What Does a Java Developer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore the work duties, skills, and employment prospects of a Java developer.

[Featured image] A Java developer sits at his desk with a laptop and talks about his next project with a colleague.

A Java developer's expertise lies in creating and managing applications powered by Java. In this role, you'll likely collaborate with an organization’s IT team.

Introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1995, Java is a free-to-use programming language and computing platform. The slogan “write once, run anywhere" reflects Java's core design philosophy—portability and simplicity. The platform maintains its strong demand and popularity, even as newer programming languages have come into play.

Read on to understand what it's like to be a Java developer and how to get started in this field.

Read more: What Is Java Used For?

What is a Java developer?

Java developers build, implement, and maintain Java applications alongside a software development team. Other common work duties of a Java developer include the following:

  • Converting client/user requirements into technical specifications

  • Managing Java code bases 

  • Documenting project code 

  • Testing and debugging code as part of troubleshooting

  • Making schedules for upgrading Java applications

Did you know? Oracle acquired Java’s parent company Sun Microsystems in 2009. Oracle unveiled the latest iteration of Java, Java 21, in September 2023. 


Essential Java developer skills

Though not an exhaustive list, acquiring the following technical and workplace skills can help you start your career as a Java developer.

Technical skills

Some technical skills useful for a Java developer include the following:

1. Ability to write code

As a Java engineer, your code should be easy to read and comprehend but straightforward to maintain. Additionally, if your code is well-documented, it becomes a collaborative asset, fostering effective teamwork and knowledge sharing. 

2. Knowledge of Java build tools

Java build automation tools—such as Apache Maven, Nexus, and CMake—help automate various facets of Java application development. A comprehensive understanding of these tools enables you to choose and tailor your programming approach based on the specific requirements of each project.

3. Adeptness in using standard testing tools

Your proficiency in using Java testing tools, including Selenium, contributes to the creation of robust and dependable applications. By simulating real-world user scenarios using a separate database, you can uncover potential issues and rectify them before application deployment. 

4. JavaScript and jQuery

The JavaScript programming language allows you, as a Java developer, to create dynamic and interactive web applications, significantly enhancing the overall user experience on a website. As a feature-packed JavaScript library, jQuery helps you streamline your web development tasks, such as designing drop-down menus. Note that a solid grasp of JavaScript’s syntax and built-in constructs is essential to harness the full capabilities of jQuery plug-ins. 

Front-end vs. back-end skills: How do they differ?

The front end and back end are essential components in the makeup of any web application. While developers often choose to specialize in one of the two, it helps to have an understanding of both.

Front-end development skills

The front end encompasses the visible elements of a website—like layouts, images, navigation menus, and interactive features—seen by users. Some popular front-end development skills include the following:

  • HTML

  • CSS

  • JavaScript

  • AngularJS

  • jQuery

  • Node.js

Read more: Java vs. JavaScript: What's the Difference?

Back-end development skills

The back end represents the data and infrastructure, facilitating the web application's overall functionality through server functions, database management, and security measures that users do not see. Note that Java is primarily a back-end programming language. Some other popular back-end development skills include the following: 

  • SQL

  • Git

  • Ruby

  • Python

  • APIs

  • Database management systems

Workplace skills 

You may find the following workplace skills useful as a Java developer:

1. Capability to work autonomously or as part of a team

Individual proficiency and collaborative teamwork can help you become a well-rounded Java developer. Working independently allows you to take ownership of tasks, manage your time effectively, and contribute your unique skills to projects. On the other hand, collaborating within a team creates an environment conducive to leveraging the strengths of each team member.

2. Time management

In your role as a Java developer, simultaneously juggling multiple projects is likely to be a common occurrence. Efficient time management allows you to prioritize tasks effectively while ensuring each stage of the software development life cycle receives the attention it requires.

3. Effective communication 

Good communication extends beyond mere code exchanges. Whether discussing project requirements, providing updates, or participating in problem-solving discussions with fellow developers, your communication skills help maximize the effectiveness of your team’s collaborative efforts.

Java developer salary and job outlook

The average annual pay for a Java developer ranges from $88,475 to $103,853, according to multiple job listing sites. The following table lists the base pay provided by Zippia, Indeed, Salary.com, and Glassdoor [1, 2, 3, 4]: 


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is set to grow by 25 percent from 2022 to 2032, equating to around 153,900 new job openings each year during the forecast period [5].

Java developer career path 

While the path to becoming a Java developer isn't a fixed route, the following steps can act as milestones on your career path.

Education and training 

Although not mandatory, acquiring knowledge through formal education, such as a college degree, can expedite learning. A common academic qualification among Java developers is a bachelor's degree, with 75 percent of professionals holding this credential [6]. A master's degree follows closely, accounting for 22 percent of Java developers' educational attainment [6].

If you’re switching careers as an experienced professional and cannot commit to college, explore opportunities such as boot camps, conferences, workshops, or seminars. 

Remember, the Java programming language continuously evolves, with major updates occurring as frequently as four times each year. Keeping track of the latest releases will help you consistently align with industry best practices.

Work experience

Internships, freelancing, or securing an entry-level developer position are different ways of gaining relevant work experience. Based on insights from Glassdoor, some interviewers may prefer candidates with two to five years of work experience over those with only a degree. 


Certifications add credibility to your resume, opening doors to higher-level positions and increased job responsibilities. Below are a few notable certifications you can consider based on your education and experience:

  • The Oracle Certified Foundations Associate for Java is ideal for learners who previously enrolled in the Oracle Academy program or are pursuing computer science with a focus on Java. It's also suitable for faculty teaching foundational Java and computer science and individuals beginning their Java careers.

  • The Oracle Java EE 7 Application Developer certification is well-suited for Java front-end and back-end application developers, architects, and software engineers possessing intermediate to advanced expertise in using Java EE 7 technology.

  • Earning the Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 11 Developer certification validates your professional-level competence in utilizing Java SE 11, with a special focus on the new features introduced in this version.

Learn more with Coursera.

Level up your Java skills with the Introduction to Java course available on Coursera. Offered by LearnQuest, this course emphasizes basic Java syntax and data types. Intended for beginners, the course is designed to equip you with the skills needed to secure entry-level Java developer positions. You will need approximately 11 hours to complete this course. 

Article sources


Zippia. “Java Developer Salary, https://www.zippia.com/java-developer-jobs/salary/.” Accessed March 8, 2024.

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