Lucy Hill
Professional writer, researcher in IT

The Effective Path from Junior to Middle Developer

Published in the Random group
They say, "Coding is easy to learn but hard to master." As with many things in this life, Java is a fun and relatively easy programming language to get into. But what may be really difficult is to become an expert in what you do. You may work for your first, second, or third year after completing the course and think you're already a high-skilled programmer. However, you still haven't gotten a promotion and may feel a bit frustrated from time to time. This brief article will shed light on what you can do about that. The Effective Path from Junior to Middle Developer - 1

What's It Like to Work as a Junior Java Developer

After completing the course or graduating the college, the most straightforward path is to start working as a Junior developer at a software company. There, your learning path will continue since you're going to acquire practical Knowledge as mad, and your skills will improve daily. Most likely, you'll do a lot of stand-ups and have meetings about any issues besides just coding. Also, note that Junior developers are often tied to Senior developers and other team members to complete projects. In brief, a Junior Java developer's job duties include:
  • Writing codes (both those that meet industry standards and documenting codes for other developers to understand).
  • Communication with product managers about new, cool features to add to products.
  • Working with designers to create mockups of app interfaces.
  • Debugging codes that contain errors.
  • Troubleshooting in existing applications.
  • Conducting tests to ensure that apps function well.
  • Installation of apps on servers and maintaining them.
  • Analyzing data to determine whether the product is profitable.
As for job requirements, the last decade has dramatically changed education requirements. For example, whereas most Junior Java developers expected to have a bachelor's degree in IT earlier, now many employers began to hire Java developers who have completed a course, bootcamp, or associate degree. Junior Java developers typically don't need certifications to earn their position. However, additional certifications will be a bonus since they will demonstrate your Knowledge of specific programming concepts and advanced technologies necessary to work with. From all this, it's easy to conclude that in order to get your foot as a Junior Java developer, you should not necessarily have an academic degree or certificate but be committed and skillful. Generally, the must-have skills are:
  • A solid understanding of the Java language and its features.
  • Familiarity with frameworks and libraries like Java Enterprise Edition, Hibernate, Spring, and Apache.
  • Knowledge of databases.
  • Analytical thinking.
  • Strong communication skills.
Also, Junior Java specialists must stay up-to-date on development trends to keep their skills relevant. Nowadays, we can highlight that: 1) Companies require more technical talent. The need for specialized skills is being felt across all industries now. Junior Java devs can follow this trend by becoming more proficient in their specific field. 2) Emphasis on agile development. Agile development focuses on creating products that would be quick to market and update if needed. Junior Java developers should be able to work in a team and meet strict deadlines. In addition, you should be familiar with Git and JIRA (tools often used in agile development). 3) More focus on security. As corporations are currently more reliant on technology (especially those who deal with sensitive data), they need extra protection. Hence, the increased demand for security professionals. Junior Java developers can capitalize on this trend by taking courses in information security to protect businesses from cyberattacks in the future. Finally, we have come up with the critical question — how rewarding is the job of a Junior Java Developer is.

Salary and Outlook

Of course, Junior Java developers' salaries vary depending on their level of education, practical experience, and the type of company they work for. But, the median annual wage makes approximately $73,952 per year (about $35.55/hour). Also, you may expect additional compensation in the form of bonuses. If we compare this salary to the revenue of Middle Java developers, the number will be significantly higher — $105,000 per year or $50.48 per hour. Sounds quite tempting, agree? Yet, it's not only about money. You'll get involved in much more exciting and challenging projects as a Middle Java developer. Additionally, middles typically have more freedom when choosing projects to work on.

Who is Middle Java Developers, and What Are Their Responsibilities/Duties?

A Mid-level Java developer is a programmer who has already spent about 2-5 years in IT and has experience in this field. During this time, an uncertain "green" coder will likely have grown into a fully-functional programmer who can write their code and come up with solutions without turning to seniors for supervision and help. Mid-level developers typically are the specialists who do the central part of programming work on the projects (i.e., write the main part of the code base). In more detail, the most common responsibilities of a Middle Java Developer are:
  • Writing and maintaining the code.
  • Analyzing and implementing the best coding practices into the project code.
  • Analyzing the requirements of the project and adapting the code to them.
  • Revision of those areas in current projects that need improvement.
  • Executing tests.
  • Implementing quality assurance procedures.
  • Analyzing the needs of designers, QA testers, and other specialists involved in the projects.
  • Cooperation with other developers.
  • Documenting every part of the development process.
Of course, the requirements may vary from company to company, but the most typical are:
  • At least 2-3 years of experience as a Java developer.
  • At least several different software projects.
  • Ability to write high-efficient and easily-testable code.
  • Ability to conduct software analysis, testing, and debugging.
  • Ability to design, program, implement and maintain Java apps without supervision.
  • Ability to program high-volume and low-latency systems for extensive scaling.
  • Solid Knowledge of the frameworks like Maven, Gradle, Spring, Hibernate, Spring Boot).
  • Solid Knowledge of tools for unit testing like JUnit, Mockito, etc.
  • Readiness to be involved in all phases of the project lifecycle.
  • Desire to come up with alternative approaches.
  • Good soft skills and ability to communicate with both technical and non-technical customers.
So, how to grow from junior to middle? If you don't want to wait for too long and are eager to do your best to boost your career within the shortest time, the following advice and tips may be beneficial.

