How Do I Become a Systems Programmer?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Images By: Photo_Ma, Monkey Business, ビッグアップジャパン
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2019
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To become a systems programmer, a candidate needs to decide what type of computer language he would like to specialize in. Due to the variety of programming languages and types of computer systems, it can be overwhelming to try to gain knowledge in all of them. Once a specialty is determined, it is vital to gain knowledge and experience in that area. Formal degree programs as well as certification courses can provide the educational instruction that is needed.

Many people want to become a systems programmer due to the fact that it tends to be a well-paying job. Education levels among systems programmers vary as there is not a single path to obtaining the knowledge necessary to perform the duties of the job. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems may provide an overview of the various types of computer systems and languages. In these degree programs there may be opportunities to explore specific languages, such as C++, Java and COBOL.

As an alternative to a college degree, some who wish to become a systems programmer enroll in certification courses. This type of instruction is often very specific to certain types of programming language or systems, such as mainframes and networks. Certification can be obtained through community colleges, online vendors and exam administrators. Some find that obtaining knowledge through certification courses is more beneficial than a college degree program as some employers prefer certified applicants.


Those who wish to become a systems programmer might want to develop solid math skills, including linear algebra and calculus. Aspiring systems programmers might also want to focus on gaining knowledge in C++ and ANSI. They will also want to become quite familiar with computer hardware and how it is designed. Acquiring information about the different computer hardware platforms is also beneficial.

In addition to knowledge obtained through formal education, anyone desiring to become a systems programmer needs to gain first-hand experience. Obtaining certification can be helpful in landing an entry-level job or internship since it sets a candidate apart from others. Experience and practice developing software or computer systems code is essential. Some future systems programmers obtain experience with basic languages, such as HTML, before moving onto more advanced programming.

Searching for experience in computer programming is similar to any other field. Candidates should consult as many resources as possible, including college alumni networks, professional recruiting companies, Internet job boards and their own personal network. Once an individual demonstrates success in an entry-level position, he should be able to move into more advanced positions with full programming responsibilities.



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