Computer programmers held about 568,000 jobs in 1996. Programmers are employed in almost every industry but the largest amount is in the computer and data processing industry that includes companies that write and sell software. Allot of programmers can also be found working for companies that provide engineering and management services, manufacturers of computer and office equipment, financial institutions, insurance carriers, educational institutions, and government agencies. A growing number of computer programmers are employed on a temporary, a contract basis, or work as independent workers because allot of companies demand expertise with newer programming languages or more 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 company may only need the services of several programmers to write and debug the software necessary to get a new database management system running. This practice also enables companies to bring in people with a specific set of skills. Bringing in an independent contractor with a certain level of experience in a new or advanced programming language enables an establishment to complete a particular job without having to retrain their workers. Such jobs may last anywhere from several weeks to a year or longer. There were 20,000 self-employed computer programmers in 1996 and this number is expected to increase. Programmers usually work in offices. Although they usually work about 40 hours a week, programmers may work longer hours or weekends in order to meet deadlines or fix critical problems that occur during off hours. Programmers can access a system directly, but from remote locations, to make corrections or fix problems. Like other workers that spend a long time in front of a computer terminal... [continues]
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