Java Developer Roles and Responsibilities

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What does a Java Developer do?

A Java Developer is responsible for the design, development, and management of Java-based applications. Because Java is used so widely, particularly by large organizations, the daily roles vary widely, but can include owning a particular application or working on several at one time.

Developer vs. Engineer

This is a common debate in the IT world. As a swiftly changing field, many IT experts say titles don’t matter – the job description and responsibilities do. For the sake of this article, we are treating Java developers and engineers similarly.

While a Java developer or engineer may be focused solely on app development that uses the Java language, a title like software developer or software engineer could mean working with multiple language or on specific customer-centric software that may not be Java-based.

In many cases, a Java developer’s job description goes well beyond mere computer programming. Many roles require that Java developers embrace taking part in full software development lifecycles and strive to improve the overall product by researching alternative ways and technologies to achieve the overall goal.

What is Java?

Before we dive into the specifics of a Java developer role, let’s start with the basics. Java is a programming language, widely considered to be one of the most popular in the world. A report 9 million developers use Java regularly. Not to be confused with JavaScript, Java itself is also a platform for application development, which many programming languages are not.

In the world of computer programming, Java is one of the older languages. Sun Microsystems developed the language in 1995 based on the syntax of C and C++. Today, Java is part of Oracle.

Java is a concurrent, class-based, and object-oriented programming language. It was initially designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible, which lead to the term “write once, run anywhere” (WORA). This means that compiled Java code can run on all platforms with no need for recompiling the code.

Because of its inherent linguistic design, Java has many benefits that behoove companies. Java-based applications are known for their speed and scalability. Its efficient processing speeds are used in software, computer games, and mobile Apps. (Indeed, Java is the programming language of choice for Android.)

Java is also a statically typed language, so that it brings a much greater degree of safety and stability to its programs compared to other popular languages. This safety and stability is a necessity for companies who require major bandwidth in their software and apps.

New programmers often start learning Java early because it’s easy to break into, though it does take time to master. Due to its ease of use, there are many Java developers for companies to hire.

Based on recent data, Java is used in 2.6 percent of all websites whose server-side programming is known. While the language doesn’t seem to be used by many sites, it is used by sites with high traffic almost exclusively. Well-known websites that rely on Java include LinkedIn, Chase, Salesforce.com, and Indeed.com. Both UPS.com and IRS.gov. recently began using Java as well.

Java is an influential language, as many languages descended from it, including the popular PHP, Python, Scala, and JavaScript. Interestingly, PHP, a Java descendant, is used in over 82% of websites whose server-side programming is known.

While many smaller companies may opt to start building programs using a different language, as they grow and require more speed and stability, they often switch to Java programming. Twitter is a perfect example.

Peers and Reporting

As a Java developer, you’ll likely be part of the IT team within an organization. Depending how that enterprise is structured, there could be a single IT team, or many smaller IT teams that works on individual projects. This second method is often used in Agile environments.

The Java developer may report to a senior project manager or overall IT manager, who then reports up the chain to the CIO or otherwise senior leader in IT.

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of a Java developer or Java engineer will vary greatly depending on the company and specific position. Here are common examples that many companies seek:

  • Designing, implementing, and maintaining Java applications that are often high-volume and low-latency, required for mission-critical systems
  • Delivering high availability and performance
  • Contributing in all phases of the development lifecycle
  • Writing well-designed, efficient, and testable code
  • Conducting software analysis, programming, testing, and debugging
  • Managing Java and Java EE application development
  • Ensuring designs comply with specifications
  • Preparing and producing releases of software components
  • Transforming requirements into stipulations
  • Support continuous improvement
    • Investigating alternatives and technologies
    • Presenting for architectural review

Requirements

An ideal Java developer can have a range of background requirements. The most common is a B.S. or M.S. in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a related field. Hands-on software development experience, particularly in Java, would augment a candidacy it; significant experience could replace the need for formal education.

Many companies also seek specific experience in Java-based web services, relational databases, SQL and ORM, and test-drive development (TDD).

Future of Java Programming

With over 20 years as one of the mainstays in programming languages, Java’s past is significant, which leads the industry to question its longevity. The latest version, Java 9, is scheduled for a long-awaited release in fall 2017. Experts say that we are only in the very beginning stages of software programming, so it’s hard to gauge just which language or languages will come out on top in terms of flexibility, scalability, and popularity.

Still, Java has consistently ranked as the most popular language worldwide for over a decade. If you’re getting started, it’s a great place to be. If you’re an expert, you won’t hurt for work. Diversifying your programming language skills could prove to even more lucrative roles, as you’re able to program across languages.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts is an IT marketing professional based in Birmingham, AL. Stephen began working at BMC in 2012 and focuses on creating best-in-class web content.