Perform Your Code Reviews to Improve It

The most common mistake of Junior developers is that they produce the code that "works." However, if you'd like to up the ante (in all senses of this world), you should try to create well-written, readable code that would be easy to understand. Don't spare time and break down big problems into small, manageable pieces of code. Then, after a week or two of solving those issues, go back and review the code. Can you now explain what's going on in each line of code? Do you know how to create a more readable code at this time? Sam Williams, the founder of Complete Coding, acknowledges that "Developers who don't find ways to improve their coding skills can be stuck at a junior level for a very long time."

Don't Neglect Pair Programming

If you offer to perform pair programming, great! Don't view it as an opportunity to doubt your skills compared to others but as a valuable technique for sharing/getting Knowledge. The ability to learn from someone more skilled can give you an intellectual and emotional boost. Moreover, if you're working remotely and having online pair programming sessions, they can compensate for casual office conversations and learning moments that usually take place in natural team environments. In other words, you'll feel more "connected."

Share Your Knowledge with Others

Thawar mentioned, "When one person teaches, two people learn." And we completely agree with this saying. The best way to check whether you understand some topic or can solve tricky problems is to try to explain them to others. For example, you can create your own YouTube channel or TikTok profile and share short tutorial videos there. As a bonus, you'll also benefit from the feedback provided by your viewers.

Join Open Source Projects

Another way to enhance your Knowledge and boost your experience is to join open source projects. In addition to receiving code review comments, you'll also learn how decisions are made and access the project's documentation. You can review some of the best ones for different levels here.

Understand What's Behind Your Task

Coding proficiency is just half the battle won. The ability to evaluate a task and suggest potential solutions distinguishes middles from juniors. They don't just do what the customers say but try to understand the connection between their functions and what the user hopes to get. Understanding how specific tasks get you closer to a more critical goal can develop "big-picture thinking." Be flexible, be creative, and always try to broaden the horizon.

Get a Certificate

Lastly, as a strong ace up your sleeve, you may want to get a certificate that will help you increase your credibility as a developer, demonstrate in-demand skills, display your willingness to learn, and increase your work efficiency. As a result, you'll improve your overall job performance and earn better promotions. Among the most popular certifications, we can highlight: Microsoft (MTA) certification that aims at entry-level web developers. You can choose Windows development, software development, mobile, gaming, and many more depending on your and/or your company's needs. Microsoft Azure certifications are among the most recognizable ones in the IT industry. They focus on cloud services and cover all phases of creating and managing web applications. As a result, it's an optimal choice for fresh developers with basic Microsoft technology knowledge. Amazon Web Services (AWS) certificate is an excellent choice for developers who design, write, and run apps on the AWS platform. Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop (CCDH) is a valuable certification if you're working in enterprises crunching big data sets. Once you achieve this certification, you can create, maintain, and optimize Apache Hadoop development projects. Oracle is a stellar option for Java specialists as it offers numerous Java certifications at the Associate, Professional, Master, and Expert levels. Red Hat is a respectable provider of open-source software solutions. And being the Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer means you can build Java Certification Enterprise Edition (JEE) apps on JEE-compliant platforms. Salesforce is intended mainly for enterprise cloud computing and applications. After getting this certification, you'll identify as a developer who can design and build custom apps using the Force.com platform. The Effective Path from Junior to Middle Developer - 2

Conclusion

Summing it all up, a developer certification will give you an edge and help you become a more skilled employee. And if you back it with commitment and desire to learn and improve your code, you will most likely grow to a Mid-level Java developer sooner than in 3-5 years. Of course, each step will be small, but these small steps turn into miles in a lifetime. Remember that the employment of Java developers expects to grow much faster over the next decade. Because of the high demand for these specialists. So, contribute yourself and your Knowledge to be successful in a few years!
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