A computer programmer drinks coffee during a late night of work

Pros and Cons of Being a Computer Programmer

A computer programmer is like an author who writes translations - where a translator would take a story or poem written by someone else in another language so the work can be read by people who don’t speak the origin language, programmers take an idea and design created by developers and turn it into something that can be read by a computer.

Additionally, they have to know what they’re doing well enough to know if and why any error appears in the code, and how to fix any bugs that appear in the program. Computer programming is no easy task, so it’s important to understand all sides of the career before jumping into it.

Pro: Passion and Pay

If you love playing with the intricate workings of computers and changing they way they function, then you’ve come to the right place. An innate love of technology is practically a requirement for this field, or you’ll become very unhappy very quickly. But someone looking to immerse herself in all things technological will almost certainly thrive in such an environment. Especially considering the pay is nothing to turn up your nose at. Most programmers make somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000 to over $100,000 a year, depending on environment, specialty, and background.

Con: Low Job Growth Rate

While there’s no lack of demand for programmers, and those already in their positions are quite secure, the growth rate is significantly below that of other technology based professions. Although it is still average (anticipated growth over the next 10 years is about 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics), other jobs, like developers, are looking at a growth rate of about 22% over the next 10 years - more than double that of programmers.

Pro: Flexibility

On the plus side, your work space can be almost anywhere you want, as long as your company doesn’t mind. Many programmers work from home, since the basic requirements are a computer and the internet. And while your body may not get much stimulation, your mind most certainly gets a workout. Not only do you have to enter the field with multiple programming languages already in-hand, the average worker should be prepared to learn and utilize additional codes, as well as other constantly changing aspects of technology, computers, and programming languages.

Con: Sedentary Schedule

No matter where you set up shop, computer programming is very fast-paced and demanding. While an average work week is the standard 40 hours, unexpected problems always arise, and deadlines tend to sneak up on you, which can mean very long hours - not just for the day, but for months at a stretch until a project is finished. Additionally, this is a very sedentary career. There’s not a lot of movement, which can lead to weight gain and musculoskeletal pain disorders. Combined with the stress, this can be a recipe for poor health.

Last Updated: July 16, 2015