Java has managed to hold a prime spot in developers’ minds for 25+ years, and it’s easy to see why. For starters, Java benefits from a “write once, run anywhere” (WORA) design, which means it can run on any device with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). That’s helped it spread pretty much everywhere, from smartphones to server farms.
If you’re relatively new to tech—or even if you’re an experienced technologist who’s never really used Java, and you’re curious about it—you’re probably wondering how much a Java developer can make, especially given its continuing popularity. Let’s see!
What is a Java developer’s average salary?
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job postings from across the country, the median Java developer salary is $102,000, which is quite high for technology positions (in 2019, the average annual pay in the technology industry hit $94,000, according to the Dice Salary Report). Of course, that salary can vary wildly depending on experience, skills, and other factors. For example, those in the 90th percentile (and who presumably have been in the tech industry for quite some time and/or have highly specialized skill-sets) can pull down roughly $129,000 per year—and that’s before you consider other compensation and perks, such as stock options.
What is a Java developer’s starting salary?
As with anything else salary-related, Java developers’ salaries can range considerably, especially when it comes to experience. As you can see from the chart below, those developers with 0 to two years of experience earn a median salary of $88,000. With a decade (or more) of experience, salaries can climb to $127,000, if not higher:
What roles require Java development skills?
Java is one of the backbones of the tech industry, utilized in everything from mobile apps to web development. As such, it pops up quite frequently in job postings, especially for roles such as software developer/engineer, web developer, and software QA engineer/tester. If you want to work with Android apps in any capacity, for example, knowing Java is an absolute must.
Java is also becoming more prevalent in highly specialized industries such as finance, where it’s used for building trading algorithms (although some financial experts recommend learning some other languages first). If you plan on using Java in your career, it’s important to keep an eye on Kotlin, which Google has positioned as a “first class” language for Android development (and which offers some improvements on Java, besides).
Are Java developers in demand?
In short, yes. Java is one of the most popular programming languages on the planet (according to the TIOBE Index, RedMonk, and other programming-language rankings), which means that, even if everyone stopped building new software with Java tomorrow, there would still be a mountain of legacy code to maintain. That means job security.
If you’re pursuing a job as a Java developer, also keep in mind that many companies prize certifications. While certifications aren’t necessarily a requirement for a job, they can help you stand out in a crowded field of applicants (especially since many recruiters and hiring managers tend to take notice when they see a certification listed in one’s application materials). Oracle (which purchased Sun Microsystems, which created the language in-house) offers Java certification pathways for both its Enterprise and Standard Editions. A hub on Oracle’s website breaks down everything from prerequisites to testing costs. Certifications that Oracle groups under Java SE include:
- Oracle Certified Professional: Java SE 11 Developer
- Oracle Certified Professional: Java SE 11 Developer (Upgrade from OCP Java 6, 7, and 8)
- Java Foundations Certified Junior Associate
- Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer
- Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 8 Programmer
Then there are the Java EE and Web Service certifications:
- Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 7 Application Developer
- Upgrade to Java EE 6 Oracle Certified Master
Again, you don’t need a certification to land most jobs, but especially if you’re aiming for a developer job within an enterprise, they often can’t hurt.
Is Java development a dying career?
According to an estimate by Burning Glass, Java-related jobs will decline 6 percent over the next decade. While it’s difficult to determine the logic behind that analysis, it’s very possible that Kotlin and other languages could take at least some of Java’s market-share. That being said, though, Java isn’t fading away anytime soon, and it’s a solid language to add to your toolkit today.