New apps are released every day for business, entertainment, education, health, fashion, and more. Talented developers who can build user-friendly apps are highly sought-after, well paid and respected within their organization.
But what skills do you need to break into this desirable career path? We’re going to discuss how you can become an App Developer: your education options, skills to develop, and tips for landing that first job.
So if you have a revolutionary app idea, or you’d simply like to pursue a creative career in tech, here‘s how to make it happen.
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What Is App Development?
App development is the term used to refer to the entire process of creating new software from scratch. An App Developer is a software engineer who’s involved in the conceptualization, design, and development of software for phones, smart watches, tablets and more.
As an App Developer, you’ll usually work with teams of data engineers and graphic designers to create these apps.
Types of App Developers
To get started as an App Developer, you need to decide which kind of type of development you’re interested in.
Desktop apps: These apps are run on stand-alone computers or laptops. Most of them are customized applications developed to suit the needs of an organization. These applications are user friendly, secure, and efficient. They run offline and are best suited for office settings.
Most firms use desktop apps for better performance, faster operation, quick data access, easy synchronization, and most importantly to facilitate the jobs of their employees. Companies also prefer desktop apps since they offer data security from unauthorized access that can plague online apps.
But there are certain limitations of desktop apps, the very first being that they need to be downloaded and installed on every computer before use. Upgrades of this software must also be carried out periodically for every device on which they’re installed, which makes it quite a strenuous task.
Web apps: Unlike desktop apps, web applications have the advantage that users can access them from anywhere. Their advantage is that users don’t need to download and install them on every single computer they use. Further upgrades become easier as you simply need to upgrade the app on the server.
Mobile apps: Usually when we talk about applications, mobile apps like Pinterest, Uber and Google Maps come to mind. Mobile apps are user friendly and easy to download and install. Most importantly, we’ve all come to rely on a full suite of powerful little icons on our phone screen to get us through our day.
Across the board, it’s not easy to build a solution that’s fast and efficient for all users. That’s why app developers often earn high salaries and great benefits.
Skills Required to Become an App Developer
In order to thrive as an App Developer, you’ll need to develop the following hard and soft skills.
- Logical thinking: App Developers often have to figure out how to make different functions work across a variety of devices and operating systems. If you love solving problems, you’ll excel in this career.
- Design knowledge: You’ll likely work with UX professionals to provide the vision. But it’s a good idea to also have some knowledge of good design practices.
- Attention to detail: The smallest coding error could lead to a catastrophic user experience. You’ll need to quality test your own work, and the work of your teammates.
- Curiosity: Our mobile devices are constantly changing, and apps have to change with them. You should love to learn, and have a natural curiosity about coding.
- Project management: Expect tight deadlines and complex projects.
There are quite a few ways to become an App Developer. ￼From degrees to bootcamps, you’ll be able to find an educational model that fits your lifestyle. So let’s explore the most popular ways to become an App Developer.
Bachelor’s degree: If you're new to web development and commit four years to your education, then a bachelor’s degree in computer science could be a great option. This path is effective for an entry-level career, ￼but also requires maximum time and financial investment.
Associate degree: If you aren’t willing to spend four years at school or spend a ton of money, you can choose an associate degree. You’ll gain basic educational qualifications in just two years.
Bootcamps: Bootcamps are one of the most popular choices from aspiring App Developers. They’re great for those who want to start their new career quickly. They’ll also allow you to learn at your own pace.
While both the bachelor’s degree and associate degree offer theoretical knowledge, bootcamps provide more practical knowledge that’s valued by job recruiters. They also offer a specialized curriculum where you can focus on the type of app development you’re interested in.
Certificate programs: There are a number of online certificate programs to help you prove your app development abilities. These include the Google Developers Certification for aspiring Android pros, and Apple’s Developer Certification. Keep in mind that these are a great stamp of approval, but may not help you hone all of the skills you need for a long-term career.
Self-guided learning: There are thousands of sites offering free online resources to help you learn to code, but the amount of information available online can be overwhelming for a beginner. Although many App Developers are self-taught, you’ll launch your career faster with a structured curriculum and troubleshooting support.
