CodeGym /Java Blog /Random /What It’s Like to be a Junior Developer. A Short Guide
Andrey Gorkovenko
Frontend Engineer at NFON AG

What It’s Like to be a Junior Developer. A Short Guide

Published in the Random group
The majority of programmers start their professional coding careers from Junior developer positions, which are meant for beginners with solid knowledge of the required programming language and related technologies whose practical work experience is absent or limited. Traditionally (in the tech industry), developers are divided into four gradations based on their qualification levels: Junior, Middle, Senior, and Team Lead. Or five, if you include coding Interns as the lowest-ranked “soldiers” of the software development industry. But these gradations are quite conditional and open to interpretations depending on the company or the country. That’s why we decided to paint a picture of what it’s like to be an average Junior/Middle/Senior developer, so you could clearly (as much as it is possible) understand what to expect, and how things are normally done in the industry these days. Naturally, we are going to start with the Junior developer position.

Who is a Junior Developer?

Not to state the obvious, but Junior Developer normally is an inexperienced coder who still needs to learn many things about this profession, the way things are done in modern-day software development in general, and in the particular team/company the Junior is a part of. Going through the whole product development cycle at least several times is another important practical experience that any Junior still needs to obtain. When it comes to the specific work duties and tasks, Junior developers normally are the ones who will do relatively simple code writing, with the result being reviewed by senior team members, and deal with other mundane tasks, trying to get as much practical experience as possible. One thing that is worth mentioning, though. This is the way Junior developers are normally positioned in the developers team, but the perception of a Junior developer position can differ a lot depending on the company, the market, the industry, and the goals of the business. Despite the fact that a Junior coder should be a beginner-focused on learning and getting experience, it is not uncommon for many companies these days to have pretty serious requirements for a Junior position candidate. In some cases, the list of requirements may look like a solid knowledge stack even for a Middle or a Senior developer. The level of tasks the Junior developer is getting should be one of the main requirements. They should be relatively simple and basic, with senior team members reviewing the work of the junior and providing feedback. Companies that hire people as Junior devs, compensating them accordingly, but actually using them (or selling to a client, when we are talking about outsourcing companies) as Middle or even Senior devs are the ones to stay away from.What It’s Like to be a Junior Developer. A Short Guide - 2

What are the responsibilities of a Junior Developer?

Let’s talk in more detail about some of the most typical and specific responsibilities of a Junior Developer, just so you would have a clearer picture.
  • Writing and maintaining the code.
  • Analyzing the technical requirements of the project.
  • Fixing minor bugs and mistakes in code.
  • Participating in the execution and documentation of tests.
  • Working with an agile team and attending meetings.
  • Preparing reports, manuals, and other documentation.
  • Learning the codebase and the project’s structure.
  • Gathering information from users about the products.
These are pretty much standard and typical responsibilities of the Junior developer that you definitely should expect and be prepared for.

Requirements for a Junior Developer

Here is a list of the most common and typical requirements for the Junior Developer that you should meet in order to get this job.
  • Thorough knowledge of the programming language required (depending on the position). For a Java programmer, that would be the Java syntax, collections, multithreading, tools for coding (Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA or NetBeans), version-control systems and services (GitHub, GitLab). Next step: mastering the frameworks for building web projects (Maven, Gradle), frameworks for enterprise projects (Spring, Hibernate, Spring Boot), tools for unit testing (JUnit, Mockito), etc.
  • Basic knowledge of other common programming languages, like JavaScript, C++, and HTML5.
  • Basic practical experience in programming and code writing.
  • Knowledge of databases and operating systems.
  • Basic knowledge of Computer Science (as a foundation of knowledge for pretty much any profession on software development).
  • The ability to learn new software platforms and technologies quickly (quite an important skill for any Junior coder).
  • Ability to follow instructions and work in a team environment (another skill that in no way should be underestimated, even though it often does).
As for the time that you would need to learn everything required to get your first Java Junior Developer job, normally it takes somewhere around 10 months on average. But with extensive and persistent learning it is realistic to get familiar with all this in 4-5 months, to continue learning and getting experience already working (and getting paid) as a Junior dev.

Why to be a Junior Developer?

While the requirements and responsibilities of a Junior developer should be more or less clear, let’s look at the most exciting part of this job, which is what the Junior coders should expect to get from working in this position.
  • Money.
We in no way think that financial compensation should be your primary motivation when choosing software development as a profession, but common sense tells us money will always be among the main motivators. So let’s take a look at what you can make as a Junior Developer. What It’s Like to be a Junior Developer. A Short Guide - 2Wages is definitely one of the perks of being a coder since even a Junior developer with limited experience can expect to get a pretty nice compensation, compared to salaries in other fields and professions. For example, in the U.S. the average salary for a Junior Developer is $81,829 a year, according to Glassdoor. PayScale says the average Junjor salary in the United States is $53,803 a year, which is still pretty good, considering we are talking about a beginner’s job. The wage figures for other major world markets, like the UK, EU, and other developed countries, can vary. For example, in Germany, the average salary of a Junior dev is €43,614 a year, while in the United Kingdom it’s £25,468 (around $32k a year), in the Netherlands, it is €34,200 a year, while in Australia it is $74,061 a year. Let’s compare these figures with salaries in other popular professions. Even though these numbers may look quite impressive, you should understand that getting your first Junior developer’s job won’t be super easy, and the compensation level may be considerably lower if you are objectively lacking knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • The experience.
Experience is another major thing any Junior developer is and should be, looking to get from a job of this level. A Junior coder has a chance to get real and applicable experience in a whole range of work processes, tasks, and technologies. This experience essentially is one of the main assets of any developer, allowing him/her to evolve and grow in this profession. If you are a beginner looking to get your first Junior job, the kind of experience you will get doing it is probably the main criteria you should look at when making a decision, even ahead of the salary. Make sure the tasks you are getting as a Junior coder are the ones that actually help you learn new things and progress as a professional, in the direction that you need your career to go. Normally, it takes 6 to 10 months of full-time work for a Junior to be able to get promoted to Middle developer. “A grand majority of companies use the “junior” title to underpay you, absolutely nothing else. In reality, you shouldn’t remain a junior developer for more than around 6 months. If you know how to use git and deploy a project, you’re not a junior developer. The junior developer lacks knowledge and will be unsure about what decisions to make and be too easily influenced by the manager. The mid-level developer will be 100% sure what he read about last week is the absolute best choice and we must rewrite everything now,” says Amando Abreu, an experienced developer and coding mentor.


Wrapping it up, the Junior Developer is a programming beginner who has the core knowledge and base coding skills already but lacks practical experience within a developers team and when it comes to general practices and approaches. Note that in today’s world, the requirements even for Junior developers are constantly growing, and likely, it won’t be easy for you to find your first Junior Developer job, as most companies understandably are interested to hire an accomplished coders of Middle or Senior level, with the number of Junior positions normally are lower, while the demand among the beginners can be quite high. If the number of applicants is large, the employer would normally hire the guy (or the girl) with the most experience and the best set of programming skills. By the way, we definitely recommend you to prepare yourself as much as possible for your first Junior programmer job interviews. Check this piece for the best tips and recommendations that would help you to pass the interview and get a job offer. Luckily for you (if you are looking to become a Junior dev), CodeGym’s course is designed just in a way to prepare you for a real Junior coding job as much and as fast as it is possible. The majority of those students who completed the whole course have proved to be able to get a job as a Java Junior Developer in no time, while many end up with a real, and well-paid, job while still in the middle of CodeGym’s course. Just check some of our user’s genuine success stories if you are looking for some first-hand experience and inspiration.