J2EE Developer Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a J2EE developer career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if being a J2EE developer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in J2EE Development

A J2EE developer designs and develops using the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, which is designed for mainframe enterprise applications. Review the pros and cons to determine if being a J2EE developer is the right career choice for you.

Pros of a J2EE Developer Career
Much faster-than-average job growth (22% predicted from 2012-2022 for all software developers)*
High median annual wage (about $96,000, as of May 2014)*
Choice of multiple industries (software publishing, computer systems design, finance, product manufacturing, etc.)*
Opportunities to telecommute*

Cons of a J2EE Developer Career
Additional nontechnical training needed in some industries (finance, healthcare, insurance)*
Required to keep up with changes in the Java development platform*
May require long hours (over 40 hours weekly for almost 25% of software developers)*
Could develop eye, back and wrist pain from long hours at computer*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

A J2EE developer is a computer programmer who is responsible for designing, developing and evaluating enterprise Java programs for mainframe-scale computing. This requires interaction with other programmers and developers on a project team, as well as cooperation with other technical, functional and managerial staff to gather program requirements and find ways to improve existing applications. While a majority of job tasks relate to software development, they are sometimes called upon to work in the other computing and networking aspects of their organization.

Some developers are telecommuters who work on projects remotely. Whether they work on-site or at home, the job may require long hours to finish projects on time and correct any problems.

Job Prospects and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that computer software developers would see much faster-than-average job growth from 2012-2022, at a rate of 22% overall. Those who develop applications were predicted to see a 23% growth in employment, while those who develop system software were projected to see a 20% increase. The demand for J2EE developers will be spurred by the increasing reliance organizations have on computer software. While there is a possibility of employers outsourcing developer jobs to other countries, the BLS does not expect this to have a large effect.

The median annual salary for applications software developers, which includes J2EE developers, was about $96,000, according to the BLS's May 2014 estimates. Software publishers and computer systems design service providers have the highest levels of employment. The top paying states are California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York.

What Are the Requirements?

Employers who hire J2EE developers expect applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree in mathematics, software engineering, computer science or a related area. There are some colleges that offer specific courses in J2EE development at the undergraduate and graduate levels, which can be helpful for learning the basics of the platform. In addition to Java programming skills, employers could request proficiency in database systems, Web development and ecommerce. Some of the more complex positions may require master's degree in computer science, and many employers expect developers to demonstrate a commitment to advancing their skills.

Useful Skills

J2EE developers must have excellent analytical and problem solving skills to successfully address the real-world problems of large organizations. Being able to work in a team is critical, and the work environment can often be fast-paced. Strong communication skills are needed to communicate with team members, management and other organizational members, whether you are gathering system requirements or advising programmers.

What Employers Are Looking for

Employers generally look for a bachelor's degree in a related field and extensive experience working with Java, J2EE, databases and Web services. They also look for candidates who can write documentation and test applications for errors. The following are examples of real job postings employers placed in April 2012:

  • A professional IT staffing group in Ohio is seeking a senior J2EE developer with a bachelor's degree in computer science, as well as experience with Java, application development, database platforms, Web scripting languages and ecommerce. Specific experience requirements include four years working with Java Web application development and J2EE, as well as five years with Java.
  • An IT staffing services group in Connecticut advertised for a senior Java/J2EE developer with five years of experience with Web service programming, Java J2EE and object-oriented analysis. Preferred skills include experience producing documentation, testing applications and working with Oracle products.
  • A Delaware professional staffing agency is looking for a J2EE developer who knows Strut, rapid application development (RAD), JSP, J2EE, Java and the software development lifecycle. A bachelor's degree and five years of experience are required, and experience with ecommerce, XML and team leadership is preferred.
  • A financial services provider in Florida seeks a senior J2EE applications developer with at least six years of experience working with Web services and Java/J2EE application development and a bachelor's degree, as well as experience testing applications, creating design patterns and working with Oracle products.

How Can I Stand Out?

Since Java development experience is critical for finding a job, gaining as much as possible will help you stand out. If your degree program has an optional internship or co-op experience, you can develop a portfolio of programs to show potential employers and gain work experience to add to your resume. You could also do some freelance work if you don't meet the requirements for a developer position at a company.

According to the BLS, experience in a nontechnical industry can also improve your job prospects and help you qualify for more positions. For example, you may need to learn about finance to create useful programs for a bank.

Develop Related Skills

While you have to know about Java development with J2EE, gaining some related skills could show employers you also have more extensive expertise. With some companies using Web services, Web databases, messaging platforms and distributed systems, you can stand out by learning about IBM WebSphere, SOAP, XML and SQL. Knowing how to implement ecommerce solutions using Java is another skill employers may seek, according to recent job postings for J2EE developers.

Other Careers to Consider

Computer Programmer

If the possibility of needing industry-specific training is not appealing to you or you would rather learn a different programming language, a career as a computer programmer might be right for you. While software developers plan and design programs, programmers usually focus on writing the actual code needed for the application to run and also do some debugging. You can focus on desktop, Web or mobile programming, as well as learn a variety of programming languages. According to the BLS, an associate or bachelor's degree in computer science is usually required, and the organization predicted a 12% increase in jobs from 2010-2020, which is about as fast as average but slower than growth projected for software developers. The BLS's May 2011 median wage estimate for computer programmers was about $73,000.

Application Database Administrator

Individuals who would rather manage the databases that applications use can consider careers as application database administrators. In addition to making sure the application and database interact properly, they perform data backups, manage permissions, troubleshoot issues and combine multiple databases as needed. Educational requirements include a bachelor's degree in a computer-related area and expertise in database query languages. According to the BLS, job prospects in the field are favorable with 31% job growth projected from 2010-2020, and the median annual wage was around $75,000, as of May 2011.

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