Role and average wage of a programmer analyst

Written by stephen byron cooper Google
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Role and average wage of a programmer analyst
The programmer analyst is more familiar with programming than analysis. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Many IT departments use the “Programmer Analyst” title as a job grade in the career path of a programmer. At entry level, a programmer starts off as a “junior programmer” or “trainee programmer.” After the programmer has achieved a level of competence he will be promoted to “programmer.” Some organisations have the role of “senior programmer” or “lead programmer” but from the base of “programmer,” the IT professional has the option of picking an alternative career path into systems analysis. This path begins with the position of “programmer analyst.”

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Career path

“Programmer analyst” is the bottom rung on the analyst’s career path. The programmer analyst will be expected to be well versed in a specific programming language which will be the base language of the project she is hired to work on. The programmer analyst receives training in software specification methods, which vary from organisation to organisation and from programming language to programming language. The next senior position is “analyst programmer” and then “systems analyst.”


Although the programmer analyst is likely to be the most junior member of the analysis team, the role is vital. He has more knowledge of the inner workings of the programming systems used by the company. Analysis starts with a business requirement or a request from an operating department for new functionality in the IT system. The analyst who begins the process of defining requirements may have little technical knowledge, but is versed in the business practices of the company and the professions and functions that software development supports. The programmer analyst’s job is to act as an interpreter between the analysis team and the programming team.


The original software requirement definition created by the systems analyst has to be examined by the team. Although the programmer analyst is not expected to know how to plan a project, set a budget or define manpower requirements, she is expect to spot how a requirement could be implemented. The analyst programmer may block the project before it gets to the programmer analyst. The analyst programmer is fully conversant in the front end of the current system and may spot that the requirement could be fulfilled by existing software. The programmer analyst should then examine the technical effort needed for the project and spot whether slight adjustments in the requirements could enable the software development to proceed down an alternative path at a lower cost.


Once a strategy has been agreed with the company management and the original requestor of the software, a formal requirements specification is signed off. The analyst programmer will decide on the interface specifications of the new software and define the way the program is expected to behave. The programmer analyst then interprets these specifications into a program definition giving precise, program by program specification which will include required inputs and outputs and will recommend how the program should be written in a specification formed in “pseudo code.” Pseudo code is a formalised natural language that summarised the way the lines of the program should be structured.


IT Jobs Watch tracks the average salary of technology job titles in the UK (see Resources). In the three month period up to April 2013, the average salary of a permanent full-time programmer analyst was £37,000. 90 percent of those taking up programmer analyst jobs got more than £29,500 and 10 percent took up salaries of more than £52,500. This wide salary range reflects the flexibility of the job title. If the IT team has few members in its analysis team, the programmer analyst will be expected to pick up more of the systems analyst’s role. Some companies want to anchor people with programming experience in this midpoint job and so increase the salary of the position to reflect the increasing seniority of the programmer analyst.

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