Computer Programmer Salary: Your 2023 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

What can you earn as a computer programmer in the US? Learn how computer programmer salaries differ depending on location, experience, industry, and more.

[Featured image] A computer programmer sits in front of a wood-paneled wall with their laptop open.

Computer programmers are technical professionals. They are responsible for creating, modifying, and testing code. Code is the functional backbone for websites, software, and applications. On average, computer programmers earn more than twice the median salary for all jobs in the US [1]. You can learn more about computer programmer salaries in the US and how to increase yours in the following article.

What does a computer programmer do?

Computer programmers design, create, and maintain software and applications for various technological platforms. As a computer programmer, you may perform the following tasks:

  • 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

  • Developing new software programs

  • Testing the results to make sure everything functions as envisioned 

  • Ensuring projects meet security, performance, and reliability standards

  • Updating and improving the functionality of existing software

  • Receiving and incorporating feedback from clients for product improvement

Read more: What is Programming? and How to Get Started

How much do computer programmers make?

The annual median salary for computer programmers in the US is $74,534 [2]. This figure includes a base salary of $70,115 and a reported additional pay of $4,419 per year. Additional pay may include bonuses, commissions, or profit-sharing. However, salaries for computer programmers depend on several factors. Learning about the average salary for specific fields, industries, and levels of expertise can give you a better understanding of what you can earn.

How industry affects computer programmer salaries

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

  • Software publishers: $102,370

  • Finance and insurance: $99,260

  • Manufacturing: $98,320

  • Computer systems design: $79,860 [1]

How experience affects computer programmer salaries

In general, the more experienced you are, the greater the computer programming salary. As you become more specialized and gain more field expertise, your pay should increase. The list below represents the average salaries for all levels of expertise (including additional pay insights such as bonuses and commissions) reported by Glassdoor in January 2023.

  • Entry-level (0-1 year of experience) computer programmer: $62,751 per year

  • Junior (1-3 years of experience) computer programmer: $68,830 per year

  • Mid-level (4-6 years of experience) computer programmer: $73,969 per year

  • Senior (7-9 years of experience) computer programmer: $78,775 per year

How location affects computer programmer salaries

Often, employers in cities and states with a higher cost of living pay more. Places where larger corporations are located also tend to have higher-paying employment opportunities. Here are the top 5 highest paying states for computer programmers [3]:

  1. Washington: $89,760

  2. Oregon: $77,845

  3. North Carolina: $73,377

  4. Maine: $74,684

  5. Pennsylvania: $72,748

The 5 best-paying cities for computer programmers include [3]:

  1. Richmond, CA: $84,011

  2. Washington, DC: $77,532

  3. Chicago, IL: $74,119

  4. Stamford, CT: $73,826

  5. Jacksonville, NC: $73,542

How education affects computer programmer salaries

Sixty percent of computer programmers have a bachelor's degree, 22 percent have an associate degree, and 10 percent have a master's degree [4]. A degree is not required to become a computer programmer. However, some employers may require an advanced degree for more advanced roles. Computer programmers typically study computer science or computer programming.

According to Zippia in January of 2023, programmers with a master's degree earn $76,914 per year on average. With a bachelor's degree, the average salary is $73,118. With an associate degree, you can expect to earn $65,971 on average. Keep in mind that employers also value alternative credentials, like hands-on experience and Professional Certificates. Some computer programmers have no formal training or academic degree.

Read more: How to Become a Computer Programmer

How different job titles and specializations can affect salary

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. 

The list below represents the average salaries for job titles with overlapping skill sets (including additional pay insights such as bonuses and commissions) reported by Glassdoor in January 2023.

  • Computer programmer analyst: $80,621 per year

Read more: What Does a Programmer Analyst Do?

  • Internet programmer: $103,293 per year

  • Java developer: $99,066 per year

  • Python developer: $101,814 per year

Read more: Being a Python Developer: What They Can Do, Earn, and More

  • React developer: $92,416 per year

Read more: How to Become a React Developer in 3 Steps

  • Web applications programmer: $118,109 per year

  • Web developer: $82,523 per year

Read more: What Does a Web Developer Do (and How Do I Become One)?

Need help figuring out what programming languages to learn as an aspiring computer programmer? Check out the following article: Popular Programming Languages in 2023

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How to increase your computer programmer salary

There are several ways to increase your salary as a computer programmer. If you currently work in an entry-level role, consider pursuing a specialization through online courses or certifications to increase your skill set. Those interested in obtaining a senior-level or management role may earn a degree to qualify for more advanced positions.

Computer programming courses and certifications

Below, we've compiled a few options offered by industry leaders and accredited universities to get you started:

For entry-level or beginner programmers:

For mid-level or intermediate programmers:

For senior-level or advanced programmers:

Degrees and graduate certificates

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

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

Increase your computer programming skills with Coursera

Specializing in specific skill sets can set you apart from the competition in the job market. An online course can also help you determine what you'd like to specialize in if you're unsure where to focus your efforts. For those new to the field, consider enrolling in an introductory course like Learn to Program: The Fundamentals from the University of Toronto.

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Category: Free course

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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BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Python Syntax And Semantics, Computer Programming, Python Programming, Idle (Python)

Article sources

1

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Computer Programmers, Pay. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm#tab-5." Accessed January 10, 2023.

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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