Operating Systems Programmer: Salary & Job Description

If you're considering a career as an operating systems programmer, the following article contains important information including job description, educational requirements, median annual salary, and career outlook.

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Definition of an Operations Systems Programmer

Operating systems programmers implement new developments in computer network design, application, and maintenance. Working at the server level, systems programmers install and maintain important server applications, including customer information control system (CICS), CICS Transaction Server, WebSphere, and DB2. They are responsible for installing, monitoring, and maintaining the virtual telecommunication access method as well as TCP/IP services. They make recommendations to an organization's management based upon research and analysis of an organization's network infrastructure and suggest needed upgrades and/or modifications to the system. Operating systems programmers design, test, and implement interfaces to optimize process flows for both the client and server side of the organization's server framework.

Systems programmers analyze server operation to diagnose potential problems with the network and recommend and implement solutions after consulting with organization management. When necessary, systems programmers engage in providing programming support for network applications. They consult with third-party vendors to coordinate system upgrades and serve as the lead resource for all network modifications, installations, and upgrades. Operating systems programmers monitor access to the network and establish controls. They design multiple logical partitions (LPARs), which each run operating systems unique to one another. Systems programmers are involved in overseeing and troubleshooting data warehousing procedures. They research emergent network technologies and suggest network improvements to management based upon this research.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Expertise in network operation; strong knowledge of network applications, functions, and design; excellent management ability; excellent communication skills; excellent task priority
Median Salary (2018)* $110,000 (software developers - systems software)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 11% (software developers - systems software)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Operating systems programmers need a bachelor's degree. Ideally, the degree should be in management information systems (MIS), computer science, or a related computer field. Some employers prefer a master's degree. Prior practical work experience is usually required in server applications as well as designing network-level applications.

Required Skills

Operating systems programmers work at the highest network level in design, implementation, and development, so they require expertise in all aspects of network processes and procedures. Strong knowledge of high-level network applications and multiple operating systems is imperative for operating systems programmers because they design, develop, and implement network applications as well as modifying operating system-specific applications. Excellent management ability is crucial to the job because operating systems programmers are directly involved in - and often lead - multiple network modification and upgrade projects; they must be able to oversee the upgrade or modification as well as coordinating efforts with third-party developers involved in the modification or upgrade process. Strong communication skills are a must because systems programmers consult with and advise management with respect to suggesting upgrades and modifications to improve network performance.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job growth rate for software developers - systems software was projected to be 11% between 2016 and 2026. The BLS reported that this rate represents growth at a faster-than-average rate compared to all other occupations. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the annual median salary for software developers - systems software was $110,000.

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