Computer Programmer Salary: Your 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Computer programmers are an important part of a team that creates online presence for businesses. The computer programmer salary depends on many things, including geographic location, experience, job title, and more.

[Featured image] A female computer programmer, with blonde hair, wearing a white shirt and glasses.  She is sitting in front of her laptop.

Computer programmers have an important role in technology industries and are responsible for creating, modifying, and testing code that serves as the functional backbone for websites and web applications.  A computer programmer’s salary varies based on many factors like experience and professional development, location, employment status, and more.

What does a computer programmer do?

Computer programmers are responsible for designing and ensuring that software correctly runs mobile applications, video games, websites, and other online needs of companies. Some tasks may include:

  • Meeting with clients to gauge needs that can be met with software tools

  • Collaborating with teams of software developers and engineers to achieve set goals 

  • Writing code using computer languages like C++, Python, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Assembly, Object C, C#, and Java

  • Develop new software

  • Testing the results to make sure everything functions as envisioned 

  • Ensure projects meet security, performance, and reliability standards

  • Update and improve functionality of existing software

  • Receive feedback from clients for improvement.

Computer programmers may create code libraries to simplify their jobs, since they may work in numerous platforms including Windows, OS X, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). In short, they take complex designs and make the results seamless and functional for the user. 

How much do computer programmers make?

In 2022, computer programmers in the US earned an average base salary of $68,061 [1]. Whether these tech professionals make more or less than the median depends on many factors, like the industry. 

The most common industries that employ computer programmers, along with the median annual salary for each are:

  • Software publishers: $102,370

  • Finance and insurance: $99,260

  • Manufacturing: $98,320

  • Computer systems design: $79,860 [2]

In general, the more experienced you are, the greater the computer programming salary. As you become more specialized—along with other factors—your pay might increase as well.

How do I qualify to become a computer programmer?

Three distinct paths can lead to becoming a successful computer programmer. If you’re self-directed and disciplined, you can teach yourself programming languages which can lead to a career in computer programming. Some computer programmers have no formal training or academic degree, but these people may also have a natural aptitude for this field.

A second option to become a computer programmer is to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. This is a more formalized process, students will gain experience in writing code, fixing errors, and testing programs. You’ll learn the languages that may lead to a career, although it’s likely that you may need to take continuing education courses to stay up to date with the most modern tools.

You can earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of London online on Coursera. 

The third option is bootcamps and online specialization courses that support a similar level of skill as a formal degree with the flexibility of learning on your own. 

Online courses allow aspiring computer programmers to gain on-the-job experience to begin earning money. Specializations can make it easier to learn computer languages by focusing on one language at a time. For example, you can start with Python for Everybody offered by the University of Michigan or C++ Basic Structures offered by Codio, both on Coursera.  

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Python for Everybody

Learn to Program and Analyze Data with Python. Develop programs to gather, clean, analyze, and visualize data.

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Json, Xml, Python Programming, Database (DBMS), Python Syntax And Semantics, Basic Programming Language, Computer Programming, Data Structure, Tuple, Web Scraping, Sqlite, SQL, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz)

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C++ Basic Structures: Vectors, Pointers, Strings, and Files

Code and run your first C++ program in minutes without installing anything! This course is designed for learners with limited coding experience, providing ...

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vectors, Files, Strings, C++, Computer Science

Read more: What Can You Do with a Computer Science Degree?

Salary information and variations 

Beyond the industry where computer programmers work, salaries can range dramatically based on other factors. These include location, employment status, job title, and the level of professional development you achieve over time. 

Location and salary

While experts predict that many computer programming jobs will move overseas over the next decade, there are many cities and states in the US where these tech professionals are paid very well. Often, employers in cities and states with higher costs of living tend to pay more. Places with larger corporations also tend to have employment opportunities that pay more.

The best-paying cities for computer programmers with the average salary, are:

  • San Francisco, California: $125,420

  • Midland, Texas: $119,390

  • San Jose, California: $113,530

  • Dallas, Texas: $112,050

  • Mobile, Alabama: $109,380 [3]

Certain states also pay especially well for computer programmer salary options. These states and the corresponding mean salary include: 

  • Washington: $177,210

  • District of Columbia: $119,010

  • California: $107,300

  • Virginia: $103,150

  • Texas: $102,650 [3]

Employment status and salary

Most computer programmers have salaries and work full-time, but many aspiring professionals will undertake an internship to gain more in-depth industry experience. These internships may or may not be paid, but they can often lead to entry-level employment. 

You can find internships by browsing job boards, attending college job fairs, or working directly with an advisor at a local academic institution. 

Job title variations and salary

*The following salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of June 2022

The term “computer programmer” is an umbrella term that can be applied to many different specialized tracks of experience and skill development. Professionals who are qualified to work as computer programmers may work for other advertised positions as well. 

Job titles with overlapping skill sets include:

  • Analyst programmer

  • Application programmer analyst

  • Computer programmer analyst

  • Internet programmer

  • Java developer

  • Web Applications programmer

  • Web programmer

These job titles and others can result in salary variations; here are the average annual salaries of different types of computer programmers in the US:

  • Web programmer:  $113,301 [4]

  • Java developer: $107,113 [5]

  • Analyst programmers: $107,346

  • Web application programmers: $111,935

Along with title differences, a computer programming salary can also vary by company. In 2022, Fujitsu offered $97,674 a year for a computer programmer position, while IBM offered $79,056 a year [3].

Professional development 

One way a professional computer programmer can enhance earning potential is through professional development. Learning new computer languages and best industry practices can make a resume more attractive to more competitive employers.

For example, a C# Programming for Unity Game Development Specialization or a C++  Programming for Unreal Game Development Specialization, both offered by the University of Colorado on Coursera, can help you qualify for a career as a game designer. 

Some computer programmers learn enough languages to be proficient in code stacking. These full-stack developers have even greater earning potential, with an average annual salary of $107,582. For life-long learners willing to continue professional development, there can be many lucrative opportunities.

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C# Programming for Unity Game Development

Learn to Program Unity Games with C#. Learn C# programming and how to use C# in Unity games

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C++ Programming for Unreal Game Development

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First steps to becoming a computer programmer

 If you’re considering becoming a computer programmer, learn job-ready skills like programming languages to see if this career path is for you.  Consider taking Learn to Program: The Fundamentals from The University of Toronto or Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming from The University of Edinburgh, both on Coursera. These courses can provide a foundation that can help you excel in a computer programming career.

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Learn to Program: The Fundamentals

Behind every mouse click and touch-screen tap, there is a computer program that makes things happen. This course introduces the fundamental building blocks ...

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Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming

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Related articles

Article sources

1. Glassdoor. “​​How much does a Computer Programmer make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/computer-programmer-salary-SRCH_KO0,19.htm.” Accessed June 21, 2022.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Computer Programmers, Pay. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm#tab-5." Accessed April 18, 2022.

3. US News & World Report. “Computer Programmer Salary, https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/computer-programmer/salary” Accessed April 18, 2022.

4. Glassdoor. “Glassdoor. “Web programmer salaries, glassdoor.com/Salaries/web-programmer-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm.” Accessed April 18, 2022.

5. Glassdoor. Glassdoor. “Java developer salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/web-programmer-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm” Accessed April 18, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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