How to Work From Home As a Programmer

By Ron White
Man in home office on telephone using computer and smiling
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Whether you dread the morning commute, loathe office cubicles, or desire to spend more time with your family, working from home likely seems golden. Many computer programmers, including independent freelancers and company employees, receive this perk, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It makes sense for these tech-savvy professionals and for employers since programmers can write code from anywhere. Programmers write code for software programs using computer languages such as Java and C++. The U.S. work force included 343,700 programming jobs in 2012. Before you start to plan your home office layout, you need to take some key steps.

Qualifications

Programming requires knowledge of how to write and debug programs using multiple computer languages and applications. The work also demands strong analytical skills, good concentration and problem-solving skills, and knowledge of math and statistics. Most programmers complete bachelor’s degree programs in computer science or a related field, but some employers accept workers who have an associate degree. Some programmers may need to pass industry-specific certification tests, which are usually administered by an industry association. They may also be required to take continuing-education courses.

Equipment Needs

Programmers use computers to write code. They also need hardware, such as computers and phones, to test their programs. The job also requires software for development environments, web platform software, compilers, database management programs, mainframe computers, serial port cards, modems and printers. Programmers also purchase guidebooks and manuals related to specific software programs and computer languages and subscribe to industry-specific magazines.

Finding Work

Employers look for programmers who have job experience. To showcase your experience, create a portfolio. List the programming languages and scripting languages you have used in the workplace and include information about computer environments with which you have experience. List companies you performed programming work for and the projects you completed. Provide disks of software you created and links to web-based programs you built. Build your own website and include this information on the site, too. This will allow you to refer potential clients. Write a detailed resume that highlights your work experience, including which environments and computer languages you have used. You also should complete one or more college internships or externships to give yourself a leg up on the competition. Freelancers can find work by calling or sending email to software companies and by checking job boards for freelancers and job listings on community websites. Industry associations, such as the Association for Computer Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society, feature job listings.

Income Potential

Programmers earned a median annual income of $76,140 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median hourly rate was $36.30. The top 10 percent earned an average of $117,890 per year, and the bottom 10 percent earned approximately $42,850 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that programming jobs will grow by about eight percent through 2022, and "U.S. News and World Report" ranks computer programming 30th among the best jobs of 2014.

About the Author

Based in Central Florida, Ron White has worked as professional journalist since 2001. He specializes in sports and business. White started his career as a sportswriter and later worked as associate editor for Maintenance Sales News and as the assistant editor for "The Observer," a daily newspaper based in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. White has written more than 2,000 news and sports stories for newspapers and websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.