13 November 2023

How to Become a Java Developer: Everything You Need to Know

Career Advice Industry News Recruitment Advice Sector Insights

One of the most commonly used program languages across the world, Java stands out as one of the most versatile and in-demand choices. If you’re considering a career in software development, becoming a Java developer can be an extremely rewarding path, with several varying roles across a wide range of industries to explore.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what Java is, delve into object-oriented programming, compare Java with JavaScript, identify the distinction between Java developers and software engineers, and provide insights into the roles, responsibilities, skills, and motivations behind pursuing a career as a Java developer.

What is Java?

Java, developed by James Gosling and released by Sun Microsystems in 1995, is a high-level, versatile, and platform-independent programming language. It’s renowned for its “Write Once, Run Anywhere” (WORA) principle, which means code written in Java can run on various platforms without modification, thanks to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Java was designed to be robust, high-performing, dynamic and architecture-neutral, and since its inception, many modern programming languages have evolved from it including Python, JavaScript, Scala, and PHP.

There are currently four different editions of Java:

  • Java Card – used for developing programs for devices with small processing capabilities
  • Java Standard Edition (Java SE) – used to develop programs for desktops and servers
  • Java Micro Edition (Java ME) – used to develop programs for mobile devices
  • Java Platform Enterprise Edition – (Java EE) used to develop large-scale applications

What Is Object-Oriented Programming?

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) designs around objects, rather than functions or logic. Objects, and entities with a unique identity, encapsulate data and behaviour, making it easier to manage and manipulate complex systems. Java is an object-oriented language, which means it adheres to OOP principles such as encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. These concepts provide a structured and efficient way to design and maintain software.

Java vs JavaScript

Java and JavaScript share a similar name, but they are distinct languages with different purposes. Java is an object-based programming language, more commonly used in app development, smart devices, and back-end applications. JavaScript, on the other hand, is an OOP program, used primarily in web applications such as browsers. While the two may sound like they belong to the same family, the truth is JavaScript has no direct relation to Java besides its uses in web technologies.

Java Developer vs. Software Engineer

It’s fairly common for new developers to confuse Java developers with software engineers, despite there being a significant difference between the two.

A Java developer specialises in writing applications and software using the Java programming language. They focus on creating efficient and functional code, often within specific domains like web development, enterprise software, or mobile app development.

On the other hand, a software engineer is a broader term that encompasses professionals who design, develop, and maintain software systems using various languages and tools. While Java developers are specialists in Java, software engineers possess a more comprehensive skill set and may work with multiple programming languages.

What Is a Java Developer?

A Java developer is a skilled programmer who specialises in using the Java language to create applications, software and websites. They are responsible for translating client requirements into functional code, testing and debugging applications, and ensuring their optimal performance. Java developers work across various industries, including finance, healthcare, e-commerce, and more.

It’s vital that before you step into the career of a Java developer you fully understand the role and whether your individual skillset matches that of the responsibilities of a Java developer.

What Does a Java Developer Do?

The role of a Java developer is dynamic and multifaceted and day-to-day tasks can differ depending on which level you’re working at: entry-level, mid-level or senior designer.

Entry-level Java Developer

As an entry-level Java developer, you’ll be working with limited hands-on experience and will spend a large amount of time developing your Java programming skills. You’ll also be expected to undertake tasks such as writing basic code, fixing basic bugs and performance testing. Often you’ll be working alongside more experienced team members who’ll integrate you into planning Java projects and have you create end-used documents that can help future users navigate the system.

Mid-Level Java Developer

After 2-5 years of experience, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to move on to a mid-level Java developer career. In this, you’ll use your advanced skills to write more complicated code and fix more advanced bugs. You may at this stage oversee testing and be more involved in the planning of Java projects, as well as liaising with vendors and managing junior developers. 

Java Developer

Senior Java Developer

After 5 or more years of experience, you’ll be considered a senior Java developer. By this point, you’ll have a sound understanding and expertise in Java projects and a deep knowledge of business IT systems. Your time will likely be spent planning, consulting and reviewing sophisticated Java projects and overseeing junior developer work. At this stage, you may also be responsible for overseeing the financial side of Java project development.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Java Developer?

While the responsibilities of a Java developer will differ depending on your business needs, there are a number of role functions that are common across all areas of Java development.

Some of these include:

  • Deploying code
  • Debugging software issues
  • Testing code
  • Developing code
  • Working with IT vendors and IT teams
  • Preparing updates
  • Creating end-user documentation
  • Monitoring application security and performance

The technology landscape is constantly evolving. Java developers are expected to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in Java and related technologies and undertake continuous learning to ensure they are properly equipped to meet their business needs.

What Skills Are Needed to Be a Java Developer?

To become a proficient Java developer, you’ll be expected to develop a robust skillset. Here are some essential skills and knowledge areas:

Java language proficiency: Mastering the Java programming language, including its syntax, libraries, and frameworks, is the foundation of the role.

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP): A deep understanding of OOP principles, such as encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism, is crucial for effective Java development.

Data structures and algorithms: Proficiency in data structures and algorithms is essential for optimising code and solving complex problems efficiently.

Database management: Knowledge of databases and SQL is vital for developing applications that interact with data storage systems.

Web development: Familiarity with web development technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is valuable for building web applications that integrate with Java backends.

Frameworks and libraries: Learning popular Java frameworks like Spring and Hibernate can significantly boost your productivity and the quality of your projects.

Testing and debugging: Skills in testing frameworks (e.g., JUnit) and debugging tools are essential for ensuring the reliability and correctness of your code.

Version control: Proficiency in Git and Git workflows is crucial for collaborative development and code management.

Problem-solving: Strong problem-solving skills help you tackle challenges and devise efficient solutions.

Soft skills: Effective communication, teamwork, and time management are essential for collaborating with colleagues and vendors, and delivering projects on schedule.

Why Become a Java Developer?

Becoming a Java developer can be a fulfilling career, offering you the opportunity to work with fantastic companies while continually improving your skillset and knowledge in an industry that is very much in demand. Some of the top reasons for becoming a Java developer include:

  • A Java developer is a role in high demand across an extensive range of industries, making it a stable and lucrative career choice.
  • The role of a Java developer is more than just coding – you’ll enjoy varied work tasks from designing interfaces to creating and testing dynamic applications and will be involved at every stage of the development process.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other industry professionals such as web designers and software engineers, helping to develop your communication and transferable skills.
  • You’ll have the chance to see your work in real-world applications, from healthcare to financial services and even social media. It’s likely that your work will not only benefit your business but also the wider public in their day-to-day lives.
  • While some jobs may require a degree in computer science, this isn’t the case for Java developers. Many developers start out by simply teaching themselves how to code, and through building a portfolio are able to turn their passion into a career. 

Why Choose Us?

At ARM, we believe in making a difference in people’s lives. As one of the largest recruitment films in the UK, we understand what it takes to understand you – your passions, your skills, your talents, and your capabilities.

Our team of dedicated recruitment experts have in-depth knowledge of the technology landscape, with specialist market knowledge in Java development roles at every level.

We’re here to support you from beginning to end, giving you full transparency over your options and working with you throughout your career to help maximise your potential.

Get in Touch Now

Discover your dream Java developer role today. Get in touch with a member of our expert team to get the ball rolling, and find out how we can help support you in finding your perfect career.

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