Top 5 Ways to Upskill as a Java Software Developer in 2021

Top 5 Ways to Upskill as a Java Software Developer in 2021

As a Java developer, you are on a lucrative and evolving career track. You have an impressive resume and perhaps your sights set on a new opportunity. However, what might be standing in your way of taking your next career leap is your technical skill advancement beyond your foundational developer skills. In today's rapidly shifting technology climate, hiring managers are looking for software developers with skills that were likely not included as part of your original training program.

In comes "Upskilling": the new professional buzzword heard everywhere. Upskilling is your ticket to taking your career to the next level, but knowing where to focus your efforts and skill development is key to reaching your goals.

Apply to a Java role you can upskill in here

According to the Academy to Innovate HR, "upskilling is the process of acquiring new and relevant competencies needed today and in the near future. Common examples of upskilling efforts include digital skills, analytics skills, and organizational transformation skills."

At Motion Recruitment, we talk to hiring managers across North America every day about what they are looking for in an ideal Java candidate. With the tech unemployment rate down to 2.4% and companies preparing to extensively expand their technology teams to meet hefty 2021 growth goals, this is the year for a comeback. Companies must innovate and evolve in all forms to meet recovery goals, including empowering their employees to master new skills. 

New call-to-action
 
Java celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020 and is still the #1 programing language with over 12 million developers using it today. Below is the median Java Developer salary in North America, highlighting a 22% jump in growth since 2019.
New call-to-action

In this blog we'll cover the following 5 skills to take your career to the next level:

Skill 1: Be Able to Run CI/CD Pipelines with Cloud Native Tools

Skill 2: Gain Exposure to Messaging Services like Kafka for Data Streaming

Skill 3: Know the Principals of Complex Distributed Systems

Skill 4: Be Able to Leverage Java for Containerization and Security

Skill 5: Be a Curious Engineer 

According to our 2021 Tech Salary Guide, upskilling in these 5 areas can launch you into a more senior talent pool that can drastically increase your annual earnings. Based on the latest IT salary data, the average salary for a low-mid-level Java Developer in North America is $92,332. Upskilling can make that salary jump by up to $30,000
 
*Data collected to identify salary averages include a number of factors such as geographical location, years of experience, industry and cost of living.
 
New call-to-action
 
 

Skill 1: Be Able to Run CI/CD Pipelines with Cloud Native Tools

If there is one skill you are looking to master in 2021, it should the ability to implement the continuous integration and continuous deployment of pipelines in the cloud. For companies, this saves them both time and money; making it an extremely desirable skill if mastered. 
 
Understanding AWS, including leveraging various AWS service plug-ins and deploying and building within an AWS environment is a great place to start. While AWS might not have been the first cloud platform, it has dominated the industry since its 2006 launch. In just 15 years, AWS has taken over the market capturing 33.8 percent of the global market share while its closest competitors like Microsoft accounts for 18 percent and Google, Alibaba and Tencent together account for 17% of the market, according to Synergy Research Group
 
451 Research suggested in 2018, about 90% of organizations would be on the cloud soon. Due to the recent pandemic, this migration to the cloud has accelerated, forcing companies to rapidly digitize their systems in order to support a remote workforce and keep up with their competitors. More so than ever before, companies seek developers with demonstrated experience in more agile deployment processes.
 
Kickstart the advancement of your AWS skills with these resources: How to Become an AWS Expert, Which AWS Certification Should I Take?
 

Skill 2: Gain Exposure to Messaging Services like Kafka for Data Streaming

Long gone are the days of software development acting as an entirely separate function from data science and engineering. In the world we live in today, data, and how it is used, is the bread and butter of an organization. As technologists know, data holds the patterns that when extracted, tell stories and help companies make the most optimized business decisions. A data-informed java developer is extremely appealing to a business, particularly one who is able to identify how data is stored, streamed and transferred.
 
According to the most senior technical recruiting experts, it is incredibly valuable for Java developers to have exposure to messaging services like Kafka and Rabbitmq, to name a few. Many enterprise-scale applications use these services to "reduce load and delivery times taken by servers", which makes their development processes more efficient and saves time and resources. These messaging services are the "broker" between what information is being gathered and where that information is stored.
 
