How to become a Programmer (Information Technology)

Programmers (IT) write, test and maintain computer programmes to ensure that the computer application meets the needs of the users of the computer system.

Personal requirements of a Programmer (Information Technology)

  • Aptitude for technical activities
  • Logical approach to the solution of problems
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Good communication skills
  • Willing to update knowledge as technology changes

Education & Training for a Programmer (Information Technology)

To become a programmer you usually have to complete a VET qualification in information technology, programming or software development. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a programmer by studying information technology or computer science at university with a major in programming, software development or games development. To get into these courses, you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

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Duties & Tasks of a Programmer (Information Technology)

Programmers may perform the following tasks:

  • assist systems analysts and designers in researching and documenting computer users’ requirements
  • analyse objectives and problems specified by analysts and designers
  • translate the solutions provided by systems designers into detailed program specifications
  • prepare documentation for other programmers, users of the system and other support services workers
  • undertake program design activities including definition of data and error message arrangements
  • supervise and report on the work of junior programmers
  • modify and document program code to correct errors or to enhance a program’s capabilities
  • test the programs and make amendments
  • prepare reports on the status, operation and maintenance of system software for use by computer equipment suppliers, systems designers, other programmers and computer operators.

Employment Opportunities for a Programmer (Information Technology)

Programmers may work in small IT companies or in larger organisations. There are some opportunities to work on a freelance basis. Typically, people working as programmers advance into designer and analyst roles after some years of experience. In some smaller organisations, all three roles may be carried out by a single individual.


Analyst Programmer

An analyst programmer involved in higher-level design and analysis. This is the typical next step in the career of a programmer.

Communications Programmer (Systems)

A communications programmer (systems) is involved in activities associated with programming telecommunications infrastructures, such as stored programme-controlled telephone exchanges. Communications programming (systems) has also been used to describe the work of network programmers. See the section below on network programmers.

Database Programmer (Systems)

A database programmer (systems) is involved in the development of programmes to suit access and maintenance of databases. It is often considered to be part of the database design role. See the section on database design specialists under the Systems Designer (Information Technology) entry.

Information Technology Manager

An information technology manager plans, administers and reviews the acquisition, development, maintenance and use of computer and telecommunications systems within organisations. The IT manager is often the most senior person in the IT department and in large organisations may be called the IT Director or Chief Information Officer.

Multimedia Programmer

A multimedia programmer examines systems and applications programming issues involving the conversion between platforms and the initial writing of code for incorporation of text, graphics, video, animation, digital/analogue photographs, audio and 2D/3D modelling. Further specialisations are also possible, such as video systems development programming and PC-lead programming.

Network Programmer

A network programmer works with vendor networking languages to support the implementation or modification of network configurations. Ongoing education in vendor products and technical matters is important.

Systems Software Programmer

A systems software programmer works with the code used to define the particular operating system and sometimes also with low-level machine language. They write, maintain and update programmes that control the overall functioning of computers.

Additional Information
Membership of the Australian Computer Society is available to those who hold or are working towards suitable qualifications. There is a range of membership types available, allowing progression through the various levels as a member’s career develops.
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