Hot Java!

What you need to know to land a job and keep your skills fresh in the Java development field.

Name: HERB BERGER

Title: Advanced technology group manager

Employer: Limited Technology Services Inc., the IT arm of retailer The Limited Inc. in Columbus, Ohio

Current IT staff: About 750

Now seeking: The Limited has openings for about a half-dozen Java programmer/analysts and senior programmer/analysts. "Java has become much more mainstream [in] the past two years," Berger says. "It's almost easier to find Java people than C++ people now."

Reason: In the past two years, The Limited has consolidated operations and created Limited Technology Services. "We had to identify core technologies so we could get more reuse, and Java and J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] certainly qualify," Berger says. The centralized IT organization has a 40-member internal Java user group that makes decisions about how and when to publish objects for reuse, for example.

The Limited has two hot Java projects right now. First, the company is changing e-commerce platforms for its Victoria's Secret Web site, one of the world's busiest e-commerce sites. The site was built using IBM's Net.Commerce platform; The Limited recently evaluated a revamped version of Net.Commerce, as well as BEA Systems Inc.'s suite. (San Jose-based BEA got the nod.) The changeover is keeping many staffers busy.

In addition, the retailer has launched a project known internally as the Integrated Brand Delivery Initiative. This ambitious program, which uses Java underpinnings, combines an upgrade of in-store register systems with new performance and scheduling tools.

- Ulfelder is a freelance writer in Southboro, Mass. Contact him at sulfelder@yahoo.com.

Skills

• Get "deep development" Java skills. Employers prize experience with Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), servlets and business-logic modules. But remember, not all hiring managers consider EJB and J2EE experience a prerequisite.

• Make your resume stand out with some knowledge of Unified Modeling Language, the standard notation in object-oriented design methodology.

• Learn Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL), which are key Web services underpinnings, to be well positioned for the expected surge of Web services. Another technology to know is XML Schema, or XSD, which is at the core of SOAP, WSDL and Uniform Description, Discovery and Integration.

• Bonus tip: Add server-side Java skills and business experience to deep development skills.

Training

• IT professionals have myriad Java training options, from tutorials to "code camps" to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java University. Certification and education companies such as Learning Tree International Inc. in Los Angeles offer a wide variety of Java programs, as do universities with strong IT programs.

• There are hundreds of Java certification options. Recruiters say Sun's offerings carry the most weight, but any certification may help; only about 25% of Java developers are certified.

• Bonus pay? Before you spend $300 to $3,000 for training, be advised that some training experts say certifications can help boost your salary 35% or more, but other recruiters say Java certifications mean little to them.

Salaries

• A few current full-time job postings include Java developer with experience in J2EE, servlets and EJB, $65,000 salary, Nashville; and Java Swing developer to work with database specialists at a large financial institution, $80,000 to $85,000 salary, Chicago.

• Hot markets: New York, with its concentration of financial services firms, is a hot spot for Java developers. Another market to watch is Boston, a biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals hub.

SOURCES: Jim Robinson, vice president of New England Operations at New York-based recruiting firm Pencom Systems Inc.; Glenn Snyder, vice president of engineering at Natick, Mass.-based Edocs Inc.; David Truog, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.

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