Learn Java: Importance, Skills, and Training Paths
Java programmers have some of the most in-demand tech skills in the field. Data from human resources analysis firm Mercer and technical recruiting firm Dice show that companies have a growing need for Java software developers.
Whether you have a computer science degree or are making a career change, learning Java can be the boost you need for a career in tech. A training program that teaches technology skills such as basic and advanced Java capabilities is an excellent first step toward a successful tech career.
Why Learn Java?
Released in 1996, Java was developed at Sun Microsystems (later acquired by Oracle). It is an object-oriented programming (OOP) language that uses objects rather than logic-based code. OOP languages tend to be more modular, scalable, and flexible than other languages. They are also highly secure. This makes them ideal for tasks such as programming for back-end functions, such as web servers and databases, and for applications in financial services and health care.
Java is used to build the following applications:
- Mobile applications. Java’s advantages in mobile development include its effectiveness at connectivity and building applications with multiple interfaces.
- Artificial intelligence and big data. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data go hand in hand. AI is self-learning code that adapts to complex situations. AI is often used to parse vast quantities of data to make calculations. Data analytics uses big data to come up with data-driven solutions to business problems.
- Software development. Java is a cross-platform language, referred to as WORA — write once, read anywhere. This flexibility makes it a great choice in developing code that has to run on multiple platforms.
- Mobile blockchain. Blockchain is a form of highly secure record keeping. Its expansion into mobile applications means that Java programming has to manage blockchain as well.
- Internet of Things. Internet of Things (IoT) applications connect noncomputer devices to the internet. Java’s advantages in application connectivity make it the right choice for many IoT applications.
- Web development. Java is commonly used to program back-end — server and database — applications that connect to websites and manage interactions. Java is also used in front-end applications as well.
Top Reasons to Learn Java
Here are some reasons to learn Java, a highly versatile coding language.
High Demand Across Industries
Java’s uses expand as technology evolves. Since its introduction more than 25 years ago, Java expertise is now in demand across all industries. For example:
- Financial services. Finance technology, or fintech, requires security and portability. Java is both highly secure and usable across platforms.
- Health care. Big data, AI, security, and IoT are all changing the way the health care industry operates. Java is right at home in all of these areas.
- Retail and e-commerce.Java code libraries include essential retail and e-commerce functions such as electronic payments and wallets. Java’s security functionality is also an advantage for e-commerce applications.
Java’s technical features make Java skills an asset for both developers who are just starting their coding careers and experienced developers. These attributes include:
- Open source. Java is free to download and start using. While developers will benefit from a training program, this accessibility means anyone can dive into a project and learn as they go.
- Cross platform.Java can be used on any platform and read anywhere. This write once, run anywhere (WORA) feature makes it extremely valuable for companies and developers alike.
- Android standard. Java is a standard for Android mobile devices.
- Reusable code. Java and other OOP languages seem daunting at first. But once learned, OOP programming is more efficient for large projects. Code can be reused, so the more developers learn, the more efficient they become.
- Resource rich. Developed over 25 years ago, Java has a huge programming community and a number of code libraries. These resources help developers hone their skills and in turn give their expertise back to the community.
According to compensation research site Payscale, the median annual salary for experienced Java developers was approximately $79,000 as of May 2022. Java developers can see a boost in compensation when they bring different skills to the table. For example, experience with Scala, REST, and Oracle 11g resulted in salaries 17% and 59% over the median.
What are the essential Java skills that a training program covers? Students should have training in OOP principles, including classes, objects, methods, and attributes. Classes include Java elements such as inheritance, interfaces, abstract classes, and polymorphism. As students become more proficient, they will learn more complex concepts, such as reflection, generics, and threads.
Basic Java Topics
Entry-level Java programmers need more than just Java programming skills. They must also have expertise in how Java functions with other applications and how to be an effective programmer. The following are some basic Java topics:
- OOP principles. OOP principles are the backbone of Java.
- Relational databases. Back-end web developers use Java to write server and database applications. Understanding how relational databases work and how to write queries is a valuable skill.
- Git, Bitbucket, or other version control systems. Version control systems are essential for tracking code changes.
- Integrated development environment. Integrated development environments (IDEs) are programming platforms that facilitate coding for new apps, web pages, and other software products all in one environment. IDEs include Visual Studio and IntelliJ IDEA.
Advanced Java Topics
Learning never ends for software developers. As programmers gain experience, they will also need to understand more advanced Java topics. These include:
- SOLID principles. The five principles of OOP programming known as SOLID comprise the following concepts: single responsibility, open-closed, Liskov substitution, interface segregation, and dependency inversion.
- Android and Kotlin. While Java has been the language of choice for Android apps, Android is now moving to Kotlin, a language that makes Java more efficient.
- DevOps. Development and operations (DevOps) tools speed up the software development and release cycle. A knowledge of DevOps is important for senior programmers who are responsible for code deployment and project management.
- Selenium. Selenium is an open-source tool that automates code testing, streamlining the development process.
- Spring. Developers use Spring to build code using elements that streamline the process.
- Unit-testing tools. Unit-testing tools speed up the test and debug process.
Steps to Learn Java
In many cases, even individuals who have an associate or a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology may lack the foundation they need for a career in Java development. A focused training program that includes real-world projects may be necessary before they can move on to a career as a Java programmer.
Start with Java Basics
Whether starting with an education in a STEM subject — science, technology, engineering, or math — or changing careers, the path to learning Java includes both self-study and training. Java is (mostly) an open-source programming language. Plenty of do-it-yourself resources are available that provide a basic introduction to Java programming. However, Java is complex, and training that teaches both Java basics and real-world problem-solving skills can lead to a better understanding of the language and provide an excellent foundation for more in-depth coding.
