Senior Java Programmer: Job Outlook & Career Info

Apr 09, 2019

Learn about what education and skills a senior Java programmer needs. Explore work duties, employment outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Senior Java Programmer

A Java programmer works with computer programs, specifically using the Java programming language and software. They may develop the program--planning it according to how it is needed to function, writing its code and testing it to make sure it performs as desired--or they may work on an existing program, updating or rewriting it for other reasons. The senior Java programmer is very knowledgeable in Java, and so may work on programs for complex and difficult tasks or lead a team of other programmers on a project. Along with computer-related industries like software publishing, senior Java programmers also work in the financial sector, for the government or for any company and institution using computer programs.

Education Bachelor's or master's degree
Job Skills Good communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills
Median Salary (2018)* $84,280 (for computer programmers)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* -7% (for computer programmers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

At the senior level of computer programming, a master's degree in computer science is required, or at least a bachelor's with plenty of other experience. Most graduate programs in computer science take two years, and courses cover subjects like software design, operating systems, networks and database management. There are courses specifically about Java, and Sun Microsystems offers classes in programming as well as an exam for official Java programmer certification.

Skills Required

Senior Java programmers must collaborate and communicate effectively with other employees. Problem-solving, critical thinking and capability under pressure are also useful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The job market in computer programming is in flux. This is partially due to the rapid pace in the world of information technology. Specific aspects of programming are always changing, so many Java programmers seek to broaden their knowledge and keep aware of new developments. A recent influence is the trend of outsourcing; additionally, the centralization of programming technologies means the job is also becoming less specialized. Still, many companies are looking for an onsite programmer, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) notes plenty of expanding industries requiring programmers: data management, networking and computer consulting are but a few. According to the BLS, computer programmers made median annual wages of about $84,280 in 2018, and job outlook is expected to decrease by 7% from 2016 to 2026.

Alternative Careers

Similar careers to a senior Java programmer include:

Web Developer

For those interested in building and maintaining websites using HTML and other programming languages, becoming a web developer may be a good fit. Web developers perform many duties that may include creating the structural components of web pages, writing code, choosing visual elements such as color and images, monitoring website performance and repairing errors. Most enter this profession by earning an associate degree in web design or a similar field. Some highly technical positions in web architecture may require a bachelor's degree in programming or computer science.

The BLS anticipates the web development field to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in the creation of 24,400 new jobs. In May of 2018, the BLS determined that web developers earned a median salary of $69,430.

Software Developer

If working with programmers to create new software programs sounds intriguing, consider a career in software development. These developers look for problems that might be solved by new programs and create software concepts. They produce diagrams and flowcharts to show how the programs work, collaborate with programmers who write the code, test software performance and modify the design if necessary. A bachelor's degree in computer science is generally required to work as a developer, and knowledge of programming languages is a must.

In 2018, applications developers received $103,620 in median wages, while systems software developers earned $110,000, reported the BLS. Employment opportunities for all types of software developers are expected to increase by 24% during the 2016-2026 decade.

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