How much Java do you need to get your foot in the door as a Java specialist? There is no one correct answer. It all depends on the field you’d like to become proficient in. Whereas Java developers should try to soak in as much knowledge as possible, QA engineers or Android developers can do with just the basic topics. Ahead, I’m going to shed light on the essential requirements for different posts, statistics, and some critical factors that may influence the time you’ll need to find your first job.
Let’s start with the basics. Learning Java, just like any other programming language, involves everything from building your learning plan to creating your projects and everything in-between. How long does it take to learn Java? It’s a tricky question, and it all depends on your own pace and ability to absorb information. From my experience, I can assure you that an average student can get their first job in 12–18 months, provided that you start from scratch and devote at least 2–3 hours to learning Java daily.
Upon this time, you’ll be able to write in your CV something like:
- Core Java (Syntax, OOP, Collections, Generics, Streams, Multithreading and Serialization)
- Core Java + major frameworks (Spring, Hibernate) + Git
- Core Java + SQL and Databases
- Core Java + APIs and Libraries
- Core Java + Testing tools and build tools
- Core Java + Android SDK
- Or, ideally, all of the combos above.
As you see, Core Java is the essential thing you should know to get a job since it covers the fundamentals and is a step one for every beginner. Core Java covers not only the basic types, objects, constructions, and principles of the language but also libraries and frameworks, as well as classes for networking, security, database access, and more. From this, we should conclude that Core Java is a must in your portfolio no matter what professional path you’d like to choose.
Well, what’s the next step? To answer this question, you need to define what you are learning Java for. The answers like “I learn Java just for fun” aren’t admitted!
In this article, I’m talking about professional success and professional growth in the IT industry. Nowadays, Java is usually used in one of the following ways:
- Java Developer
- Android Developer
- QA Automation
Depending on what you’d like to become, you’ll need a different set of knowledge to start your career.
Speaking about Java developers (by the way, the most demanded specialists in the field), they ideally need to master the following topics to get their first job:
- Web frameworks
- JavaServer pages and servlets
- Service-oriented architecture/web services
- Markup languages such as XML and JSON
- Object-oriented programming concepts and patterns
- File IO and serialization
- Abstract classes and interfaces
- Collections (lists, maps, sets)
- Access specifiers
- Java virtual machine and memory management
- Multithreading and sync
- Dependency injection
And if you’d like to skyrocket your career and quickly grow from Junior to Senior Java developer, you will definitely need the advanced skills described below:
- Amazon Web Services
- AI and machine learning
- Hadoop/Big Data
- Mobile technologies
- Other programming languages
When it comes to Android developers, things get much easier. Yet, they still should know Java Core and some other essential technologies. For example, XML, SDK, IDE, Apis, as well as get an understanding of how to work with different Databases.
As for QA Automation, you should be fluent in Java, i.e., know Core Java (especially OOP, Collection, FileOperations), be able to work with Testing Libraries (JUnit), and get familiar with IntelliJ IDEA or other IDEs. The other technologies required for QA Automation include:
- Selenium RC/WebDriver framework
- Page Object Model
Basically, the way to Junior QA Automation is shorter than Java Junior Developer, and it’s easy to see why.
Before delving into the learning process, I highly recommend you start with the plan and draw the learning path that will be comfortable for you. By doing so, you’ll stay consistent and keep the passion for programming at a high level. Hence, the risks of feeling down on yourself and canceling your learning will be minimal.
As an experienced tutor, I can say that all successful students have a consistent schedule and the plan they stick to. And if you’re unsure where to start, you can find good examples like this.
Besides the plan, you should also set the schedule and time you’ll be able to devote to learning Java daily (be ready to spend somewhere from 1 to 3 hours). Additionally, it’s vital to distribute this time wisely and stick to the perfect theory/practice balance — the 80/20 principle with 80% focused on practice, and 20% on theory is considered to be the most effective for all Java learners.
I highly recommend you cast aside your fears and get down to writing codes as early as possible. But it’s not necessary to overload yourself with too much theory, especially during the first months of study. Instead, try to learn Java in small portions, and after each topic, nail down your knowledge with practice. It’s something no programmer can do without.
As just mentioned, learning Java involves everything from setting a plan and schedule to reading theory info and writing creative projects. Today, you can find the best tools and resources for mastering your coding skills online rather than offline. Generally, online courses are more affordable and more engaging for Java learners (of any skill level), not to mention they also let you study at your own pace and start practicing when you’re ready for that. Plus, all your codes will be checked within the shortest time possible. A win-win choice on all levels!
However, with tons of different Java portals on the Internet, it’s pretty easy to get lost in them. That’s why I’ve narrowed down your choice to the most effective sites, in my opinion.
You may benefit from such online resources with hands-on tutorials as CodeGym.cc, Codecademy, and FreeCodeCamp. These content-rich websites cover all aspects of the Java programming language and can help you quickly build a practical approach to learning and prepare yourself for coding. For example, CodeGym boasts the aforementioned learning 80/20 principle, with most of its content focused on practice. All of its lessons are well-structured and are made with step-by-step instructions, easily understandable even for complete beginners. In total, the course involves 500+ hours of Java practicing, which should be more than enough to hone your skills and get prepared for your first job interview.
Besides the said resources, you may also like ZetCode, Coderbyte, JetBrains, and GeeksforGeeks portals. Made for programmers by programmers, they include plenty of useful techniques to help you learn Java within the shortest time possible. They also have strong communities where programmers from any corner across the globe can share their own experience and give you the motivation you need. I usually suggest my students try different Java sources to choose the one that suits them better.
How much Java do you need to get your first job? It all depends on the field you’d like to work in and the consistency of your learning. Try to avoid long stops and stick to daily studying. Also, it’s important to find engaging courses with the right balance of theory and practice.
If you follow these simple rules, most likely, you’ll acquire the basic set of skills that will help you find your first job in about 12 months. Of course, afterward, you’ll need to continue your learning path. “Everyone can write a screenplay, but not everyone is Shakespeare,” so don’t fear to adopt new skills to become the best in your field. Remember that there are no limits to perfection, and there will never be too much Java since it’s a technology that constantly adapts to new needs.
First published at LevelUp GitConnected.