

Computer Networking

1.2%

Information Sciences

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.6%

Masters

21.8%

Other

17.0%

Associate

8.9%

Certificate

3.8%

Doctorate

1.9%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.0%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$78,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$57,000
Min 10%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$106,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Levi, Ray & Shoup
Highest Paying City
Bothell, WA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
5.0 years
How much does a Systems Programmer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Systems Programmer in the United States is $78,308 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $57,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $106,000.

Real Systems Programmer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Systems Programmer PDT Partners, LLC New York, NY Jul 31, 2015 $185,000
Systems Programmer PDT Partners, LLC New York, NY Feb 14, 2015 $185,000
Systems Programmer II PDT Partners LLC New York, NY Jul 29, 2016 $185,000
Systems Programmer II PDT Partners, LLC New York, NY Feb 23, 2016 $175,000
Systems Programmer Infinera Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Dec 13, 2016 $164,382 -
$179,700
Staff Systems Programmer Infinera Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Nov 14, 2016 $157,477 -
$179,700
Senior, Systems Programmer Infinera Corporation Sunnyvale, CA May 13, 2015 $134,534 -
$140,400
Principal Computer Systems Programmer New York State Unified Court System New York, NY Oct 20, 2016 $131,572
Systems Programmer Apple Inc. Newark, CA Jul 01, 2016 $130,000 -
$148,400
Systems Programmer PDT Partners, LLC New York, NY Feb 14, 2015 $129,000
System Programmer Radiant Logic, Inc. Novato, CA Oct 01, 2015 $128,544
System Programmer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 28, 2015 $125,000 -
$145,400
Systems Programmer Apple Inc. Newark, CA May 11, 2016 $122,949 -
$151,300
SR. Systems Programmer Illumina San Diego, CA Apr 13, 2016 $122,803 -
$135,000
Systems Programmer Medical Science & Computing, Inc. Bethesda, MD Oct 17, 2016 $94,999
Systems Programmer IV University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA Dec 01, 2016 $94,552
Systems Programmer IV University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA Jan 12, 2016 $94,552
SR. Systems Programmer Illumina San Diego, CA Nov 05, 2016 $92,768 -
$120,000
SR. Systems Programmer Illumina, Inc. San Diego, CA Jun 15, 2016 $91,749 -
$131,749
System Development Programmer Xerox Business Services, LLC Richmond, VA Jun 11, 2015 $91,062
Systems Programmer V-Soft Consulting Group, Inc. Westbury, NY Jan 02, 2016 $90,000
Senior Systems Programmer Eloyalty LLC Franklin, TN Mar 25, 2015 $90,000
System Programmer IBM India Private Limited Charlotte, NC Jan 07, 2016 $69,826
System Programmer IBM India Private Limited Charlotte, NC Jul 01, 2016 $69,826
System Programmer IBM India Private Limited Charlotte, NC Jul 06, 2016 $69,826
System Programmer IBM India Private Limited Charlotte, NC Dec 07, 2016 $69,826
System Programmer Cvent, Inc. McLean, VA Aug 21, 2016 $69,638
Senior Systems Programmer, Business Intelligence Compass Bank Birmingham, AL Feb 01, 2015 $69,200
Applications Systems Programmer AVCO Consulting Inc. Worcester, MA Apr 14, 2016 $69,160
Systems Programmer Aplomb Technologies, Inc. Redmond, WA Jan 09, 2016 $69,000

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Top Skills for A Systems Programmer

  1. Mainframe
  2. Database
  3. Mvs
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed and implemented a web-based replacement for an outdated mainframe aircraft design technical performance and measurement system.
  • Developed Database Disaster Recovery coordinator, responsible for recovery procedures for DB2 and IDMS databases.
  • Gained experience on VM operating system used to allow concurrent operation of VS1 and MVS during conversion period.
  • Performed maintenance and customization support for CICS gateway and CICS/TS at various version levels running under z/OS for multiple system environments.
  • Developed fully functional production applications in these systems for use as examples to production departments.

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Top 10 Best States for Systems Programmers

  1. California
  2. Maryland
  3. North Carolina
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Colorado
  7. Florida
  8. Alabama
  9. Connecticut
  10. New York
  • (2,060 jobs)
  • (1,174 jobs)
  • (482 jobs)
  • (320 jobs)
  • (484 jobs)
  • (593 jobs)
  • (709 jobs)
  • (403 jobs)
  • (181 jobs)
  • (768 jobs)

Top Systems Programmer Employers

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