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Java programmers are experts in the Java programming language. As of 2017, there are a lot of opportunities for Java programmers. With a projected growth rate of 19 percent for the 2014-2024 period (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for all application programming), the career prospects for Java programmers are indeed excellent.
To be considered for a Java Programmer position, at a minimum, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, mathematics, or the equivalent. Some employers require a master’s degree as well. With some exposure to Java programming, it should be relatively easy to land an entry-level job at a company.
Some employers may accept applicants without a formal education in one of these areas in lieu of substantial technical experience and knowledge. However, the more education and experience you have, the more appealing you appear to an employer.
Once you land a job, what kind of a career can you expect?
Depending on experience, your career will typically proceed along the following path:
- Junior Programmer — You will start as a junior programmer and remain in this position the first 3-4 years of your career. You duties will primarily consist of coding, debugging, participating in code reviews, and technical documentation. At this stage, you should also concentrate your energies on gaining more knowledge of the Java ecosystem and getting certified in one or more areas.
- Senior Programmer — As you gain more experience, knowledge and possibly certifications, you transition into a senior programmer role. Here you will have increasing responsibilities, mentoring junior programmers as well as getting involved in the overall design and implementation of the software. While you should still expect to be involved in coding, you may also have a more customer-facing role where you might have to train the users (internal or external) of your software. At this point, your focus should be on transitioning to a more managerial track, with further education and certifications leading to the same.
- Architect — At this stage, with 10+ years of experience in the trenches, you could have an architect-level role which include duties of interfacing with the customers and clients of your software, collecting and analyzing requirements, and responsibility for the overall architecture of the system. You may also take on an increasingly managerial role, including interfacing with upper management.
- Manager — You are now into the management track, possibly equipped with one or more managerial training and certifications under your belt. Your duties here include overall responsibility for software delivery, financial management and budgeting, and interfacing with senior management.
Java programming is used in a wide variety of industries and in many roles and locations. Having said that, most Java programming for the enterprise can be classed into the following main areas.
A back-end developer writes code for the back-end servers which include web servers, database servers, and application servers. Currently this career path is the one most in demand and offers a wide variety of career opportunities. In addition to the core Java platform knowledge, you are required to be proficient in the back-end stack including the following:
- EJBs or Enterprise Java Beans
- Spring is used in many organizations in place of EJBs
- Hibernate is used for persistence
- SQL is required in many projects, big and small
- JSP and Servlets take care of the web server stack
- REST services are used to expose an API to the web service
Big Data Developer
A Big Data developer specializes in working with large datasets. This is a very fast-growing career path as more and more companies are looking to leverage large data sets for a variety of business intelligence and decision making. To be considered for this position, a candidate is required to have knowledge of:
- Hadoop, which was the first platform to bring Big Data to the masses
- Spark which has made progress in recent years
- Pig is a language for writing big data processing jobs
- MapReduce is the technology underlying processing big data
Android is based on Java. For developing an Android application of any level of complexity beyond the basic, you will need to use Java to leverage the platform. Once you learn the Android platform and bill yourself as an expert Android programmer, you career opportunities skyrocket. Every company with any kind of web presence or e-commerce offerings must have an Android (and iOS) application to remain relevant.
Embedded Devices Developer
This is a niche career path with growing opportunities, given the number of devices from routers to network appliances to entertainment centers that use Java on the inside.
How is your Java career progressing? At what stage of progress are you on the corporate ladder? And what application area are you working in? Please let us know in the comments below.
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