What is Computer Programming?

There's never been a better time to pursue a computer science degree. Computer science is not just a stable field -- it's a booming one.

Demand for computer science and programming grads is increasing, but research conducted by the Computing Research Association suggests that the number of people pursuing this training is not. This trend boosts both graduates' job potential and salaries: a National Association of Colleges and Employers report notes that while the average starting salaries of bachelor's degree holders declined overall between 2009 and 2010, computer science majors actually earned 4.7 percent more.

Table of Contents

Computer Science and Programming Careers

What does a software developer do?

Software devs create computer applications or systems software. According to the IEEE Computer Society, software development is distinct from software engineering in its emphasis on the iterative process of developing software rather than the initial research and design phase. Software devs are involved with a software product from start to finish, identifying user requirements and operational specifications, coding the program's components and testing the product.

  • Applications developers often work on a team, developing specialized utilities and end-user apps in collaboration with database programmers.
  • Systems developers produce software for operating systems, including compilers and network distribution programs.

As the high-tech sector matures, the role of software devs is evolving. While all developers apply the principles of computer science and mathematical analysis to the creation of computer programs, this discipline takes many forms in practice.

Many software devs specialize in a specific type of program, such as systems software, productivity applications, enterprise software, mobile apps or computer games. The required skill set depends in part on the developer's specialization. Software devs who create enterprise intelligence, modeling and integration applications, for example, may rely on SAS programming expertise. Mobile app devs may need to be familiar with Java or C++. Work methodologies also differ by specialty; some software devs work within a waterfall process model, while others are skilled in so-called agile or "extreme" models.

There are a number of popular software developer specializations which have appeared as the industry has evolved over time.

Learn more about computer devs


What does a computer programmer do?

Computer programmers write code instructing computer systems to perform specific tasks. Devices that rely on programming include PCs, smartphones, GPS systems, factory robots and more. Programmers generally specialize in a particular type of software, such as server software, system software, office applications or wireless or Web applications. Applications programmers create computing tools, while systems programmers write the system software that runs these tools.

Programmers generally work on teams with software engineers and developers, executing part of a software design. They bring expertise in computer programming languages relevant to a particular type of software. Popular programming languages include Python and C++ and Java for Web applications. Some programmers use computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools, which automate parts of the programming process. Programmers may also adapt code for specific purposes using libraries of basic programs. Depending on their level of expertise, programmers may write code or participate in higher-level development activities such as producing detailed logical flow charts, developing project specifications or designing software.

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What does a Java developer do?

Java devs write software using a programming language that runs well on many different kinds of computers. Flavors of Java arrive preinstalled on many wireless phones, corporate servers and desktop PCs. Java devs often must integrate their code with software written in other languages such as HTML5 or C++. Senior devs and project managers must merge code from multiple developers, including freelancers and outside consultants.

Learn more about Java devs


What does a CRM developer do?

CRM devs work on Customer Relationship Management systems, a term used to describe any system a business uses to manage its customer-related interactions. CRM systems commonly have ties to several internal business functions, including sales, marketing and communications, and customer service. CRM devs design and create software applications (usually an integrated suite of them) that enable businesses to manage their customer relationships in order to achieve the optimal results with the greatest efficiency.

In the past, CRM systems were very analog, centered on conventional mail, phone and mass media methodologies. While call centers are still very much a part of modern CRM strategies, most of these other traditional components have been replaced with software-based solutions.

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What does a Hadoop developer do?

Hadoop devs design and create software applications that integrate with the Apache Software Foundation's Java-based, open source Hadoop software platform, which is part of the "Big Data" revolution which has taken the IT industry by storm in recent years. Hadoop applications are based around querying massive data sets, while providing the desired customization and security options found in conventional database user interfaces. Other Hadoop applications provide traditional database monitoring and administration functionality.

Hadoop's key impact on the IT industry is its effect on the economics of mass parallel computing (often referred to as "Big Data"). Due to its open source licensing and the fact that it can be deployed using commodity hardware, Hadoop has positioned large scale computing at a much more affordable level for businesses and governments. Some of the companies that have implemented Hadoop-based solutions include Yahoo, Facebook, eBay and LinkedIn.

Learn more about Hadoop devs


What does a Java developer do?

Java devs write software using a programming language that runs well on many different kinds of computers.

Flavors of Java arrive preinstalled on many wireless phones, corporate servers and desktop PCs. Starting with Netscape Navigator in 1995, Java elements have powered many of the world's most popular Web browsers. By the time Oracle bought the rights to Java as part of its Sun acquisition in 2010, more than 2.5 billion devices could interpret the language's commands.

Java devs often characterize themselves as application developers, Web developers, or even embedded operating system engineers. In many companies, Java developers must integrate their code with software written in other languages such as HTML5 or C++. Senior devs and project managers must merge code from multiple developers, including freelancers and outside consultants.

Learn more about Java devs


What does a Ruby-on-Rails developer do?

Ruby-on-Rails devs create a variety of Web applications using an object-oriented and multi-paradigm programming language and a flexible open-source framework. The career station of Ruby on Rails devs can take many forms. Some may focus on front-end, UI-focused development, mixing Ruby on Rails applications with XHTML and Java to design fluid interface experiences. Other Ruby on Rails developers take a more back-end approach, mixing in SQL and running database analysis.

