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What Is Computer Programming and Software Design?

By DeVry University

November 13, 2020
5 min read

In today's age of mobile connectivity, technology plays a role in many aspects of our daily lives. Whether you’re looking for ways to streamline your work or personal tasks, the phrase "there's an app for that" has only become truer with time.

If you’ve ever wondered who the talent is behind software development, the people behind the curtain are computer programmers and software designers. But exactly what is computer programming and software design? Read on to learn more about career opportunities in these fields, along with the skills you may need to get started.

What Is Computer Programming?

Computer programmers give the computer instructions in the form of code. They use this code to create programs, instruct the computer to perform certain tasks and solve problems. Oftentimes, the end goal is simply to create something. It can range from a simple webpage to entirely new software. Whatever it is, it is meant to serve some kind of purpose.

Although newer to the art and science scenes, it is a true form of creativity and design. The art of computer programming can be an extremely useful proficiency in the modern age.

Some of the skills that a computer programmer may need on the job include:

  • Proficiency in existing laptop languages, e.g. C++ or Python

  • Capacity to expand and improve existing or older program code

  • Ability to locate errors and resolve them

At one time, it was possible for a computer programmer to be extremely proficient in just one specific computer language. However, with the wide array of languages now in use, you may want to consider developing a strong understanding of several different programming languages and a basic knowledge of others.

What Is Software Design?

Software design is more specific than computer programming, although many times the terms are used interchangeably.

Software design focuses on the process that allows the user to define software methods and parameters. Design works with functions and the overall structure of the code. It allows you to prepare a plan for a software application while meeting any functional requirements and avoiding the constraints of the program.

Some of the skills that a software designer uses on the job can include:

  • Analyzing user needs

  • Assessing company necessities/goals

  • Development of software system within set parameters

  • Maintenance of software systems to verify continued potency

The Connection Between Computer Programming and Software Design

Although an individual with a computer programming degree may have some of the same skills as someone with a software design degree, there are some differences in how the jobs typically function. These two professions generally work hand-in-hand, though.

Computer programmers often use code to write an entire program that aligns with design specifications. Again, these can be as simple as a website and its associated pages, an app, operating system or a new software program entirely.

Software designers often work on a specific portion of a software program that will be integrated with other sections developed by other software designers and programmers.

Software designers often work within a team that develops the entire software system within an organization. Computer programmers, on the other hand, typically have more solitary tasks since they work on a focused portion of a software system.

Degree Programs in Computer Programming and Software Design

Just as in any specific career field, there are certain steps and skill sets you need to develop to qualify for a working position. Programming courses within degree programs, such as those offered at DeVry University, can teach you skills to help you start on your career journey.

Courses in Computer Programming and Software Design

Working towards a computer programming degree or a software design degree is an excellent way to equip yourself with the technical skills needed in a work environment. The subjects that you may study include topics like:

  • Application and algorithm development and conceptualization

  • Advanced programming techniques for app development

  • Advanced strategies for software development

  • Communication of methods used and subsequent findings

  • Mobile device programming

  • Digital literacy

  • Information security

  • Data analysis

There may be a variety of educational paths to choose from depending on the education requirements for the particular role you are interested in pursuing. At DeVry, you can earn a Computer Programming Essentials certificate in as little as 10 months,1 or pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Design and Programming or Web and Mobile Application Development.

You may also choose to continue your education in your field, working towards a master’s degree or a Ph.D. Oftentimes, your education goals will be predominantly determined by what you hope to accomplish as well as your employer's requirements.

Careers in Computer Programming and Software Design

Whether your education background is in computer programming or software design, you may qualify for similar job titles. In the end, the job itself will often help to hone your skills more specifically in one area or the other.

Whether you want to work as part of a collaborative team focused on coding the new tomorrow, or are excited about building individual projects, advancing your education may help you develop the skills you need.

Some of the roles you may consider pursuing throughout your career include:

  • Scientific Software Programmer

  • Software Developer and Programmer

  • Software Systems Developer

  • Software Application Developer

  • Software Programmer and Analyst

  • Web Developer and Programmer

Ready to prepare to be a part of the next generation of programmers in an exciting and dynamic career field? Explore our tech programs or take the first step by letting us know your interests and aspirations today.

1Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment. For additional program information visit our Degree Programs page.

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