Object-Oriented Programmer Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an object-oriented programming career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an object-oriented programmer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Object-Oriented Programmer

Object-oriented programming languages are used to write software, such as mobile applications and games. Consider the pros and cons to see if being a programmer is a good match for you.

Pros of a Career as an Object-Oriented Programmer
High earnings ($82,690 on average per year as of 2014)*
Required education can transfer to various other computer-related jobs*
Option to telecommute, since programming can be done from anywhere*
Best job prospects for programmers are in Internet-delivered, mobile technology and healthcare software

Cons of a Career as an Object-Oriented Programmer
Slow job growth (8% from 2012-2022) compared to other computer-related occupations*
Often need practical experience to get hired*
May require continuing education to keep up with changing technology*
Usually involves working in solitude*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

Programmers use object-oriented programming (OOP) languages to develop user-friendly software for a variety of platforms and uses, such as mobile applications, games and website tools. While other programmers might create a series of codes to accomplish tasks within a program, object-oriented programmers compose sets of data fields and resultant functions that interact with each other to accomplish tasks. An example of an OOP language is Java.

Object-oriented programmers typically work for computer systems design firms, though you might also find employment with software publishers or with businesses that need you to develop software specifically for their needs. Along with wiring programs, you'll test and debug code to ensure programs are free of errors and breaks. You might also continue working on programs after they've been released in order to create patches for breaks that weren't caught before release or to create new content. Programmers sometimes work as part of software development teams, which may involve more conceptual functions, such as developing program models and designing system interfaces. Depending on the complexity of the software, programming projects can last as little as a few days or up to several months.

Work Conditions

You'll generally work alone in an office, except when you're collaborating on projects with other programmers and developers. Since programming can be done from anywhere there's computer access, some of these professionals telecommute. You can expect to work a full-time schedule.

Salary and Job Growth

The BLS reports that the average salary of programmers in general was around $82,690 as of May 2014, which was above the national average. Employment in the computer programming field was expected to grow 8% from 2012-2022. While this growth rate is on par when compared to other occupations as a whole, it's about ten percent lower than average job growth for other computer-related occupations. One reason for this sluggish growth is the outsourcing of programming services to programmers in countries with cheaper costs of living than the United States. The best prospects should be for programmers who work with Internet-delivered, mobile and healthcare software.

What Are the Requirements?

While some employers will hire an object-oriented programmer with only an associate's degree, most of these professionals hold bachelor's degrees in computer science or another applicable major. In a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program, you can expect to take courses in object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithms, operating systems and software development.

Besides having expertise in object-oriented programming languages, these programmers also need to be good at verbal and written communication, since many of them will work on teams in order to complete projects. They also need to be detail-oriented, self-motivated and comfortable working alone. An analytical mind and problem-solving skills are necessary in order to understand the complex instructions required to write computer code and develop solutions for users' needs.

Job Postings from Real Employers

When looking to hire object-oriented programmers, many employers specify that they want someone with knowledge of specific programming languages, like Javascript, Ajax or SQL. Some job listings favor applicants with experience or interest in the industry in which the position is available. Get an idea of what employers are looking for with this sample of April 2012 job postings for object-oriented programmers:

  • A Florida-based healthcare company is looking for an object-oriented developer who can help them with Web-based insurance and healthcare solutions. They want someone with PHP, HTML, SQL and Javascript experience. The employer also prefers applicants with experience in JQuery and Ajax as well as familiarity with the healthcare or insurance industry.
  • A technology firm in North Carolina is looking for a programmer/analyst. The employer is looking specifically for someone with experience with application programming interface integrations on social networking applications that are accessed via the Web and mobile devices. They want someone with at least one year of experience with OOP, SQL , .Net and C# languages as well as Ajax and CSS.
  • A hunting retailer in Missouri is looking for an application developer with expertise in OOP that would work on company-level projects and existing applications. The employer wants someone with a bachelor's degree or the equivalent amount of experience coupled with technical certification. Visual Studio.Net, C# and T-SQL experience are preferred, as is in interest in hunting.

Standing Out in the Field

There are many steps you can take to gain an edge over other object-oriented programmers. Many employers require programmers to have practical experience in the field, and so you might benefit from choosing a degree program that incorporates an internship into its curriculum. After college, you might pursue volunteer opportunities that allow you to your use your programming skills. Putting together a portfolio of your OOP work is another way to show potential employers that you're an adept programmer. You might also consider joining a professional programming society, like the Association for Computing Machinery, in order to connect with other programmers and gain access to job search tools.

Get Certified

Certification is not mandatory for this profession, but many programmers become certified in programming languages to demonstrate their proficiency in those specific languages. In fact, the BLS reports that employers may require the programmers they hire to be certified in the languages used by their companies. You can pursue such certification through software vendors, like Sun Microsystems or Microsoft.

Continue Your Education

Since technology is constantly changing, you'll want to stay abreast of developments in the field. You can learn new aspects or applications of programming languages by taking continuing education classes or attending professional development seminars. You might also brush up by reading books or completing Web-based tutorials.

Alternative Career Paths

If you're not completely sold on being an object-oriented programmer, there are a number of career options that are similar to that field. Read below for a few career options that require a bachelor's degree in or related to computer science but offer higher job prospects than a career in object-oriented programming.

Web Developer

If you want a job that involves coding user-friendly interfaces, but don't want to program software, consider a career designing and maintaining websites as a Web developer. The job requires the use of programming languages, but it can offer a broader set of job duties than just programming. Website developers can be responsible for everything from designing the layout of a site to promoting the site through social networking. The BLS reports that employment in this field was projected to grow by 22% from 2010 to 2020, which is ten percent higher than that of object-oriented programmers. Web developers also bring in higher earnings - a mean salary of about $82,000 as of May 2011 - according to the BLS.

Computer Systems Analyst

If you want a career more focused on the conceptual functions of software and systems development, consider becoming a computer systems analyst. In this job, you'll work alongside company management to ensure the computer systems are serving the organization in the best way possible. You could help develop and design new computer systems for the organization and train the employees on how to use systems properly and efficiently. You could even specialize as a programmer analyst, who helps code, debug and maintain company applications. According to the BLS, jobs in this field were projected to increase by 22% from 2010-2020, and the average salary for computer systems analysts was more than $82,000 as of 2011.

Network Administrator

Another lucrative career in computers is network administration. In this position, you'll oversee an organization's entire computer network. This involves installing and maintaining local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and other systems. This job comes with greater responsibility and often requires overtime and unsual hours. These professionals earned about $74,000 as of 2011, according to the BLS, and jobs were expected to increase by 28% between 2010 and 2020.

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