Learn more about computer programmers


What does a PHP developer do?

"Personal Home Page" started off as a simple tool to let Internet users publish information to the Web. Over the past decade, this programming language has morphed into "PHP: Hypertext Processor," one of the Web's most popular and powerful software development platforms. PHP devs master the code that connects end users with highly scalable online databases.

The platform quartet dubbed LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) exploded in popularity as colleges, startup companies and hobbyists raced to populate websites with dynamic information. In contrast to the expensive tools sold by established hardware vendors and software publishers, the low-cost LAMP solution gained traction quickly. Linux vendor Red Hat estimates that two-thirds of the Internet relies on LAMP solutions.

PHP devs don't just work on small projects, however. Some of the Web's most influential projects started as pieces of PHP code. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook using PHP. Members of Facebook's engineering team now donate time to write and publish free PHP enhancements. Many top blogs run on Wordpress, a PHP-driven publishing tool. And one of the Web's most recent blockbusters, Groupon, used PHP's low barrier to entry as a way to take on more established rivals from the direct marketing industry.

Learn more about PHP developers


What does a LAMP developer do?

LAMP devs design and create Web applications based on the LAMP development platform. LAMP is not a programming language, but a Web development platform based on four open source software packages:

  • L is for Linux, the operating system component of LAMP.
  • A is for Apache, the Web server component of LAMP.
  • M is for MySQL, the database management component of LAMP.
  • P is for PHP, the scripting language component of LAMP.

Since its inception, variants have been introduced to the LAMP platform. In place of MySQL, open-source alternatives MongoDB and MariaDB have also been used. Also, scripting languages Python and Perl have taken the place of PHP for some devs.

Learn more about LAMP devs


What does a software architect do?

Working under the umbrella of enterprise architecture, software engineers (sometimes called software architects) fill a role that goes beyond developing computer systems and applications. These IT professionals are responsible for mapping out a technology infrastructure that will allow a business or organization to meet its goals. Rather than simply writing code, architects must identify business needs and create innovative solutions.

As the person responsible for overseeing the infrastructure of a software system, the software engineer must be able to take a big-picture view of an organization's technology. Not only must they address immediate technical concerns, they must be able to anticipate future needs and develop a framework that will evolve along with the business.

Since they can be an integral part of setting an organization's long-term strategy, software engineers need to have excellent communication skills. They should be able to communicate their vision to business leadership as well as work closely with IT professionals to oversee implementation of their architectural plan.

Learn more about computer architects


Computer Science and Programming Degrees

As you would expect, the dominant post-secondary degree for entering the computer science and programming field is a Bachelor's of Science degree in one of the following disciplines:

  • Computer Science
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Programming
  • Software Development
  • Computer Engineering

Depending on the nature of the program taken, a Bachelor's degree should be augmented by additional training in one or more disciplines. A common example of this is taking additional training in one or more programming languages in order to become a better (or more specialized) software developer. Database administrators will definitely benefit from additional Structured Query Language (SQL) training, as it is the primary language used in that field.

It is also possible to gain an entry-level position in the industry via an Associate's degree in software development or computer science. Associate's degrees are offered through technical schools, as well as some colleges and universities. Associate's degrees generally take less time to complete, and may be less comprehensive than a full Bachelor's degree program.

For candidates who want to try to enter the industry at a higher level, there are Master's degree programs in several of the disciplines listed above. For those looking at become data scientists, a Master's degree is likely the minimum education a potential employer would consider, and a PhD is not out of the question.

What training is needed to become a software dev?

Formal training is a requirement for a career in software development. A bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering or information systems generally serves as the entry point into a software development career. Some developers advance their careers with a master's degree in engineering or management information systems.

Skilled software developers are in high demand across the economy. In addition to software publishers and tech companies, many enterprises employ in-house developers to build internal software solutions. Training in software development offers a versatile skill set for career opportunities in today's technology-driven economy.

What training is needed to become a computer programmer?

Expertise and advanced training opens the door to a successful computer programming career. An associate or bachelor's degree in computer programming, computer science or information systems offers the basic qualification to become a computer programmer. To forge a successful career in the U.S., however, it is increasingly important to develop advanced or specialized programming skills.

Computer programmers rely on continuing education and certification programs to build skills in new programming languages or to develop an area of expertise.

Computer programming is a versatile skill in high demand worldwide, as computer technology drives more and more of the global economy. Consumer products, telecommunications and media are just a few of the industries shaped by digital technology. While the U.S. labor market may be shedding jobs at the entry level, programmers can plan for success by developing an advanced or specialized skill set.


What training is required to become a CRM dev?

Software developers commonly hold a Bachelor's degree in a computing-related field. With CRM development, there is an expectation that a programmer will have some knowledge or experience with business processes that pertain to customers. Sales, marketing and/or customer service experience is particularly valuable.


What training is required to become a Hadoop dev?

Hadoop application development is heavily based on the Java programming language, although they may also use other languages.


What training is needed to become a Java dev?

Within Silicon Valley, becoming a Java programmer means learning how to code on your own before showing off your work to seasoned professionals. Training to become a Java developer requires a passion for writing, shipping and sharing code, especially for no pay. Dedication to study and practice beyond traditional training programs can help a novice programmer build the kind of portfolio necessary to land an entry-level job at a technology company.

