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How to Become a Junior Developer and What It’s Like to Be

selawsky profile image John Selawsky ・7 min read

In software development and many other tech industries, there is a logical gradation of specialists based on their level of expertise: Junior, Middle, and Senior. This gradation gives a better understanding of qualification and allows determining the responsibilities and salary level.

In this post, I will get wind of the entry-level specialist, find out how to become a Junior programmer, what companies expect from an employee, and what salary they are willing to pay for this position. So, stay tuned.

Who is a Junior Developer?

As a rule, a Junior developer is a specialist who’s just graduated, has little to no work experience, so still has a lot to learn, gain expertise, and go through the entire product development cycle. Juniors don’t usually write straightforward code — fancy one-liners and abstractions are still more often associated with the entry-level specialist. While in a Junior position, specialists continue to engage in various mundane tasks to gain as much hands-on experience as possible.

Despite the overall simplicity of Junior-level tasks and responsibilities, companies sometimes set up high standards for entry-level candidates, as if they were mid-level or senior developers. The only thing that explains this is that the perception of a position often varies depending on the company, market, industry, and business goals.

Applying for a Junior Developer: Responsibilities

I’ve already briefly mentioned some Junior developer’s duties, but let’s look at the most common ones in more detail.

  • Writing code and making it easy to maintain.
  • Making enhancements to code.
  • Analyzing project tech requirements.
  • Correcting bugs and errors in code.
  • Participating in the testing process, documenting progress, etc.
  • Working with a group of people assigned to a specific project, visiting meetings.
  • Drawing up reports, manuals, and other types of docs.
  • Explore the project’s structure, as well as a codebase.
  • Collecting users’ feedback about the product.
  • Covering the code of fellow programmers with unit tests.

These are more or less standard responsibilities of a Junior specialist that you are most likely to perform.

Requirements to Meet to Become a Junior Developer

Before applying for a job position, we all as one go get familiar with the requirements the employer has for candidates to understand if we meet them and can get a job. I do not know the industry, where things are different. In programming, there is a list of requirements for specialists at all levels and Junior developers as well. They may different from company to company, but an average pool of knowledge for a novice Java coder may be as follows.

  • In-depth knowledge of Java, including syntax, collections, and multithreading. A firm grasp of IDEs, version-control systems, and services, like GitHub or GitLab is also required.
  • An understanding of web project frameworks, enterprise frameworks, and unit testing tools are desirable.
  • The basic knowledge of other programming languages, such as JavaScript and C++. HTML/CSS is also appreciated.
  • Basic-level hands-on experience in programming.
  • Proficiency in SQL and a solid understanding of databases.
  • Advanced knowledge of at least one OS.
  • The fundamentals of Computer Science.
  • A potential to quickly master brand new software platforms and technologies.
  • The importance of being a team player and following the instructions.

It will take you up to a year to learn everything you need to apply for your first job as a Junior Java programmer. Self-learning is really difficult, but a mentor represented by the experienced developer, good offline or online courses (some of which are mentioned below) can help you speed up. Once you have the necessary knowledge, you can apply for a job and continue to study and gain practical experience, but already working for one of the technology companies.

Why is the Junior Developer Position Cool?

As we’ve already considered the common requirements and responsibilities of a Junior Java developer, it’s high time to find out what entry-level specialists should expect from working in this position.

Financial Compensation

Have you ever thought about the main criteria for professional identity? Somehow, it’s mostly feedback and financial compensation. I am not saying money is the only reason to choose web development as a profession, but you won’t deny that a high salary is a good motivator and driving force for further self-development.

Let’s see what you can make working in the position of a Junior Java Dev.

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Salary is certainly one of the advantages of working as a programmer as even the inexperienced coder can be fairly well compensated compared to the specialists in other industries.

According to Glassdoor online job boards, a Junior developer in the US can earn $ 63,502 a year. While the average salary for the same position in the compensation software PayScale reaches $ 53,803 a year.

The average wages in other developed countries vary. For example, German entry-level specialists can make $48,466 a year, while English and Dutch Junior developers earn an average of $31k and $37k a year correspondingly. The world’s highest Junior developer salary is recorded in Australia and is $70,446 a year.

Practical Experience

Experience is another thing that makes it possible for Junior devs to get a job at this level of qualification. While getting familiar with a range of working processes and technologies and completing tasks, a Junior programmer can get the applicable experience. The latter is important to any developer as it allows evolving and growing in their profession.

So, when applying for a Junior coder position, take notice of what kind of experience you’ll get while working in this company. Consider this criterion ahead of the wage. Confirm that performing the tasks in this position will lead to your professional progress and help to improve your career prospects.

Online Courses to Become a Junior Java Developer

Learning Java online has never been that simple. Today, the web is full of courses created to make the learning process as easy as possible. Most are interactive and designed using the latest teaching methods, like gamification, storytelling, visualization to keep you engaged. Next, you will find a list of learning platforms aimed at helping you acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become a Junior Java developer. Go check them.

CodeGym

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CodeGym is known for its hands-on approach to learning Java. The platform hosts over 1200 tasks of increasing complexity to let you code as many as needed to become an experienced programmer. After completing the task, you can get it validated instantly and receive feedback from a virtual mentor to understand what you need to improve in case of mistakes. The course also contains a Game section that helps you edge your coding skills by creating your own versions of popular classic video games.

Codewars

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Codewars is another gamified platform that allows training your skills by completing challenges called kata. This is the course that allows you to compete with your fellow programmers, discuss the competition outcomes with them, earn ranks and honor, and even create your own kata to challenge others. Codewars with its interactive classes makes it easier to master any of 30 programming languages.

Cyber-Dojo

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Cyber-Dojo encourages students to improve their skills rather than reaching the final level of the game as soon as possible. The platform allows users to complete the challenge on their own or join the group session. Every single task is well-described and comes with examples of how the solution might look. The students can also test their challenges during the session — they will pass the test only when the traffic light turns green.

CodeChef

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CodeChef is a popular platform among students who like to learn programming by participating in coding contests. Fortunately, the platform hosts contests and challenges three times a month. So, the users can not only edge their skills but also win trophies at the end of the competition. Apart from that, the students can join training sessions and discussions that cover binary search, algorithms, and other useful topics.

The Complete Java Masterclass

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If you want to master Java from A to Z, this masterclass is right for you. You will learn the language right from its fundamentals to more advanced concepts, such as Multithreading, Variables, OOPs, Generics, etc. The course also has practice examples that will let you test what you’ve learned.

Java Programming for Complete Beginners in 250 Steps

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This Udemy course devoted to learning Java is created using a step-by-step teaching technique to make the learning process easier. After passing the theory part, you will be forced to hone the knowledge solving hands-on exercises and writing high-quality Java code. Like other courses on the list, this one will brush up your coding skills so that you can apply for the position of Java programmer.

Java Certification by Duke University

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This course supported by Duke University is designed for beginners to teach them core programming concepts and equip them with the knowledge needed to solve coding problems. You will end up the course with a decent portfolio of work and certification that will help you at your future interview.

Closing Word

How to become a Junior programmer? Start learning to code at your earliest convenience. The point is that you don’t need years of training before you can apply for a Junior position — months of training, acquired basic knowledge and coding skills are pretty enough to get your first job. The next step is to gain more hands-on experience, which is possible when you are already working. So, don’t put it off and start learning Java today.

First published on Dev Genius.

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