5 Entry-Level Programming Jobs + How to Get One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about skills, education, salary, and how to take your first steps toward a career computer programming.

[Featured Image] An entry-level programmer examines code on a computer monitor beside a laptop.

Careers in the computer and information technology field are projected to grow 13 percent between 2020 and 2030 [1]. Translated into individual occupations, that’s an estimated 667,600 new jobs. These circumstances provide an excellent opportunity for recent graduates and established professionals to enter a new role. Explore entry-level programming jobs, salaries, and qualifications in the following article. 

What are entry-level programming jobs?

The term entry-level refers to roles requiring the least amount of training or expertise. They exist in every industry. Entry-level programming jobs are ideal for anyone new to the occupational field. A few credentials that employers may look for in an entry-level candidate include:

  • A degree in computer science or a related field of study. Depending on the career path you choose, employers may prefer candidates with an associate, bachelor's, or master’s degree. An aspiring programmer should consider pursuing one of the following three degrees:

  1. Associate Degree in Computer Programming

  2. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

  3. Master of Computer Science and Information Technology

  • Experience working in a collaborative environment. Although programmers spend considerable time working independently, good communication skills are vital. Entry-level programming jobs will require you to work collaboratively with other programmers and development team members.  

  • Knowledge of popular programming languages. According to a study by Statista, the most in-demand programming languages are JavaScript and Java, with over 40 percent of recruiters actively seeking candidates with those skills [2]. Python, C, and Swift are a few more of the most popular programming languages in 2022

Read more: Java vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

If you have yet to master the skills above, consider taking an introductory course to build foundational expertise. For example, you can learn how to write programs with Duke University’s Programming Fundamentals Specialization.

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How much does an entry-level programmer make?

Although salaries vary based on level of expertise, many entry-level programming jobs pay above-average wages. For comparison, the median salary for all occupations is $45,760 yearly [1]. The average total pay for entry-level programmers is $86,690 per year [3].

5 entry-level programming jobs

1. Programmer analyst

A programmer analyst develops and maintains software. Typically, programmer analysts work on business applications. A day in the life of a programmer analyst may include designing programs, testing software, and debugging, writing, and analyzing code. Programmer analysts often must translate business requirements into technical specifications. Someone interested in programming and business might excel in this entry-level programming job. 

Average total pay: $99,270 per year [4]

Expected job growth 2020-2030: 7 percent

Relevant skills: Technical proficiency, problem-solving skills, strong communication, self-motivation

Education requirements: Employers may prefer programming analysts with a bachelor's degree in computer science. A combination of relevant work experience and professional certifications may be accepted or preferred in place of formal education. 

Where to begin: Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming

2. Web developer 

Web developers create, maintain, and test websites and web applications. As a web developer, it's your responsibility to oversee the technical aspects of a website, such as performance and speed. Some web developers specialize in a particular area, like user interface (UI) design. In contrast, others manage all aspects of an application. Web developers often collaborate with other designers or developers to construct the layout of a website. 

Average total pay: $109,584 per year [5]

Expected job growth 2020-2030: 13 percent

Relevant skills: Interpersonal skills, creativity, technical proficiency, attention to detail

Education requirements: Some employers prefer candidates with an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science. Certifications in popular web development tools and programming languages can also help you prepare for this role.

Where to begin: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers

3. Software developer

Software developers design and develop applications and programs. There are several different types of software developers:

  • Front-end developers. Front-end developers focus on a website or application's user experience (UX) and UI. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that users can seamlessly navigate and interact with the software. 

Where to begin: Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificate

  • Back-end developers. Back-end developers work on the server-side of an application. They build the code that enables an application and a database to communicate with one another. While front-end developers focus on the aspects of an application that users can see, back-end developers focus on what they can’t.

Where to begin: Meta Back-End Developer Professional Certificate

  • Full-stack developers. Full-stack developers work on both the front and back end of an application. They possess a wide variety of skills to build and design all aspects of an application.

Where to begin: IBM Full-Stack Developer Professional Certificate

Average total pay: $106,830 per year [6]

Expected job growth 2020-2030: 22 percent

Relevant skills: Technical proficiency, mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, attention to detail

Education requirements: Some employers may prefer a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Relevant certifications can also strengthen your resume for this entry-level programming job. 

