Java Developer Salary, Career Path, and Outlook
Java is a programming language that’s behind billions of well-known applications. It powers software for a broad range of services, games, and organizations — from internet search engines to computer games to ride-sharing services.
The prevalence of the language shows its ability to stand the test of time, since Java has been in use for more than 25 years. Java developers use the programming language to build software, from concept phase to design and testing.
Java’s continuing widespread use, and the emergence of new technologies that are likely to rely on it, may explain Java developers’ salary potential and the role’s projected growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports above-average salaries and projected job growth for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.
If you’re interested in becoming a tech professional whose work supports a wide variety of tools and services that people rely on every day, it makes sense to explore the Java developer role. Understanding details like job responsibilities, salary, job outlook, and required education and experience can help you prepare for a career as a tech professional such as a developer, coder, or analyst.
What Is a Java Developer?
Java developers have a far-reaching role with good salary and growth potential, but exactly what is a Java developer? These professionals design, develop, and manage Java-based software.
Known for its high loading speed and portability, Java directs the function of devices such as notebook computers, mobile devices, and medical tools. Java developers design applications and programs that are based on this programming language. They also test software to identify and correct issues.
Java developers typically work on teams with other professionals, such as web developers and software engineers, who also have a role in designing, developing, and programming software.
What Does a Java Developer Do?
The job description of a Java developer can vary widely. The broad use of the programming language, especially among large companies, means Java developers may be responsible for working on a specific application, or they may manage multiple applications at once.
Java Developer Tasks
What Java developers do typically begins with determining the needs of the software’s end users, and then focusing on developing software that meets those needs. Java developers also make adjustments to programming as needed to correct issues they uncover in testing. Among the tasks that a Java developer job description can include are:
- Designing, implementing, and managing Java application processes
- Working with other professionals such as quality assurance specialists and software engineers to gather information about a client’s needs
- Writing code in Java according to users’ specifications
- Testing the function of applications and software
- Overseeing the timely release of software components
- Examining existing Java programming to recommend updates or corrections
Java Developer Workplaces
Software developers can work in a variety of settings and industries. Software publishing companies employed about a quarter of software developers in May 2021, according to the BLS. The main employers of software professionals are listed below, along with the percentage of developers they employed.
- Software publishers — 25%
- Computer systems design and related services — 20%
- Data processing and hosting services — 14%
- Other information services — 16%
How to Become a Java Developer
A variety of education paths can help individuals prepare for a role as a Java developer or similar tech profession, but for many, the first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field.
This education can help develop a foundation of knowledge in computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis. However, because of the frequently changing nature of technology, including programming languages, tech professionals must continuously explore opportunities to learn about software updates, new IT tools, and emerging industry trends.
Gaining experience also is important in finding and securing a position in this profession, so on-the-job training is beneficial.
Java Developer Training and Experience
Pursuing a traditional college degree is one way to prepare to become a Java developer, but other options may better fit an individual’s career path.
Some employers prefer Java developers to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer science- or computer engineering-related field. These degree programs can offer solid preparation for Java developer positions, but they often take four years to complete and can be very expensive. Four-year degree programs at in-state colleges cost an average of $10,560 per year in 2020-2021, according to the College Board.
Other educational options also can help prepare you for a Java developer career, including self-directed learning through online resources and paid bootcamps. While self-teaching can offer convenience and cost savings compared with a traditional college degree, it can be time-consuming and difficult — and it requires considerable self-motivation. And, while you generally can complete bootcamps in less time than it takes to earn a college degree, these programs also can be costly.
Another option to develop the technical and soft skills needed for a successful IT career is to enroll in a training program that pays you to learn, such as Revature’s hire-train-deploy offerings. With Revature, associates gain hands-on experience by participating in a training and job placement program during which they receive compensation.
Becoming a Java developer or a related tech professional also requires staying abreast of the latest trends in software development. Professional organizations and user groups, some of which offer events and certifications, can be a good source for this knowledge. Java User Groups (JUGs), for example, provide information and opportunities to share resources and network.
Hands-on experience often is another requirement for these roles — and can lead to advancement and a higher salary for Java developers. Internships or other opportunities to practice relevant skills are a key part of pursuing this career.
Because experience is an important part of becoming a Java developer, job training can be a wise choice. This option can be a good fit if you already have a degree but are struggling to gain additional on-the-job experience, or if you want to enhance your workplace skills or even transition into a new industry.
Revature’s training method pays associates to learn, then matches them with an employer for a two-year commitment, so that your first job is included as part of the program.
Java Developer Certifications
Earning certifications that recognize professional competencies and knowledge can help Java developers advance their skills and employment marketability. When Java developers seek new roles, certifications can help set them apart from job candidates who aren’t certified.
- Oracle, for example, offers certification for Java professionals, starting with the Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer (OCAJP) and Oracle Certified Professional Java Programmer (OCPJP). After passing these exams and gaining experience as an Oracle-certified Java professional, developers can pursue the Oracle Certified Expert, Java EE Web Component Developer (OCEWCD) certification for developing dynamic website content.
- Project Management Institute (PMI) offers Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This designation for managing large-scale projects also requires passing an exam.
- Scrum Alliance also offers certifications that Java developers can pursue to gain expertise in facilitating teamwork in projects, including the Certified Scrum Developer and the more advanced ScrumMaster designation.
