Java is one of the most pervasive programming languages of all time. It runs on over 7 billion devices, including more than 2 billion smartphones. The apps on your phone didn’t build themselves and websites like Netflix certainly didn’t think themselves into existence. A Java developer probably had to create each and every one of them.
Let’s take a closer look into what it takes to be a Java developer.
The Java Developer Job Description
Developing mobile and web applications that have the potential to revolutionize the way we do our shopping, banking, and dining. Keeping up with and utilizing the latest in technology and trends. Crushing your competitors with your superior products and expertise, while watching profit margins go through the roof. Creating efficient, innovative solutions for your company, client, or customer. Solving challenging, mind-boggling problems that leave your fellow developers gasping in awe of your creative infallibility.
These are some tasks that you might face as a Java developer and here are some more.
Sleepless nights trying to figure out why your code doesn’t work anymore. Countless hours debugging your teammate’s code and explaining your own. Handling unrealistic expectations, demands, deadlines, and the ever-changing requirements of clients and project managers. Dealing with multiple levels of management and bureaucracy. Making compromises, taking shortcuts, and doing overtime. Working with bad code and difficult teammates in projects that you don’t like. Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Discovering that your solution is not the right one or that you’ve misinterpreted the requirements.
You will face these challenges as a Java developer.
But let’s take a step back and see how it all starts. After all, Java developers aren’t born the crime-fighting, cutting-edge, innovative, industry-shaking, full-stack developers that they are. No, even they were once curious explorers searching for their destiny!
Becoming a Java Developer
You’ve been playing this awesome game on your smartphone… Hungry Birds! It’s fascinating, you are enthralled, but mastering the game is not enough for you (be honest, it was never going to be enough).
You want to know how it works and how it was made because you want to make it better! Google says that it was made with Java, so you redefine your search query to “What is Java?”, and the rest is history.
You mention your newfound passion to your close friend who is studying IT. “Ahh Java, I’ll be taking that next sem. I heard the demand is quite high, and you can make a ton of money,” he says blandly.
Your friend decided to study computer science because it seemed like a logical choice; with technology becoming a more integral part of our daily lives and so on. He will meet Java because he must, not because he yearns for it.
These are the two most common ways that people begin their journey in Java development. Either they seek out Java, or it is thrust upon them.
Generally, the former will have a more exciting and fulfilling experience (as it is something that truly interests them), but the latter often discovers that passion as well. Think about that first time you had sushi, and if you haven’t had it, think about having it.
The self-taught vs the institutionally-educated Developer
Believe it or not, they are not as different as you think. Both will spend countless hours reading, discovering, and learning about Java.
Whether through the Internet, books, or discussion with friends, classmates, co-workers and other like-minded people. If you are unable to attend college/uni, many universities (including MIT and Harvard) offer free online courses in Java and computer science.
If someone tells you that attending uni has a distinct advantage over being self-taught, they aren’t necessarily wrong. Most corporate entry-level jobs have a preference for degree holders, however, most IT companies now include the “OR equivalent experience” clause to let potentially qualified candidates know it is not a requirement.
Networking and developing relationships is another benefit of university education, however, engaging or contributing to programming sites and communities such as GitHub and Stack Overflow enables you to reach out to the world. Many IT companies will ask about your GitHub contributions.
As you continue to work in software development, you will see that the people around you care less about your educational background and far more about your ability to deliver results.
The main difference comes with the motivation, or rather the lack thereof. The self-learner’s motivation is typically internal, unlike the college student who must get a passing grade or face the scrutiny of parents, peers, and mentors.
Passion is the key. If you are genuinely interested in learning Java, poor grades or low points won’t deter you. But if you don’t have passion, knowledge of Java will go in one ear and out the other, and if you are self-taught, good luck. In either case, stick to it and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Java developer.
Most Java Developers fall into one of three categories:
Genuine interest in Java drives this developer. This person’s obligation is only to him/herself. Some hobbyists do profit from their creations, but most of them won’t go hungry if their apps don’t take off. For some, what starts out as a hobby, eventually turns into a career.
This developer typically does in-house development for their company or works to create software for their company’s clients and customers. Many college graduates start here in order to gain experience and expand their network. Financial stability, employee benefits, and career growth are some of the main reasons why most Java developers work for a company full-time. Accenture, IBM, and Full Scale are examples of such companies.
The Freelance Developer
This developer gets to choose his jobs but also has to find them. Often times they are former employees who are disillusioned with the nine-to-five rat race of the corporate world. The flexibility to manage when and where to work, make freelance development an attractive option for many Java developers. Freelance developers can be found on many websites such as Upwork or Freelancer.
None of the three types are exclusive, and many employees write code in their free time or do freelance work on the side. Each has their own advantage, but the freelance and employee are coding for their live(lihood)s.
No matter what type of Java developer you are or plan to become, you must choose your weapons to go into battle with.
The Java Developer’s Survival Skills
Java developers essential knowledge:
- Object-oriented Programming Concepts and related Design Patterns
- Data Structures and Collections
- JVM and Memory Management
- Concurrency and Multithreading
- Database Skills
- Dependency Injection
- Debugging - Android Studio, IntelliJ, Eclipse, NetBeans
- Java Tools (Android Studio, Struts, Spring, Maven, Gradle, Ant, JUnit, Spock, and Hibernate are some of the ones we use here at Full Scale)
Other super important things to have:
- Passion - Working with Java is much more enjoyable if you are interested, challenged, and motivated. Without passion, Java development will become more of a chore… dull and boring.
- Good communication skills - Communication is one of the most important factors in determining the success or failure of any project. If everyone is on the same page and can effectively communicate openly and freely, misunderstandings, incorrect assumptions, and confusion are much less likely to occur.
- Ability to write maintainable code - Writing code that works is part of a Java developer’s job description, but if you write code that people can easily understand and make changes to, you will gain the admiration and respect of your fellow developers.
- Ability to learn new technologies - A big part of being a developer is keeping up with the latest tools and changes in Java. New functionalities, tools, and enhancements are regularly being added to the Java ecosystem. The ability to continuously learn ensures that your expertise remains relevant and useful.
- Out-of-the-box thinking - Finding new and better ways to solve problems is the sole purpose of many businesses. Being able to create faster, more efficient software is a highly prized skill across the entire software development industry.
- Knowledge of other programming languages - You will have far more opportunities and will be a much more versatile developer. Different programming languages approach certain problems differently, which allows you to look at a problem from multiple angles and determine which solution is best.
This list covers most of the essential Java developer competencies. There’s a great article over at Stackify that takes a more in-depth look at the top skills and characteristics of great Java developers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The most effective Java developer is a passionate one. Whether that passion is cultivated through self-learning or through study in a classroom, matters not. Java developers may do Java development for fun, for work, or both.
They may work for large companies, small businesses, or even for themselves. The best Java developers possess a combination of technical expertise and soft skills. They follow best practices and standards, but also enjoy coming up with new and innovative ways to solve problems.
We’ve got some pretty great Java developers and a ton of experience with software development here at Full Scale. If you need help building your web or mobile application, look no further. Dozens of companies worldwide trust us with their offshore development needs. You can contact us here.