Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, Fitbit Coach, and Personal Digital Assistant – these are just a few among the millions of apps people use every day. Even business enterprises utilize apps such as Enterprise Digital Assistant, QuickBooks, Slack, and Zoom to optimize the working process.
Indeed, apps are now an integral part of our lives. Unsurprisingly, app developer jobs will continue to be in high demand in the future.
Now, the question is – do you have what it takes to succeed in this field?
Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you figure out how to become an app developer.
In A Nutshell
Application developers create, test, and program applications for electronic devices including mobile phones and tablets. Their primary goal is to provide consumers and enterprises with functional and relevant apps that can be used for day-to-day life and business operations.
Creating new applications based on client’s specifications and requirements.
Testing mobile applications and software applications for bugs, errors, and functionality.
Troubleshooting issues related to app performance.
Modifying existing apps to optimize performance and efficiency.
Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or any related field.
Knowledge of basic programming languages.
Knowledge of software design and programming principles.
Knowledge of software and mobile operating systems.
App Developer Salary:
Median salary: $103,620 (US BLS, May 2018)
Mean salary: $108,080 (US BLS, May 2018)
App development is a growing industry. The demand for professionals is projected to increase in the next decade. Those who have a great passion for coding can find fulfilling and flourishing careers as app developers.
Before searching the net for “entry-level app developer jobs near me”, we suggest taking a look at what you need to kick-off:
Like most beginners, you’re probably wondering “What degree do you need to be a mobile application developer?”
Well, most developers have degrees in computer science, software engineering, or other similar fields of study. But there are also some undergrads who succeed in this field through hands-on courses and specialized lessons.
As a student, take classes related to building software and establish a strong foundation in computer programming. Gain practical experience in app development through internships in software development companies. Then, build your portfolio.
You’ll need to understand programming languages. It’s basically non-negotiable.
There are different mobile platforms used today, and each one has its own core language and app development software. Depending on what type of app developer you intend to be, you can learn a couple or more of these languages:
Java – the most widely used mobile app coding language
Python – ideal for beginners due to its natural and basic syntax
PHP and HTML5 – developed for building websites but can be used to general-purpose development including mobile apps
C, C++, and C# – for developing cross-platform apps
Objective-C – for iOS developer jobs and mobile apps
Swift – for iOS mobile apps
Ruby – an easy programming language for those learning app development
Kotlin – an easily understandable programming language that focuses on mobile development
Is it hard to develop an app?
It’s not exactly a walk in the park even with substantial theoretical knowledge. To further develop your skills, you can take application developer training programs. There are hundreds of computer programming schools and universities that offer such training both online and in-class. You can check schools in your local area for program offerings and take classes that are related to software development. You can also check out online learning sites such as:
Most employers appreciate your actual experience and portfolio more than your educational background and certifications. However, like in web developer jobs, earning certifications would still give you an edge in the industry. These enable you master knowledge and skills and validate your expertise in app development.
Here are some certifications you should consider taking:
Some of these certifications are updated regularly to meet the evolving technological landscape. Throughout your career in app development, you must strive to keep up-to-date with innovations, new tools, and computer languages.
Once you’ve gained these essential skills and basic knowledge, you can start searching for “mobile app developer jobs near me”.
Top Mobile App Development Companies
When looking for companies to work for, consider these:
Disclaimer: This is a general job description for this position. Every employer will have different criteria for hiring.
Application developer jobs are available in various private and public sectors including finance, education, healthcare, and social services. These jobs are highly technical in nature and require collaborative work with other IT professionals.
Basically, app developers come up with ideas and concepts for applications that can be used by the general public or by specific clients. They then write codes to build these applications and test their functionalities on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Types of App Developers
There are several types of app developers. Some are required to learn platform-specific programming languages and software development.
Mobile App Developers create applications for smartphones and other mobile devices running on various platforms. They are knowledgeable in multiple mobile programming languages such as Java, Python, C+, Objective-C, and Swift. And like those in app designer jobs, they have specialized training in design for small electronic devices. They’re also capable of using different integrated development environments including XCode, Eclipse, and Microsoft Visual Studio.
