A man wearing flannel works on his computer

A Day in the Life of a Computer Programmer

While there are technical differences between computer programmers who write computer code for software and developers who have a broader skill set, both designing software and writing computer programming languages and codes, a day-in-the-life is pretty similar for both. 

When you get to your desk, you need to check if the code changes you made yesterday passed their tests to see if they work with the larger program and if they can be uploaded into the master code for the software. Once you confirm that all of yesterday's work is complete, you need to prioritize existing and new work. If a client or tester found a glitch that stops him from using the program, it often has to be fixed before anything else. If there are no urgent projects, you get to spend the next few hours writing code for an existing project.

Focus is bliss when you're writing code, but the frustrating reality is that there are always interruptions. There is always the chance that a critical problem will develop in existing code that must be fixed immediately. Your manager or a coworker may stop by to ask a question.

It is a good idea to eat your lunch away from your desk. It is sometimes the most difficult part of the day for people who sometimes think more like computers than the people from sales and marketing. But, it is a good opportunity to talk to other people, even if it is other programmers. Ultimately it's an opportunity to learn more about how other people think and what implications that might have for the way you write usable, functional code.

Some companies might have you change direction in the afternoon and some might not, but as a programmer, it's likely that you'll spend the afternoon writing more code, even if it's not the same code from the morning.

Sometime during the day you may have a meeting. Sometimes it's where the big picture for the upcoming months is shared: if there are new clients who will need customized software, if there are changes in the way testing is being done, or if new software products are in the pipeline. If programmers work under a developer in your company, you may not need to attend those big-picture meetings, but you'll often have more informal discussions with the developer about the code you're writing.

Finally, unless you work at Google or Microsoft, most programmers go home after an eight-hour work day. You sometimes need to stay to solve a critical issue, but that is unusual.

Last Updated: June 24, 2015