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Computer Programmer
Computer programmers create, modify and test the forms, scripts and code that tell the computer what to do. They serve as the link between the operator and the computer.

The work of computer programmers is both demanding and rewarding. In general terms, they are people who write programs for specific purposes or needs, whether it is to create a virtual reality game, a database system, control machinery or to program a company's telephone system.

They write programs, which are detailed instructions, which list the specifications that the computer must follow to solve a problem or handle information in a logical order. Systems analysts provide the specifications for a particular task. Programmers write programs and translate them into a computer language such as VISUAL BASIC, DELPHI, Pascal, Cobol, Java, Oracle, Informix, C and C++, to name but a few. The sequence of instructions is carefully entered on the keyboard and checked to make sure that the instructions are correct and that they will produce the desired information. If errors occur, the program is changed and rechecked until the desired results are produced.

Computer programmers works closely with systems analysts to produce programs based on the specifications derived from the needs of the client.

The work of computer programmers involves researching and documenting computer users' requirements; analysing the objectives and problems specified by the systems analyst; and determining what steps need to be taken and in what order, then translating these steps into computer language commands. They test programs and software applications and then "debug" them. They also need to document what the programs do and how they do it, by preparing user manuals and help screens.

Computer programmers may specialize in a number of different areas:

Network programmers work with vendor networking languages to support the implementation or modification of network configurations

Database programmers are involved in the development of programs to suit the access to and maintenance of databases

Analyst programmers design and analyze clients' needs and create complex design structures for translation into a programming language

Multimedia programmers are involved with systems, applications and programming issues. This includes conversion between platforms and the initial writing of code for incorporation of text, graphics, video, animation, digital / analogue photographs, audio and 2/3D modelling

Systems software programmers write, maintain and update programs that control the overall functioning of computers

Satisfying Aspects
- the challenge of the work
- solving problems
- working in a field that is constantly changing and advancing

Demanding aspects
- having to work long hours to solve problems
- working under pressure
- the frustration of not being able to solve a programming problem
- the fact that the work can be very fatiguing
- having to work irregular hours on occasion

A computer programmer should:
- enjoy mathematics and solving problems;
- be able to concentrate for long periods;
- be imaginative;
- be patient and accurate;
- think logically and sequentially, and make own decisions;
- persevere with a task until all the problems are solved.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics
Recommended Subjects: Information Technology, Computer Applications

Note: Before deciding on a career in computer programming, candidates are advised to take aptitude tests.

Degree: Relevant degrees are offered by most universities - RU, UCT, UWC, NMMU, UFS, Wits, US, UP, UNISA, UKZN, UJ, UZ, UFH, NWU, Monash.

Diploma: Relevant diplomas are offered by most universities of technology and some private colleges - CPUT, CUT, MUT, TUT, VUT, UJ, UNISA.

Certificate: Relevant certificates are offered by most TVET colleges, e.g. False Bay, Boland. Northlink, Cape Town, SW Gauteng

Most large computer firms have their own training departments where intensive in-service training courses are offered and trainees have the opportunity to work on the firm's own computers. A number of private firms also offer training courses.

- Government departments
- Computer manufacturers
- Research organisations
- Commerce and industry
- Insurance companies
- Educational institutions and libraries
- Transport enterprises
- Mining companies
- A skilled and entrepreneurial computer programmer can start his own business.

Computer Society of SA   
P O Box 1714
Halfway House, 1685
ICT House
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319 Fax: (011) 315-2276

ISETT (Information Systems Electronics & Telecommunication Technologies)
P O Box 5585 Halfway House 1685
Tel: (011) 805 5115 Fax: (011) 805 6833