Software evolution forces developers to balance organizational needs with the industry's best practices. Some companies latch on to a specific version of an operating system or a programming language, even after formal support ends. Java developers who meet end users' needs while managing efficient projects can support their career growth by shipping effective, well-documented code.


What training is needed to become a PHP dev?

PHP devs' careers often mimic the rise of the programming language itself: scrappy, driven and reliant on social proof. Project managers usually recruit coders based on the skill and the potential in their published code.

A programmer who wants to become a PHP developer often starts by reviewing sample code from the PHP.net website, reading numerous tutorials on the language, and sharing code with peers. Programmers with experience in other software platforms can often pick up PHP quickly, especially if they have exposure to MySQL and other database tools. Even non-programmers who immerse themselves in the large, supportive PHP community can build connections, partnerships and exposure necessary to become a PHP developer.


What training is needed to become a Ruby-on-Rails dev?

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) reports 75 percent of software development professionals have earned at least a bachelor's degree, with 9 percent having continued on through post-graduate study to earn a master's. Computer science, computer software engineering and computer and information systems are the most popular fields of study when working toward a career as a Ruby on Rails dev, but many employers will accept nearly any science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree alongside industry experience in software development.

Developers can turn to the Ruby Association, an organization dedicated to supporting the culture of Ruby devs to become certified in the Ruby programming language. Also, some third-party programs offer intensive coursework for students who wish to learn the essential skills of a Ruby on Rails developer in one shot. One such bootcamp program provides 5 solid days of study, broken down into 2 days of Ruby and 3 days of Rails.

While employers don't often make specific training or certifications mandatory, they can be a great way for aspiring Ruby on Rails developers to become familiar with the tools and concepts of the language and framework.


What training is required to become a LAMP dev?

Job postings for LAMP devs often request candidates to have an associate's degree in Web design or a related field. That said, there is still a premium placed on real-world professional experience, which can help those who went straight from high school into the field.

There are several training options available for the alternate scripting languages Python and Perl, including self-paced training as well as instructor-led training.


What training is required to become a software architect?

The Iasa notes there is no clear path to a career as a software architect. Typically, those working in the field start in a related IT occupation and then move into an architect role as they gain experience.

Since being able to understand and develop software plays a large role in system architecture, studying to be a developer can a logical first step. Software developers typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Although more than programmers, software developers usually have a strong knowledge of various computer languages and some coding skills.

For those with a bachelor's degree, specialized software architect training is often available at the graduate level. For example, some schools offer master's degrees in software engineering with a concentration on software architecture. Other institutions provide certificate programs that can be earned concurrently with a graduate degree.


Computer Programming Training Courses

Python Courses

Python is an object-oriented programming language known for its elegant, easy-to-read syntax and extensibility to other programming languages like C or C++. It comes with a large library of standard modules and can be used to develop for the Web, GUI and various realms including science, education, and games or 3D graphics. Python is typically used for lighter applications and scripting and for cases when a quick turnaround is necessary.

Python is free and easy to learn, so for individuals new to programming it can be a good place to start. The official Python website offers step-by-step instructions for getting started, assuming you already know how to run a program on your computer. The developer community offers a wiki, conferences and other types of support.

Python training spans a range of topics, including these:

  • Python string operations
  • Lists and dictionaries
  • Branching and scripting
  • Input/output and modules
  • Python objects

An introductory Python class covers the characteristics of the programming language and why it is chosen for certain applications and projects over other languages.

The Python website itself offers numerous resources for learning the programming language, in a variety of formats. From the Beginner's Guide to Python page, an individual can link to these and other options:

  • Beginner's Guide/Overview
  • Guide for choosing which version of Python to use
  • Tutorial options that include beginner's guides for both programmers and non-programmers
  • Online Python documentation
  • Library, language, module and application reference pages

Once an individual has gone through the basic documentation and reference guides on the Python website, it is a good idea to practice the principles of Python programming. From the website, programmers can link to different sites that offer Python exercises and skill-testing.

Depending on one's learning style, students can choose between online documentation and tutorials or live, instructor-led classroom training. An individual wanting to master this language under the guidance of an instructor should consider Python courses. A number of third-party options are available and cover similar topics as listed above. Whether one pursues formal or informal courses, a key element of Python training lies in programming practice.

Once a student is comfortable with the basics, it may be time to consider an advanced course. Here, Python programming skills are taken to the next level and students will explore:

  • Thread programming
  • Message passing
  • Multi-processing
  • Advanced I/O handling
  • Generators and co-routines

Advanced Python courses can be challenging and are targeted for more experienced programmers who are already familiar with the core Python programming language.

For programmers that have truly mastered Python, there is no official certification; however, some schools offer their own version of certification upon the completion of Python courses.

Python training audience

Because Python is one of the more user-friendly of the programming languages, it can be learned by those with little to no programming experience. Students interested in learning a programming language that is best for lighter applications and projects would benefit from starting with Python training. This language is also easily accessible since it runs on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems.

For students wondering if computer programming is a good career match, Python training could give them a feel for what the job entails. Those considering this career can seek a range of employment options.


