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How to Become a iOS Developer

Apple is one of the biggest manufacturers of smartphones in the world. At the start of 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company had over 1.65 billion active devices in circulation, including over a billion smartphones. Over the years, Apple has proven that its infrastructure will improve, and there will always be a demand for its iconic products.

You can rest assured that learning how to become an iOS developer is a beneficial career move. In this guide, you're going to learn what iOS development entails, the opportunities present within the field, and the different routes available for you to explore in your journey.

What Is an iOS Developer?

An iOS developer is a software developer explicitly trained to build and maintain applications for iOS, the iPhone operating system. Just as Android development deals with Android, the core developers who work at Apple design software for iOS. There are also iOS application developers who build and publish third-party apps on the iOS App Store.

These developers don't just know how iPhones work. They also know how to create applications for iPad, Apple TV, and even Apple Watch. They can work independently or get employed by a company to build and maintain consumer-friendly applications.

iOS Developer Job Description

An iOS developer designs, develops, maintains, and upgrades core or third-party applications for all devices on iOS. They use concepts, frameworks, and programming languages unique to iOS devices. Depending on the level and responsibilities of the developer, they might supervise the entire development process from idea conceptualization to final launch.

As apps run on iOS devices, iOS developers collect feedback from users, monitor performance, debug, and do whatever it takes to ensure that these apps are up to specification. Then, at intervals, they update the code to add new features without compromising quality.

iOS Developer Salary and Job Outlook

The demand for iOS developers is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies iOS developers under software and web developers, programmers, and testers, and the demand for these jobs is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2020 and 2030.

BLS notes that the average salary of software developers is about $105,310. However, ZipRecruiter reports that iOS developers specifically earn an average of $114,614 per year, with a bare majority of salaries falling between $90,000 and $133,500. The compensation of iOS developers differs across education levels, and varies by location and professional experience.

Top Reasons to Become an iOS Developer in 2021

Why should you become an iOS developer? Well, many things drive people to learn iOS development. Some of them are listed below.

  • High demand. Apple is currently among the top three manufacturers of smartphones and one of the biggest tech companies in the world. In Apple’s July 2021 earnings report, CEO Tim Cook noted that the company’s success is “inspiring a new generation of developers to learn to code.”
  • Impressive earnings. If you work for a company as an iOS developer, you will likely earn over $100,000 per year. If you decide to develop third-party apps for the App Store on your own, there is limitless earning potential. Either way, you're going to earn well.
  • It's Apple. With knowledge of core iOS development, you stand a chance to work directly for the company, not just for third-party firms. On average, Apple employees on Glassdoor give the company 4.3 out of 5 stars. So, working for a company like this will give you professional credibility.
  • Continuous learning. Apple is continuously updating the operating system of its devices. If you're an iOS developer, you will need to keep learning to keep up with the innovation, which will make you a better developer and look great on your resume.
  • Cross-platform development. Learning iOS development doesn't restrict you to developing apps for only iOS devices. At the end of the day, coding is coding. So, you will be able to create software for Android and other operating systems. All you have to do is get a little extra knowledge.

iOS Developer Job Requirements

The job requirements depend on the nature of the job and the company. Some companies demand degrees and years of experience while others don't. Also, self-employed or freelance developers don't need a degree to publish an iOS app. Below are some of the common requirements across the board.

  • Experience in advanced programming. The most critical iOS development programming skills are Java, JavaScript, Swift, Python, Kotlin, C#, C++, Objective-C, HTML5, React Native, Smalltalk, and Flutter. You need more than just a foundational knowledge of these tools to become a mobile app developer.
  • Digital marketing experience. If you want to publish and promote apps on the App Store on your own, you will need some experience in digital marketing. Otherwise, you may have to pay a digital marketing company. Some companies also demand marketing skills from iOS developers.
  • Education requirements. If you don't already have one, you should get an undergraduate degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. While a bachelor’s degree has traditionally been the gold standard for this field, bootcamp education has become an acceptable route, even for Apple, Inc. The most important thing is to demonstrate your skills.
  • Other technical requirements. Apart from the programming tools listed above, you need to be proficient in iOS frameworks and development environments like Cocoa Touch, Core Animation, C-based libraries, Git, SVN, and Core Data. Most importantly, you need to learn how to use the integrated development platform, Xcode.