4. Game developer

Game developers translate the ideas of video game designers into technical specifications. They write the code that creates video games' visuals, sounds, and interactivity. A typical day as a game developer may include generating storyboards, contributing to audio and graphic design, and animating the game's characters and environment. For example, an Oculus developer creates virtual reality games to be published on the Oculus platform.  

Average total pay: $113,934 per year [7]

Expected job growth 2020-2030: 22 percent

Relevant skills: Creativity, technical proficiency, strong communication skills, strong analytical capabilities, extensive knowledge of the gaming industry and trends

Education requirements: Employers may prefer candidates with a degree in computer science or software engineering. Some organizations may offer degree or certification programs in game technology and development. 

Where to begin: Introduction to Game Design

5. Junior blockchain developer

Blockchain developers program, develop, and test blockchain software and systems. They are specialized types of software developers. Two kinds of blockchain developers exist:

  1. Core. Core blockchain developers develop and maintain the architecture of blockchain systems. They design protocols, develop security patterns, and supervise the network as a whole. 

  2. Software. Blockchain software developers build applications onto existing blockchain platforms. They handle front-end and back-end development, design, and maintenance.

Average total pay: $111,115 [8]

Expected job growth 2020-2030: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 22 percent growth in software development jobs between 2020 and 2030. Studies suggest the blockchain market will climb to over $39 billion by 2025 [2]. 

Relevant skills: Technical proficiency, blockchain expertise, experience with distributed systems, knowledge of cryptography, communication skills, attention to detail

Education requirements: Many blockchain developers begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Employers may also accept professional experience or certifications instead of a degree. 

Where to begin: Blockchain Revolution Specialization

How to get an entry-level programming job

The field of computer science and programming is vast and multidisciplinary. Without narrowing the scope of your search, you’re likely to encounter many jobs you’re not yet qualified for. Keep in mind that all programmers start in entry-level programming jobs. The best way to navigate the job market as a beginner is to filter your results. Instead of searching Google for something like “entry-level programming jobs near me,” consider the tips below:

  • Choose a few of the specializations above that piqued your interest. There are entry-level programming jobs in nearly every field of study. Even if you haven’t yet decided on a specialization, it can be helpful to browse specific career paths. Your search may return more precise results, and you’ll be able to visualize the expectations for certain areas of expertise. 

  • Include remote and in-person positions. According to the State of Engineering Report 2021, 86 percent of software engineers work fully remote [9]. 

  • Browse job postings even when you aren’t ready to apply. Although you might not be ready to send in your resume, browsing job postings can provide valuable information. Not only can you discover opportunities that fit your skill set, but you can also learn which disciplines are in demand. 

Read more: What is a Blockchain Developer (and How Do I Become One?)

Familiarize yourself with your desired field.

Another way to prepare for an entry-level programming job is to follow relevant blogs, YouTube channels, and social media pages. For example, someone interested in learning how to become a React developer can join the React Native Facebook Group. Joining relevant communities is an opportunity to stay current with the latest trends, conferences, and technologies. Collaborative platforms like GitHub and Stack Overflow can also be excellent resources for entry-level programmers. 

Enhance your resume. 

Although entry-level programming jobs are numerous, it's essential to present yourself as a competitive candidate. If you're searching for entry-level programming jobs, you may not have prior work experience. In place of that experience, you can demonstrate your abilities through Professional Certificates and independent study. Each of the five entry-level programming jobs above is paired with an introductory course that you can earn a certificate for completing. Additionally, you can enhance your portfolio with a Guided Project like Python 101: Develop Your First Python Program.

Take the next step with Coursera

Ready to take the next step towards your career in programming? Start today with the University of Toronto’s Learn to Program: The Fundamentals.

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Article sources

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Computer and Information Technology Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

2. Statista. “Most Demanded Programming languages by Recruiters Worldwide in 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1296727/programming-languages-demanded-by-recruiters/.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “How Much Does an Entry-Level Programmer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/entry-level-programmer-salary-SRCH_KO0,22.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer Systems Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

5. Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Web Developer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/web-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,13.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

6. Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Software Developer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/software-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,18.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

7. Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Game Developer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/game-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

8. Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Blockchain Developer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/blockchain-developer-salary-SRCH_KO0,20.htm.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

9. Terminal. “The State of Remote Engineering Report 2021 Edition, https://terminal.io/state-of-remote-engineering-2021.” Accessed June 15, 2022.

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