Android Developers are skilled in using the Android OS installed in smartphones and tablets manufactured by Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Nexus, and other brands.
iOS Developers have expertise in building apps used in Apple devices. They use Swift or Objective-C to code programs on XCode and develop iOS SDK. Because of the specialized knowledge required, the iOS app developer salary is higher than other app developers.
Backend Developers handle the server side of mobile apps. They are proficient in utilizing mobile backend as a service. SQL developer jobs, in particular, require them to link mobile apps to databases and to have knowledge in SQL.
Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of app developers depend on the industry they are in and their specific positions in the company. However, there are some responsibilities that are common for all app developers.
Designing computer and mobile applications for general consumers.
Creating custom apps for specific clients or unique business processes.
Creating complex databases for organizations.
Creating programs for Internet or Intranet use.
Mobile app testing and debugging.
Monitoring applications to ensure that they are working well
Documenting changes in app performance.
Implementing application programming interfaces for better mobile functionality.
Migrating and adapting web applications to mobile platforms.
Optimizing deployment of business apps within the company.
Recommending modifications and enhancement to existing mobile apps.
As an app developer for a business enterprise, you can expect to perform the following tasks:
Answering support tickets that came in after work ended the previous day.
Coordinating daily tasks with team members, co-workers, and clients.
Mobile testing and checking for bugs, flaws, or issues that affect functionalities.
Going over user feedback and documenting app performance.
Modifying existing apps to enhance their efficiency.
Designing and coding new apps to optimize client’s work processes.
Contacting clients for monitoring and giving updates on current projects.
The specific tasks you’d be doing each day depend on the industry you are in. Moreover, you should expect more specialized tasks and management responsibilities as you advance to higher positions.
Key areas of expertise
Who is the best app developer? Well, the most successful app developers have a good grasp of multiple programming languages and are proficient in cross-platform app development and mobile computing. They have experience in agile methodologies and have excellent UI/UX skills. They are also very familiar with cybersecurity guidelines.
Mobile app developer jobs salary
The salary for app developers varies depending on your experience, the state where the company is based, and the industry it’s in.
According to 32,206 salaries in Glassdoor, the average annual wage for this job is $70,163. Entry-level mobile app developer salary is around $52,000, while senior app developers get $82,000. Those on junior-level positions can expect to get salaries of around $60,000.
In the May 2018 employment summary of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the five top-paying states for this job were:
Washington – $131,790
California – $127,950
New York – $116,830
Virginia – $113,690
District of Columbia – $112,510
The same report lists the following as the top-paying industries for software application development:
Independent artists, writers, and performers – $271,150
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing – $130,460
Cable and other subscription programming – $125,510
Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities – $125,050
You can expect the mobile app developer salary 2020 offers to be a bit higher than these estimates in the previous years.
Suitability for freelance
Can I make money making apps?
Yes, you can.
But the amount you make will depend on many factors. While high-paying jobs are usually found in large companies, it’s possible to earn just as much when you work as a freelance app developer. However, you need to prove your expertise and build your reputation first. This can take several years of experience or a really awesome app.
For beginners, there are tons of opportunities for freelance work. You can find projects to work on in freelancing sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. Although some may offer a low app developer salary per hour, you gain practical experience and enlarge your network.
Management position possibility
App development jobs open plenty of career paths for you. You can choose to be a mobile app developer, Android developer, or iOS developer. You can also shift to front-end, back-end, or full-stack development.
In terms of job growth, you can work your way up the ladder from entry-level roles to senior positions by developing project leadership and technical expertise. Once you have a rich portfolio of successful apps and development projects, you may vie for management positions such as IT Project Manager and Computer and Information Systems Manager.
Mobile app developer salary for 2019 varied in different sites, but the range in all the sources we checked was $50,000 to $130,000.
