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How to get a job in programming

By Fi Darby

When it comes to career choices, getting a job in programming can be a great option. As an entry-level computer programmer in Australia you will earn around $52,000 a year. Not a bad start, especially when you consider that computer programmers with 10-19 years of experience can earn as much as $120,000 or more. Getting a job in programming is a move into a successful industry. 

Computer programmers experience low unemployment and the role is set to see very strong growth across Australia to 2023. On top of that, as your computer programming skills grow, you will find yourself at the forefront of development in exciting and innovative fields. We have three top tips on how to get a job in programming.

How to get a job in programming

  1. Understand the industry.
  2. Understand the job role.
  3. Get some computer programming skills.

1. Understand the industry.

woman looking at data on screen

These days you are unlikely to find an organisation that doesn’t rely on expert computer programming in some form. Whilst larger organisations often employ in-house software and applications programmers, you might also find work in an agency setting or as an external consultant.

Once you have gained your computer programming skills, you will find job roles in a whole range of different industries. These include some of Australia’s top industries for job growth:
  • Mining– strong growth 2017-2018
  • Construction – strong growth 2017–2018
  • Health care and social assistance – strong growth 2017–2018
Computer science is always progressing. This means that computer programmers often find themselves at the forefront of advancement. If you want to get a job in computer programming, it is a good idea to keep up to date with key IT developments. It also makes sense to understand the future application of these in different industries. Key current developments for computer programmers include:
  • Artificial intelligence – for example, surgical robots and smart homes
  • Agricultural technology – for example, crop harvesting, soil health and drone analysis
  • Computer security – for example, threat identification, virus protection and pattern recognition
  • Financial services – for example, customer intelligence, crypto currencies and industry regulation
To prepare for a job in programming, make sure you are up to date with the latest information and industry predictions. Ways you can achieve this include:
  • Talking to other people who are already working as computer programmers
  • Signing up for relevant newsletters and publications
  • Gaining work experience in an IT setting
  • Taking IT-related training opportunities
  • Attending technical conferences as a volunteer
This type of information is best gathered over time so start soon and make sure you continue finding out more about the computer programming industry throughout your training.

2. Understand the job role.

You will have a few preconceived ideas about working as a computer programmer but finding out more about the role can really help you with decision-making and job applications. If you are well informed, you are more likely to choose the right programming skills to help you meet your ambitions.

The computer programmer’s job role

Whilst a significant portion of your time as a computer programmer will be spent in front of your screen, you will also be required to consult with clients, provide advice and write supporting documents. All computer programming is created to solve problems or achieve goals and it will be part of your job to find out your clients’ needs and respond to their feedback. As well as having working knowledge of a number of programming languages, you will also need to be able to understand the language of your clients.

Personal skills for computer programmers

Although employers in the IT industry look for applicants with formal qualifications, they also expect to see certain key personal skills. On your resume and at interview you will need to demonstrate the following: 
  • Enthusiasm: It is enthusiasm that will keep you ahead of the game and keen to learn the latest computer programming skills. You can demonstrate enthusiasm in a job application by talking about projects and learning what you have been doing in your spare time.
  • Communication skills: When you start your first computer-programming job, you will not be on your own. You will be part of a team working together to achieve a goal. Your ability to communicate with your team and with your clients will play a key part in your success as a computer programmer. Improve your communication skills before an interview by getting to know other coders. 
  • Accuracy: Successful computer programming is all about accuracy. One small error in computer code can cause all kinds of problems. The good news is that accuracy can be learned. You can develop this by working on different kinds of coding skills at home and making sure that you do your own debugging. The first place your prospective new employer will expect to see accuracy is on your application form and resume. Ask someone to check these through for you before you submit them.

3. Get some computer programming skills.

young man computer programmer

Whether you are kick-starting your first career or making a career switch to computer programming, the most important thing you can do is gain some programming skills. You can do this at home or in your existing role but an employer will also expect you to have Nationally Recognised Qualifications.

Informal computer programming experience

Informal coding experience is a great start for anyone who wants to get a job in computer programming. You can do this at home or sometimes through your workplace. Here are a few ideas of how:
  • Set yourself small programming challenges
  • Develop your own app
  • Meet up with other budding coders
  • Share your code online 
  • Once you have gained a few skills, consider taking on small freelance jobs

Computer programming courses

If you are interested in computer programming, you will already know there is a wide choice of computer languages to choose from. As you gain experience, you might want to learn more languages to improve your chances of getting those highly paid jobs. For example, JavaScript, Python and Java are all popular choices that pay well. 

However, whilst you are looking for your first job in computer programming, you should study for a qualification that gives you a broad knowledge of essential languages and sets you up to achieve vendor specific qualifications.

Upskilled’s ICT40518 - Certificate IV in Computer Programming offers three different types of course materials. 
  • Vendor specific elements, which deliver the required skills for a number of recognised industry certifications and prepare you to take vendor exams (not included)
  • Vendor neutral elements, which provide a broad overview of a number of key industry elements and further programming languages
  • Upskilled courses and workshops, which introduce interesting aspects such as research and database concepts

Get motivated and start today

Online learning is a great way to gain programming skills. Nationally recognised online computer programming courses are flexible enough to allow you to study and learn more about the computer industry while also gaining work experience in your current job.

Most Upskilled courses take only 12-months to complete. Your new job in programming is just around the corner. Talk to one of Upskilled’s education consultants today and find out how a course can help you start a new career in computer programming.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.