What Skills Do Java Developers Need?

It's not all about technical knowledge.
September 8, 2020
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Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world and one of the oldest. It’s also a platform for application development. Java was designed to have few implementation dependencies so the compiled code can run on all platforms. Applications developed using Java are typically fast and scalable, so it’s a great choice for creating many kinds of software, mobile apps, and computer games. 

Developers need a variety of skills to make the most of Java, ranging from technical proficiency to problem-solving ability to working well on teams. Whether you’re a developer interested in studying Java or want to hire someone to create Java-based projects, it’s helpful to know exactly what skills are required to be a successful Java engineer. 


Why Java?

As an object-oriented language, Java uses “objects” to represent data and methods, rather than procedural programming with a list of instructions. It can be used in front-end development and on the server-side. It’s strongly typed, which means it requires developers to define code variables with data type restrictions. Programs created with Java can run on a browser or a Java virtual machine. 

According to SD Times, some of the reasons Java is so popular are that “it was designed with the network in mind, and had a lot of features for network communications. It also came about around the time that multiprocessor systems were gaining traction and it was one of the first languages to make use of those hardware advances without the developer having to do too much more work.” 

Those features are still viable in today’s technological environment, along with the “exhaustive testing, updating, and consistency of delivery that Java has historically provided,” according to Code Institute


Technical Ability

Java developers must learn numerous skills to become proficient at their work. According to a DEV article, examples include software design and architecture, containers and DevOps tools, Spring framework, unit testing, application program interfaces (APIs), libraries, Java Virtual Machine (JVM) internals, design patterns, Kotlin, microservices, and integrated development environments (IDEs). 

The fact that Java is so widely used means many resources are available for people who want to learn it. Engineers can learn Java within a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts university program in computer science, computer engineering, or other related fields. They may also learn from online programs or be self-taught. Once trained, Java engineers may choose to acquire additional certifications, such as those offered by Oracle.

Employers typically look for formal education as well as hands-on experience. Some hiring managers may waive the degree requirement for candidates with extensive hands-on experience. 

Developers trained in Java can use it to build a wide variety of software products including those mentioned above as well as financial trading applications, Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) apps, big data technologies, and scientific applications. 


Quality Mindset

In addition to technical ability, Java developers must display a high level of professionalism, including an eye for quality. High quality is important for all stakeholders, including hiring companies, clients, and end-users, as products that don’t meet quality standards can disappoint end-users and negatively impact companies’ reputations and bottom lines. Additionally, the higher the quality of developers’ work, the more opportunities they will have to use their skills. 

High-quality applications work well and reliably perform all of their functions. Security is another big component of code quality. Code should be easy to understand by other coders and should be thoroughly tested and repaired if needed. Quality-oriented engineers use testing and other methods throughout the development process to ensure a high-quality end product. 

Development teams typically use a particular methodology to “bake in” quality. For example, BairesDev chooses from among several methodologies, depending on the needs of each project. They include Scrum, Agile, DevOps, Lean, Prototype, XP, and RAD. 


Problem-Solving Skills

Excellent Java engineers are excellent problem solvers. These professionals use a logical, methodical approach to overcome challenges that occur during development. They see obstacles as part of the process and, in fact, welcome these trials as “puzzles” to be worked out. 

An engineer with great problem-solving skills might spend hours at a time finding the right solution to move their project forward. Developers may use some of these specific problem-solving skills: 

  • Fully describing the issue, why it’s a problem and the end goal 
  • Breaking the problem into smaller “chunks” and dealing with them separately
  • Using a whiteboard or other medium to address the problem visually
  • Thinking through the issue logically before attempting to change the code
  • Developing a plan to update the code

The following video describes some of these methods in further detail:


Openness to New Ideas

Java developers must be willing to learn from a variety of sources, including formal education, mentors, online community members, or their own creative ideas. These engineers must also keep up with the latest developments in technology generally, as well as in the industries they typically work in. For example, developers who work primarily for financial firms should be aware of financial company trends, needs, and customer demands. 

Developers will also gain new ideas and feedback on projects from teammates. Working alone coding is a big part of being a Java engineer but these professionals must also collaborate with others to turn that code into a fully functioning program or application. 

Communication is a big part of that teamwork and engineers should also be able to productively exchange ideas with clients, testers, and end-users. For instance, developers must gather requirements at the beginning of each project to understand exactly what the requestor wants. 


The Right Combination

Java developers can help companies, organizations, and other entities reach their goals, such as driving productivity, interfacing with customers, and increasing revenue. To do so, they must gain technical knowledge about Java and coding in general, as well as complementary skills like problem solving and teamwork. Those engineers who can bring all these talents together are the best-positioned to address any challenges their employers or clients might present. 


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