To give you a better idea on what to expect, here are the average annual salaries according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and other websites:
$108,080 (US BLS)
For better opportunities with highly competitive salaries, your best options are California and Washington. Both are among the top-paying states and states with the highest employment. There are more than 140,000 application developer jobs in California with an average annual wage of $127,950. Washington pays a bit higher with an average of $131,790 annually but has fewer jobs at only 53,860 app developers.
What are the top mobile app development companies in the US? This is the question most people ask when looking for full-time employment.
As freelancers though, people often restrict themselves to small businesses and startups. But with enterprises turning digital and needing more apps for various functions, opportunities for freelance app developers are aplenty even in big companies.
However, it can be a challenge to get good rates with newbie freelancers willing to work at ridiculously low rates.
When setting your rate, ask yourself “How much does it cost to build an app that has been requested?” According to Codementor, mobile app developers can charge $41 to $160 per hour depending on their background, location, and scope of a project. The average hourly rate is around $61 to $80 with iOS and Android developer salary on the higher range. But, some charge even less than $40 just to gain experience.
Nonetheless, it’s still possible to have a fruitful career as a freelancer. To increase your client base and get a steady stream of high-paying projects, continue building your skills in app development. Stay up-to-date about mobile development technologies and methodologies. Keep in mind that the information technology industry is constantly evolving and the knowledge you’ve gained in the past may no longer be as relevant today.
Usually, the minimum requirement for entry-level app developers is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or any related field. Senior software application developer jobs may require a master’s degree or other higher education degrees. However, practical experience is also given much weight so it’s possible to succeed in the field based on strong computer programming skills.
While they’re not necessary, certifications add credibility to your app development skills. So, consider getting a few of these certifications and earn a reputation as an expert in the field:
Google Associate Android Developer
Recommended for entry-level Android Developers who want to demonstrate their skills in app development. A performance-based exam is given to test skills in either Java or Kotlin.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): App Builder
Qualify as an application developer for Windows by learning skills essential in building modern mobile and web apps and services.
Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java ME Mobile Application Developer
Gain expertise in Java technology, and create high-performance applications. This is helpful in case you decide to get specific Java developer jobs.
ATC Android Certified Application Developer
Take courses or study on your own then take the AND-801 exam. This will validate your knowledge and experience in Android development and give your career a boost.
IBM Certified Mobile Application Developer
If you already have a hands-on experience using Mobile Foundation V8.0, consider taking this certification program.
App Development with Swift Certification
Learn the basics of the Swift programming language, which is essential in building iOS apps. This certification is best for students and entry-level app developers.
Salesforce Platform App Builder
This certification is for developers who use the Salesforce Platform and have experience in designing, building, and implementing custom applications.
Aside from taking certification programs, you can also learn new things by attending events and conferences, joining developer forums, subscribing to newsletters, and joining local developer groups.
Mobile application developer jobs require knowledge in the entire life cycle of app development. Thus, app developers must have proficiency in each step of the app development process from design to deployment.
To perform all the tasks required in app development, you should have these skills:
App developers must be highly skilled in at least one of these programming languages: Java, HTML5, C++, C#, Objective-C, and Swift. Knowing multiple languages though is a big advantage in the industry.
To be a specialist in the field, having a good grasp of how iOS, Android, and other operating systems work is essential.
Different platforms use a specific development environment. Versatile app developers are knowledgeable in using most of them including Xcode, Eclipse, App Inventor for Android, and Microsoft Visual Studio.
Application Programming Interfaces
App developers must be able to implement APIs to support the functionality of mobile apps.
Most apps are deployed and managed in a cloud infrastructure including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. An app developer must be skilled in interacting with such infrastructure and be familiar with digital distribution platforms for mobile devices.
User satisfaction is at the core of UX designer jobs. An app can only be successful if people can use them with ease and provide them value. Thus, a developer also needs to be knowledgeable in user interface design.
Design Implementation Skills
Apps shouldn’t just provide smooth experience and value but should also look appealing. Thus, the ability to carry out effective design implementation is important for app developers.
