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Mobile Development: Courses, Training, and Other Resources

Mobile developer infographic

How to Learn Mobile Development

It’s a safe bet that you use applications on your smartphone every day. From messaging, language-learning, and calorie-tracking to banking and investing, it seems like there’s an app for everything. With the growing ubiquity of apps, mobile development has become more relevant than ever.
If you’d like to know more about mobile application development, Career Karma has you covered. In this guide, we’ve provided everything you'll need to decide whether a career in the field is for you. Also included are resources on the salaries, specializations, and training programs for you to consider.

What Is Mobile Development?

It’s exactly what it sounds like, although it may not be that simple. Mobile application development is the process of writing software for mobile devices. It's a unique endeavor in that it gives the developer the chance to build an application from scratch in a relatively short period.

Developers hone their skills based on the operating system they're working on. For this, there really are only two players in town: Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS. While other smartphones and mobile devices with apps exist, they make up a small fraction of the total market.

Developers may learn to work with one operating system and move on to the other as they progress in their careers. Being able to work with both operating systems would make you more competitive in the mobile app developer job market.

Why Is Mobile Development Important?

It may not seem like a big deal but, at the end of the day, mobile app developers do extremely important work. Without a mobile application, many businesses would fail to reach their full potential. This is especially the case with businesses that get much more traffic on their mobile app than on their website.
Mobile apps can be installed onto a phone, can send notifications to users, and are native to the device. It’s the job of the mobile app developer to ensure mobile apps work correctly so the company can achieve its goals.

What Do Mobile App Developers Do?

A mobile app developer designs, creates, and updates mobile applications, whether on Android or iOS. He or she works with a user experience (UX) designer to make sure their design is aligned with the needs of the user. Together, they create mockups for the app. The developer must also coordinate with business leaders regarding launch strategies.

Types of Mobile App Developers

There are two main types of mobile app developers: iOS developer and Android developer.

iOS Developer

iOS developers build, test, and update applications for iOS-powered devices. They use technologies such as Xcode, a development environment, and Swift , the primary iOS programming language, to build applications. iOS developers design applications for iOS devices from the ground up.

Android Developer

Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Developers for Android are responsible for developing applications for Android-powered devices. They then test code for edge cases and general usability.

Mobile development careers can offer attractive salaries and lucrative job prospects. But becoming a mobile app developer is complicated. Don’t worry, Career Karma is here to help.

How to Learn Mobile Development: Step-by-Step

The technology sector is constantly growing and evolving. When launching your career in mobile development, there are a lot of potential entry points. In this section, we'll show you how you can easily go from rookie to pro.

Step 1: Choose a learning path.

There’s more than one way to learn about mobile development. Some mobile app developers attend a college or university and earn a bachelor's degree in computer science. Others are self-taught and have no formal education in computing. Then, there's the other growing alternative: attending a coding bootcamp.

A coding bootcamp typically lasts between three and nine months. During the program, students learn all the skills they need to launch a career in tech. They also build a portfolio of projects which allows them to showcase their skills to prospective employers.

Step 2: Choose a platform to focus on.

So, Android or iOS? As mentioned, it’s possible to choose one and later transition to the other. It’s also true that neither is much harder to learn than the other.

In terms of reach, Android has the largest global market share. Android and iOS have similar US market shares. However, iOS tends to be an attractive choice for early adopters and technology enthusiasts. It's also a good choice if you want to heavily monetize your app via in-app purchases.

The main difference between Android and iOS is that they use different programming languages. Android coding is mostly done in Java, and iOS development is mostly done in either Objective-C or Swift. If you have experience in Java, Android might be a good place to start. If you’ve coded in C#, C++, or any of the C languages, you’ll probably find the iOS learning curve less steep.

Step 3: Hone and refine your technical skills.

There are several key skills you’ll need to develop and master to become a successful mobile app developer. We’ll start with iOS developers.

Essential Technical Skills for iOS Developers

These skills include programming languages, development tools, and other programming concepts.

