What do Java developers do?
Java developers write software using a programming language that runs well on many different kinds of computers.
Flavors of Java arrive preinstalled on many wireless phones, corporate servers and desktop PCs. Starting with Netscape Navigator in 1995, Java elements have powered many of the world's most popular Web browsers. By the time Oracle bought the rights to Java as part of its Sun acquisition in 2010, more than 2.5 billion devices could interpret the language's commands.
Java developers often characterize themselves as application developers, Web developers, or even embedded operating system engineers. In many companies, Java developers must integrate their code with software written in other languages such as HTML5 or C++. Senior developers and project managers must merge code from multiple developers, including freelancers and outside consultants.
What is the salary for Java developers?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies Java developers in the same category as computer programmers working on other types of platforms. Therefore, the government agency's median annual salary calculation of $70,940 reflects only the broadest market conditions. However, technology industry recruiting website Glassdoor.com found that location and specialization impact a developer's take-home pay:
- $129,120 for a Java/Applications Director in New York City. Silicon Valley's connections to banking and publishing make New York a hotbed for Java application development and deployment. Applications directors oversee teams of programmers, including outsourced or offshore coders.
- $99,832 for a Senior Java Applications Developer in Silicon Valley. On campuses throughout Northern California, Java developers contribute code for projects ranging from handheld payment devices to the Mars Rover.
- $73,800 for a Java Developer in Atlanta. Companies outside traditional programming hotbeds have recognized the value of bringing developers in-house, instead of relying on outsiders.
Newly minted Java developers face less competition for entry-level jobs outside New York and California, despite relatively lower salaries. Graduates of IT training programs may find it easier to locate work in their hometowns, only to graduate to one of the nation's technology hubs later in their careers.
What is the job outlook for Java developers?
Government analysts predict that the overall job count for software developers will continue to grow faster than the average for most professions over the coming decade. Even though Java's originators at Sun Microsystems now call Oracle home, the programming language's ubiquity and functionality guarantee job security for programmers who can ship quality code. Despite an industry-wide trend to send programming jobs to India or to the Philippines, many American employers prefer to keep core programmers in-house, often to manage teams or to oversee projects.
What training and/or certification is needed to become a Java developer?
Within Silicon Valley, becoming a Java programmer means learning how to code on your own before showing off your work to seasoned professionals. Dr. Heinz Kabutz, longtime editor of the Java Specialists Newsletter, likens the process to playing youth soccer on the way to a career in the Premier League. Training to become a Java developer requires a passion for writing, shipping and sharing code, especially for no pay. According to developers that spend time at the popular online community Stack Overflow, dedication to study and practice beyond traditional training programs can help a novice programmer build the kind of portfolio necessary to land an entry-level job at a technology company.
Outside the information technology industry, Java development jobs get a different kind of vetting. As with other technology specialties, formal training and certification helps assure non-technical hiring managers that prospective employees meet baseline standards for security, proficiency and compliance. Therefore, the IT industry analysts at Foote Partners named Java one of their top 10 most sought-after certifications for technology professionals.
Until recently, Java developers could certify their training and experience under any of eight niche classifications:
- Sun Certified Business Component Developer (SCBCD)
- Sun Certified Developer for Java Web Services (SCDJWS)
- Sun Certified Enterprise Architect (SCEA)
- Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer (SCMAD)
- Sun Certified Java Associate (SCJA)
- Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP)
- Sun Certified Java Developer (SCJD)
- Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD)
Since purchasing Sun Microsystems, Oracle streamlined Java developer certifications into three tracks under the Oracle Middleware banner:
- Java SE: Replacing the SCJA certification program, the Java "Standard Edition" track focuses on desktop, server and "high-end embedded devices." The Java SE track includes Associate, Professional and Master designations.
- Java EE: "Enterprise Edition" reflects Oracle's commitment to growing Java adoption within large organizations for mission-critical applications. Eight distinct Java EE certifications test mastery of Web components, information architecture and service delivery.
- Java ME: Certification in Java's "Micro Edition" track ensures familiarity with squeezing extra performance from TVs, handsets and other devices that rely on a lightweight programming platform. This certification replaces the SCMAD, with an emphasis beyond mobile telephones.
Software evolution forces developers to balance organizational needs with the industry's best practices. Some companies latch on to a specific version of an operating system or a programming language, even after formal support ends. Java developers who meet end users' needs while managing efficient projects can support their career growth by shipping effective, well-documented code.