What Does a Java Developer Do? And How To Become One

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 December 2022

Published 11 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Java developers use the Java programming language to create software and build applications. Because Java allows fast loading speeds, it's the preferred language for many high-traffic platforms. Java is an easy programming language with millions of developers, so you might want to consider it if you want to enter the software development industry. In this article, we discuss who is a java developer, their duties, how to enter the profession, the salary and the core skills to excel in the profession.

What does a Java developer do?

It's essential to learn about what does a Java developer do if you plan on becoming one. The primary duty of a Java developer is to create and improve products using the Java programming language. Depending on the project and the employer, these professionals can have other duties and responsibilities, including:

  • designing, developing, implementing and improving Java-based applications

  • defining the objectives, functionality and performance metrics of Java-based applications

  • working with software engineers, quality control specialists, management and clients to determine user requirements

  • ensuring that application design satisfies end-user needs and clients' business objectives

  • diagnosing, troubleshooting and testing software

  • debugging and solving technical issues affecting user experience

  • producing clean Java codes

  • producing comprehensive application design documentation to assist support teams and users

  • advising management on ways to improve the performance of software and applications

  • contributing to the improvement of the existing Java ecosystem

  • coordinating Java application development

  • performing software analysis and evaluation

  • taking part in all aspects of the software development life cycle

  • providing ongoing support after the deployment of applications

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What is a java developer?

A Java developer is a professional in the IT industry who uses the Java programming language to design, develop, manage and improve Java-based applications, websites and software. As a Java developer, your job can involve building or upgrading a website or developing mobile, desktop and web applications. Java developers also test software and ensure products perform based on specific parameters. Because of the language's popularity, millions of developers use Java for a wide range of purposes in diverse industries. Besides creating applications, Java developers can also take part in every aspect of the software development life cycle.

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How to become a Java developer

Follow these steps to become a Java developer:

1. Complete a degree

Many employers prefer candidates for Java developer positions to have a degree or diploma in computer science, digital information technology or software development. Some companies also consider candidates with a degree in mathematics, statistics or engineering if they have the requisite coding skills and experience. During your studies, consider choosing courses that can teach you the fundamentals of the Java programming language. Having a traditional qualification besides your coding skills can make you more attractive to employers and enhance your career advancement.

2. Complete a professional certification or boot camp

While most traditional computer science degrees provide the basics of Java programming, they may not offer industry-specific skills and knowledge. To get in-demand skills and master the concepts of Java, consider completing an online certification or joining a coding boot camp. Boot camps offer immersive training programmes that take you through every aspect of the programming language's ecosystem. Many of these boot camps are online and affordable, although some can be expensive.

Besides boot camps, the internet is full of free resources you can use to improve your Java developer skills. Using these free guides and quality paid options can help you master programming with Java quickly and prepare you for employment. Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) is one of the professional certifications you can use to boost your industry knowledge and employment chances.

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3. Consider an internship

An internship at a software development company during or after your studies can also help you gain valuable on-the-job knowledge and experience. Internships can also offer mentorship opportunities and even employment. Besides providing work experience you can use to boost your CV, an internship can also provide access to a professional network and help you identify the area to specialise in as a software developer.

4. Join software development projects

The fastest way to gain skills and improve as a professional is to participate in projects. There are several open-source Java software development projects you can join online. These programmes not only improve your skills and competencies, but they can also provide access to paying opportunities. You can use these projects to build a portfolio to showcase your coding skills and expertise to employers and clients.

5. Build a portfolio

Besides having an impressive CV, employers place a high premium on the quality of projects in your portfolio when making recruitment decisions. Once you start taking part in Java coding projects, it becomes easier to gather materials for a portfolio. You can also include private projects on a portfolio, so long as they're relevant to the employer's requirements and increase your chances of getting employed. Software developers typically use code repositories. Once you store your work on these platforms, employers and clients can check them via a link.

Related: What Does a Computer Programmer Do? (With Career Steps)

What is the salary of a Java developer?

A Java developer can make an average base salary of $90,284 per year. Several factors can affect your earnings, including your employer or clients, location, education, experience and specific job duties and responsibilities. Having in-demand professional certifications and a strong portfolio of mission-critical projects can enhance your earning potential.

What are the essential technical skills to excel as a Java developer?

Java developers possess several technical skills to perform their roles effectively. These skills include:

Object-oriented programming

It's important for Java developers to be proficient in object-oriented programming (OOP) skills. Developers use OOP to combine data and functions to enhance code safety and stability. As a Java developer, you want to master concepts such as polymorphism, abstraction, inheritance, encapsulation, operations, pre-defined types and user-defined types, which are elements of object-oriented programming.

Design patterns

Java develops use design patterns to solve problems while designing software products. The tool provides a blueprint developers use to counter challenges they face during the design phase of the software development life cycle. There are four design patterns, including creational, behavioural, JEE and structural design patterns, which help address specific challenges in each module of a software.

Java build tools

There are diverse tools available to developers when completing software development tasks. The most important build tools in the Java ecosystem are Maven and Gradle. When creating applications, these tools help developers automate executable applications from the source code.

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Java web frameworks

Java web frameworks are the turnkey solutions for building mobile applications in this programming language. Web frameworks such as Play and Spring MVC allow developers to build up web applications, web services and web APIs and also deploy them in a standard form that enhances efficiency, productivity and code integrity.

Web technology

As a Java developer, a deep understanding of web technologies is vital. This is because they simplify the creation of web content that can interact with multiple computer systems. Web technologies such as HTML and CSS allow Java developers to create dynamic web content that facilitates cross-platform communication.

Java testing tools

Part of a Java developer's duties is testing software. Testing tools allow developers to identify defects and evaluate the performance metrics of applications before deployment. These tools play an important role in all aspects of the software development life cycle as developers use them for analysis, defect logging and establishing the user parameters of a product.

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Soft skills for software developers

Besides having technical coding knowledge, Java developers also require some soft skills to work effectively:

Communication skills

Software developers often work as part of a team and in collaboration with other stakeholders. Many of these people may not be tech-inclined, so you're likely going to need excellent communication skills to collaborate with them on projects. Besides having great writing and verbal communication skills, it's important to be an active listener and know how to gauge the mood of your audience for proper engagement.

Team work

The software development life cycle comprises several phases, all of which involve working with different professionals in the IT and business departments. Knowing how to work as part of a team is essential to thrive in such an environment. Effective Java developers know how to collaborate with other people to ensure they deliver projects on schedule.


The software development landscape is dynamic, with new technologies and tools coming out every day. To excel in this role, it's important to be inquisitive and open to learning new skills and upgrading your skills. While Java is one of the oldest programming languages, it's vast and takes time to master, which makes it essential to invest in continuous learning.

Work ethics

Successful Java developers possess excellent work ethics because projects can take a long time to complete. Punctuality, hard work and perseverance are important personality traits in this profession. Besides your technical skills, this field also requires a strong character and personal drive to achieve success.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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