  1. Swift: Swift is the main programming language used for iOS development. This is a modern programming language that is easy to learn and receives frequent updates. A successful iOS developer should have a good understanding of Swift and its core concepts.
  2. UIKit: UIKit is a framework that helps iOS developers design their user interfaces. UIKit includes features to implement gestures, animations, default components, and haptic touch control into applications.
  3. Xcode: Xcode is an application developed by Apple to make it easy to write applications for any Apple device. As an iOS developer, you should be able to navigate your way through Xcode and understand the various features in the tool.

Essential Technical Skills for Android Developers

Now that we've got that covered, let's move on to Android. The following are a few skills Android developers should have to be successful.

  1. Building user interfaces: You should be able to convert a design into a functional Android application using Java and XML. To do this, you’ll need to know how to use all conventional view containers. You should also know all the standard views and other components that may come up in an Android app.
  2. Data storage and notifications: You should know how to store, update, and delete information on an Android device. Even if you rely on outside APIs for an app, you’ll still need to store information locally, on the user’s device. Further, you should be able to implement push notifications to reach users.
  3. Material Design guidelines: Many Android apps use the Material Design framework which was created by Google in 2014. You should know how this works in designing and developing new apps. You should also be familiar with the implementation of basic Material Design guidelines into an application.

Step 4: Develop your soft skills.

To be a successful mobile app developer, you’ll need to have a set of “soft” skills. These include the following:

  1. Problem-solving: All coding jobs require a great element of problem-solving and analytical thinking. This entails thinking through a problem effectively and figuring out a solution using code. You should be capable of fixing problems in existing code. In the same vein, you must know how to make changes to an application to meet new specifications.
  2. Attention to detail: Details matter in coding. Each detail will affect the output of a program. One typo could cause an application to crash or malfunction. You should spend time looking through every detail when coding.
  3. Teamwork: As a mobile app developer, you’ll most likely have to work in teams. You should be able to respond well in collaborative environments. More than that, you're going to have to work well with others to accomplish a certain task.

How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)

$162,000
Senior position
$113,000
Middle position
$111,000
Junior position

The Best Mobile Development Courses and Training

Let’s now explore some of the best mobile development schools and programs offered both in-person and online.

In-Person Mobile Development Programs

Though less common, in-person traditional programs in mobile development are an option if you thrive in a classroom environment. Check out this list of the best mobile development programs.

Full Sail University's Bachelor of Science in Mobile Development

This bachelor of science program at Full Sail Universitygives students strong foundations in programming. The lessons equip students with the expertise they need to jump into a career in mobile development. Students learn programming languages for working with both Android and iOS and are prepared for audio and visual asset implementation.

Information published on their program web page indicates that the program culminates in a capstone project. For the capstone, students research and create a comprehensive software plan for a mobile app.

Tulsa Tech's Mobile App Development Undergraduate Certificate Program

This Oklahoma-based tech college offers degree programs in information technology, specifically software, web, and mobile app development. Its five-course certificate program is a great choice for students looking to specialize in the field. Through this, they learn basic and advanced coding, analysis, and testing. Of course, students complete a capstone project to create their mobile web app.

San Diego State University's Certificate in Web and Mobile Applications Development

This advanced academic certificate can be taken after earning a bachelor's degree. Students are required to complete at least four courses (12 units), with the average overall learning window lasting one year.

The program offers seven courses for students to choose from. These include iPad/iPhone Mobile Application Development and its Android counterpart. There's also a Multi-Platform Mobile App Development course to hone your skills on both platforms.

Online Mobile Development Programs

As mentioned, there are many more online programs than traditional classroom-based programs when it comes to mobile development. Because of the nature of the field, it is quite easy to create vibrant, rewarding educational experiences online.
If you are limited by location, time, or budget, an online program could be a great choice. Below are some top online mobile development program options.

UC San Diego's Mobile Applications and Programming Design

The University of California-San Diego is part of the world-class public education system in California. UCSD Extension offers a certification program in mobile and web app development including specific programs in Android and iOS programming. This is a good option if you already have a solid understanding of software or web development. It's also a great avenue if you're interested in gaining expertise in mobile development.

Northeastern University's Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Northeastern University offers a host of reputable online programs in the information technology space. At Northeastern, you can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and choose one of three concentrations: mobile development, web development, and databases. Students can choose more than one concentration and focus on online web and mobile application development. This degree prepares students with in-depth coursework to specialize in database websites like PHP and MySQL.

