Java Engineer Career: Pros and Cons
A Java engineer is a software engineer or developer who specializes in the Java programming language. Find out more about some of the pros and cons of becoming a Java engineer to see if it's the right career for you.
|Pros of Becoming a Java Engineer|
|High salary (median of $95,510 in May 2014)*|
|Strong employment growth predicted (19% from 2014-2024)*|
|Work is results-oriented and can be satisfying (designing functioning software)**|
|Cons of Becoming a Java Engineer|
|Long hours are likely*|
|Outsourcing of jobs is a possibility*|
|Can require persistence in the face of frustrating technological problems**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **O*NET OnLine.
Essential Career Information
Job Description and Duties
The BLS provides very similar descriptions for software engineer and software developer, but basically, both jobs involve creating the overall design of a software program. As a Java engineer, you'll design software using the Java programming language according to the needs of your client or company. Depending on your job description, this may or may not involve writing some of the code as well.
You'll also create documentation about every aspect of the program you've designed in order to make it easier to maintain and create future upgrades. You'll likely work in an office with other employees, though telecommuting is a possibility. Since software engineering is a vital component of most modern businesses, you could find work in a variety of industries. Most software developers work full time, and long hours are not uncommon.
Salary Info and Job Growth
Statistics from the BLS show that software applications engineers earned a median salary of around $95,000 in 2014. The website PayScale.com noted in February 2016 that software engineers who were certified in Java earned a median of $100,000, with senior software engineers possessing certification earning $79,000-$139,000.
According to the BLS, employment of software applications developers is set to grow 19% from 2014-2024. This is much faster than average in comparison to all occupations, and can be explained in part due to the continued demand for computer software across all businesses.
What Are the Requirements?
To become a Java engineer, you'll likely need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer science, mathematics or software engineering. A computer science degree program will provide you with instruction in a broad range of topics, including Java programming. For some positions, a master's degree might be required. You might need some general knowledge or work experience in the industry in which you work (such as banking or health care). According to the BLS, important qualities for a software engineer include:
- Analytical and communication skills
- Creative problem-solving abilities
- Technical mindset and detail-oriented nature
- Customer service and teamwork mentality
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers frequently look for Java engineers with multiple years of experience and a background in many types of software development; even though 'Java engineer' might be your official title, you'll need to integrate your Java knowledge with plenty of other types of technology in order to be successful at your job.
Some positions require experience in project management, and most involve working with teams of other developers. While the following is by no means an exhaustive list, it provides a sample of the jobs available to Java engineers on Careerbuilder.com in May 2012:
- A technology consulting firm is seeking a senior software engineer with 7 years of experience to work for a New Hampshire client. Duties include using Java development background to maintain and improve storage management systems and working with staff to plan projects. Candidates should have experience in J2EE technologies, database management systems, object-oriented design, open source technologies and cloud computing.
- A San Francisco e-commerce company is looking for a Java engineer to design and develop software applications and troubleshoot infrastructure. Candidates should have several years of Java experience and a background in multiple operating systems. A bachelor's degree or equivalent experience is preferred.
- A staffing company is looking for a Java software engineer to work for a government client in South Carolina. Tasks include project lifecycle management, software engineering and design and Web-based systems design. The position is 12 months long with extension possible.
- A Pennsylvania software design company is seeking a senior Java software engineer to develop a cloud-based platform. Applicants should have at least 5 years of experience with Java Web application development, a background in Agile development and a degree in a relevant field. Experience in social media integration and mobile application development is a plus.
How to Stand out in the Field
The BLS notes that job prospects should be especially good for those who have the most up-to-date knowledge of technology and programming languages. Staying in the loop about technology development can help your career, and there are multiple opportunities for continuing education through software vendors, colleges and private training companies.
While not necessarily a requirement for employment, one way to show that you have knowledge and skills in Java might be to become certified. Certification in the Java programming language is available through Oracle at various levels for programmers and developers. Each level requires taking an exam, and study resources are available.
The IEEE Computer Society offers general certifications for both entry-level and mid-career positions in software development by passing an exam. While the entry-level CSDA certification does not have strict eligibility requirements, the CSDP certification requires you to meet certain benchmarks of education and experience.
Other Careers to Consider
If you're more interested in writing the code than designing the computer applications, you could consider becoming a computer programmer. You'll follow the design of software engineers to actually create software programs, line by line. Many programmers have a bachelor's degree, though you could get started in the industry with an associate's degree. Computer programmers earned an average of around $76,000, according to the BLS, and job growth was expected to be about as fast as average from 2010-2020, at 12%.
Alternately, you could become a database administrator. In this job, you'll be responsible for storing and organizing software in a secure manner. The BLS predicted growth to be strong for the profession, at 31% from 2010-2020. Database administrators made an average of around $77,000 in May 2011. To become a database administrator, you'll need to have at least a bachelor's degree and multiple years of work experience.