The Typical Career Path of An App Developer
If you’re really investing your time into a new career, you’ll want to know what to expect a few years down the line. Let’s look at the typical career progression of an App Developer.
Junior developer: Your career will take off as a junior developer who writes and tests relatively simple scripts. As a Junior Web Developer, you’ll be able to lean on the guidance of your peers as you learn the ropes.
Senior Developer: With a few years of experience, you‘ll progress to become a Senior Developer, capable of building new apps and guiding the development process. You’ll also be mentoring junior members of your team.
Lead Developers: Once you’ve acquired a lot of experience, you may become a Lead Developer who will have to shoulder more responsibility. In this role, you’ll take charge of designing complex new applications.
Development Manager: After several years of gaining expertise, you could be promoted to Development Manager. That means you’ll be responsible for handling large projects and a team of developers.
Technical Director: Moving up the ladder, you can become a Ddirector, /￼vice Ppresident, or even C/chief Ttechnology Oofficer￼ if you prove your team-building and communication skills in addition to your coding ability.
While this is a typical career growth chart, it’s not always linear. For web App Developers, there are plenty of specializations to choose from, such as:
- System Administration
- Software QA
- Development Lead
- System Software Developer
- Mobile Games Developer
- Lead Engineer
Gaining Experience to Become an App Developer
There are a number of ways you can give yourself hands-on practice building and improving apps. These methods will provide invaluable, free experience, and will also help you build up your resume and portfolio.
Volunteer: There are always local non-profits who need someone with coding chops. Reach out to organizations that are serving causes you care about. Explain that you’re an aspiring developer, and ask how you can help. It’s a great way to keep yourself challenged, and also give back to your community.
Apply for an internship: An internship may sound less than ideal, especially if you’re a working adult who’s trying to switch careers. But an unpaid internship could be the perfect solution to help you gain experience in web development. You can even apply to online internship opportunities, so you can do your work from home.
Remember to ask for a letter of recommendation at the end!
Sign up for a hackathon: Virtual hackathons will help you learn from other coders and make industry connections. Even if you’re not the competitive type, this is an easy way to try out your coding skills in action and get involved in the developer community.
5 Tips for Becoming an App Developer
Feeling motivated? To sum up, here are our 5 most valuable tips to help you get your career off the ground.
- Start with free coding tutorials to figure out if you really enjoy the challenge of web development.
- Keep up with industry blogs. You’ll stay up to date on how other developers are honing their skills and solving sticky coding problems.
- Do your research. Read up on how coders build solutions for different mobile devices, and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new software and operating systems.
- Try out some of the most popular software engineering tools. Even if you’re not ready to commit to a full-time program, you can still get some valuable hands-on experience, and get a glimpse of that feeling of satisfaction when you build something with your own coding knowledge.
- If you’re motivated to enter the industry fast and learn through hands-on projects, opt for a Software Engineering Bootcamp designed to get you hired fast.
If you’re ready to take that next step, book some time with us: we’re going to help you get there.
How do I become an iOS App Developer?
If you know you want to focus on Apple products, that means you’re going to have to specialize on development for iOS. There are programs you can install on your Mac or iPhone to get started, such as Xcode. Start by researching the challenges iOS developers often face, and if your budget allows, get acquainted with as many Apple products as you can.
How do I become an Android App Developer?
Web development for Android devices requires its own set of skills. You can use open source tools to start delving in, even without a formal education. You should also perfect your Java skills, since you’ll rely heavy on that language when coding for Android.
How can I become an App Developer with no experience?
The great thing about coding is that you can create projects for yourself to gain experience. Start with free tutorials to get some practice hours in. Hackathons are another great way to flex your coding muscles. Then, you can start reaching out to local businesses, non-profits, or even friends and family to assist with web development projects on the side.
How much does an App Developer make?
According to Salary.com, App Developers typically make between $58,421 to $76,517 per year. That salary could easily go up as you gain expertise and solid references in the field.
How much does it cost to build an app?
Businesses shell out big bucks to create a custom app. The bill can often run into the six figures and beyond. That’s why talented App Developers command such a hefty salary and great benefits.