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Employment: Computer Programmers




Computer programmers held about 499,000 jobs in 2002. Programmers are employed in almost every industry, but the largest concentrations are in computer systems design and related services and in software publishers, which includes firms that write and sell software. Large numbers of programmers also can be found in management of companies and enterprises, telecommunications companies, manufacturers of computer and electronic equipment, financial institutions, insurance carriers, educational institutions, and government agencies.

A large number of computer programmers are employed on a temporary or contract basis or work as independent consultants, as companies demand expertise with new programming languages or specialized areas of application. Rather than hiring programmers as permanent employees and then laying them off after a job is completed, employers can contract with temporary help agencies, consulting firms, or directly with programmers themselves. A marketing firm, for example, may require the services of several programmers only to write and debug the software necessary to get a new customer resource management system running. This practice also enables companies to bring in people with a specific set of skills—usually in one of the latest technologies—as it applies to their business needs. Bringing in an independent contractor or consultant with a certain level of experience in a new or advanced programming language, for example, enables an establishment to complete a particular job without having to retrain existing workers. Such jobs may last anywhere from several weeks to a year or longer. There were 18,000 self-employed computer programmers in 2002.