How to Become a Java Developer: Step-by-Step Guide

Uncover what it takes to become a Java developer, including the required skills, education, and credentials.
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  • Java developers create software and applications using Java language and tools.
  • For employment, these professionals need core and advanced Java skills and training.
  • Java developers may also need a degree or other credentials, such as certification.
  • Developer salaries depend on the professional's credentials, industry, and location.

Spotify, the Maestro Mars Rover, and Minecraft — what do all of these have in common? They were all developed with Java.

Whether you want to build a new app or help take humanity to a new planet, becoming a Java developer might be the right career for you. Read on to learn how to become a Java developer.

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What Is a Java Developer?

Java developers create software and applications using the Java programming language. They may write and test the code, debug and apply the software or application, and analyze or troubleshoot any issues.

Depending on the project, these professionals may work with various programming languages, media types, and systems. Java developers often work with web developers, engineers, programmers, and testers throughout the product life cycle.

What Are Key Java Developer Skills?

Hard Skills:

  • Object-oriented programming
  • Database programming and data structures
  • Java virtual machines
  • Web frameworks and languages
  • Version control systems
  • Java build and testing tools
  • DevOps tools

Soft Skills:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Analytical
  • Organization

How to Become a Java Developer

There are many paths to becoming a Java developer. See some of the more common steps you can take to enter the field below:

Step 1: Learn Core Java

Core Java covers most of the language's fundamental concepts and applications, mainly object-oriented programming concepts. It's a good place to start because you can use Core Java for developing general-purpose applications. But it also provides the foundation for advanced concepts.

Aspiring developers can also use Core Java to test out the field without investing too much time and money. If you find the language or concepts too challenging or uninteresting, you can pivot or change directions.

Step 2: Choose a Java Developer Education Route

While Java developers do not need college degrees, they can help them stand out amongst the fierce competition. Many aspiring developers pursue a bachelor's in computer science, information technology, or a related discipline. These programs often feature programming and software development studies.

Some professionals pursue master's degrees in computer science as well. These degrees cover advanced concepts in Java programming and prepare students for senior positions and leadership roles.

Other avenues to the field may include a Java development bootcamp or certificate program. These condensed programs tackle many of the practical components of Java development and may qualify graduates for entry-level positions.

Step 3: Get Hands-on Experience as a Java Developer

Employers look for candidates with relevant hands-on Java experience when hiring. You can gain experience in many ways, including through entry-level programming or junior developer positions. In these roles, professionals learn how to write clear and functional code, follow design plans, and test and modify scripts.

Aspiring developers can also pick up experience during their studies. College programs and bootcamps may feature internships that allow students to learn on the job and get familiar with the development processes.

You can also freelance for companies or develop your own Java projects.

Step 4: Learn Advanced Java

After building a foundation in Core Java, you need to learn Advanced Java to create web-based applications. Advanced Java includes database connectivity, servlets, and Jakarta Server Pages. With this knowledge, you can design, develop, and deploy various online applications for clients.

Advanced Java prepares developers for client- and server-side architecture and how to work with different servers, frameworks, tools, and technologies.

Step 5: Keep Building Your Resume

Java developers can continue building their resumes as they work their way into and through the field. They can develop their skills and specializations via self-study, college programs, or bootcamps. Developers can also add Java-based projects that highlight various skills and tools to their portfolios.

Vendor certifications can help developers as well. These credentials verify and promote the professional's experience and skills using specific vendor technologies and practices. Java developers may consider the Oracle certified associate or Spring professional certification.

What to Know Before Becoming a Java Developer

Abinaya Dinesh, a first-year computer science student at the University of California, Berkeley said the first time she tried to learn JavaScript went horribly because she didn't have a reason to learn the difficult programming language.

It wasn't until she went through gastrointestinal issues during the pandemic that she realized problems in the medical system that she could fix with an app. So, Dinesh developed Gastro at Home, an app that helps people navigate gastrointestinal conditions when they can't access a doctor. And she won an award from Apple because of it.

Dinesh said you need to have something that motivates you to learn programming and build software.

"Do it because you want to do it," Dinesh said. "Do it for fun. Do it because you want to learn. If you do it for the wrong reasons, it adds so much pressure…and your motivation doesn't line up with what you're doing, and things will go wrong."

How Much Do Java Developers Earn?

The wages for Java software developers depend on many factors, including the developer's skills, credentials, industry, and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for software developers was $120,730 in May 2021. The top 10% of professionals in this field earned more than $168,570.

High-paying industries include information services and computer equipment manufacturing, sectors that paid mean annual salaries above $150,000 in May 2021, as per the BLS. The highest-paying states, California and Washington, paid above $145,000 on average. Meanwhile, North Dakota and West Virginia paid mean annual wages below $84,000.

Explore BestColleges' Diversity in STEM resources

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Java Developer

How long does it take to become a Java developer?

It depends on the educational path you take. If you teach yourself Core Java and start developing after that, it could take a few months to a year. If you decide to get a bachelor's degree, it could take four or more years.

That's not to say one route is better than the other. The path you choose depends on what you want to do, where you want to work, and your personal circumstances.

What qualifications does a Java developer need?

Most employers want Java developers with projects under their belts. That means you need hands-on experience to build a portfolio and get a job. However, many employers value bachelor's and master's degrees as well.

Adding certifications to your resume can help you secure a position as a Java developer as well.

Do Java developers get paid well?

Yes. Java developers earned a median salary of over $120,000 in 2021, according to the BLS. This is much higher than the median annual wage of $45,760 for all U.S. jobs.

How much you end up earning as a Java developer also depends on your years of experience and where you live.

Is it easy to become a Java developer?

With the right motivation and enough hands-on software development experience, you can become a Java developer. However, experienced developers may tell you that learning the programming language is difficult and takes time.

The job market for Java developers is also fiercely competitive. But with certifications and a strong portfolio, you have a good chance of earning a job as a Java developer.

With Contributions By:

Portrait of Abinaya Dinesh

Abinaya Dinesh

Abinaya Dinesh is a freshman pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an Apple WWDC21 Swift Student Challenge winner and has been paving the way for young girls in STEAM from a young age in industry and among her local community. After having a difficult experience implementing data science best practices in large projects, she developed and launched an eight-week high school program, called Girls in AI, to teach other young high schoolers the basics of machine learning using libraries like Pandas, Numpy, and sci-kit learn. In addition to encouraging better technical models at scale, Abinaya is passionate about using AI to improve public health. In just a few months, she developed an app called Gastro at Home — a way for patients struggling with gastroenterological disorders to take control of their health from home.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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