Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Computer programmers and interactive media developers design computer programs and write, edit, integrate and test computer code. Computer code is a step-by-step set of detailed and logical instructions that tell a computer to perform a task. It’s a language that uses numbers, letters and other symbols which become “words” that a computer understands. There are many programming languages, for example, Java and C++.  

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a software developer is like.

Common job titles
  • 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:

  • Design software programs and write code using a variety of computer languages for personal computers, mainframe and mobile software applications, information systems applications, operating systems-level software, and communications software
  • Edit, integrate and test the code to make sure that the program produces the expected result
  • Maintain existing computer programs by making changes, as required
  • Identify and communicate technical problems, processes and solutions
  • Prepare reports, manuals and other information on the status, operation and maintenance of software
  • Help collect and record user needs

Interactive media developers:

  • Program animation software to pre-set specifications for interactive forms of media, including video games and internet-based and mobile applications
  • Program special-effects software for film, television, video, online and mobile applications
  • Write, edit, integrate and test software code for e-commerce and other online and mobile applications
  • Help collect and record user needs

Computer programmers and interactive media developers may lead and co-ordinate teams. They may also research, review and recommend a variety of software products.

Depending on the organization, a computer programmer or interactive media developer may need to be able to “build.” This means to convert the source code into something that a computer can execute. In some companies, this might be a specialized team while in others, the developers would do this.

Work environment

People in this job work in the private and public sectors. This includes software development companies, information technology consulting firms, and in larger organizations, in information technology departments.

People in this field often work long hours to meet release dates or fix problems. Updating or testing code can be a long process that needs attention to detail, although many employers now use automated testing programs, which help in this area.

Computer programmers and interactive media developers spend many hours sitting at their computers. They must be careful to use safe work practices to avoid eye strain as well as stress on their back, neck and shoulders, and joint stress from keyboarding and mouse work.

Insights from industry

The growing use of information technologies means more workers in this career will be needed. There is a strong demand for computer programmers and interactive developers. For example, the health-care and justice systems are hiring more of these workers as they continue to automate processes. The continued use of mobile devices also contributes to the demand for programmers.

Advances in technology have created software that can write basic code, removing the need for computer programmers to perform routine and repetitive work. This means there will be demand for programmers with additional skills. New graduates with knowledge of more sophisticated computer programming languages and with experience working with a variety of programming languages will be in higher demand over those who do not have these skills.

Programmers can expect their jobs to change, depending on which computer languages they use and what is happening in their employer's industry. Understanding the systems that are used in the industry is helpful. Programmers need to keep their skills current 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. People who specialize in this area and have information design skills will be in high demand.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Individuals who start in this career may begin as a junior developer, at a help desk or in quality assurance (QA).

Some people in this career may oversee entire projects and supervise staff. With experience, they may move up to positions with more responsibility, such as computer systems analyst, information architect, information designer, multimedia designer or producer, technical architect, software engineer, team lead or team manager.

Those that have good business knowledge can go on to become the chief information officer or chief executive officer of a company in the software field. Some may choose to open their own company. There are many different career paths, depending on the person’s area of specialty.

Additional resources