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How to Become a Mobile App Developer

As more companies start to offer mobile applications, it’s no surprise that there is a growing need for qualified mobile app developers.
Mobile app developers are responsible for developing the applications we use on our phones, both on Android and iOS. There are billions of active phones out there, each with many apps installed. The role of the app developer is to create and maintain these apps so that they can be used by a certain customer.
Mobile app development careers can offer attractive salaries and lucrative job prospects. But knowing how to become a mobile app developer may be unclear. In this guide, we’ve covered all of the information you need to decide on whether a career in mobile app development is for you. We have also included resources on app developer salaries, fields, and training programs for you.

What is a Mobile App Developer?

Mobile app developers create functional and aesthetically pleasing apps for people to use which meet the needs of a target customer.
Mobile app developers create apps on iOS or Android devices and maintain these apps over time. For example, an app developer may be tasked with creating an app which allows customers to track deliveries on their phone; they may have to build a feature on a social network.

Types of Mobile App Developers

There are two main types of mobile app developer: 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 are able to design and architect applications for iOS devices from the ground up.

Android Developer

Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world, and more Android devices are expected to be sold in the future. Android developers are responsible for developing applications for Android-powered devices. They design and develop applications, then test code for edge cases and general usability.

No matter which type of mobile app developer you want to be, Career Karma will help you find the right coding bootcamp which matches your unique set of needs and schedule.

Mobile App Developer Job Description - What Does a Mobile App Developer Do?

Mobile app developers create, test, update, and manage mobile applications. They’re responsible for programming a mobile app and designing its user interface.
Further, mobile app developers keep applications up-to-date with new updates. Mobile app developers work with a team of other developers to create an application which meets the needs of users and of an organization. They may receive assistance from the design team in creating mockups for the app and work with other teams within an organization to coordinate a launch strategy.
Mobile apps are becoming an increasingly important part of business strategy. While websites are effective, there is no substitute to a mobile app. Mobile apps can be installed directly 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 business can achieve its goals.

Mobile App Developer Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not directly track the career prospects of mobile app developers. That said, they do track software developers’ career prospects, which gives a good indication as to the overall growth of development fields. According to the BLS, jobs in software development are expected to grow by 21 percent by 2028, which is “much faster than average.”

Mobile App Developer Salaries - How Much do Mobile App Developers Make?

iOS developers can expect to earn, on average, over $113,000, with some jobs offering salaries of up to $171,500 per year. Android developers, on the other hand, expect to earn over $111,000, and more experienced developers can earn up to $162,000 per year

The salary you can expect to earn also depends on the company you work for and your location. For example, Android developers in San Franciscoearn an average of over $130,000 per year, while the same developer in Atlanta can expect to earn around the national average.

The amount you earn will also depend on your seniority. The average salary for senior iOS developers is over $133,000 per year; the average salary for senior Android developers is over $126,000 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.

How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)

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Junior position

How Can You Become a Mobile App Developer?

There are many different paths you may want to consider if you want to pursue a career as a mobile app developer. The most common routes people take fall into one of the following categories:
  1. Attend a short-term coding bootcamp specializing in mobile app developer
  2. Earn a degree in computer science at a college or university
  3. Learn about mobile app development through self-study
Each path has its own benefits and drawbacks, and the path you will take will depend on your needs and goals. In the past, most jobs in programming were reserved for college graduates. However, there are now many successful self-taught mobile app developers.
There’s also another option which has become more common for people interested in becoming a mobile app developer: going to a coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps offer a viable alternative to college. Instead of going to college for four years and taking out loans, prospective mobile app developers can go to a coding bootcamp and learn all of the practical skills they need in under a year.

How to Learn Mobile App Development

There’s more than one way to learn about mobile app development. Some mobile app developers attend a college or university and earn a degree in computer science. Other mobile app developers are self-taught and have no formal education in computing. The other growing alternative is for people to go to a coding bootcamp.
During a coding bootcamp, which typically lasts between three and nine months, students will learn all the skills they need to succeed in a career in mobile app development. You’ll also build a portfolio of projects which will allow you to showcase your skills to prospective employers.

Companies that Hire Bootcamp Grads

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Top Skills Needed for Mobile App Developers

There are several key skills you’ll need to develop and master in order to become a successful mobile app developer. Let’s break these skills down into two categories: technical skills and soft skills. We’ll start with technical skills for iOS developers.

Check available Mobile App Developer courses

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  • 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


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

Apply to Mobile Developer Bootcamps

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Essential Technical Skills for iOS Developers

The following technical skills are necessary to become a successful iOS developer. 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 very modern programming language which is easy to get started with 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 that makes 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 how to use various features in the tool.

Essential Technical Skills for Android Developers

The following are a few skills Android developers should have to be successful.
  • 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 and know all the standard views and other components which may come up in an Android app.

  • 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.

  • Material Design Guidelines.

    Many Android apps use the Material Design framework, created by Google in 2014. You should know about how Material Design works in the context of designing and developing new apps. You should also be familiar with how to implement basic Material Design guidelines into an application.

Essential Soft Skills for Mobile App Developers

To be a successful mobile app developer, you’ll need to have a set of “soft” skills. The soft skills you should have include:
  • Problem Solving.

    All coding jobs require some element of problem solving and analytical thinking. You should be able to think through a problem effectively and figure out a way to solve that problem using code. You should also be able to fix problems in existing code, or make changes to an application to meet new specifications.

  • 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 not function as intended. You should spend time considering every detail when you are coding.

  • Teamwork.

    As a mobile app developer, you’ll most likely have to work on a team. You should be able to respond well in collaborative environments, and work well with others to accomplish a certain task. You may also have to provide support to the rest of your team, which you can only do if you can work well with others.

How to Become a Mobile App Developer: Step-by-Step

There are a few steps you need to think about in order to become a mobile app developer. These are as follows:
  1. Choose an app development career path
  2. Learn the skills you need through college, a bootcamp, or self-study
  3. Develop and refine your technical skills
  4. Build your app development portfolio
  5. Write your technical resume
  6. Start looking for a job
  7. Prepare for an interview
Career Karma is here to help you through every step of your journey to becoming a mobile app developer. 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 app development bootcamps, so you can get the training you need to succeed in your new career!

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