ColdFusion Courses

Adobe's ColdFusion, a dynamic development system that supports the creation of application servers and other software products, is known among coders and employers alike for its unique scripting language. ColdFusion Markup Language, or CFML, is similar to the widely used HTML. ColdFusion also integrates with other scripting languages, including ActionScript and Flash, which makes it a software platform with diverse applications. While ColdFusion has a number of uses among developers, it is commonly found in applications such as data-based websites and intranets.

How ColdFusion courses can shape a career

Tech expert Raymond Camden has been working with ColdFusion for more than a decade and has been Adobe certified since 1997. He began his development career building websites with ColdFusion and now works with Adobe as a developer evangelist, focusing on jQuery, Flex, AIR and the mobile space. Additionally, Camden blogs at ColdFusionJedi.com.

"For me, ColdFusion has been very effective and very powerful," Camden wrote in an email. "ColdFusion has always had a strong slant towards being practical, i.e., making hard things easy."

Camden recommends that aspiring developers seek out ColdFusion training for those reasons, and because its CFML language is simple to learn.

"I find ColdFusion's focus on practicality to be a huge productivity gain. It has a tag-based language that makes it much easier for non-developers to pick up on," he said. "For people with more traditional backgrounds, you can make use of scripting and all your normal programming techniques to build out powerful applications."

Agile Courses

Agile Software Development is a model for building applications using fluid and efficient software design, incorporating teamwork and methods such as Extreme Programming, or XP. Examples of Agile training classes include Agile Project Management and Scrum Developer Workshop.

What skills can be learned through Agile training?

Agile courses can teach students about skills that are central to this methodology, according to the Agile manifesto:

  • Satisfy customers by delivering valuable software early and continuously
  • Harness changing development requirements to fuel competitive advantage
  • Engage in daily communication between developers and businesspeople
  • Build projects around driven individuals and trust them to do the job right
  • Deliver working software often, with emphasis on shorter time scales

Apart from the core guidelines of this methodology, students in Agile courses learn specific areas of the system and how to apply them. Software training firms offer subjects such as test-driven development and Agile for product owners or executives.

One might say that Agile training provides its students with metaskills, in that this method is designed to improve the efficiency of concrete skills such as programming and planning. Agile courses won't teach how to code, but they can teach students how to use their coding skills for more efficient development.


Perl Courses

Perl is a flexible yet powerful programming language with a variety of potential purposes, including web development, system administration and GUI development. Perl training can prepare programmers to use this tool for rapid application development or complex system development. Perl 5 runs on over 100 platforms, including UNIX, Mac, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, and the Perl website describes it as powerful, stable, mature and portable.

Perl training: Who is best suited for it?

It might be helpful for those interested in Perl training to have a knowledge of programming and software development in general, as a foundation. However, Perl is intended to be easy to use, and those with little to no background in coding can make good use of Perl training as well. Usually programmers or developers are the target audience for this type of training, but it may be useful for system and network administrators and software engineers as well.

Perl training and community resources

The many options for Perl training include these resources on the Perl website and elsewhere:

  • Free online Perl books
  • Local Perl communities
  • Online FAQs and getting started pages
  • Videos from Perl workshops and conferences
  • A list of recommended modules for day-to-day tasks

Community learning opportunities allow individuals to take advantage of Perl resources such as mailing lists, chats, conferences and workshops, blogs, and a variety of foundations that support Perl. For example, there are online communities devoted to sharing Perl knowledge and coding tips.

The Learn Perl page offers presentations, such as Introduction to Perl, which are recommended as a supplement to more traditional Perl courses. In addition, FAQs are downloaded as part of the Perl distribution.

Elements of Perl courses

A number of training vendors offer Perl courses. An introductory course in Perl would cover a range of topics such as these:

  • Perl syntax fundamentals
  • Creating effective, reusable Perl scripts that can be used on various platforms
  • Using Perl operators and built-in functions
  • Using Perl for looping, decisions and flow-control
  • Using Perl for writing subroutines

Courses with hands-on exercises that allow students to practice and test what they're learning are best for mastering programming languages.


Cascading Style Sheets Courses

Cascading Style Sheets training allows Internet developers to separate Web content from its presentation. With the skills taught in CSS courses, Web designers can gain control over many features of a site's design. For example, they can make changes to all or part of a Web document, in much less time than it would take using just HTML.

What does CSS training cover?

For those who are unfamiliar with the back end of website design, CSS courses can be eye-opening. Here are some fundamentals:

  • Formatting: HTML was designed to define the content of a Web page, not to define the formatting. CSS techniques help bring more design to Web design.
  • Frontloading: With CSS training, designers can pack a large portion of their formatting guidelines into the head of the HTML document. Standardized content coding is much easier this way.
  • Efficiency: Since CSS formatting information stands apart from its HTML elements, designers can create sweeping changes in look and layout with just a few keystrokes.

Here is a short list of some specific topics taught in CSS courses:

  • Proper syntax for Cascading Style Sheets
  • Absolute and relative positioning
  • Ordered and unordered list formatting
  • Layering with the z-index property
  • Class inheritance
  • Typefaces and font characteristics

The California government Web Tools page explains how to use this technology and offers an example of what CSS code looks like.

Who should consider CSS courses?

