Computer programmers create, modify and test the forms, scripts and code that tell the computer what to do. They serve as the link between the operator and the computer. The work of computer programmers is both demanding and rewarding.
In general terms, they are people who write programs for specific purposes or needs, whether it is to create a virtual reality game, a database system, control machinery or to program a company’s telephone system.
These programs are detailed instructions which list the specifications that the computer must follow to solve a problem or handle information in a logical order. Systems analysts provide the specifications for a particular task. Programmers write the programs and translate them into a computer language such as VISUAL BASIC, DELPHI, Pascal, Cobol, Java, Oracle, Informix, C and C++, to name but a few. The sequence of instructions is carefully entered on the keyboard and checked to make sure that they are correct and that they will produce the desired information. If errors occur, the program is changed and rechecked until the desired results are produced. Computer programmers works closely with systems analysts to produce programs based on the specifications derived from the needs of the client.
The work of computer programmers involves researching and documenting computer users’ requirements; analysing the objectives and problems specified by the systems analyst; and determining what steps need to be taken and in what order, then translating these steps into computer language commands. They test programs and software applications and then “debug” them. They also need to document what the programs do and how they do it, by preparing user manuals and help screens.
Computer programmers may specialise in a number of different areas:
Network programmers work with vendor networking languages to support the implementation or modification of network configurations
Database programmers are involved in the development of programs to suit the access to and maintenance of databases
Analyst programmers design and analyse clients’ needs and create complex design structures for translation into a programming language
Multimedia programmers are involved with systems, applications and programming issues. This includes conversion between platforms and the initial writing of code for incorporation of text, graphics, video, animation, digital / analogue photographs, audio and 2/3D modelling.
Systems software programmers write, maintain and update programs that control the overall functioning of computers
In addition to the degrees and diplomas listed below, programmers can acquire a certificate offered by most FET colleges, e.g. False Bay, Elangeni, Boland. Northlink, Cape Town, SW Gauteng.
Most large computer firms have their own training departments where intensive in-service training courses are offered and trainees have the opportunity to work on the firm’s own computers. A number of private firms also offer training courses.
Schooling & School Subjects
Degree: BSc Computer Science or Information Systems or Information Technology as major, or a BCom. degree with information systems - RU, UCT, UWC, NMMU, UFS, Wits, US, UP, UNISA, UKZN. UZ, UFH, NWU, Monash.
Diploma: Relevant diplomas are offered by most universities of technology and some private colleges - CUT, DUT, TUT, VUT, UJ, CPUT, UNISA
It is essential to continuously upgrade knowledge because systems and security threats are constantly changing.
Computer Society of SA
P O Box 1714
Halfway House, 1685
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319 Fax: (011) 315-2276
ISETT (Information Systems Electronics & Telecommunication Technologies)
P O Box 5585
Halfway House 1685
Tel: (011) 207-2600 Fax: (011) 805-6833