How to Become a Mobile
App Developer

Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep

Mobile development is one of the tech industry’s growing fields. Allied Market Research reports that this industry was valued at $106.27 billion in 2018. If you’re reading this, you probably want to know how to break into this lucrative field. In this guide, we’ll show you just that. Read on and learn how to become a mobile app developer.

What Is a Mobile App Developer?

A mobile app developer is a software engineer who specializes in creating mobile platforms for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This expert uses a variety of programming languages ​​and tools to design apps according to the requests of the clients.

Mobile app developers can either work alone or as part of a larger app creation team.

Mobile App Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Business of Apps, an information services company, reports that a mobile app developer can earn an average salary of approximately $90,000 per year in the US. This number will vary based on the city you work in, the company you work for, your prior work experience, and any academic achievements.

App development is one of the fastest-growing areas of tech, so there are usually plenty of job openings in the field. A report from Evans Data Corporation found that there were more than 5.9 million Android developers and 2.8 million iOS developers in the world. That was in 2016 alone.

In terms of job outlook, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific information about mobile app development. However, it offers data on software development, its “parent” field. According to BLS, the demand for software developers will grow 22 percent between 2019 and 2029, much faster than average.


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Entry-Level Mobile App Developer Job Requirements

To get an entry-level mobile app development job, you need to have advanced knowledge of coding languages like JavaScript, Python, Swift, and Java. You’ll also need experience in UX and UI design, frameworks, and DevOps practices.

Companies also look for developers who are familiar with SQL, Node.js, React, and Coldfusion technologies. According to PayScale, an entry-level mobile application developer can bring in a salary of around $60,948.

How to Ace Your Mobile App Developer Job Interview

All companies will try to evaluate your abilities and knowledge of mobile app development before hiring you. If you land an interview, you should be prepared to demonstrate your skills. Even though mobile app developers are in high demand, securing a job isn’t a walk in the park. Below are some common interview questions that you may be asked.

Common Mobile App Developer Job Interview Questions

  • What are the functions of a mobile app developer?
  • What is Java, and what is it used for?
  • How long does it take you to create a mobile app?
  • What previous experience do you have as a mobile app developer?
  • Compare and contrast today’s top mobile operating systems.

What Degree Should I Get to Become a Mobile App Developer?

Most companies will require that you have a credential to qualify for a mobile app developer role. You may choose to earn a degree or certificate from a university, a coding bootcamp, or an online course. However, an undergraduate degree is guaranteed to lead to higher wages and potentially a more prestigious work environment.

Below is a breakdown of the degrees you can get to become a mobile application developer.

Associate Degree in Software Engineering

An associate degree is one of the quickest ways to learn mobile app development. You can get this degree at a university or community college, and it usually takes about two years to earn.

With an Associate Degree in Software Engineering, you can experience an on-campus college education without dedicating four years. In-person learning is a great way to expand your network and gain employment opportunities. Plus, you will leave with a well-respected degree at a much lower cost than a bachelor’s program.

A mobile app developer with an associate degree can earn at least $88,000 per year, according to Salary.com.

Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

Getting a bachelor’s degree will increase the number of paralegal jobs that are open to you.

To get this degree, you will need to study for four to five years and will most likely also be required to complete an internship. Salary.com reports that a paralegal with a bachelor’s degree can earn up to $59,000 per year.

Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering

Studying software engineering at a university is a very popular choice for those who want to launch a career as a mobile app developer. Pursuing a four-year degree program helps you cover a lot of ground, leaving you with a well-rounded skill set to apply to your tech career.

Salary.com reports that a mobile app developer with a bachelor’s degree can earn from $90,232 to $98,811 per year.

Master’s Degree in Mobile Application Development

Obtaining a master’s degree in mobile application development is a good idea if you’re interested in learning how to develop mobile apps at a highly advanced level. The advantage of having a master’s degree is that you will be able to specialize in application development, instead of studying software engineering in a broad sense.

To pursue a master’s in app development, you’ll need to have a relevant bachelor’s degree. Your master’s degree will then take about two years to earn. A mobile application developer with a master’s degree can expect to make at least $99,074 annually, according to Salary.com.