Most people with design experience could gain valuable career skills from CSS training, but certain characteristics make for excellent candidates:

  • Solid understanding of HTML or XHTML
  • Willingness to move beyond outdated Web design standards
  • Ambition or experience in a graphic design field
  • Ability to hand-code for the Web

Recent college graduates from programs such as communication design may also be very well suited to Cascading Style Sheets courses. Application of the skills taught in CSS courses can be enhanced with knowledge in the following areas:

  • Use of negative space
  • Color theory
  • Layering of visual elements
  • Familiarity with graphic design software

Ultimately, all those with a shared interest in computers and the visual arts can take some career value away from CSS training. Courses can help teach coders how to design and designers how to code.


AJAX Courses

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or AJAX for short, is a bundle of Web development technologies that can empower designers to create efficient and flexible online sites and applications.

Who should attend AJAX courses?

Creative people with technological leanings can usually make the most of AJAX training, because of the combination of artistic and technical elements present in Web design. It is recommended that candidates for AJAX training possess at least some familiarity with JavaScript.

Web developers are members of the professional category that stands to gain the greatest advantage from AJAX courses. High-quality websites make use of asynchronous data transmission to streamline the user experience, and designers who know the protocols and procedures of this popular development toolkit may find their skills in high demand.

The line between software application and Web site has become blurrier in recent years, with the prominence of applications like Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs. This extensive Web and mobile deployment of software apps suggests that software engineers shouldn't overlook the potential benefits of AJAX training.

What can AJAX training teach?

Students in AJAX courses usually begin by learning the core components of AJAX:

Perhaps the most exciting tools learned in AJAX training are the XMLHttpRequest object, which enables the system's asynchronous data functions, and the Document Object Model (DOM), which enables interaction between JavaScript, HTML and XML.

AJAX courses also prepares students to handle communication errors, secure vulnerable JSON data, optimize functionality, leverage client libraries, work with cross-domain scripts and set up efficient data-exchange frameworks.


Software Testing & QA Courses

Software testing requires much more than just playing video games or using pre-release versions of office applications. According to the American Society for Quality, quality assurance (QA) professionals must understand how to:

  • Develop complex use cases for software based on customer needs
  • Schedule routine software audits over the course of a product's development
  • Communicate complex issues and opportunities to both software engineers and marketing professionals
  • Implement multiple testing methods to duplicate or clarify results
  • Resolve conflict between competing stakeholders during the QA process

Software testing and quality assurance courses help IT professionals bridge the gaps in their professional development between development, communication, and project management. For experienced business veterans, the right training program can help bring Six Sigma and other quality measurement philosophies into the technology realm. Likewise, longtime IT workers can use quality assurance courses to understand the rigorous goals of industry and international business compliance programs.

Ideal Candidates for Software Testing Courses

Software testing courses can help business process managers from other industries break into the lucrative information technology market. According to research conducted by Foote Partners, the IT industry adds one to two new jobs for every ten positions eliminated in other parts of the economy. Familiarity with Six Sigma and ISO quality measurement protocols can prepare aspiring IT workers to apply their skills as technology auditors and project managers.

Quality assurance training can also help veteran software developers tasked with adapting to new programming environments. Agile programming and lean software development styles both integrate quality assurance into their shorter coding cycles. Instead of favoring long development periods punctuated by software testing, companies that have adopted agile and lean methodologies require developers to adjust features and functions on the fly, based on test results. Quality assurance courses help developers anticipate and avoid challenges among end users.


Software Development Courses

What can be learned in software development courses?

Software development takes more than just memorizing commands and syntax. During a comprehensive program of software development training, students gain perspective on the entire software lifecycle, learn methods to create effective algorithms and study best practices such as version control, debugging, unit testing and profiling.

The specific details of software development training programs can vary based on the type of software the student is learning to develop. Applications software development courses may focus on issues of cross-platform compatibility and Web deployment, while systems software training might contain material about assembly language and enterprise networking protocols.

Who is best suited for software development courses?

The best candidates for software development training are usually detail-oriented people with strong problem-solving skills. A tendency toward analytical thinking and the capacity for concentration on multiple simultaneous tasks can also be significant advantages.

In the workplace, the ability to communicate effectively with fellow IT workers as well as nontechnical staff personnel can help professionals use their software development training to its fullest potential.

Is there a difference between formal and informal software development training?

Most software development training programs take place in a traditional university environment, although there are programs available in the virtual classroom for students without enough time to commit to a full-time campus education. The vast and detailed nature of the software development profession, as well as the educational requirements of many development jobs, makes this sort of formal coursework a generally better option than a more casual form of study.


C, C++, C# Courses

The C programming language has powered crucial applications for more than 40 years. However, various versions of the platform require developers to stay aware of system limitations and coding habits. The language's stability on UNIX servers makes it a popular tool for enterprise-level software developers, even into the platform's fifth decade of active use. Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and other commercial technology companies use C, C++, and C# in their software and in dedicated electronic devices. Even though many developers gain familiarity with C through experimentation, formal IT training programs help build broad skill sets that attract employers.

