Hot Hiring Market for .NET Developers
If you're looking for a job, or just like to keep an eye on the market, you may have noticed a surprising number of postings asking for a ".NET Developer."
Perhaps you were mildly curious, and made a note to look it up later, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Yet now you may find yourself asking, "I wonder what a .NET developer is, and how I can become one?"(Just play along).
Well, you've come to the right place! And the good news about becoming a .NET developer is that, depending on the languages you can code in, you may already be well on your way. Bestowed upon us by Microsoft, .NET is a development framework that handles the nitty-gritty of a project, leaving you free to code the important stuff while it grinds away at things like memory management and exception handling.
The framework is largely made up of two parts: a class library imaginatively called Framework Class Library (FCL), and a virtual environment called Common Language Runtime (CLR), which is what your source code would run on.
Framework Class Library actually has language interoperability built right in, meaning that you can use functions from multiple programming languages in the same source code.
So, which languages can you use? To figure that out, we look to the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), a specification created by Microsoft and standardized by ISO and ECMA. Any language that meets the CLI specification will work.
C# is the big one, and if you don't know that but you do know Java then you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. Additionally, you can program in C++, Visual Basic and Visual F#. It also helps a lot to be familiar with Microsoft's Visual Studio, as it shouldn't surprise you to learn Visual Studio is the integrated development environment for .NET.
The languages we've discussed meet the CLI specification so they can be compiled into Common Intermediate Language, which is what the CLR runs. While this allows for greater flexibility, faster deployment and quicker development, it also means that managed applications using .NET tend to be a bit bulkier than unmanaged applications.
As is often the case, it becomes a trade-off between speed and elegance, one that many modern development companies have decided to make.
.NET primarily runs on Windows, but while Microsoft does have one specifically for it's own platform, the framework as a whole was engineered to be platform-agnostic. Like Java, .NET is very portable, and can be immensely helpful when developing cross-platform applications.
Most commonly you'll see .NET being used in service-based companies, though it's certainly common across all fields and especially among smaller companies, who use the lessened coding time to stay competitive with bigger developers.
The essentials for getting started are pretty straightforward: Download the .NET package you want your application to target, select your language or languages for CLI compatibility, and prepare your development environment (Visual Studio recommended).
Additionally, Microsoft offers the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), which would definitely help open up those .NET doors for you. It's a hefty certification, but worth its weight in the field.
Ultimately, flexibility is the bread-and-butter of the developer's profession, and the .NET framework presents less of a challenge than many others. A .NET developer can expect a starting salary right around $60,000 annually, and can find work just about anywhere.