Types of iOS Development Careers

Most of what iOS development is about is making mobile apps. However, this doesn't mean you can't dive into other areas of software development. Below are some great career paths for an iOS developer.

macOS Developer

These developers work on creating apps for Apple Mac laptops. If you already know how to use Xcode, nothing is stopping you from exploring macOS development. To be ahead of the curve, you'll want to have a Mac laptop that runs macOS Big Sur. A Mac developer earns about $84,290 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.

Mobile Application Developer

With knowledge of iOS development, you can also perform the functions of a mobile app developer within any tech firm. You may need to learn how to develop Android applications since Apple and Android are the top two producers of mobile devices. According to ZipRecruiter, most mobile app developers earn between $81,000 and $119,500 annually.

Applications Support Analyst

As an applications support analyst, you will be charged with responding to customer complaints concerning smartphones and computers. With knowledge of iOS, you can assist people with iOS devices. According to ZipRecruiter, the average applications support analyst makes an annual salary of $78,048.

iOS Developer Meaning: What Does an iOS Developer Do?

An iOS developer is a programmer or software engineer who develops applications for devices that run on Apple's operating system (iOS). This includes the development and maintenance of applications for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. The duties of an iOS developer depend on the job description. Below are three primary duties of an iOS developer.

Builds Secure Software

Writing secure software for iOS applications is one of the primary functions of an iOS developer. It's no surprise that iOS devices are the safest in the smartphone world. So, the standard for publication is incredibly high. Any apps that fail to meet those standards are removed from the store.

Troubleshoots Bugs

Bugs can ruin the user experience of an application. This is why iOS developers don't just design apps and abandon them. They also look for bugs and clear them to prevent further damage to the software. After the bugs in the code are fixed, a new version of the application is sent to the public.

Markets iOS Applications

While you don't need to be an advanced programmer to build a successful app, you do need marketing skills to ensure that customers can find your product. Whether you’re a freelancer or an employee for a company that does iOS development, you should take some digital marketing courses and learn some strategies for getting your own or your company’s applications seen.

Essential iOS Developer Skills

There are some skills that are unique to iOS development. The programming languages Swift and Objective-C are definitely worth studying. Beyond learning Swift and Objective-C, you should seek to acquire the following three core skills.

Apple Human Interface Guidelines

Apple publishes extensive guidance on how to build the most user-friendly apps possible. When you learn these guidelines, you will be able to make apps that pass Apple's high standards and can be published in the App Store.

Grand Central Dispatch

Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) is a technology developed by Apple that helps you create functional, user-friendly, and multi-purpose apps. It is the GCD that allows developers to build apps that can perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

Apple’s Xcode

Xcode is iOS's integrated development environment (IDE). In other words, it's the unique center where developers go to create iOS apps. This software is integrated with Apple's Cocoa Touch and Cocoa frameworks. It is the pillar that holds Apple’s software development together and can be used for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS applications.

How Long Does It Take to Become an iOS Developer?

It takes about three months to one year to get a solid knowledge of iOS development. However, it could take up to four years if you opt for a bachelor's degree. Another factor that will influence your timetable is the amount of tech knowledge you currently possess. Someone with foundational knowledge may learn iOS development much faster than someone without it.

Coding bootcamps and self-study are the two quickest routes to take if you already have a degree or you don't have the time and resources for a college education.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become an iOS Developer?

Yes, you can become an iOS developer by simply attending a coding bootcamp for three to six months. The best coding bootcamps for iOS development teach you only what you need to launch your career as an iOS developer. You don't need to take electives or worry about things like amassing enough credit hours to fulfill graduation requirements.

These bootcamps don't just teach you how to make iOS applications. They also assign career coaches and mentors dedicated to helping you find an entry-level app development position after graduation. Bootcamps are also typically more affordable than traditional institutions of higher learning.

Can I Become an iOS Developer from Home?

Yes, you can become an iOS developer by teaching yourself from home. All you have to do is make time to learn using online resources. You can find a Core Data or Swift tutorial online in the form of a YouTube video, article, or website and learn iOS development that way.

For more structure, you can enroll in massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOC platforms like Udemy, edX, Coursera, and Udacity host affordable iOS development courses. Many courses even have a free option. Below are a few examples of high-quality iOS MOOCs.

  • iOS & Swift: The Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp | Udemy
  • Build Your Very First iOS App | edX
  • Developing iOS 11 Apps with Swift | iTunes U

How to Become an iOS Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Take the following steps to learn more about iOS development.

Step 1: Learn iOS Development

The first step is learning the fundamentals of programming through a college degree program, bootcamp, or self-study. Master all the programming languages, frameworks, and concepts for iOS development and learn how to use iOS development environments.