Objectives of C, C++, C# training

C, C++, and C# helped usher in an era of "object-oriented programming," a results-oriented style of software development that enables teams to reuse snippets of code throughout a project. C, C++, and C# training programs help students learn how to write lean code, destined for a variety of hardware and operating system combinations. Instead of just learning to write software for new, powerful, personal computers, students must also master the craft of developing procedural code for low-power, dedicated-use devices like car navigation systems and music players. Most colleges, universities, and skills training centers offer three tiers of C programming classes:

  • Beginner: Entry-level courses focus on the language's capacities, functions, and limitations.
  • Intermediate: Students get hands-on with C, C++, and C#,
  • Experienced: Advanced courses give students the platform upon which to develop serious C, C++, and C# applications.

Many information technology degree programs require students to complete at least one beginner-level programming course, often aimed at helping future managers understand the process of managing a software project. However, job seekers and independent developers usually enroll in more targeted programming training courses designed to help develop raw talent or to translate skills from one concentration to another. Programmers accustomed to other languages often make smooth transitions into C, C++, and C#. Likewise, developers with deep experience in one of the C languages may need brush-up courses on another version when prompted by employer or client project requirements.

C, C++, C# training styles

With such broad support for C, C++, and C# in the IT community, aspiring developers can usually find training programs that match their personal learning styles. Microsoft and other software developers supporting the C family make self-paced courses available as books and recordings. Online training programs leverage the Internet to support learners in virtual classrooms. Connected by the Web, students can quickly mock up applications for peer review. In physical classrooms, students work in labs designed to emulate real-world experiences of collaborating in teams with limited resources. Despite the mode of training, students develop the technical learning and the project management skill necessary to meet the needs of demanding hiring managers.


XML Training Courses

IT professionals of all sorts need to know how to talk tech. XML, or Extensible Markup Language, is simply another way to make tech do the talking.

TechTarget notes that one of XML's best applications is that is gives IT pros a consistent way to share information with uniform language. As a result, XML has become a popular format for both software development and document publishing and its widespread proliferation has created a wealth of job opportunities for those with XML training.

Who can benefit from XML training?

XML has become a standard tool for developers and it has an increasing role in the way data of all kinds are exchanged on the Web and within networks. This means that developers, network administrators and architects, programmers and systems managers are all good candidates for XML courses and training.

What should XML training cover?

For the most part, thorough XML training can be a great way to prepare for a career as an XML developer or programmer. Job duties for these in-demand tech pros often include include designing, developing and maintaining user interface using not only XML, but also HTML, XLS, DHTML and JavaScript. Because the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has given XML a formal recommendation, Modis, an international IT staffing firm, recommends XML courses also cover W3C standards.


PHP Training Courses

With the high demand for qualified and skilled website designers and developers, training in PHP can be a huge benefit to a budding IT career. Multiple content management systems (CMS) exist to help port text, images and binary data to the Web, and professionals with PHP training can look inside most CMS applications and know just how they work.

Benefits of training in PHP

Created in 1995 from a set of Perl scripts, PHP continues to evolve. Its original name was Personal Home Page, but as functionality was increased it outgrew the title that gave it its acronym. PHP now stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor."

PHP is an extremely popular open-source scripting language that allows complex operations to be executed in a hypertext environment. Web pages are getting flashier all the time, and the functionality demanded by the Web-consuming public requires skilled professionals to make it happen.

Where to find PHP training

PHP training courses are offered at colleges and universities from coast to coast, as well as from software and hardware vendors. Some PHP training courses are offered entirely online, which can be beneficial to students who wish to learn this valuable language without committing to a full-time campus education.

Among the attributes that make a good candidate for PHP training, attention to detail is near the top of the list. Previous computer programming experience is a plus, as well, since the syntax of PHP is derived from such foundational languages as C and Perl. Familiarity with HTTP and Web functionality can help a great deal, and graphic designers who undergo PHP training can bring new life to their skill sets.


Java Programming Training Courses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs available for computer software applications engineers is expected to rise by 34 percent between 2008 and 2018, translating into more than 175,000 new positions. Applicants who earn certifications in the field are likely to be favorably considered for these emerging jobs, and training for Java certification can help aspiring IT professionals get their foot in the door of a promising career as a developer.

What can training in Java teach you?

Java training can provide students with a firm foundation in the programming language, as well as concepts, methods and variables of object-oriented programming and Unified Modeling Language, or UML. Pursuing further training in Java can help students concentrate on the finer points of the language and its implementation, such as Web deployment, advanced scripting techniques and detailed analysis.

Java's supplier, Oracle, offers almost a dozen certification paths for Java SE and EE at the Oracle Certified Associate, Professional, Master and Expert levels. These certifications cover everything from basic Java programming to enterprise architecture, JavaServer pages and Web services development.

Who can benefit most from Java training?

Java training can be put to its best use by software applications developers, but other categories of IT professional can also benefit from a familiarity with the language.

As with most programming language instruction, Java training is generally most useful to detail-oriented concrete thinkers who already have some expertise with computers and software applications. While training programs exist to get students started in Java without prior programming experience, completing a bachelor's or an associate degree in computer science can provide good context for the training. Students can also go on to earn credentials in specific Java platforms or development environments, depending on the type of skill set their job requires.

Java training can be a significant help for students trying to break into the tech field, as well as established professionals looking to advance their careers or take on a new set of challenges in the workplace.


