Career Path for Mobile Developers

Aug 4, 2021

9 Min Read

With the internet and globalization,the world has been called one global village and that continues to be true with the progress of technology. Any company without a solid online presence will be phased out eventually as more tech savvy competitors spring up. This is as the business space is adopting newer and more recent technologies in providing solutions to their customers.

Companies are continuously improving upon their digitization of services. One major area that has taken off in the last 10 or so years is mobile penetration. Existing online companies started focusing on providing mobile experiences while many companies began their business models as mobile first. The unprecedented rate of mobile adoption has translated into more and more apps being developed and a growing dependence on mobile apps.

Many companies therefore, have gone on to create their own mobile applications. 

Unsurprisingly, this has generated a growing need for mobile app developers. Mobile app development has opened the doors to much more innovation since companies must now consider how people can interact with their services on the go. 

In this article, StackCache will walk through the potential paths of becoming a mobile app developer and what the career entails.

What is a Mobile App Developer?

Mobile app developers are responsible for building the applications that we use on our smartphones and tablets. These apps are designed to run on both Android and IOS devices and some mobile developers specialize in one operating system only.

For example, an app developer may be needed to create an app which allows customers to order goods and services for door-to-door delivery. Uber is an example of a mobile first company.

There are billions of phone users in the world and millions of apps within each mobile app store. It is the role of app developers to build and maintain these apps to suit users’ needs.

Similar to many other fields within tech, due to the strong demand and outlook for mobile app developers, average salaries are pretty high. It is also very likely that job prospects in mobile app development will continue to grow. Among other reasons like being a part of exciting new projects, these may be benefits you should consider as you start your journey into mobile app development.

Here, we’ll discuss how to start and the information you’ll need to decide if a career in mobile app development suits your interest.

We intend to keep the information here simplified to make sure a beginner or newbie in this journey of mobile app development finds it useful.

The truth is that while building apps may sound a bit sophisticated, it’s really just like anything else. It becomes a lot easier as you dedicate more time and practice to develop the skills.

Why do you want to become a mobile app developer?

There are millions of mobile apps out there across countless use cases. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about competing with the already existing ones. There is still plenty of space for innovation among apps and innovation is built upon competition.

All you need is to have a clear goal before you become a developer. You can open up a new income stream for yourself once you’re able to develop your own mobile app and make it available for purchase and use in Google Play store.

Here are a few reasons you might want to build mobile apps:

  • You want to become a freelance mobile app developer
  • You want to build your own start-up company and desire a presence on mobile
  • You are a business owner that needs an app for you business but you don’t have the funds to outsource app development
  • You want to earn money by building apps and selling them
  • You want to work for a company doing cool things through mobile apps

Chances are, you fall within one of the above listed categories of people. Whatever it is you seek and depending on your intentions, the sky is your limit if you’re ready to make the jump.

App Development Platforms

There are two main app development platforms. They include:

  1. iOS – which is the iPhone’s operating system for apple devices and 
  2. Android – which is Google’s system used by major phone manufacturers from Samsung to LG and Huawei phones.

There are others but the two above top the list of mobile app development platforms that cover almost the entire mobile device market.

For one to become a good iOS or Android developer, you have to become proficient with the programming languages for these platforms.

iOS Developer: An iOS developer is responsible for building applications for mobile devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system. iOS device apps run on technologies such as Xcode and require one of either Objective-C or Swift which are the two primary iOS programming languages.

Android Developer: Android is the most popular operating system in the world. In simple terms, android developers are responsible for building applications for android-powered devices.  One who specializes in designing the apps we use on our smartphones and tablets is an android developer. Android developers must be proficient in programming languages applicable to android devices such as Java and C++ languages.

What Does a Mobile App Developer Do?

A mobile app developer is primarily responsible for hands-on development of mobile applications. They must be exceptionally good at the use of computers and have an in-depth understanding of the various operating systems as well as their programming languages. They build, update and manage mobile applications. In addition to mobile apps from scratch, mobile app developers may also be tasked with pushing new features to existing apps to keep them relevant and up to date.

It is the app developers responsibility to ensure a good application programming interface (API) which will meet the needs of users and visitors to the app. Mobile apps are already plentiful across the gaming world, e-commerce, education, healthcare, delivery services, and finance and we don’t expect the growth to slow down. Although it may sound like the app space is already flooded with options, the truth is that many industries could still use a lot of help with being mobile ready.

