How to Learn Java

Are you interested in learning Java? Interested in getting a Job in the IT industry as a Java programmer? Well, Janeice Del Vecchio, a presenter at TSSJS 2011 in Las Vegas, has some sage advice for anyone interested in getting into the industry.

How to Learn Java & Get a Job in the Industry

Getting Started

So, you want to learn Java become a professional programmer? Well, here's how you do it...

First, you’ll need to get a book or two. Personally, I recommend Head First Java by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. This book is excellent in a ton of ways, but mostly, it’s easy to read, fun to learn and interactive. This book is a must-have for someone starting out. Later on you may want to get thicker, heavier, more serious resource books…. But for now stick with the easy stuff.

You’ll also need to go to the Sun/Oracle site and find the API documentation. So you don’t need to go look up what that means, it’s all the libraries and things you can do with a basic Java development kit install and a bit of know how.

Last, you’ll need to head over to and find the “Beginning Java” forum, and read their documentation on getting Java installed for development and how to get help when (not if) you need it.


• Install an IDE. It’s like trying to learn to drive in a racecar. There’s too many features, plugins, “stuff” for you to get mangled up with at this point. I recommend Notepad++ in Java mode, but any text editor with a bit more complexity than notepad will do. The built in editor in Linux is awesome, too.

• Get upset if you can’t figure it out right away. There are a bunch of tiny steps to getting started and missing a single one can mess things up. Ask for help in the Beginning Java CodeRanch forum. Folks are REALLY nice there.

Next Steps

Become familiarized with the basic APIs of Java, then you might work your way into creating GUI interfaces, database applications, web applets, interactive web applications, you name it. Java is really versatile and you can do most programming tasks.

You may consider getting a certification or two in Java Programming. These are great resume boosters and could serve to get your foot in the door for a few interviews.

You Wanna Get a Job?

Once you get started, you might realize that Java programming is so fun you want to get a job doing it every day. There are lots of entry level positions out there, but tons of competition. You’ll need to set yourself apart. There’s a list of things you might do to get closer to getting a gig:

•         NETWORK – find folks who do what you want to be able to do. Learn from them. Talk to them. Make friends. Lots of times, knowing enough to get a job isn’t enough because hiring managers have folks lined up out the door for entry level jobs. You need references, and best yet a heads up when your new friends know of something coming up.

•         LEARN – Get yourself involved with as much as possible. Learn new frameworks, design techniques, even things like oral and written communication. All these things are important for a Java programmer depending on the job.

•         BE PATIENT – Jobs are out there, but you need to apply, be patient and be available. A job is out there for you, it’s important to be in the right place at the right time. 

•         PREPARE – This can’t be understated. If a hiring manager brings in ten people to interview for a position, it’s hard to set yourself apart. Prepare for interview questions, they will ask you technical questions; prepare a portfolio of your work, because they will want to see (not hear) what you’ve done; and above all else show up dressed and on time. There’s a great book by () calles “Land the Tech Job You Want” – a must read for someone looking to get started.

Once you get the job, ask questions and try to get up to speed on whatever job you get as soon as you can. Go home and read about applications, frameworks, APIs and terminology you don’t understand. When someone is training you, ask questions until you feel more comfortable with the job. Being an avid learner on the job will help you be more valuable to the company you work for as well as help you become a valuable applicant for your next job.


Janeice Del Vecchio, a graduate of Western Governors University's Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program, is an Oracle Certified Java Professional who is well known to the Java community through her participation as a bartender on JavaRanch. She also volunteers her time in the Beginning Java, Cattle Drive and General Computing forums. In collusion with Cameron McKenzie, of Hibernate Made Easy and JSF Made Easy fame, Janeice will be co-presenting at TheServerSide Java Symposium on the subject of "What's New with JPA: 2.0 and Beyond?." 

Sign up for TSSJS 2011 (Caesar's Palace, March 16th to 18th) today!


Dig Deeper on Java Resources

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.