O’Reilly Automotive, Jack Henry and Associates, Expedia, Bass Pro Shops, CoxHealth, Mercy, Pitt Technology Group, and World Wide Technology. What do all of these businesses have in common besides having a base of operations within our community? They are all innovative companies with technological roots that employ a large number of professionals in the industry of IT, or Information Technology.
IT departments, which make up the whole of tech operations at companies, generally consist of two areas of computer technology; programmers (software) and IT (hardware; computer diagnostics, networking, security). In this article, we will talk about computer programming, the software and programming languages side of IT. O’Reilly Automotive alone has several floors with hundreds of tech employees that encompass a variety of IT departments including areas that require computer programming languages like mobile and app development, software development, and website maintenance and development. Jack Henry and Associates and Expedia closely match those numbers on all levels, with additional departments of expertise at each company that ensure seamless operation of the vast technological needs of these Fortune 500 companies.
Springfield has a massive tech landscape that extends even further outside these larger companies as well. Digital agencies like Mostly Serious, Classy Llama, Campaignium, Hook Creative, and ADsmith also call our region home, and they make up a large portion of tech employment in Springfield. A quick Google search for “digital agencies” in Springfield, MO comes up with 4 pages of results, and skimming through them I am able to recall several agencies I’ve heard of in the past that aren’t even showing up in the immediate results. Like O’Reilly, Jack Henry & Associates, and Expedia, these smaller digital agencies also employ computer programmers for their web development needs.
On top of designing websites, these agencies also generally offer a variety of marketing needs for companies like social media marketing, graphic design, and brand development. Springfield has even been known n to house a few video game development companies; an area of programming that is in high demand across the nation and one that will hopefully find its’ way to our community again through future educational endeavors that will open doors to new opportunities for this type of creative development.
But why is tech so big in our community? Nearly every business requires tech to operate on some level within modern times of social media, self-check-out lanes, and online shopping. words like “automation”, “tech”, “programmers”, “coders”, and “engineers”, can be downright confusing and even scary, but becoming a programmer that uses programming languages with technology to operate automation is attainable by learning the languages through educational classes online or in schools, which results in incredibly well-paying, and high-rewarding careers.
The technological landscape is ever-changing, with infinite opportunities to learn new languages and new technologies, which creates opportunities to increase your value as an employee while simultaneously increasing your capacity for knowledge. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for Missouri shows median wages for IT jobs range from the lowest paying at $47k per year up to around $130k. Springfield, and Missouri at that, is largely known as an industrial and healthcare region, but technology sits at the root, making our businesses’ computers run, our machinery operate, our communication easier.
Your cell phone runs on a programming language someone created that tells your phone what to do next when you voice-activate it or allows you to send and receive texts that you can access at any moment. Your digital camera is likely run on C or C++ programming language, a versatile and quick-response language that’s capable of capturing those picture-perfect memories that you can view at the press of a button. Our lives, and the knowledge we can attain through computers and tech devices, are made more accessible by technology and programming languages.
At the root, programming languages are essentially a series of letters, numbers, and characters mixed together to create a language that communicates instructions that are understood by machinery. The code implemented has to be 100% accurate, otherwise, the machine cannot understand the instruction and will not perform the task. People that input the code into the machines are called by many different titles, which can be quite confusing, especially depending on the region you live in. For example, because Springfield is largely a healthcare region, I find it’s been confusing to refer to computer programming professionals as “coders”, a title used more broadly across the nation, because that term is generally equated with medical coding here.
The same goes for another popular title: “engineer”. Engineering in the midwest is largely related to electrical, mechanical, environmental and industrial rather than computers. There are a variety of titles that are synonymous with computer programming like “programmers”, “web developers”, “software developers”, “software engineers” and “coders”, and it can be a toss-up as to which companies refer to their employees as what, and varies depending on the employee’s role, but they all generally perform the same task; inputting programming languages into the things we use daily to make our lives accessible and shareable, and communication convenient.