Mac OS X Training Courses

Mac OS X training can help prepare IT professionals with a well-rounded knowledge of the latest and most popular operating systems. Mac OS X courses could be especially useful for computer specialists such as tech support staff, network or system administrators, or Mac users in the education world; here are some potential salaries for those occupations.

What skills are taught in Mac OS X courses?

Apple provides many different types of Mac OS X training, and the skills learned from the courses vary. Mac OS X courses for support cover the features of OS X, as well as tips on how to prepare for certification. Here's a short list of skills taught in Mac OS X courses that focus on support:

  • Creating and managing OS X user accounts
  • Preparing and partitioning hard drives that will run OS X
  • TCP/IP and network resources such as AFP, SSH, WebDAV and SMB
  • Troubleshooting boot sector, peripheral and application issues

In Mac OS X training courses that focus on integration, a different set of skills is learned:

  • Configuring Mac OS X accounts on hybrid networks
  • Coordinating system and network security
  • Enabling file and printer sharing capabilities on mixed networks
  • Migrating data from Mac OS X to machines with other operating systems

Other Mac OS X training specialties also exist, such as administration of Mac OS X server systems.

Who is best suited to Mac OS X training courses?

Recent graduates of computer science or engineering degree programs make good candidates for Mac OS X training, and Apple recommends Mac OS X courses for several types of IT professionals.

The BLS indicates that jobs in many of these sectors are growing much faster than the nationwide average for all occupations. Mac OS X training helps to expand a professional's understanding of interoperability, which can be useful in an increasingly multi-vendor IT environment.


AS400 for IBM Power Systems Training Courses

Enterprises are moving an ever-widening amount of their digital business resources into the client/server model. AS400 training is one of the ways for IT workers to master the architectures and configurations of these vital server machines.

IBM has rebranded its AS400, or AS/400, products as System i, and most recently as IBM Power Systems. The vendor offers resources such as training and technical documentation for Power Systems including AS400, iSeries and System i products.

What skills can be learned in AS400 training?

Depending on the path a student takes, courses focused on IBM technology can teach several useful skills to server-side IT pros. Here's a short list of the learning paths available:

  • WebSphere/Java
  • System Administrator
  • Application Development
  • Virtualization
  • Solutions

Each of these IBM training paths comes with its own particular set of skills. The Solutions path focuses on system storage, simplification and consolidation, as well as topics such as change management. The System Administrator path has a stronger concentration on system security and media services.

Application developers in these courses are taught control language programming and the finer points of query tools like SQL. The WebSphere/Java path centers on the development, monitoring and tuning of WebSphere applications and Java technology. Students taking training in Virtualization learn to apply their administration skills to the emerging world of remote and virtual computing.

These descriptions are very general, of course, and these learning paths aren't the only training available for IBM products. Other courses -- whether online or on-campus -- exist to supplement many niches in the IT market.

Who is best suited to AS400 courses?

Established professionals who are making the switch to a new set of server equipment are likely to fare best in courses of this kind. Recent college graduates with degrees in computer science or engineering also make good prospective students.

IT courses of this type tend to attract detail-oriented problem solvers with strong analytical skills. Most students have earned at least a bachelor's degree, and a fair amount of certification candidates have master's or professional degrees.

Do any occupations require AS400 training?

The online tech job site Dice.com lists a range of positions that call for AS400 experience, including administrator, developer and technical support roles. For systems administration or application development jobs that specify their equipment as AS400, training or certification in IBM products demonstrates the candidates' expertise. While qualified applicants may be able to get these jobs based on a good track record or a strong work history, targeted training should be a plus.


IBM AIX Courses

AIX is an open standards-based UNIX operating system developed by IBM for use on many of its various computer platforms. Although AIX incorporates many elements of standard UNIX implementations, it includes some unique features as well, and UNIX systems administrators would benefit from AIX training if their jobs call for those specialized skills.

As seen on IBM's website, the AIX Basics course description includes everyday tasks and topic areas for using the operating system, such as:

  • How to log in to the AIX system and set a user password
  • How to manage AIX files and directories
  • How to execute common AIX commands and manage AIX processes
  • How to use common AIX utilities
  • How to use the AIXwindows Environment

These basic skills are the foundation of many advanced AIX courses and training paths, including the system administration path for AIX and other IBM technologies.

Who should pursue AIX training

Anyone familiar with general IT and OS concepts and whose job requires knowledge of AIX or UNIX environments would be a good candidate for training. For those just starting to consider an IT career who have not yet narrowed down their search to a particular position or job role, there are a few things to know about a job in an AIX environment.

Candidates typically must have significant technical expertise in AIX systems and servers and be responsible for both software and hardware installations and upgrades. Because AIX administrators are often on-point for troubleshooting technical issues, these individuals must have excellent customer service skills and enjoy problem-solving within very technical environments.

Types of AIX training

The IBM course catalog contains a number of different types of AIX courses including instructor-led classroom, self-paced training and online classroom study. AIX-specific topics include high availability, networking, programming and system administration. Third-party vendors offer AIX training in a variety of formats as well. The audience for introductory classes could include end users who are running applications on UNIX systems, while more advanced topics might target system administrators, technical managers, system analysts or software engineers.


Microsoft Windows Server Courses

Who are the best candidates for Microsoft Windows Server training?

