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Computer Programmer

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

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Computer programmers and interactive media developers (2174) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Computer Programmers

2006 NOC: 2174.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

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

METHODICAL

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

DIRECTIVE

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 07, 2022

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 know various computer and database languages for different types of software (such as business, commercial, engineering, and scientific software). Programming is also used in many web apps.

In general, computer programmers:

  • Solve problems by creating or modifying programs that accomplish a specific task
  • Work from specifications or ask users what they need from the program
  • Determine what steps the programs must take and in what order
  • Translate these steps into flow diagrams and computer language commands
  • Test and debug programs to make sure the programs work well
  • Address security and privacy concerns of software programs
  • 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
  • Manage software and hardware releases to ensure stability
Working Conditions
Updated Apr 07, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Computer programmers work in offices or from home. They may work shifts. They may need to work overtime to meet deadlines or debug programs.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 07, 2022

Programmers need:

  • Logical thinking to analyze complex problems and create / verify solutions
  • Patience and persistence when developing or debugging programs
  • Attention to detail to avoid errors that cost time and money
  • The ability to interpret user needs
  • Knowledge of user experience (UX) techniques
  • Speaking, listening, and writing skills
  • Interpersonal and teamwork skills

They should enjoy:

  • Learning new computer languages and programming styles
  • Solving problems creatively
  • Doing precision tasks
  • Taking a structured approach to their work

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Computer programmers and interactive media developers

2011 NOC: 2174

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 100 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between May 31, 2022 and Sep 25, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Write, modify, integrate and test software code
Tasks: Identify and communicate technical problems, processes and solutions
Tasks: Maintain existing computer programs by making modifications as required
Tasks: Assist in the collection and documentation of user's requirements
Tasks: Prepare reports, manuals and other documentation on the status, operation and maintenance of software
Tasks: Research and evaluate a variety of software products
Tasks: Assist in the development of logical and physical specifications
Tasks: Write, modify, integrate and test software code for e-commerce and other Internet applications
Health benefits: Health care plan
Construction Specialization: Team player
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 07, 2022
  • Minimum Education Varies

Most computer programmers complete 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.

Academy of Learning - Calgary Central
Academy of Learning - Calgary NE
Academy of Learning - Edmonton Downtown
Academy of Learning - Edmonton South
Academy of Learning - Edmonton West
Academy of Learning - Medicine Hat
Academy of Learning - Red Deer
Canadian Imperial College
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary South
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton South
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton West
Grant MacEwan University
International College of Business and Technology
NorQuest College
Red Deer Polytechnic

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 07, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Information Systems Professional

Information systems professionals investigate, analyze, design, develop, or manage information systems based on computer and related technologies. They do so objectively applying specialized knowledge and professional judgement.

Legislation

Information Systems Professional is a protected title under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf].

To call yourself an Information Systems Professional or use the ISP designation, you must register as a member of the Canadian Information Processing Society of Alberta (CIPS Alberta).

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself an Information Systems Professional.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Information Systems Professional.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 07, 2022

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 senior programmers. They can then program applications or systems. 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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2174: Computer programmers and interactive media developers occupational group, 75.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2174: Computer programmers and interactive media developers occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 269 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 07, 2022

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Computer programmers and interactive media developers

2016 NOC: 2174
Average Wage
$41.84
Per Hour
Average Salary
$84,210.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2174 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $39.70 $31.14 $32.69
Overall $26.45 $58.96 $41.84 $38.78
Top $33.00 $85.58 $54.54 $51.44

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
Information, Culture, Recreation
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
43%
43%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
41%
41%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
11%
11%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 07, 2022

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) of Alberta website: ab.cips.ca

Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) website: www.ictc-ctic.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. 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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