Kafka is named after the author Franz Kafka because it is a "system optimized for writing". This skill is still relatively rare - seen more often used by data scientists and data engineers. But in this evolving new world we are living in, java engineers become more marketable and appear more well rounded with familiarity with these messaging tools.
 
 
New call-to-action
 

Skill 3: Know the Principals of Complex Distributed Systems

Now that you are familiar with developer skills related to CI/CD pipelines and data, you can begin to think about how all of those skills converge into complex distributed systems. Today, the entire interworking of technical structures and processes is referred to as the software system, encompassing infrastructure, architecture, code, UI, integration, data and more, all working together.
 
Visualize it as one big box. A complex distributed system is usually for very large-scale systems processing an incredibly large amount of data, and usually includes more than one of these boxes. The UI is on top of this system, and computing power is happening behind the scenes, but it is all in the name of one big product.
 
One of the most advantageous things you can do as a entry or mid-level java developer is look for roles that have this type of complex environment and gain the practical experience within it. You will find this environment if you work on an enterprise-scale product or for a company developing products for enterprise-level organizations requiring complex systems. Secondly, now that you know what roles you want to go after, research the principals of distributed systems. Look back to when you got your first computer science job and apply the same types of concepts but specifically for distributed systems. Prepare yourself in an interview to speak to these principals.
 
Where should you begin learning more about Complex Distributed Systems? Check out "Building Scalable Distributed Systems" or this explanation of a Distributed Systems Engineer.
 

Skill 4: Be Able to Leverage Java for Containerization and Security

The focus on containerization and security within the technology space is here to stay. You must be familiar with Docker or Kubernetes or a similar tool along with skills like private key encryptions, message digests, digital signature encryption and digital certificates to upskill in this arena.
 
Docker, for example, is the most widely used form of containerization for applications. Java applications within a container like Docker allows you to build and deploy what is called container images. It is extremely useful to leverage container images as a way to run the same platform across all environments. Plus, when a new platform is released, these containers allow for easier experimentation.
Upskilling Blog-12
 
Java is also important for security practitioners because it is the most commonly used programming language. A variety of industry sources estimate that over "95 percent of enterprise desktops run Java, and of all computers in the U.S., 88 percent run on Java." Companies are investing billions to modernize their cybersecurity efforts across all industries and segments. They are looking to their technologists with experience implementing security measures into all projects and new developments.
 
A Java developer looking to upskill in the security arena should gain experiencing leveraging their programming skills to identify potential security risks and understand how a successful security attack happened in the first place. It is highly appealing to hiring managers for a Java developer to also be proficient in other programming languages so they can be relied on during these security checks and penetration testing. Check out this "Guide to Coding for Cybersecurity".
  
Begin elevating your containerization skills by taking this step by step course on building a Java container with Docker.
 
Skill 5: Be a Curious Engineer
 
This might not be the hard technical skill you're looking for, but it is important to include when considering what hiring managers really desire in a Java candidate. 
 
Hiring managers are frequently asking candidates to articulate and explain why they used certain tools for recent projects listed on their resume. Additionally, they want to know strategically why the decision was made forgo the use of a another tool or system in the process.
 
Do your best to develop the skills to understand and explain not just how to do the engineering, but why you're architecting it a certain way and ultimately how it could effect the business. If you can make things more efficient and help the business's bottom line, it can be very beneficial for your entry and growth at a company. You should be able to explain your rationale for every project listed on your resume.
 

Time to Upskill

Now that you're on the Java developer track, double down and start thinking about your goal and where you want to be. Do you want to architecture and design? Or, do you prefer to code all day? Do you want to get into management? If so, you have to be able to recite your strategies and be paying attention to trends and how things are evolving.
 
Skill 5 is to be a curious engineer. Meaning, you should develop your 5-10 year plan, and make sure it includes the projection of new trends and needs within the technology space so you can stay ahead.
 
 
Developing new skills as a software developer may seem daunting at times, however, the technology industry will continue to evolve so it is essential to stay up to date on the latest trends. Select one skill to focus on, and learn how to master it in 2021. This might just be the year you land your dream job with the company you've always wanted to work for.
 
Want to talk to an IT recruiting professional and get expert career advice, talk to an industry leader today or submit your resume!
Apply to a Java role you can upskill in here
 
 
 
 
 

Back to Top Artboard 1