Perl Developer Career Info

Read on to learn what Perl developers do. See what kind of education and training are required for employment. Get the details about career prospects and earning potential to see if this field is right for you.

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Career Definition for a Perl Developer

Perl developers write code and develop applications using the Perl programming language. Perl is most commonly used in common gateway interface (CGI) applications, graphical user interface (GUI) development, systems administration, database development, and network programming. Perl developers may be responsible for designing, developing, debugging, testing, and maintaining software applications; they are also responsible for collecting and processing data; developing, manipulating, and converting databases; and providing technical support and recommendations to clients.

Education Perl programming experience; some jobs may require a bachelor's degree
Job Skills Perl programming, Linux or UNIX and shell scripting; familiarity with other web development languages
Median Salary $98,260 (application software developers)
Job Growth 17% (for the field of software development overall)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Some employers require potential hires to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, but most employers only require Perl programming experience. Required courses for Perl developers may include computer systems, algorithms, data structures, machine architecture, software engineering, linear algebra, and discrete math. Because Perl is a dynamic programming language that differs fundamentally from languages such as C/C++ and Java, some employers may be hesitant to hire experienced C/C++ or Java programmers with little or no experience with Perl although others are willing to retrain. Thus, familiarity and experience with Perl is ideal although general programming experience may be sufficient.

Skills Required

Aside from being able to program in Perl, a successful Perl developer should also be comfortable with Linux or UNIX operating systems and shell scripting. Familiarity with other web development languages, such as PHP, Python, and Ruby on Rails, can be also helpful. If one intends to work on database development, the ability to code in SQL and a working knowledge of databases, such as Oracle and MySQL, are also required.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers are expected to have a positive job outlook from 2014-2024, with employment growth projected to be 17% overall (www.bls.gov). The BLS published the median annual salary of application software developers, including those who specialize in Perl, as $98,260 in May 2015. System software developers earned a median wage of $105,570.

Alternate Career Options

The following are some other careers in computer programming and development:

Web Developer

A web developer designs and implements the look and technical capabilities of a website for an employer or client. Web developers frequently work with others to determine the scope and content of the site as well as the graphics. They also troubleshoot necessary applications like shopping cart systems so that all components of the site work well together. Web developers are usually required to have at least a high school diploma, although possession of an associate's degree is a common requirement. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 27% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, and median pay for web developers was $64,970 in 2015.

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers use their understanding and fluency in computer programming languages to convert software developers' plans into workable computer programs that behave as expected. Employment typically requires a bachelor's degree in computer science, although it's possible to get a job with an associate's degree. Computer programmers can also earn industry certifications. According to the BLS, the number of computer programming jobs is estimated to decrease 8% from 2014-2024. Computer programmers earned median pay of $79,530 in 2015, per the BLS.

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