Microsoft Windows Server courses can be useful for any aspiring systems or server administrator. The most suitable candidates for training will have spent at least one year in a network administrator position and have fairly extensive experience using Microsoft Windows operating systems. Previous work in an enterprise environment is also very helpful.

As with most IT administration learning programs, Microsoft Windows Server training tends to be most easily absorbed by students who possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills. The ability to concentrate on several tasks at once can help students during training as well as in the workplace.

Some formal education in computer science or computer information systems is also a plus. Employers tend to prefer a bachelor's degree or higher, but an academic certificate or associate degree can be adequate preparation in some cases.

What can be learned in Microsoft Windows Server courses?

These comprehensive training programs are designed to impart detailed knowledge of Microsoft server systems. Here is an abbreviated list of skills that students can take away from Microsoft Windows Server training:

  • Designing Microsoft Windows Server infrastructures
  • Monitoring access management and authentication policy
  • Recognizing, classifying and troubleshooting infrastructure issues
  • Assessing infrastructure security needs
  • Developing client-server best practices for engineering, operations, and development personnel

Graduates of Microsoft Windows Server training will also be prepared to deploy and configure hosted network applications and Web services, perform server operating system maintenance and design and deploy Active Directory.

Although certain aspects of Windows Server administration can be learned on the job or through apprenticeship, the depth and breadth of information on the subject suggests that formal training is preferable to informal instruction.


Microsoft Windows Courses

What skills are taught in Microsoft Windows courses?

Microsoft Windows training can give Windows users a big boost of confidence when working on their PCs. The most recent build of the operating system, Windows 7, contains a wide array of time-saving features that can be an advantage in work-related tasks as well as private computer use.

Windows users can learn efficient ways to manage their files and folders, as well as the ins and outs of Microsoft's upgraded desktop and taskbar. Customization options for the operating system are usually explained in detail. Microsoft Windows training can also teach users the slightly more advanced techniques of user account management and home and wireless networking.

More comprehensive Microsoft Windows courses might include such fairly complex features of the software as remote desktop use, file and printer sharing or system configuration. Computer support elements may be rolled into Windows training courses as well, giving users a primer on application troubleshooting, hard disk maintenance, network and computer resource monitoring and basic computer security concerns.

Who is best suited to Microsoft Windows training?

Anyone who uses a Windows operating system, either at work or at home, can benefit from a better understanding of their computing tools. Administrative and clerical workers are particularly suitable for this training, since much of their workday may be spent using Windows and its applications.

Professionals in management or supervisory positions also stand to gain from the enhanced understanding that Microsoft Windows courses provide. Well-rounded knowledge of the operating system used by their employees can help managers increase their value in the workplace and divert small support tasks from the help desk queue.

Microsoft Windows courses can also be helpful to computer support staff, especially those looking to move from consumer to enterprise support, or those whose personal computing experience might be centered on a different operating system.

Are Microsoft Windows courses necessary for any occupations?

Unless the courses are part of an in-house training program, most employers are unlikely to require formal Microsoft Windows training. Certifications can help a computer support resume stand out from the stack, but companies looking to fill these positions often present applicants with a short proprietary exam to test their knowledge rather than asking for proof of completed Microsoft Windows courses.


Computer Science and Programming Job and Salary Outlook

What is the salary for software devs?

While a number of software developer jobs have been sent overseas by North American and European companies, the most recent data from the BLS indicates that salaries for software developers continue to impress.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the job outlook for computer programmers?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for computer programmers is expected to stay the course with other occupations in terms of growth between now and 2022.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer Programmers - U.S.8%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the salary for computer programmers?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has recent statistics from the year 2012 when it comes to salary data for computer programmers.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the job outlook for computer engineers?

Because much of the current innovation is based more on software than hardware, the job market for computer engineers dealing with hardware is expected to experience modest growth in the near future, according to the latest numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer Hardware Engineers - U.S.7%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the salary for computer engineers?

The latest numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that compensation for computer engineers is better than for all other categories of engineers.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Computer Science and Programming Certifications

There are numerous professional IT certifications that computer science and programming students (or existing professionals) can earn in order to provide potential employers with additional, relevant industry credentials. Several industry-leading manufacturers of technology hardware and software (think Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, etc.) operate their own certification programs. These programs also include accreditation in many programming languages, such as Java, C#, and HTML5, just to name a few.


"National Salary and Employment Data by Occupation, 2014," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/overview_2014.htm

"Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends From the 2010-2011 CRA Taulbee Survey," Computing Research Association, 2011, http://cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/taulbee/CS_Degree_and_Enrollment_Trends_2010-11.pdf
"Computer Science Projects Top Starting Salary for Master's Degree Grads," National Association of Colleges and Employers, January 21, 2015, https://www.naceweb.org/s01212015/computer-science-starting-salary-masters-degree.aspx?terms=computer%20science
"15-1132 -- Software Developers, Applications," O*NET OnLine, 2015, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1132.00
"AS400 jobs," Dice.com, 2015, https://www.dice.com/jobs?q=as400&l=
"AIX Basics," IBM, 2015, http://www-304.ibm.com/services/learning/ites.wss/zz/en?pageType=course_description&courseCode=AN10G&cc=
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