UC Berkeley's Certificate Program in Software Development and Programming

The University of California system’s flagship university in the Bay Area has an excellent extension school that offers programs all over the map. Its certificate program isn't specific to mobile app development. However, it certainly offers plenty of coursework in the area. Students can graduate from this program fully prepared to get started in an entry-level mobile developer role.

Mobile Development Bootcamps

If you want the most accelerated learning experience possible, it’s hard to beat a good coding bootcamp. There are many kinds, but you’ll want one that focuses specifically on mobile development. Listed below are our top picks.

The Codesmith Program

Codesmith's 12-week Software Engineering program covers the fields of computer science, full stack engineering, and mobile development. Its mobile development module teaches students how to design applications in JavaScript through the ReactJS Native framework. Students are expected to come out of the program having built and deployed a native mobile app.

Code Fellows' Advanced Software Development for Mobile Applications

This bootcamp discusses the tools, frameworks, and best practices used in the field of mobile development. For 10 weeks, you will be trained to create mobile apps in Java and Swift for the Android OS and iOS, respectively. To do so, you'll need to master several concepts including:

  1. Cocoa framework
  2. Web APIs
  3. SDKs and frameworks, including Stack Overflow and Github
  4. Agile work environment
  5. Data structures and algorithms

General Assembly's Mobile App Bootcamp: Design and Development

This workshop will teach you the app design and development lifecycle, or the “holistic appverse.” You'll learn to design an app from scratch—from studying iOS design to putting the theories into practice. Other key topics include:

  1. Prototyping tools for creating mockups
  2. XCode Integrated Development Environment
  3. Using Interface Builder to wireframe your apps
  4. Swift

Mobile App Developer Job Outlook

Though the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific information about mobile app development, it does have data on software development. According to the BLS software development is a growing field. The industry’s expansion is faster than average, with a projected growth rate of 21 percent by 2028.

A software developer’s average salary is almost $106,000 per year. Again, while the BLS doesn't have individual stats on mobile development, the data for software developers is a good indicator.

How Much do Mobile App Developers Make?

Because web developers and mobile app developers are increasingly in demand, salaries have risen proportionally. A mobile app developer can expect to reach a competitive salary early on in their career.

iOS developers can expect to earn over $113,000 on average and $171,500 on the higher end. Android developers, on the other hand, earn over $111,000 he more experienced ones can rack up to $162,000 per year. Remember, these salaries do not include stock options or other employee benefits, so you should keep that in mind when searching for a job.

Some mobile app developers do not work in an office and instead pursue freelancing opportunities. These jobs can pay hundreds of dollars an hour and allow someone to earn a good living as an independent contractor.

Should You Learn Mobile Development?

As mobile app technology continues to grow and become more of a necessity, mobile app developers are in high demand. Because the potential salary and job prospects are favorable, there's no reason not to get into the field. It’s competitive, rewarding, and expected to grow even bigger.
To break into the field, you need to be fully equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to land your first job. Mobile development degrees and certificates are good ways to gain such highly technical skills. Consider this resource guide in your research on the different kinds of learning paths you can pursue. After completing your research, choose whichever best suits your needs and begin your journey to success.
Need more help? Career Karma is here to help you every step of the way. We’ll provide you with free coaching, mentorship, and access to a community of your peers to hold you accountable for your progress. We can also help you prepare for and get accepted to one of the top mobile development bootcamps. Get the training you need to succeed in your new career!

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Advantages

  • Options for both in person and online bootcamps
  • Immersive and structured program
  • Mentors, instructors, and peers at your fingertips
  • Quick-start to a new career
  • Learn to collaborate with others
  • Build a strong professional network in technology

Disadvantages

  • Requires motivation and hard work
  • Fast-paced learning style
  • Staying up to date with evolving web technologies

Apply to Mobile Developer Bootcamps

Whether you’ve decided you’re ready to apply for a mobile developer bootcamp or you still aren’t sure which coding program you want to attend, Career Karma can help. Our mentors are here to not only help you find the perfect coding bootcamp for you, but we will also help you every step of the way from the application process to supporting you with any questions or hiccups you run into while interviewing with multiple bootcamps.

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