Mobile App development Career outlook

Mobile apps as we mentioned earlier is becoming an important aspect of business strategy for growth and has overcome the use of websites. In countries all over the world, mobile usage has grown rapidly and in most cases, takes up a higher percentage of internet usage compared to desktop.

There are a lot of good sides to mobile app development as a career. We’ve mentioned the high salary but there is also a high rate of job satisfaction and positive outlook in the field’s growth. Although mobile app development is not its own category, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that jobs in software development are expected to grow by a significant 21 percent in 2028. This according to economic analysts is far more than average across other industries. It can be expected that mobile development within the broader category of software development will be a big percentage of the total growth.

With these predictions, the future is bright for mobile app developers and if you’re not one yet, this is a good time to take the dive into the world of IT and technology because there’s a surge in demand for mobile apps and skilled developers.

If you love technology and you’re interested in exploring the possibilities it has to offer, then a career in mobile app development could be the right path for you.The job outlook is definitely on the bright side so you can count on that.

How Much Can You Earn As a Mobile App Developer?

Salaries and earnings in mobile app development depends on a number of factors:

  • Experience level in Android and iOS
  • Type of app developed
  • Level of education
  • Software development company job openings
  • Location

On average, statistics according to Glassdoor show that a mobile app developer in the United States can gross between $64K – $140K in earnings annually.

However, you don’t necessarily need to do an office job to earn a salary in this range. You might instead want to pursue freelancing mobile app development job openings. This way, you can earn hundreds of dollars per hour as an independent contractor with job flexibility.

How To Become a Mobile App Developer

There are many paths you can take to become a mobile app developer. The different routes available depend on individual preferences and background. It also depends on your current situation and intentions as you have to follow a route that accommodates your needs and ambitions.

The most common routes you can take are:

  1. Earn a degree in Computer Science or Information Systems through a four year university or college
  2. Attend a coding bootcamp or paid internship training that specializes in mobile app development
  3. Learn about mobile app development through self-teaching or online courses

Each pathway has its own merits and drawbacks, so you’ve got to choose what works best for you. For example, learning how to code on your own can be strenuous and time consuming.

Coding bootcamps are more like an alternative to college degrees if you have already finished school previously. Instead of going the conventional way of spending four years for a college degree, prospective mobile app developers can attend a coding bootcamp and learn first hand all of the skills for under a year.

You can learn mobile app development by doing any one or the following:

Option #1: Learning how to code from scratch

Learning to code is your first and most viable option if you want to become a mobile app developer. This is just primarily understanding operating systems and programming languages they run on. Here’s the kicker, you don’t need to go back to school to learn code. You can find a lot of rich resources online to teach you how to code from scratch or simply attend a coding booting camp. These can be in the form of courses or videos and could either be paid or free. There are thousands of videos to teach you the basics of coding and programming. All you need to do is to start the journey.

Option #2: Using App Builders

You can use the templates already developed by mobile app builders to and customize it to your taste as practice. Before you jump into this option though, you will need some foundational knowledge of mobile app development.

Top Skills Needed For Mobile App Development 

Prospective mobile app developers need to develop and master several key skills in order to become successful at it.  These skills can further be grouped into two categories: Technical-skills and Soft skills.

The Technical skills needed include programming languages, knowledge of app development tools and software and general programming concepts.

For iOS developers you’ll need a knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Swift – The main programming language for iOS development. A good iOS developer should have an in-depth understanding of its core concept.
  2. UiKit – Uikit is a software that aids iOS developers in designing their end user interfaces. Its features include animations, gestures and haptic touch controls for seamless app running.
  3. Xcode – Xcode is an application designed by apple to write applications for any Apple device and an iOS developer needs to understand how to use the various features in the tool.

Generally, technical skills are as important as soft skills.

The soft skills you should have include:

  • Problem solving skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork

Essentially, you need an understanding of programming languages and software and enough commitment to be able to grow as a mobile app developer.

As a summary, here’s a step-by-step approach to becoming a mobile app developer for you:

  1. Choose an app development career path
  2. Acquire the skills you need through college, a bootcamp, or self learning
  3. Build and develop your technical skills
  4. Attend IT training programmes or an internship that focuses on mobile app development to get hands-on experience
  5. Network and apply to roles or find work as a freelancer

We hope this was a good introduction on what it takes to be a mobile app developer.

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