How To Become a Java Developer

What Is a Java Developer?

A Java developer is someone who utilizes Java, one of the most widely used and versatile programming languages. Java powers various applications, including mobile phones, video games, point of sale systems and digital bank accounts, making it essential in today's technological landscape. If you're passionate about technology and aspire to become a Java developer, you can pursue your dream by earning a software development degree. 

This role often involves designing, implementing, and maintaining Java-based software solutions, requiring a solid understanding of programming principles and software development methodologies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1.6 million individuals were employed as software developers in 2022.1 A software development degree can help addresses the ongoing need for professionals in technology-driven fields like Java developing.

1.6 million

Approximate number of individuals employed as software developers in 20221

What Does a Java Developer Do?

Professionals in this role create, test, adapt, monitor and repair software applications using the Java programming language. Due to its versatility and widespread use, developers may work on various applications across industries. For example, they may develop a digital patient portal for healthcare or a smartphone app for tracking work-related miles. Specific tasks may include:

Java Developer Working at Computer
Maintain Java applications

Create, design and maintain software solutions using Java, including architecture, user interface, functionality and updates.

Software development tasks

Create Java applications, including analysis, coding, review and integration.

Identify application problems

Analyze code, logs and user reports to detect potential issues and propose solutions.

Testing and debugging

Verify software functionality, analyzing results and resolving defects to ensure quality.

Java developers play a pivotal role in creating software programs.2 They start by understanding customer needs, defining core functionalities and ensuring security requirements. Their collaboration with cross-functional teams when troubleshooting issues helps to continuously enhance applications when meeting business needs and standards. Java developers often collaborate closely with programmers, sometimes coding themselves instead of just providing instructions.

What Experience and Education Does a Java Developer Need?

Understanding the pathway on how to become a Java developer is crucial for individuals aspiring to enter the field of software development. Here's a typical educational route and steps to kickstart your career in Java development:

Students who are still in high school are encouraged 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 and computer science.

Java developers, also called software developers, typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology.3 While not a requirement to pursue a higher-level, managerial position, you may opt to return to school for your master’s degree. Pursuing a computer science degree can provide you with the hands-on training and key competencies to enter into careers in technology.

Internships may allow you to learn from more experienced developers and help to refine your own skills in a work environment.

There are entry-level positions for developers, which may be ideal for applicants with limited experience. 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 may be responsible for enhancing existing code, reviewing it for accuracy, running debugging applications and writing technical documentation.4

If you're aiming to progress in your technology career, GCU offers an online Undergraduate Certificate in Java Programming. These immersive online courses cater to both degree holders and non-degree seekers, providing comprehensive instruction in Java software development. 

By following this educational and experiential path, you can actively pave the way for a career as a Java developer. Work toward arming yourself with the essential knowledge, skills and practical experience to excel in this field.

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Best Degrees for Java Developers

Aspiring developers may want to consider pursuing at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology or software engineering as possible entry paths.3 While not always needed for entry, employers may prefer a master’s degree for some software developer positions.3 Developers need to continually stay well-informed of emerging tools and programming languages throughout their professional journey.

  • Database connectivity (JDBC)
  • Data structures and algorithms
  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
  • Version control software
  • Java and spring frameworks
  • APIs

GCU Recommends These Degree Programs for Java Developing

Java developers often have varied duties and responsibilities that can differ depending on the organization they work for. Key attributes include a deep understanding of developing principles, proficiency in software development and the ability to adapt to evolving technology landscapes. 

If you're interested in pursuing a career as a Java developer, consider the following degree programs:

Bachelor’s Programs

Master’s Programs

Other Programs

What Skill Does a Java Developer Need?

Developers in this role typically leverage a variety of skills to develop secure and efficient software systems. While technical proficiency is vital for assessing program suitability, essential skills also include a blend of technical and soft skills, such as:2, 3

  • Analyze user needs
  • Develop software
  • Recommend upgrades
  • Design and integrate components
  • Create models and diagrams
  • Conduct maintenance and testing
  • Document for reference
  • Communicate effectively
  • Innovate in design
  • Stay detail-oriented
  • Resolve issues
Developers Work Together at Laptop

Median Annual Wage


Median annual wage for software developers as of May 20225

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not provide specific details for Java developer salary and careers, related fields such as software development are relevant to this degree. According to the BLS, software developers had a median annual wage of $127,260 as of May 2022.5 Software developers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field. However, some employers may prefer to hire those who have a master’s degree.3

Projected Job Growth


Estimated growth for software developers from 2022 to 20326

The software development industry is set for a much faster than average job growth, as per the BLS.6 The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for software developers to increase by about 26% from 2022 to 2032, accounting for an estimated increase of 410,400 jobs in the field.6 

Where Do Java Developers Work?

With 1.6 million positions held by software developers in 2022, it’s evident that skilled professionals in the tech industry continues to rise.1 According to the BLS, the primary employers of software developers were as follows:1

Computer Systems Design and Related Services

Developers actively contribute to designing and maintaining robust software solutions, optimizing systems and collaborate closely with IT professionals to troubleshoot and elevate overall system efficiency.

Software Publishers

Developers drive debugging, performance optimization and cross-platform compatibility to enhance features continually, collaborating with quality assurance and other teams for superior software quality.

Finance and Insurance

Finance and insurance companies hire developers to create and maintain secure software systems tailored for financial transactions, ensuring compliance and reliability while collaborating with cross-functional teams.


Many Java developers are employed by manufacturing companies to build software solutions to optimize production processes and enhance efficiency, collaborating with teams to integrate and maintain systems.

Management of Companies and Enterprises

Management companies need developers to create software systems to streamline operations and enhance efficiency, collaborating with management teams to meet business requirements.

Advancement Opportunities Within Java Development

To advance in Java development, mastering Java and enhancing skills in database administration, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) and project management are key.7 Required qualifications for advancement may include Java proficiency, knowledge of OOP patterns, design trends and concurrency patterns. Additionally, Oracle specialized certifications in areas like Java application and web component development are accessible for those aiming to gain expertise in specific domains.7

Developer Words on Laptop in Office Setting

Ready to embark on your journey to become a skilled Java developer? Explore the educational opportunities at GCU and take the first step toward a career in software development. Start your journey with GCU today.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers: Work Environment. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on Jan 26, 2024.

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). What Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers Do. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on Jan 26, 2024.

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to Become a Software Developer, Quality Assurance Analyst, or Tester. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on Jan 25, 2024.

4 ZipRecruiter. (n.d.). Junior java developer jobs. Retrieved on Jan. 26, 2024.

5 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Software Developers as of May 2022, retrieved on Jan. 25, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as software developers, nor does it reflect the earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc. against a pool of candidates. 

6 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers, retrieved on Jan. 25, 2024. 

7 Troy, M. (2023, June 26). Advancement Opportunities For Java Developers: Taking Your Career To The Next Level. OPT nation. Retrieved on March 4, 2024.