Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)

High demand occupation

About this job

Computer programmers and interactive media developers write, modify, integrate and test computer code (the detailed and logical instructions that computers follow in order to function).

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

programmer sitting at computer

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in these occupations:

  • work for computer software development firms, information technology consulting firms and information technology units throughout the private and public sectors
  • should have well developed analytical skills, patience and persistence
  • should have an interest in methodical and precise work and in developing new software or other media
  • need to be creative and have good interpersonal skills to collect user requirements and communicate technical problems and solutions
  • need a good understanding of computer hardware and software, as well as knowledge of operating systems and computer languages

Computer programmers:

  • write, test and maintain code for personal computers and mainframe software applications, information systems applications, operating systems-level software and communications software

Interactive media developers:

  • write, test and maintain computer code for internet applications, computer-based training software, computer games, film, video and other interactive media
Common job titles
  • developer, graphical user interface (GUI)
  • developer, multimedia
  • developer, multimedia / video games
  • programmer, multimedia
  • programmer, operating systems
  • programmer, satellite telecommunications
  • developer, graphical user interface (GUI)
  • developer, multimedia
  • developer, multimedia / video games
  • mobile applications developer
  • programmer, computer
  • programmer, EDP (electronic data procss'g)

Duties

Computer programmers:

  • write, modify, integrate and test software code
  • maintain existing computer programs by making modifications as required
  • identify and communicate technical problems, processes and solutions
  • prepare reports, manuals and other documentation on the status, operation and maintenance of software
  • help collect and document user requirements
  • help develop logical and physical specifications
  • may lead and coordinate teams of computer programmers
  • may research and evaluate a variety of software products 

Interactive media developers:

  • program animation software to predefined specifications for interactive CDs, DVDs, video game cartridges and internet-based applications
  • program special effects software for film and video applications
  • write, modify, integrate and test software code for e-commerce and other internet applications
  • help collect and document user requirements
  • help develop logical and physical specifications
  • may lead and coordinate teams of interactive media developers
  • may research and evaluate a variety of interactive media software products

Work environment

These workers are often required to work long hours to meet deadlines or resolve problems. Updating or debugging code can be a long process requiring great attention to detail, although this has become less of an issue as many employers have moved to automated debugging. The demands of debugging may sometimes lead to burn-out amongst these workers.

Workers spend long hours at computer workstations. They must be careful to use safe work practices to avoid eye strain as well as stress on back, neck and shoulders, and joint stress from keyboarding and mouse work.

These professionals must have good communication skills to work with customers as well as with their own teams.

Insights from industry

Growing use of information technologies will drive the need for more workers in this group. For example, the health care and justice systems are increasingly hiring these workers as they move to automation. The telecommunication industry is also becoming a major employer of computer programmers and interactive media developers in the province. The increased use of mobile devices in particular is expected to contribute to demand for programmers.

Recent developments have led to software that can write basic code, thereby eliminating the need for computer programmers to perform routine and repetitive work. This has resulted in the need for programmers with a broader skill set. New graduates with knowledge of more sophisticated computer programming languages and experience working with a variety of different programming languages will have an advantage.

Programmers can expect their jobs to change, depending on which computer languages they are using and what is happening in their employer's industry. Knowledge of systems used in the specific industry employing these workers will be a plus. In addition, programmers will need to continually upgrade their skills to remain competitive.

Interactive media is becoming very popular. It covers a wide range of products, from customizable multimedia for training or presentations to web-accessible databases. Those IT professionals who specialize in this area and possess information design skills will be in high demand.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Individuals starting out in this occupational group typically begin as a junior developer or at a helpdesk. With experience, they may move into database developer or programmer positions.

These workers may be responsible for entire projects and for supervising staff. Experienced workers may also progress to other occupations, such as computer systems analyst, information architect, information designer, multimedia designer or producer, technical architect or software engineer.

Those with experience in infrastructure or development can progress to database administrator.

Those with good business knowledge can go on to become chief information officer or chief executive officer of a software company. There are many different career paths, depending on the programmer's or developer's area of specialty.

Additional resources