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Systems programmer: job description

Systems programmer: job description

Systems programmers produce, install and implement new and modified computer systems, networks and related operating software.
A good career choice if you enjoy finding and fixing problems.

What does a systems programmer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

This role is usually very technical. A systems programmer tests both hardware and software systems and finds and resolves problems.

Responsibilities of the job include:

  • researching and examining current systems and consulting users
  • liaising with colleagues such as systems analysts and designers
  • writing software and operating manuals
  • training users
  • providing support and responding to feedback
  • testing and modifying systems to ensure that they operate reliably
  • fault finding and fixing

There are excellent promotional prospects for employees willing to move into managerial positions or to change jobs regularly.

Typical employers of systems programmers

Most systems programmers are employed by computer manufacturers and systems software houses. Self-employment via contract and consultancy work is increasingly common for programmers with relevant experience.

Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies, and in local or national newspapers and relevant publications such as TARGETjobs IT and Technology, Computing and Computer Weekly as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

Employers normally prefer graduates with degrees in appropriate subjects such as physics, mathematics, computer science/engineering and microelectronics. You will need a thorough understanding of computer languages. For graduates without relevant qualifications, a postgraduate IT conversion course or a technical postgraduate degree can be of benefit. Relevant work experience is also often necessary.

Key skills for systems programmers

  • Resourcefulness
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Logical thinking
  • Good analytical skills
  • Problem solving skills
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