How to Become a Java Developer
Jul 7, 2021
a  woman wearing a purple shirt works on a laptop

Java is one of the most in-demand and popular programming languages in the world. Used to design custom applications, Java is versatile—it can run on almost every platform—it’s speedy, and it’s secure. It also has some sweet perks for programmers, like automatically clearing out garbage and retrieving memory. 

For many reasons, Java is an incredibly valuable language for application and web functionality, and companies are always on the lookout for skilled Java developers to bring onto their teams. If you’re well-versed in Java programming (or you want to be), a specialized career as a Java developer could be a great career path for you.

So, how do you become a Java developer and what can you expect? Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

What do Java developers do? 

Java developers are responsible for designing, developing, and managing Java-based applications and tools. Examples of these include Android apps, web applications, software tools, and scientific applications. Consider a simple Wikipedia search, the always-popular game Minecraft, or even a Mars rover controller. A Java developer is behind all of them. 

The role of an entry-level Java developer will vary company to company, but here are a few basic things you can anticipate doing regularly in this position:

  • Writing, modifying, and deploying well-designed and testable code 
  • Conducting software analysis, programming, testing, and debugging
  • Making software updates and enhancements
  • Using logic to solve problems
  • Working closely with an IT team and/or stakeholders

What education do I need to become a Java developer? 

Because Java is such an in-demand language, competition for jobs in Java can be fierce. Traditionally, employers have looked for candidates who have BS degrees in computer science, computer engineering, or a related subject, but a college degree isn’t necessarily required and certifications from non-traditional training programs (like Lambda School!) are becoming more widely accepted. As long as you have significant hands-on software development experience and you’re willing to work hard, you can become a Java developer. 

Many employers also look for Java developers who have specific experience with Java-based web services, relational databases, SQL and ORM, and Test-driven Development (TDD).

How to become a Java developer

So you have an idea of the training you need to get hired as a Java developer, now it’s time to make it happen. Here’s how you can become a Java developer and some resources to get you started. 

Step 1: Start learning Core Java (Java SE) on your own

Every good Java developer (and backend developer) is well-versed in Java SE, and while mastery won’t happen overnight, you should start familiarizing yourself now with its features and terminology. 

Java SE provides the foundation for developing and deploying general purpose Java applications on desktops and servers. As a Java developer, you should understand key SE concepts like loops, arrays, operators, and Object Oriented Program systems (OOPs). You should also become familiar with Java SE’s general-purpose APIs, like java.lang, java.math, java.io, etc. APIs enable computers to communicate with each other across a common interface, and Java APIs include packages and classes that help developers minimize the lines of a program.

One way to become familiar with Core Java is to explore Java’s free variant and take a look at free online tutorials that can walk you through java coding while you’re at it. Once you’ve become familiar with Core Java, you can then explore Java EE, or Advanced Java, which has additional features you can use for online applications and mobile applications, such as Servlets and Java Server Faces. 

Step 2: Join a backend development program

Learning Java programming independently isn’t for everyone. As you can probably tell, there are lots of terms and elements to keep track of, and it can get overwhelming. Coding bootcamps and online courses are a great alternative that provide you with guided help to understand key concepts and the knowledge you need to become a Java developer. 

Coding bootcamps are less costly than the traditional 4-year college route—many are free or offer deferred tuition options—and they’re typically much quicker. They can last anywhere from several days to a few months, depending on how specialized they are, and they can be an easier point of entry into Java than what you might find on your own. 

One great option is Udemy’s Java for Absolute Beginners video course, which teaches students how to write code using Java and guides them through some of the key concepts we’ve mentioned, like loops and arrays. Students can enroll in a free version, or they can sign up for a paid version that allows more personal time with the instructor and certification that can be used to create a standout resume.

Udemy is one of many options that can be found online. To help you get started, read our list of free resources you can check out to start mastering Java.

Step 3: Build your portfolio with your own Java projects

Underline this, emphasize this, and color it red: if you want to become a Java developer, you need to practice using Java. It’s one thing to learn about Java foundations and concepts, but putting them to work is where you can really start to flex your skills and turn what you’ve learned into practical experience that will help you find a career you love.

Once you’ve got a feel for Java and you’re familiar with Java concepts, experiment by building mobile, desktop, and/or web applications. Find some real-world projects related to each topic you learn that you can play around with. A few example projects you might try building are an airline reservation system, data visualization software, or an online survey system. This Medium piece provides a great list of ideas you can play around with.

The more time you spend practicing Java, the better and more refined your programming skills will become overtime and the more experienced you’ll be. Coupled with learning about key concepts, practicing on your own time is the very best way to prepare yourself for a career in Java programming.

Start Learning Java at Lambda School

At Lambda School, not only can you receive a high quality, immersive education on the ins and outs of Java, but you have the opportunity to work on real-world projects with a talented group of developers, learn from experts in the field, and prepare for a fulfilling career in development without having to pay a cent of tuition upfront.

Lambda School’s new full-time enterprise backend development course trains software engineers and developers for entry-level roles in the field by helping them master foundational concepts, Java programming, data structures and algorithms, and software engineering. Not only will you be given the opportunity to build a dazzling portfolio, but we’ll provide you with career resources you need to ace the interview and get the job, and the coolest part is that tuition is on us until you’re hired in a qualifying position.

Applications for our new backend development course are now open – start your application today and take the first step toward a career in Java development.

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