QA Testing Methodologies
Strict QA testing methodologies are essential to an app’s ongoing viability. So, an app developer must have QA skills in a similar sense that QA jobs do to ensure quality during app development.
Like software engineer jobs, experience in agile software development is advantageous in app development. It can help app developers adapt to the fast-paced industry.
Scrum Masters can improve communication between developers and clients. It can ensure a successful app development team.
App developers employed in business enterprises must understand the client’s needs and develop apps that can help them achieve their company vision.
App development is a collaborative process. Developers work with other developers, programmers, and graphic designers to create a successful application. They also need to interact with clients and users. Thus, app developers need to have soft skills to be effective in their jobs.
App developers must be able to communicate clearly. They must be able to give instructions to others working on a project, explain to users how an app works, and answer questions regarding app use.
Project management skills
App developers will eventually take lead in projects. They need high-level management skills to lead other developers and maintain good team collaboration.
App development involves dealing with several issues at the same time. The ability to multitask while still working efficiently is very important.
To create useful apps, developers must analyze the needs of the users and design apps to meet these needs. They also need good analytical skills in dealing with app-related problems.
Because app development requires collaboration, developers must possess interpersonal skills. They must be able to work well with others, actively listen to suggestions, and exhibit a positive mental attitude.
Did you ever dream about one of those Android app developer jobs?
With a booming mobile application industry, mobile app developers will continue to be in high demand in the future. These jobs security and provide opportunities for career growth.
Being an app developer is easily one of the best careers you can have in this digital age. To start your career as an app developer, strive to develop the skills and earn the certifications we’ve enumerated in this guide. Gain knowledge, build your portfolio, and establish a reputation as a specialist in the field of app development. Acquire expertise in a niche or two, and watch your career as an app developer soar.
And if you have questions, you can always refer to Leftronic’s guide for app developer jobs!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a mobile app developer?
You can start a career as a mobile application developer by taking classes online or in local schools that offer programming courses. You can also learn software design, programming languages, software development, and the use of Android development platforms on your own through various free learning sites – Ray Wenderlich Blog, Apple Developer Program, and Google Developers being some of them.
To jumpstart your career, you may enroll in mobile app development boot camps. Learn at least two basic programming languages, and master at least one development platform, preferably Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
Are app developers in demand?
Definitely, yes. With millions of apps actively being used now and many more needing to be developed to meet the needs of consumers and enterprises, app developer jobs are definitely in high demand today and will be even more so in the next decade.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of application developers is projected to grow by 26% from 2018 to 2028. Over one million jobs for this position are estimated to be filled in 2028. As people rely more on their smartphones and electronic devices, the demand for app developers will definitely grow.
What is the salary of an application developer?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median mobile app developer salary 2018 to be $103,620. This is significantly higher than that of other occupations, which is pegged at just $38,640. Salaries depend on an employee’s background, the size and nature of the company, and the geographical location.
Experts in the field can earn more than $160,000, while beginners can expect salaries below $60,000. For better wages, try top-paying industries, which include software publishers, manufacturing, finance and insurance, and management of companies and enterprises.
What skills do you need to be an app developer?
You should also be skilled in using frameworks used to write software apps. Aim to master one or more of these frameworks: React Native, Ionic, Intel XDK, jQuery Mobile, Corona SDK, and Xamarin.
What are the top companies that develop apps?
You may be searching the net for “app development companies near me.” Today, there are thousands of app development companies. Among the most popular ones include Intellectsoft, WillowTree, Fueled, Rightpoint, and Chop Dawg.
These companies offer very competitive wages that start from $100 per hour. Also worth considering are Algoworks,TechAhead, Cubix, ZCo, and Appinventiv. These are app development companies that cater to clients from various industries including education, automotive, healthcare, and finance.
When looking for app developer jobs to apply for, research the companies’ vision and workplace culture to determine which one matches your own goals and work ethics.
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