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Computer Programmer

Computer programmers create, modify, and test the forms, scripts, and code that tell computers what to do.

  • Avg. Salary $81,552.00
  • Avg. Wage $40.22
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook avg
  • Employed 11,200
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Application Programmer, Computer Specialist, Information Technology Specialist, Programmer Analyst, Software Developer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Computer Programmers (2174.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers (C074) 
  • 2011 NOC: Computer programmers and interactive media developers (2174) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Computer Programmer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Computer Programmers

Interest in analyzing information to assist in the development of logical and physical specifications and to research and evaluate a variety of software products


Interest in precision working to test, correct and refine software applications, to ensure systems meet original specifications, and to maintain existing computer programs by making modifications as required; and in planning and scheduling work within set targets


Interest in speaking to collect user requirements and to identify and communicate technical problems, processes and solutions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Computer programmers may combine and adapt existing programs or program components. They may also create computer code. They use application design-and-development tools. They use various computer and database languages for different types of software (such as business, commercial, engineering, or scientific software). Programming is also used in many web apps.

In general, computer programmers:

  • Work from specifications or ask users what they need from the program
  • Determine what steps to take and in what order
  • Translate these steps into computer language commands
  • Test and debug programs to make sure the programs work well
  • Address security and privacy concerns
  • Create records (write descriptions of what the programs do and how, prepare user manuals or help screens and update case repositories)
  • Maintain programs by making minor changes as needed
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Computer programmers work in offices or from home. They may work shifts. Overtime may be needed to meet deadlines or debug programs.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Programmers need to possess:

  • The ability to think logically, analyze complex problems, and concentrate for long periods
  • Patience and persistence (when debugging programs)
  • Attention to detail (to avoid errors that cost time and money)
  • Speaking, listening and writing skills
  • People skills

They should enjoy:

  • Learning new computer languages and programming styles
  • Solving problems creatively
  • Doing tasks that need precision
  • Taking a structured approach to their work
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Most computer programmers have completed a program in computing science or a related discipline with a large programming component. Universities, colleges, technical institutes, and private vocational schools offer many programs. These include 3- and 4-year degree programs, 2-year diploma programs, and 1-year certificate programs.

Before choosing a program, prospective programmers should:

  • Decide what type of programming they want to do (and in which industry)
  • Talk to potential employers about the qualifications they prefer

This is a rapidly changing field. Programmers must continuously upgrade their knowledge.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

Grant MacEwan University

Lighthouse Labs

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Information Systems Professional

Information systems professionals investigate, analyze, design, develop or manage information systems based on computer and related technologies through the objective application of specialized knowledge and professional judgement.


Information Systems Professional is a protected title under Alberta's Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act. This means that to call yourself an Information Systems Professional or use the I.S.P. designation, you must be a registered member of the Canadian Information Processing Society of Alberta (CIPS Alberta). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself an Information Systems Professional.

What You Need

The Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) has defined the body of knowledge required for certification and recognizes the many different ways this standard may be achieved. Applicants must provide documented evidence for 1 of the following I.S.P. designation criteria routes: (1) Established Academic, (2) IT Industry Leader, (3) Established IT Professional, (4) Education Plus Experience, (5) Exam, (6) Professional Experience Only (applicants must have entered the field prior to 1976), or (7) Upgrade from Candidate Status. For official, detailed information, visit the CIPS website, CIPS Alberta website or contact CIPS Alberta.

Working in Alberta

Information systems professionals who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered professionals in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Canadian Information Processing Society of Alberta
PO Box 21085
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6R 2V4
Phone Number: 780-431-9311
Toll-free phone number: 1-844-431-9311
Fax number: 780-413-0076

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Computer programmers work for large software companies and consulting firms. Many of these are based outside of Alberta. Most programmers in Alberta work in the IT departments of large companies. They may also work at firms that develop specialized software. Employers include:

  • Consulting firms
  • Software developers
  • Insurance, oil, transportation, and utility companies
  • Government departments
  • Schools
  • Financial institutions

Some programmers do research and scientific work. They work for universities, research foundations, or companies that design and make computers. Some work as consultants. They develop programs for companies with specific software needs. A few teach at colleges and technology institutes.

Junior programmers need 2 or 3 years of IT experience and further training to become applications or systems programmers. With time on the job, they may become lead applications programmers or systems analysts. With more training and experience, they may move into related fields. These include database administration, systems security, and network design.

Computer programmers are part of a larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2174: Computer programmers and interactive media developers. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the C074: Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.7% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 211 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Earning for computer programmers depend on their education and experience. They also depend on the size, location, and type of employer.

Computer programmers and interactive media developers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.23 $48.08 $30.82 $30.29
Overall $21.63 $57.41 $40.22 $40.38
Top $21.63 $70.85 $49.93 $50.30

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
Information, Culture, Recreation
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
Educational Services
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) of Alberta website:

Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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