Get an Apprenticeship
Many people’s first paid experience as Java programmers is through an apprenticeship or similar program, such as that offered in Revature’s model, which provides paid training to associates and then places them in their first jobs. Unlike an internship, which is a short-term position and can be unpaid, an apprenticeship is a long-term opportunity to learn under the guidance of a senior developer. This experience will provide real-world, practical coding experience. Training programs that connect new developers with companies can help trainees gain a toehold in the industry.
The most successful Java programmers know that there’s always more to learn. Java has continuously evolved since its release in 1996, so programmers have to evolve to keep up. Even after getting their first job, developers continue to hone their skills and take on more responsibility. At some point, they may even be training a new crop of developers who have joined the team for their first experience.
Certifications show that developers have achieved specific levels of competence. Some training programs, such as Revature’s, help individuals earn certain certifications. Java certifications include:
- Oracle certified associate Java programmer (OCAJP). The OCAJP is an entry-level certification that is necessary before a developer can go on to higher-level credentials.
- Oracle certified professional Java application developer (OCPJAD).The OCPJAD is for developers who want to show proficiency in app development.
- Oracle certified master Java enterprise architect (OCMJEA).The OCMJEA is the highest level of Java certification and signifies that the developer is a Java expert.
Other certifications are not Java-specific but showcase coding talents in some of the most in-demand specialties. These include:
- Certified information security manager (CISM). Many companies choose Java as a development platform because of its security advantages. Java developers with CISM certification indicate that they have a deeper understanding of how Java can be a part of security solutions.
- AWS certified cloud practitioner. Java’s use in e-commerce makes the Amazon Web Services certification highly valuable. This certification indicates that a developer is experienced in cloud computing and AWS billing, pricing, security, and other e-commerce issues.
Java Exercises and Quizzes
Java is a very hands-on programming language. Practicing coding, coming up with projects and executing them, and doing practice exercises and quizzes are excellent ways to learn Java and develop strong coding skills. Many experienced developers recommend that newbies try their new skills and learn from their mistakes.
Plenty of resources are available for testing one’s knowledge or learning about new tech skills. The following 10 sites offer quizzes, tutorials, how-tos, and other material for mastering Java programming.
- Java Guides: Daily Java quizzes that let developers test their knowledge and skills
- JavaTpoint: Self-tests sorted by difficulty level that allow developers to play for points
- Java Magazine: A variety of modules that quiz users on many different topics
- Java Oops Quiz: Tests users’ knowledge of OOP concepts
- Oracle Java Documentation: Oracle’s vast array of Java resources, from basic to advanced
- ProProfs Quizzes: Basic Java concepts for new developers
- Programming with Mosh: A YouTube tutorial that helps new developers understand the concepts they are learning in their training program
- IMocha: A multitude of Java programming quizzes at every level
- SkillValue: Tests covering knowledge of both basic and upper-level Java concepts
- Sitenol: Practical tutorials that teach how to install Java, access a MySQL database from Java, and perform certain Java actions
A Java Syllabus
Learning Java requires understanding basic concepts. As a developer masters each concept, they lay the foundation for the next level. Some examples of areas covered in a Java syllabus include the following.
Introduction to Java
This section will provide a basic introduction to the concepts and elements that underpin Java. It will cover the history of Java and its structure as an OOP programming language. It will also describe its advantages (WORA, cross platform, multithreaded) and uses (for back-end web development, security, e-commerce, and more).
Basic Java Concepts
This segment of the Java syllabus will cover installing Java on a computer. It will detail Java naming conventions, classes and objects, data types, and other aspects of the language. It will cover the Java runtime environment (JRE), Java virtual machine (JVM), and Java development kit (JDK).
Next-Level Java Concepts
Some more advanced Java concepts include packages (including package naming conventions, user-defined packages, and built-in packages). Developers must also learn different data types (both primitive and nonprimitive) before moving forward. Other concepts include variables and constants, constructors and modifiers, and keywords and inner classes.
Java and OOP Concepts
Once the basic concepts have been mastered, training will move on to cover OOP concepts in greater depth. These concepts include encapsulation, inheritance, abstraction, and polymorphism. The differences between classes and objects also will be explained.
After covering OOP concepts, training will move into collections. Developers will learn how to perform functions on collections such as add, remove, update, sort, and search. They also will explore the collections hierarchy and how objects in collections can be sorted and stacked.
Developers will learn to manage files and directories. At this stage of training, students should have a basic understanding of how to work with Java files.
While Agile isn’t a Java concept, it’s essential to software development as a whole. Agile is a software development philosophy that focuses on teamwork and coding sprints to release software fast and then update it based on user reactions. Most companies use the Agile method in developing their software. Understanding Agile is an important part of being a Java developer.
Advanced Java Concepts
Beyond the basics, there’s still plenty more to learn. Java is divided into two tiers — Core Java, which includes the fundamentals discussed above, and Advanced Java, which is a robust system for developing web-based and enterprise-level applications. These concepts include:
- Servlet. Servlets are used to create dynamic web pages.
- Java Server Pages. Java Server Pages (JSP) technology is an improvement on Servlet.
- Remote method invocation. Remote method invocation (RMI) allows one object to affect another object that is running in a different JVM.
An advanced Java syllabus would include web application and web container setup, session management, libraries including JSP tag libraries, Java architecture and struts, mapping collections and associations, Spring and Hibernate, and much more.
Get Started on Your Tech Training with Revature
Learning tech skills such as Java is a complex but rewarding process. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Finding a strong training partner can help you gain proficiency and advance in your career.
Revature associates get paid to learn during 10 to 14 weeks of training, followed by job placement with a leading tech company.
If you’re interested in a new career in tech, or want to get practical training and hands-on experience to round out a degree in computer science, explore Revature’s unique training programs today.
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