Sun Certified Java Programmer Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a Sun Certified Java programmer career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to see if a Sun Certified Java programmer career is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of a Sun Certified Java Programmer Career

A Sun Certified Java programmer is a computer programmer who specializes in the computer platform known as Java. If you'd like to learn more about the pros and cons of a career as a Sun Certified Java programmer, read on.

Pros of a Sun Certified Java Programmer Career
Above-average salary (median salary of about $78,000 for all programmers in 2014)*
Flexibility in job location*
Ability to work in variety of industries*
Average job growth (8% growth from 2012-2022)*
Telecommuting may be an option*

Cons of a Sun Certified Java Programmer Career
Keeping up to date with new programming tools can be demanding*
Eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome possible hazards*
Potential for high level of stress*

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

Basic Career Information

Job Duties

Sun Certified Java programmers design and test logical structures for solving problems using Java systems. As a Java programmer, you might design software programs that perform project management using Java technologies. You'll also need to test programs to make sure they produce the expected results. Checking for mistakes in the code you've written and taking the proper steps to correct them could occupy a great deal of your time working as a Sun Certified Java programmer.

One element of your work that may make your life as a Sun Certified Java programmer a bit easier is the use of computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools. You'll be able to build and use these tools to automate the writing of some sections of code. These utilities can be especially useful to you when working on large projects requiring many days and weeks of code writing.

Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects fairly limited job growth for computer programmers in the coming years. According to the BLS, overall employment of computer programmers is expected to increase by 8% from 2012-2022. The ability for computer programmers to telecommute is a bit of a negative here, as companies are increasingly hiring programmers in countries where wages are lower. An increasing demand for new computer software could offset that trend and ensure steady job growth for programmers. As of May 2014, the BLS reported a median annual salary of roughly $78,000 for computer programmers in the United States.

Requirements

While most computer programmers hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or management information systems, some employers require only an associate's degree. A bachelor's degree may better prepare you to learn new programming languages. Most degree programs in computer science will allow you to gain hands-on experience writing code and debugging programs.

To become a Sun Certified Java programmer, you'll need to achieve the proper certification through Sun Microsystems. Now owned by Oracle, Sun Microsystems offers multiple certification levels for Java programmers. The certified associate credential can be attained with only a single exam, while the certified professional designation requires one additional test. Training for these certifications is offered in a variety of formats, from classroom lessons to live online tutorials.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you meet the basic educational and certification requirements to work as a Sun Certified Java programmer, you might find work in virtually any type of business with a need for the design and configuration of Java applications. Several job postings open as of early April 2012 reflect some specific expectations of Java programmers.

  • A large California-based IT company seeks a Java programmer to work with a team of programmers. Coding, testing, debugging and implementing programs to manage complex projects are the responsibilities of this position. A bachelor's degree in computer science or mathematics is required for this entry-level position.
  • A luxury home builder in Pennsylvania is looking for a Java programmer to analyze, code and test new features for an existing Java application. Creating and maintaining technical documentation is another responsibility of the position. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is required, as well as five to seven years of development experience with Java.
  • A Florida city's department of information technology seeks a Java programmer to provide IT development and support in various municipal facilities. The successful candidate will analyze the city's IT systems and participate in project planning. The position requires a bachelor's degree in computer science or a closely related field and two years of experience in the field of management information systems.

Standing Out in the Field

Advancing your education is one almost guaranteed way to make yourself stand out among prospective computer programmers. A master's degree in computer science, management information systems or even business administration could go a long way toward building up your professional qualifications. In order to keep up with emerging technology, you may also want to take continuing education courses or professional development seminars to learn about new or upgraded programming languages.

In addition to achieving certification through Sun Microsystems, you might also explore getting certified in other programming languages as a way to stand out from the pack in a competitive job market. C++ certification is another popular and broadly applicable programming credential that may be worth checking out.

Alternative Career Options

Maybe all the code writing and debugging work performed by Sun Certified Java programmers seems a bit too tedious to you. If you prefer a job that incorporates some business knowledge or experience, you may want to consider becoming a computer systems analyst. This career involves bringing business interests and information technology needs together. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is common among computer analysts, and the BLS projects faster-than-average job growth for the field (22% employment growth from 2010-2020). The BLS further reported a median annual salary of $78,000 for computer analysts as of May 2010.

If the nuts and bolts of computer systems interest you more than programming languages and application debugging, a career as a computer hardware engineer may be more to your liking. Computer hardware engineers research, design and develop equipment such as circuit boards, chips and routers. Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor's degree in computer or electrical engineering. More innovation takes place with software than hardware these days, so the BLS projects only nine percent employment growth for computer hardware engineers from 2010-2020. As of May 2010, the BLS reported a median annual salary of nearly $99,000 for computer hardware engineers.

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