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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 11,600
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

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

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 07, 2017

Computer programmers may combine and adapt existing programs or program components, or actually write computer code. They use application design and development tools, and different computer and database languages for different types of applications (for example, business, commercial, engineering or scientific software). Programming also is used in the creation of many web applications.

In general, computer programmers:

  • work from specifications drawn up by systems analysts or discuss requirements with people who will be using the program
  • analyze requirements to determine what steps need to be taken and in what order, and translate these steps into computer language commands
  • test and debug programs to ensure they work properly and address security and privacy concerns
  • document programs and procedures by writing descriptions of what the programs do and how they do it, by preparing user manuals or help screens and by updating case repositories
  • maintain existing computer programs by making minor modifications as required.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Computer programmers work in an office environment. They may work in shifts or from home. Overtime may be required to meet deadlines or to debug programs that are not running properly.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Programmers need the ability to:

  • think logically and analyze complex problems
  • concentrate for long periods of time   
  • remain patient and persistent when debugging programs 
  • pay attention to details to avoid time-consuming and costly errors 
  • communicate ideas clearly 
  • get along well with clients and other team members.

They should enjoy learning new computer languages and programming styles, and developing innovative solutions to problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Most computer programmers have completed a post-secondary education program in computer science or a related discipline that has a significant programming component. There are a wide variety of three and four year degree programs, two year diploma programs and one year certificate programs in this field that are offered by universities, colleges, technical institutes and private vocational schools.

Before enrolling in an education or training program, prospective programmers should:

  • decide what type of programming work they want to do (and in which industry)
  • talk to potential employers about required and preferred qualifications for that type of programming.

After graduation, all programmers must continuously upgrade their knowledge in this rapidly changing field.

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 07, 2017

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 07, 2017

Computer programmers are employed by large software companies and consulting firms, many of which are based outside Alberta. Most programmers employed in Alberta work in the information systems departments of large organizations or in specialized software development firms. Employers include:

  • consulting firms
  • software developers
  • insurance, oil, transportation and utility companies
  • municipal, provincial and federal governments
  • educational and financial institutions.

Some programmers are involved in research and scientific work for universities, research foundations and computer design and manufacturing companies. Some work as consultants, developing programs for companies with specific software needs. A small percentage are employed as programming instructors in colleges and institutes of technology.

Junior programmers require two or three years of Information Technology (IT) experience and additional training to become applications or systems programmers. Experienced programmers may become lead applications programmers or systems analysts. With additional training and experience, programmers may move into related fields such as database administration, systems security or 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 12,400 Albertans are employed in the Computer programmers and interactive media developers occupational group. This group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.7% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 211 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As computer programmers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for computer programmers.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Salaries for computer programmers depend on the education and experience of the programmer, and 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 High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Physics
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Computing Science
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) 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 Works Centre near you.

Updated Jan 08, 2013. 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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