Becoming an Oracle Programmer: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about an Oracle programmer's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming an Oracle programmer.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Oracle Programming

If you're interested in writing software programs and applications, you may want to consider a career as an Oracle programmer. Continue reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of becoming an Oracle programmer.

Pros of an Oracle Programming Career
High earnings (median salary of $77,550 for all computer programmers as of 2014)*
Some positions may require only a 2-year degree and experience*
Work in a comfortable office*
Opportunity to telecommute*
Job growth in computer systems design, healthcare and mobile technology fields*

Cons of an Oracle Programming Career
Growth is limited in the United States because of outsourcing*
Often requires years of experience using Oracle tools*
Must be able to sit at a computer for long periods of time*
Must continue to learn new programming languages in order to stay relevant*

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Oracle programmers are computer programmers who specialize in writing, testing and maintaining programs using Oracle databases, tools, applications and servers as well as various programming languages. As an Oracle programmer, you may work as part of a team to implement and test software programs. Depending on the job, you may also work independently or from home. Most computer programmers work 40 hours a week in an office setting.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer programmers earned a median annual salary of around $77,550, and the top 10% made about $128,000 or more as of May 2014. The BLS predicted that employment for computer programmers would increase at a below-average pace of 8% from 2012-2022. Many of these new jobs should be available in the electronics and healthcare industries as they become increasingly computerized. The BLS also expected job growth in computer systems design and Internet-based software applications, but many companies are outsourcing programming jobs or moving them to low-cost areas in the United States.

What Are the Requirements?

Most programming positions require a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science or information technology, but an associate's degree in combination with experience may qualify you for some positions. Degree programs in computer science can teach you the basics of computer programming, but you must continue to learn new programming languages and become familiar with Oracle software in order to remain relevant in the fast-paced technology field. Following are some examples of databases and programming languages necessary for Oracle programmers to learn:

  • Oracle Database
  • SQL and PL/SQL
  • Java
  • XML
  • .Net
  • APEX

In addition to education, the right skill set is essential for a career in programming. Since you may work on teams to develop programs, you need to be an excellent communicator and a team player. The ability to analyze complex coding and instructions is also important, as is the ability to concentrate on single coding projects for long periods of time. You'll also need a sharp eye for detail.

Job Postings from Real Employers

When looking to hire Oracle programmers, many employers require applicants to have several years of computer programming experience. You generally also need experience specific to the type of programming languages and applications the employer utilizes. Get a notion of what employers want in Oracle programmers by looking through this sample of April 2012 job postings:

  • A New York IT solutions company placed an ad for an Oracle programmer with good communication skills and at least 4 years of computer programming experience to design, maintain and test projects using various application tools. The preferred candidate has Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) certification.
  • A Washington, D.C., consulting firm looked for an Oracle developer with at least 5 years of related experience and at least 3 years of experience with Oracle ADF Framework development using Jdeveloper 11g and other Oracle tools. Candidates must also have a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering or another related field as well as a strong work ethic and excellent communication skills.
  • An Alabama international communications and IT company advertised for an Oracle programmer with a bachelor's degree and at least 2 years of experience to design, maintain and implement Oracle software in a military setting. Candidates must possess and maintain an active Secret clearance.

How to Stand Out

Gain Experience

As May 2012 job listings reveal, employers often prefer applicants with previous experience in Oracle programming. You can gain such experience by pursing internships or other practical experience opportunities during college, which may allow you to debug programs, write code or perform other tasks. Additionally, you might gain experience in the business sector, which the BLS notes may pave the way for future advancement to a computer systems analyst position. You could, for example, minor in business during college and participate in an internship that exposes you to the business side of the IT industry.

Get Certified

Aside from a degree and experience, professional certification can help you prove your skills to employers. Oracle offers training and certification in the use of their products, such as databases, Java and middleware, applications and servers. For each separate certification, you must register and take an exam at an authorized testing center.

Other Careers to Consider

If you want to help develop programs but would rather work in a more creative position, consider a career as a software developer. These workers design new software programs and use flowcharts and models to communicate the plans to computer programmers. You can choose to specialize in either applications or systems software in this profession. You'll generally need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field and strong knowledge of programming languages. The median salary for applications software developers was around $89,000 as of May 2011, while the median salary for systems software developers was nearly $97,000, according to the BLS. The BLS also reports that employment in this field was expected to grow by 30% from 2010-2020.

If you want to work with databases, but you want a career with a greater variety of daily tasks, consider working as a database administrator. These workers are responsible for keeping databases organized, secure and running smoothly. According to the BLS, most database administrators hold at least a bachelor's degree in management information systems or another computer-related area. You must also have some knowledge of database languages, typically SQL. According to the BLS, database administrators earned a median salary of around $75,000 as of 2011, and the number of jobs was expected to increase by 31% from 2010-2020.

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