What Does It Mean to Be a Junior Java Developer: From A to Z
Even if you had just become aware of the IT industry yesterday, I bet you heard the terms “junior Java developer”, “middle QA”, “senior business analyst.” This simple gradation effectively indicates the specialist’s level of expertise and the skillset they have for everyone involved in the software development industry. This qualification level determines the skills required from the candidate, their responsibilities, and the compensation level.
If you plan to become an expert Java programmer, you’ll start your journey as a junior Java developer. Read on to find out what skills you’ll need to get a job as an entry-level specialist, what the employers will expect of you responsibilities-wise, what perspectives you have to further your career, and what salary you can get as a junior.
Who is an average junior Java developer?
A junior Java developer is an entry-level role. So a junior dev is usually someone who recently graduated from a Uni or a coding course, has a lot to learn about real-life software development and needs supervision from a tech lead or a senior developer in the team.
As a junior, you can expect to do a lot of mundane tasks, which is necessary to gain as much hands-on experience as you can get.
Of course, the exact responsibilities and the required skillset depend on the hiring company. There are some employers who have higher expectations from the entry-level candidates, more in line with middle-level roles in other companies. It’s good to carefully read the role description before you apply for a job. To make sure your skills fit the role and you won’t end up wasting your time and the recruiter’s time.
Essential skills for junior Java developers
The exact requirements depend on the company’s specialization and business goals. But there are common skills required from a junior Java developer featured in most of the job offerings.
- Knowledge of Java, including syntax, collections, and multithreading
- Experience with popular IDEs, version-control systems, services like GitHub or GitLab, and other coding tools
- A firm grasp on the fundamentals of computer science
- SQL and understanding of databases
- Advanced knowledge of at least one OS
- Familiarity with main frameworks (Spring, Struts, Hibernate)
- Experience with unit testing tools (JUnit, Mockito) and automation tools (Gradle, Maven)
- Basic knowledge of other popular programming languages
- Basic practical experience in coding
If you’ve just graduated, some of the skills might still be fresh in your head. But programming is a skill that requires constant practice, revision, and new knowledge.
There are great online resources that can help you practice the skills you have and upgrade your knowledge. For example, you can get some Java practice on CodeGym with their 1200 practical Java exercises with instant validation. You can revise theory and learn to work with Java frameworks at Pluralsight. And you can learn about new tools and industry trends from the communities at StackOverflow and Reddit.
The tech skills I described above are essential to start your career in Java programming. But most of the hiring managers I know say that soft skills are valued more than tech ones for the junior roles. These skills are:
- Ability to learn fast, curiosity
- Ability to follow instructions
- Ability to work in a team
- Communication skills
This skill set is harder to train. It is gained mostly in the collaborative environment when working on a real-life project. To get yourself some advantage, you can try your hand at open-source projects or a couple of hackathons and add them to your CV.
What are the main responsibilities of a junior dev?
As I’ve already mentioned, the precise list of responsibilities depends on the employer company and the project you’ll be working on. But generally, as a junior Java dev, you should be able to:
- Write and maintain Java code
- Fix minor bugs and small errors in the code
- Learn the project’s structure and codebase
- Analyze the tech requirements and assist in project planning at the initial stages
- Work on features defined by the senior developers
- Participate in testing and document the progress
- Draw up reposts and other documentation
- Collect user feedback
- Work in an agile team
Usually, a junior developer becomes a sort of assistant with a focus on the backend. You need to be able to define common bottlenecks and clarify the workflow while slowly adapting to the working conditions established on your project.
Be prepared to work under a lot of supervision and actively participate in every stage of the project.
Benefits of being a junior Java developer
There are several benefits to the junior Java developer role.
The obvious one is the compensation, of course. Java development is a very in-demand profession. In 2022 a junior Java programmer can expect to get about $76,000 a year in the US. This number grows from year to year.
Other benefits of the role can vary from company to company. But generally, juniors often get to work on every stage of the project. As a result, they gain a lot of new and exciting experiences they can later apply in their career growth. So if you stay open-minded, ask questions, appreciate constructive feedback, and apply yourself, you can move to a middle-level role quite fast.
Some companies also offer flexible schedules and learning opportunities to their junior developers. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of those!
Starting a career can be a bit intimidating, especially in the highly competitive world of modern technology. But a junior Java developer role is a highly rewarding occupation. The whole new world is waiting for you! So don’t get upset if you can’t find your first job right after graduating from your programming course. Instead, focus on the goal, keep yourself motivated, continue learning and practicing your skills, and you will eventually land the job. I can promise you that!
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