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A career in Java?

 
Ray Marsh
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I have a background in RPG on the IBM AS/400 platform. How can I move to a Java career path and what can I expect?
 
paul wheaton
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The market for Java developers is really hot right now. If you have past programming experience, no paid Java experience and you have just passed the SCJP exam, I think you could get $60,000 a year. Add a year of Java experience and you could get $80,000.
Beyond that depends on your proficiency, your professionalism and your ability to sell yourself. I've seen job postings for three years of Java experience offering $150,000.
Check out the jobs forum here. There are lots of recruiters that will want to talk to you the moment you pass the exam.
 
Frank Carver
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Just out of interest, what is RPG? I doubt that you mean Rocket Propelled Grenade or Role Playing Game. I thought I'd heard of most languages, but this one is new to me.
 
Ray Marsh
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RPG is an old language from the IBM mid-range sytems. It means "Report Program Generator" It is in it's fourth version, RPGIV, now and is used, almost, exclusively on the AS/400 platform. Don't be deceived by the name, it started out as a report generator many years ago. Now it is a fully functional proceedural language.
 
Bryan Welch
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In the midwest where there's lots of insurance and financial industry, we hear a lot lately of these companies starting to transform their infrastructure from cobol and RPG based systems to web-based java systems. At the least, they are starting to add web front ends to mainframe systems to increase efficiency.
A person with experience in cobol & RPG that's also good with java could be quite valuable. People with that combination are rare.
 
Ray Marsh
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I have heard of software for the AS/400 that will allow server side Java applets to call RPG programs. So Java skills, on my home planet er.. platform, can be useful not to mention that they can be used on many other platforms as well.
 
Jamie Cole
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I like living out in the middle of nowhere and am hoping to be able to work on a full telecommuting basis a.s.a.p.. How feasible is telecommuting as a Java programmer in general and in comparison to working in other languages? This is probably a hard question to answer, but I'm thinking that different languages are used for different types of projects with different needs for on-site presence.
 
paul wheaton
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I think that if you are willing to travel, you can do maybe 80% of your work long distance. But I think you have to build a strong rep as a hotshot programmer to pull it off.
Java vs. other languages? I think Java does lend several elements that make long distance stuff easier.
 
Jamie Cole
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Thanks, Paul. That's helpful.
How long do you think it will be until communication technologies and/or employers' attitudes advance to the point where travelling around for meetings, etc. is unnecessary? A friend of mine travels cross-country once or twice a month for meetings on computer-related work he's doing on contract. He says it could all be done by phone and email.
By the way, how can I turn on the email notification for this discussion? I have it on others, but this one isn't offering the option, probably because I forgot to turn it on initially.
 
Steve Butcher
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In a related vein but a little more of a stretch than the original post, is there a career path from Economics to Programming/Development and is Java the shortest route? I would be interested in hearing peoples' opinions and suggestions.
I have a (terminal) Masters in Economics (long story why I didn't finish my PhD) and have done utility programming in BASIC, Pascal, C and even in Java (stuff like micro simulations and other stuff that wouldn't fit in an Excel spreadsheet). I like Java best of all the languages I've worked with or tried to learn and have little difficulty getting it to do what I want, at least. I enjoy programming enough to consider it as a possible option for a career change but I wonder how (at 37) to go about it.
I don't really want to go back to school so I wonder how little I can get away with and appeal to potential employers. Java Certification? What about the CS stuff (binary searchs, quicksort, et cetera)? Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
PS I've finished assignments 1.1-1.8? (although Paul wouldn't like my coding style...I didn't see that part until after I was finished) Are the others available?
 
paul wheaton
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Jamie,
To get e-mail notifications, you have to be the orginal poster and then click on the checkbox when you are writing your message.
Long distance communication: I think it will be a while still. Things are much better now with e-mail, phone, video conferencing, etc. But for a lot of stuff you need to available for more interaction.

Steve,
after the cattle drive, I suggest you look toward certification. I don't know anything about economics, but I do know that in Denver there is huge demand for Java programmers. If you can get certified, I'm sure there is some place in Denver that will hire you as a Java developer.
 
Steve Butcher
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Paul,
Thanks for the input. I have two additional (meta)questions.
1) How do I access the rest of the cattle drive or are what's on the site all there is or is it still on-going? (I see the original posts were from this time last year...I finished assignments 1.1-1.8 yesterday and saw references to assigments 3.x in posts but they don't appear to be on the website). That said then, how does one "join" the cattle drive? Is there one currently in progress or is it self-paced?
2) I use a Mac which only has JDK 1.1.8 currently...is there a big difference between SCJP 1.1 and 1.2 as far as possible employment if you are likely to take the test in the next 3-6 months. (I wonder when Sun will stop offering SCJP 1.1). I saw some discussion of this elsewhere but I'm assuming it is more relevant for those likely to take the test sooner rather than later. If there's not, I can study from a copy of Boone's book which I have and like.
Thanks again.
Steve
sgwbutcher@aol.com
 
paul wheaton
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1) The cattle drive is self paced. Start any time you want. Stuff beyond 1.8 is hidden right now (if you look at the page source, you will see the other assignments in the comments). I wanted to clean it up and add more, but I never got around to it. (any volunteers?) The current plan is to someday make those available again and provide the solutions (rather than have people get the solutions from me when they have completed an assignment).
2) I think you would be wise to study for 1.2 instead of 1.1. You won't be able to test your 1.2 knowledge, but I wouldn't try to advertise not knowing 1.2.
 
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