Among other useful certifications for Java developers are those related to the Spring Framework and SQL language. Java developers also can pursue certifications in cloud-based technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
There are a number of ways individuals can prepare for industry certification. For instance, Revature’s training programs offer certain tech certifications as part of their curriculum.
Java Developer Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for Java developers is well above that of the nation’s job market as a whole, according to the BLS. Job outlook projections from the BLS for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers also are strong, with the bureau classifying this projected growth as much faster than average.
Java Developer Salary
The BLS reports the median annual salary for experienced software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers was $110,140 in May 2020. For experienced software developers in May 2021, the BLS reports a median annual salary of $120,730. The compensation website Payscale provides salary information specifically for experienced Java developers, reporting a median annual salary of about $79,000 as of May 2022.
These figures are much higher than the median annual salary for all professions reported by the BLS.
The BLS also provides salary information for experienced software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers according to industry. The agency lists the following industries and median annual salaries paid to these professionals in May 2020.
- Software publishers — $124,050
- Manufacturing — $119,280
- Company and enterprise management — $109,840
- Computer systems design — $106,160
- Insurance carriers — $102,380
Java Developer Job Outlook
The demand for Java developers will be strong between 2020 and 2030 according to the BLS, which projects 22% job growth for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers. That rate of growth, plus the need to replace workers who retire or change jobs, translates to about 189,200 openings each year during that time. (The average projected growth for all occupations, by comparison, is 8%.)
The BLS notes several key factors behind its projection of strong growth for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.
- The need for new applications on smartphones and tablets
- The growing use of software in electronics and appliances
- The increasing demand for software to manage health insurance policies and enrollments
- The use of software to address the rising threat of cybersecurity risks
Java Developer Key Skills
Java developers rely not only on technical skills, but also on soft skills that support project management and interpersonal communication. Some key skills for this role are as follows.
Java Developer Technical Skills
Java developers typically have skills in one or more technology tools and concepts. Among the technical skills common to Java developers are:
- Java XML parsing and coding
- Java-based Web services
- Java Servlet technology
- Oracle database SQL and JDBC
- J2EE framework
- Enterprise Java Bean (EJB)
- Perl and Python
- XML, Xquery, and XSL
- Object-oriented programming (OOP)
- Linux/Unix Windows Platform and Solaris
- Service-oriented architecture (SOA)
- I Text for generating Rich Text Format (RTF)
Java Developer Soft Skills
Java developers use a variety of soft skills, from analytical to problem-solving skills. Soft skills Java developers typically have include those related to:
- Analysis — To review project specifications and determine how software design can meet those specifications
- Attention to detail — To focus on multiple parts of an application or system simultaneously and check for errors
- Communication — To convey instructions and describe any problems that arise in development and explain functions to clients
- Creativity — To find innovative approaches to designing, testing, and enhancing software
- Problem-solving — To resolve issues that arise throughout the software development process
- Project management — To guide planning, implement timelines, and ensure tasks remain on schedule
- Teamwork — To collaborate with others involved in the design, programming, and testing of software
Java Developer Career Paths
Java developers’ career path progresses through entry-, mid-, and senior-level roles. Each of these designations involves different responsibilities — from entry-level Java developers who work on program architecture to inform project requirements, for example, to senior-level Java developers who manage teams in facilitating software’s overall function.
To progress, Java developers must gain skill as well as experience.
Entry-Level Java Developer
Entry-level developers are typically proficient at Java, but their knowledge and experience in development processes, other programming skills, and problem-solving often is still basic.
Entry-level Java developers typically work on specific, less complicated product features that have lower impact than those assigned to developers with more skill and experience. They often work under the supervision of more senior Java developers.
Mid-Level Java Developer
Java developers with approximately two to four years of experience typically are considered mid-level developers. At this stage of the Java developer career path, these professionals are skilled in navigating multiple stages of software development, from documentation to testing.
Mid-level Java developers often can set up their own development environment and work with less supervision than entry-level developers can. They typically take greater initiative in fixing critical issues and are assigned tasks with more complexity and greater importance to a project.
In May 2022 the median annual salary for Java developers with five to nine years of experience was about $88,000, according to Payscale.
Senior-Level Java Developer
Senior-level Java developers generally have five to eight years or more of experience working with Java, solving a variety of problems uncovered in the development process, and updating and enhancing existing code. They can work independently, focusing on critical functions and designing and conducting tests to evaluate their performance.
These Java developers often serve as mentors to entry- and mid-level developers, assisting them with challenging problems in development. They also communicate with clients about software processes and functions.
According to Payscale, Java developers with 10 to 19 years of experience earned a median annual salary of about $102,000 in May 2022, with the median annual salary progressing to about $112,000 for developers with 20 or more years of experience.
Pursue a Tech Career With Strong Earning Potential
Java developers are a driving force behind the function of a variety of technology tools and processes we encounter every day. With the prevalence of Java-driven technology and the growing need for software to power new devices, the salary potential and growth projections for Java developers are strong.
The path to becoming a tech professional such as a Java developer includes both training and experience, making it beneficial to engage in opportunities that can give you both. Revature provides a path to build on your education by learning in-demand technology skills and then gaining real-world experience while you earn a salary.
Explore how Revature can help you pursue your tech career goals.