Computer programmers write, test, and maintain the
detailed instructions, called programs, that computers must follow to perform their functions. Programmers also conceive,
design, and test logical structures for solving problems by computer. Many technical innovations in programming—advanced
computing technologies and sophisticated new languages and programming tools—have redefined the role of a programmer
and elevated much of the programming work done today. Job titles and descriptions may vary, depending on the organization.
In this occupational statement, computer programmers are individuals whose main job function is programming; this group
has a wide range of responsibilities and educational backgrounds.
Computer programs tell the computer what to do—which
information to identify and access, how to process it, and what equipment to use. Programs vary widely depending on the type
of information to be accessed or generated. For example, the instructions involved in updating financial records are very
different from those required to duplicate conditions on an aircraft for pilots training in a flight simulator. Although simple
programs can be written in a few hours, programs that use complex mathematical formulas whose solutions can only be approximated
or that draw data from many existing systems may require more than a year of work. In most cases, several programmers work
together as a team under a senior programmer’s supervision.