Computer Programmer Salary: Your 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

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

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

Computer programmers play an important role in technology industries. They create, modify, and test code that serves as the functional backbone for websites and web applications. A computer programmer’s salary depends on experience, professional development, location, employment status, etc.

What does a computer programmer do?

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

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

  • Collaborating with 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

  • 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 feedback from clients for improvement

Computer programmers may create code libraries to simplify their jobs since they work on 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?

According to [1], computer programmers in Canada earn a median base salary of $58,500. Whether these tech professionals make more or less than the median depends on factors like the industry. 

The more experienced you are, the greater the computer programming salary. As you become more specialized—along with other factors—your pay might also increase.

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 where students will gain experience writing code, fixing errors, and testing programs in a classroom setting. You’ll learn the languages that can lead to a programming career, but you may need to take continuing education courses to stay updated with the most modern tools and languages.

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

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

Online courses allow aspiring computer programmers to gain hands-on 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 the University of Michigan’s Python for Everybody or Codio’s C++ Basic Structures on Coursera.  

Salary information and variations 

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

Location and salary

While experts predict that many computer programming jobs will move overseas over the next decade, many provinces have programming jobs that pay these tech professionals well. Employers in areas with higher living costs often pay more, and regions home to larger corporations also tend to have higher-paying employment opportunities.

Certain provinces have particularly high-paying employment options for computer programmers. These provinces and the corresponding median annual salary include [1]:

  • British Columbia: $95,121

  • Alberta: $65,910

  • Ontario: $62,500 

Employment status and salary

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

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

Job title variations and salary

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

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. The median annual salaries of different types of computer programmers in Canada are as follows, according to [1]:

  • Java developer: $123,332

  • Software engineer: $153,672

  • Software developer: $104,805

  • Developer: $77,801

  • Systems analyst: $83,042

  • Web developer: $674,396

  • Programmer: $60,571 

Professional development 

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

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

Some computer programmers learn multiple languages to become proficient in code stacking. These full-stack developers have even greater earning potential. Many lucrative computer programming opportunities exist for life-long learners willing to continue professional development.

First steps to becoming a computer programmer

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

Article sources

  1. “Computer Programmer average salary in Canada, 2024,” Accessed May 14, 2024.

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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.