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R Programmer Career Guide

What Is an R Programmer?

An R programmer is an expert in the R programming language. R is an open-source software environment and computer programming language. R is a computing language that is mainly used for tasks such as data and statistical analysis, computer modeling, and even graphics (i.e. rendering activity or statistics as visualization.) As such a powerful tool, it’s not the simplest of languages to learn, but that’s due to the sheer amount of things a programmer can do with this language.

Male programmer works at a dual monitor desktop.

What Does an R Programmer Do?

An R programmer will spend most of their time writing code and troubleshooting it to ensure that it runs as intended with a minimum of problems. While every company and organization is different, here are some common tasks an R Programmer might be asked to perform:

  • Coding. Like any other programmer, those working in R will be expected to put their skills to good use. R code is mainly used for advanced data analysis and modeling, so prospective R programmers can often find themselves working in the finance, banking, e-commerce, and other similar sectors.
  • Troubleshooting. The smallest error in a line of code can mean disaster. So R programmers will need to use their powers of concentration to scan through the code and ensure everything runs as expected. One benefit of R is that it’s open-source, which means it’s free to download and there are lots of helpful resources for students of R.
  • Visualization. One of the key strengths of R is the powerful data visualization abilities present in the language. R programmers, no matter the industry they’re working in, will often be asked to visualize and explain important data to help their employers make key business decisions.

How Do I Become an R Programmer?

Applicants who are serious about standing out in the field of R programming will be best served by getting a firm foundation in IT with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject such as data management and analytics. A degree program like this prepares prospective programmers by teaching the fundamentals of R , but that’s not all: They will also learn how to manage complex sets of data, including the best methods for analyzing and visualizing this data. 

Students who wish to take their skills to the next level and apply for jobs at the peak of this career path should study for a master’s degree in data analytics. An advanced postgraduate degree is a great choice for those who want to increase their earning power and their chances of landing that dream job.

Step One: Get a bachelor’s degree

While it is technically possible to gain employment as an R programmer without one, not many do. R programmers with essential knowledge such as R data analysis, data wrangling, and data visualization form the bedrock of a successful career as an R programmer. 

Step Two: Earn a master’s degree

It’s no secret that employment in the computer sector is highly competitive. Applicants will need to stand out. One way to do this is by earning for a master’s Degree in data analytics. This degree program was developed with the assistance of data experts - meaning it will be highly relevant and focused on the key skills an R programmer needs to succeed. Students can take modules on the data analytics journey, data cleaning, advanced data acquisition, and many more. According to the BLS, job prospects are best for programmers with advanced degrees and who know a variety of languages, so doing a master’s is an excellent way to prepare for this.

Step Three: Experience and certificates

Technology is ever-changing, and programmers are right at the heartbeat of this change. Languages may receive major updates, lose popularity, or other languages may be introduced at any time. So taking the time to focus on continuous professional development is important for any R programmer. Students can earn certificates and licenses for free while studying for their degrees. Armed with a wealth of experience and education, students can enter the job hunt with confidence.

Best Degrees for an R Programmer:

Data Management/Data Analytics – B.S.

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:...

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge...

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:

  • Employer approval: 69% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: CIW and CompTIA certs, all included.

Unique to WGU's program is the incorporation of a Udacity Nanodegree—a highly recognized credential designed to prepare you for a career in data science.

Certified Internet Web certification included:

  • CIW Data Analyst

CompTIA certifications included:

  • CompTIA A+ (Parts 1 and 2)
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist

Data Analytics – M.S.

Lead businesses with strong analysis skills:...

Lead businesses with strong analysis skills:...

Lead businesses with strong analysis skills:

  • Time: 72% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,235 per 6-month term.

Master data mining, visualization, and SQL—and lead analytics at the business of your choice.

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What Skills Does an R Programmer Need?

An R programmer needs a wide variety of computing skills to excel at their job. These include things such as mastering programming languages and algorithms, to being comfortable working as part of a team.

  • R programming fluency
  • The ability to work under pressure as part of a close-knit team
  • A problem-solving mindset
  • The ability to focus on small details
  • Strong communication skills
  • A focused mind to pick out the smallest mistakes in a line of code

How Much Does an R Programmer Make?


According to Glassdoor the average salary in the US for R programmers was $110,811 per year. This, of course, can vary by location and experience. The lower end of the payscale hovers around $73,000 while those with more experience can command rates of around $169,000.

What is the Projected Job Growth?


R programmers can expect to have many job opportunities available, with software developers seeing a 22% job growth by the year 2029. Similarly web developers are expected to see a 8% growth by the year 2029. There is an extensive need for skilled programmers and code experts who are able to meet the demands of organizations in a variety of industries around the world.

Where Does an R Programmer Work?


Most computer programmers, including R programmers, work in computer systems designs or related services (33%). However, they can also be found working in other sectors; finance and insurance employ 8%, manufacturing 6%, software publishing 5%, and 3% of them are self-employed. Regarding the physical place of work, R programmers can do their work from anywhere, giving an extra layer of comfort and flexibility to this career.

Interested in Becoming an R Programmer?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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