The impact of AI on junior application developer skills

Discover the skills every junior app developer should learn now to be successful in the future

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the job market. Professionals in every industry are adapting as AI-powered algorithms become increasingly capable of handling tasks that were once exclusively within the domain of humans. Although workers have long dreaded the possibility of being replaced by AI, the more likely result is that many of their roles and responsibilities will change. Consider a junior application developer.

A recent study conducted by Pearson, in partnership with ServiceNow, provides an extensive analysis of the potential effects of AI and automation on the economies of six countries (U.S., UK, Germany, India, Australia, and Japan) and how technology-based roles are expected to evolve. Despite concern from potentially affected groups, this research shows that junior application developers will remain valuable even as AI continues to evolve. In fact, with the emergence of new technologies, the demand for application developers is predicted to rise, resulting in approximately 95,000 new professionals being added in the U.S. over the next five years.

That said, this expansion of AI presents several challenges. The study suggests that in the coming years, those junior developers who are able to understand and adapt to their new roles will be best prepared to thrive in the AI-driven workforce of the future.

The modern world runs on technology, and technology runs on apps. So, it’s hardly surprising that the demand for junior application developers is currently high. On average, junior application developers in the U.S. earn about $75,000 per year. Additionally, many of these developers eventually make the transition into senior app developers, increasing their earnings significantly.

Junior application developers play a crucial role in developing and maintaining vital software applications. Their responsibilities typically involve designing, coding, testing, and implementing applications that cater to the needs of users across diverse hardware and operating systems. Additionally, junior app developers are responsible for responding to team requests, preparing reports, and conducting tests. Although there is a great deal of overlap between the responsibilities of junior and senior application developers, junior developers usually work on multiple projects with tighter deadlines, whereas senior developers are assigned longer-term projects that require more extensive refinement.

Junior application developers are primarily coders, working with various programming languages to develop software solutions to meet client and user needs. But coding isn’t the only important skill; the core skills necessary to be successful as a junior app developer in today’s workforce include:

  • Proficiency in programming languages (Java, Python, C++, Swift, etc.) 

  • Knowledge of development frameworks (React Native, Angular, NET, etc.)

  • Experience with database management systems (MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL)

  • Familiarity with application architecture (MVC, SOA)

  • Understanding of user interface design (for creating intuitive and user-friendly interfaces to enhance the user experience)

  • Knowledge of version control systems (to manage code changes and collaborate effectively with other developers)

  • Testing and debugging skills (to ensure that applications function as intended)

  • Communication skills (for understanding requirements and requests and collaborating across departments)

Technology is one of the few constants in business. Every modern organization in every market relies on software applications to perform important tasks and better connect with customers, which means that there will always be a place for junior application developers in the workforce. But this doesn’t mean that the job itself is set in stone. Within the next five years, what it means to be a junior application developer will experience a dramatic shift thanks to the proliferation of AI and automation.

This will free up as many as 5.5 additional hours per week, giving application developers more time to focus on more important tasks that cannot be automated.

The four technologies expected to drive this change are:

Process automation: Code programmed to complete predefined logical and rule-based processing tasks

Solution discovery: Agents using reinforcement learning (RL) and sensors to digest and solve unstructured, complex problems 

Predictive analysis: Tools that reactively use ML to conduct narrow analysis and make related predictions

Nearly 26% of junior application developer tasks will either be augmented or fully automated by 2027

Sensory perception: Systems that use ML and sensors to detect and extract meaning from external stimuli

Furthermore, the ServiceNow/Pearson study outlined 10 junior application development tasks that will soon see some degree of change from AI and automation technologies. Among these, the three tasks that will be affected most significantly are:

1. Storing, retrieving, and manipulating data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements

2. Conferring with systems analysts, engineers, programmers, and others to design systems and obtain information on project limitations and capabilities, performance requirements, and interfaces

3. Recommending purchases of equipment to control dust, temperature, and humidity in the area of system installation

With AI playing an increasingly larger role in application development, app developers must adapt their skills to stay relevant in the job market. Leaders must create learning and development initiatives that enable this transition, providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities for their workforce.

Out of the 32 crucial competencies identified in the ServiceNow/Pearson report as imperative for all future positions and roles, the five areas in which junior application developers must be highly proficient by 2027 are:

1. Retaining and improving foundational IT skills

2. Working with statistics and predictive models

3. Understanding how to apply machine learning and AI

4. Developing, maintaining, and improving cyber awareness

5. Programming

The workforce is changing, and AI and related technologies are at the forefront of this change. But while junior application developers will remain crucial to IT functionality, their role is evolving as well.

In the future, a junior application developer will work closely with AI and automation technologies to explore the limits of what they can accomplish, working with intelligent systems, taking a more direct hand in cybersecurity, and developing predictive models while still playing a key role in the programming and foundational skills that define their role today. As this transformation unfolds, IT leaders must identify proficiency gaps, comprehend evolving skill demands, and develop pertinent training and upskilling programs to support application developers.

Find out which skills you and your employees need in your career to prepare for the future.

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