Step 2: Publish iOS Applications

To build your portfolio, you need to publish your iOS applications. You can start small, but make sure that your app meets the iOS guidelines. The more high-quality applications you have in your app portfolio, the more employable you'll be.

Step 3: Look for a Job

You can either look for a job in a company recruiting iOS developers or look for clients in need of your services. With an impressive app portfolio and resume, it should be easy for you to convince prospective employers to give you a chance.

Best Schools and Education for an iOS Development Career

The options below are the most common routes to learn iOS development and eventually join the community of junior and senior developers in the tech industry.

iOS Development Bootcamps

An iOS development bootcamp offers accelerated training that runs for about three to 12 months. Some bootcamps focus specifically on iOS development, while others teach it as part of a mobile app development program.

Vocational School

Like a bootcamp, a vocational school is an institution that offers career-oriented postsecondary education below the associate degree level. Vocational schools can be more affordable, but the computer technology options are limited, and their curricula are sometimes out of date. Most vocational programs take between one and two years to complete.

One example of a vocational school that teaches iOS development is Anoka Technical College in Minnesota. You can get a technical diploma in either Web Design and Development or Software Development, both of which cover mobile applications. Each program has a credit requirement of 57 units, which you can fulfill in about four semesters of full-time study.

Community College

A community college program usually comprises two years of study and is typically more affordable than a traditional university. There, you can get an associate degree in iOS development, software engineering, or mobile app development.

Some excellent community colleges to learn Swift for iOS app development are Glendale Community College and Scottsdale Community College.

iOS Development Degrees

Schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford, and the University of Southern California will give you countless ways to learn iOS app development. These schools are fantastic options for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. More often than not, you will have to get a degree in computer science with a specialization in application development.

The Most Important iOS Development Certifications

Getting a professional certification will help you earn respect from your peers and prospective employers. It also aids you in getting a high-paying developer role. Some great options are listed below.

App Development with Swift Certification

Certiport offers one of the most popular certifications for iOS developers. With this certification, you’ll prove to future employers that you're proficient in Swift, Xcode, and other app development tools.

GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB)

This security certification is for all IT professionals who build mobile applications. However, it isn't limited to iOS developers. It costs about $769, and holders are expected to renew after a while. Pearson VUE administers the certification exam.

IBM Certified Mobile Application Developer - Mobile Foundation V8.0

This is an intermediate mobile development certification for people who know Java, REST, JavaScript, Swift, and any other knowledge required to develop applications for iOS and Android devices. It costs about $245 to take the exam.

How to Prepare for Your iOS Development Job Interview

To secure a job as a professional developer with a tech company, you need to pass the technical interview. Each company has unique requirements and interview structures. However, there are some common questions you should expect during the interview process for an iOS development job.

iOS Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • What is the difference between bundle ID and app ID? Explain with an example.
  • What Is Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, and what roles do they play in iOS development?
  • In your experience, what is the best way to achieve concurrency with iOS?
  • What software is used to create the UI and UX of iOS applications?
  • Why are Objective-C and Swift the most popular iOS app development languages?

Should I Become an iOS Developer in 2021?

Yes, you should consider a career in iOS development. There is currently a demand for iOS developers across the globe, not just in the United States. Also, these developers are among the top earners in the tech industry. Finally, learning iOS development doesn't limit you to building only iOS applications. You can build applications for other operating systems as well.


Can You Become an iOS Developer Without a Degree?
Yes, you can. Not everyone has time for a computer science degree, and app development bootcamps are a cheaper and less time-consuming way to meet the minimum requirements. Some of the best coding bootcamps for iOS development are General Assembly, CareerFoundry, The Tech Academy, BrainStation, and Fullstack Academy.
Is iOS Development Hard?
Yes, iOS development is hard to learn, especially for someone who does not know programming fundamentals. Apart from simply knowing how to code, every aspiring iOS developer must follow Apple's rigorous guidelines and use a specific software development kit (SDK) for app development. Otherwise, programmers can’t publish their products in the Apple Store.
Should I Learn iOS or Android Development?
There is a high demand for both iOS and Android developers. According to PayScale, iOS developers earn slightly more per year, at $91,807, than Android developers, who make $89,934. On the other hand, Android has a significantly higher market share than iOS, according to Statista. The one you decide to learn is up to you. If you can, learn both.
Is JavaScript Better Than Swift Programming?
It depends on what you're trying to achieve. For iOS app development, Swift is the best option because it is the native programming language. It also has a more advanced syntax than JavaScript. On the other hand, JavaScript is used for more things, including both website development and game development.
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