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Conversation With A Java Developer… Should I Learn Ruby On Rails?

During MinneBar a Java Developer tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had a couple of minutes to give her some career advice.

What she asked is a common question right now with Java and .Net Developers:

Should I learn Ruby? (I think she was really asking should she become a Ruby Developer)

A simple question with a not so simple, short answer:

The easy answer is yes. Well, maybe. It depends.

The IT Recruiter in me who works mostly with startups and tech companies wants to say:

Yeah and what are you waiting for.

But it is not that easy.

Do I think that developers should learn new languages?


Do I think the popularity of Ruby far out paces the talent pool?


Is there demand for Ruby in Minnesota?


Should you shelve your Java experience and pick up Ruby and go in that direction?

Yes, no… maybe.

It depends.

Look… there is always going to be the next “cool” language.

Dabble in it, for sure. Get well versed in it, yes.

Certainly there is the trend of employers wanting someone who can do a little bit of everything.

There is a salary issue to this and a much longer conversation for another day… if you have been doing Java for 6 years (senior) and make $”X” and now do Ruby and are an intermediate developer a company may (will) want to pay you less until you are a senior level again.

To answer the demand question that day I did a simple search on Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed and for “Java” and then “Ruby” in Minnesota… there are usually about 10 Java jobs for every 1 Ruby job posted.

NOTE: there are a lot of variables to that like titles, companies vs. recruiters, jobs being posted, etc.

Here is a graph (today) from Indeed:


My advice:

Do what you love

Watch the trends

Stay up to date with technology

Be able to talk to non tech folks

Do those things and your IT career will do well.

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