Java is one of the most widely used, accessible and versatile programming languages available. If you’ve ever used a mobile phone, played a video game, used a point of sale system at a store or logged into a digital bank account, you can thank Java for the experience. And if you’re passionate about technology and are thinking about becoming a Java programmer, you can pursue your dream by earning a software development degree.
What Does a Java Programmer Do?
Speaking broadly, a Java developer is responsible for creating, testing, adapting, monitoring and repairing software applications built with the Java programming language. Since the programming language is so versatile and used broadly across all industries, professionals may work on a wide variety of applications. For instance, one developer might work on a digital patient portal for a healthcare client. Another may work to create a new smartphone app that helps entrepreneurs log their work-related miles.
Some specific tasks a Java developer may be responsible for include the following:
- Designing and maintaining Java applications
- Participating in software development tasks
- Identifying potential application problems
- Performing software testing and debugging
A Java programmer may hold a few different job titles during the course of their career. When you first land an entry-level job in the field, you may be termed a junior programmer or associate developer. As a junior programmer, you’ll be responsible for enhancing existing code, reviewing it for accuracy, running debugging applications and writing technical documentation.
Later on, you may ascend to the role of senior developer. As a senior developer you are more the architect of various applications and understand how everything fits together from an integration perspective.
Gain Java Programming Skills and Experience in High School
If you already know that you want to pursue a computer science career, then the process of how to become a Java developer can start right away. Students who are still in high school are advised to meet with their school guidance counselor to discuss their career plans and look at their current and upcoming course load.
Consider adding any computer science courses the school may offer, in addition to related subjects like math. You may also want to consider taking available Java programming classes at your local community college, online classes like Udemy or watch tutorials.
While not all programmers have a bachelor’s degree, obtaining one can make your resume much more competitive. Later, if you decide that you would like to pursue a higher-level, managerial position, you may opt to return to school for your master’s degree.
Earning Your Computer Science Degree
A typical Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program may explore multiple programming languages. Even if you plan to specialize in Java, it’s not a bad idea to gain some experience with alternatives. You may also study topics such as the following:
- The structures and mechanisms of operating systems, including the interaction of operating systems with programming languages
- Calculus and its applications for science and engineering professionals
- The fundamentals of information security
- The principles of computer architecture, with a look at performance measurement, multiprocessors and memory hierarchy
You can expect to have a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on learning experiences in the lab. Throughout your years as an undergrad, you’ll practice creating software, evaluating its performance and debugging it. As you proceed through your studies, you should use these opportunities to develop a yearlong capstone project based on your own idea or working with an industry partner on a real-world problem and solution.
Essential Skills and Characteristics of a Java Developer
There are many skills and characteristics that help Java developers become successful in the workplace. An intimate knowledge of the Java programming language is the most important attribute. Other hard skills include the following:
- Object-oriented programming
- Design principles, including the interface segregation principle and the dependency inversion principle
- Architectural patterns, such as the layered pattern and broker pattern
- Microservices as an alternative to monolithic applications
- Docker container principles
- DevOps automation tools
Soft skills are also important for all professionals. Although it’s often thought that computer programmers largely work by themselves, this isn’t the case these days. As a result, software developers need the following soft skills:
- Communication skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Creative problem-solving abilities
- Attention to detail
- Organization and time management
Is There a High Demand for Java Developers?
Since Java is one of the world’s most popular computer programming languages, Java developers remain in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track the job growth rate for Java developers in particular, but it does track statistics for all software developers, quality assurance analysts and software testers.
The BLS estimates job growth for software developers to increase by about 22% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than average, accounting for the addition of an estimated 316,000 jobs in the field.1
One of the reasons for the explosive growth in the industry is the popularity of software applications. More software developers are also needed to meet the demand in the healthcare sector, which is expected to continue the trend of using digital platforms to serve patients. In addition, the Internet of Things (IoT) is seeing exponential growth, with many everyday objects—from TVs to motorized window treatments—relying on software applications.
You can begin working toward your dream of becoming a Java programmer when you apply for enrollment at Grand Canyon University — a renowned Christian school with a 21st-century STEM curriculum. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an Emphasis in Big Data Analytics degree program is ideally designed for students who are passionate about creating the future of computer science. Click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen to get started.
1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.