Mobile Application Development Doctoral Degree

A doctorate is the highest credential you can earn from a university. It requires even more detailed research and study than what a master’s degree demands. That said, a doctorate is not necessary to become a mobile app developer.

You would only need to complete this level of education if you’re specifically interested in researching and testing innovative mobile application development techniques. Usually, a doctoral degree takes four to six years to complete.

What Does a Mobile App Developer Do?

The tasks of a mobile app developer can vary based on the project. Each one will require a slightly different set of skills. Below are some of the most common activities that a mobile app developer will complete on a daily basis.

Builds an App

The main goal in this career is to develop mobile applications. To do this, you must work to meet your client’s or company’s requirements, turning their ideas into a functioning app. Depending on the type of application you’re building, you may work with a team of graphic designers, UX/UI design specialists, and digital marketers.

Tests and Detects Errors

Knowing how to detect and repair errors is a crucial skill in any job related to software engineering, including mobile app development. Your project development process won’t always go exactly as you planned. However, if you have problem-solving and debugging skills, you’ll be able to overcome any challenge.

Maintains and Optimizes Mobile App Performance

After finishing a project, the mobile app developer will continue to analyze the platform’s operations for a specific period. This involves doing maintenance on the interface, monitoring user traffic, and updating the application as needed.

Essential Mobile App Developer Skills

The required skills for a mobile app developer will vary slightly based on the company. Some of the most common skills are listed below.

Knowledge of Software Design

App development is only one small part of software design. If you have strong knowledge of software design, you will be able to grasp how all of the elements of an app work together. Learning to design all kinds of software will make it easier for you to study app development.

Proficiency in Multiple Programming Languages

During your technical interviews, you will be asked to demonstrate your skills in common programming languages like Python, JavaScript, C#, C, R, and Go. In addition, you must learn languages that are specific to the type of app you’re creating. For Android, you’ll need to study Kotlin, while iOS uses Swift.

Knowledge of Backend and Front End Basics

Some experience in backend and front end development is vital when developing mobile apps. On the front end, you will be working on what the user sees. The backend, on the other hand, involves the inner workings of the website or app.

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

Not everyone follows the same path to becoming a professional mobile app developer. Some people can learn the skill without any outside help. Others will spend years in college building up their skills. However, you should keep in mind that companies place a lot of value on degrees and professional certifications.


Evaluate the Mobile App Development Field

If your professional goal is to get a job with a good salary where you can work on collaborative projects, mobile app development is a good choice.

Still, before you get started, you should take into account how much demand there is for mobile app development. Research what percentage of graduates work in the field and the maximum salary and job benefits associated with the career.


Enroll in a Tech Institute

The mobile app industry hires graduates from universities, coding bootcamps, and even online courses. Each of these options has different benefits. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering takes four years to finish and is more expensive than the alternatives. However, a university degree is held in high regard by hiring managers.

A coding bootcamp will prepare you for a career in mobile app development in just three to six months, and tuition is cheaper. Depending on the school, it will also most likely connect you with hiring partners to help you find a job quickly.

Remember that the job placement services and rates for the options above can differ greatly based on the reputation of the learning institution you attend.


Hone Your Skills

The more skills you have, the higher your chances of success. Keep up with current trends in the tech industry, and learn how you can apply them to make better applications. This might involve learning new programming languages or new design techniques.


Study Your Competitors

Whether you’re a freelance app developer or are working for a company, you can learn a lot from studying the work of others. The objective isn’t to imitate their work but to discover how you can fill in gaps in the market. Analyze customers’ needs, then include work in your portfolio that shows you know how to offer innovative solutions.


Be Persistent

The path from the moment you start studying until you land your first job is a long one, and each step is vital to your success. So, perseverance is an important virtue to carry through all of your projects. To get hired or succeed as a freelance mobile app developer, you will need to consistently work on creating more effective apps.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Mobile App Developer?

You can choose from several options to become a mobile app developer, depending on how much time you want to spend. If you choose to attend university, you will need to dedicate years to study and will also most likely have to complete an internship.

Then, you can choose whether you want to tack on an additional two years or so to complete further studies.

On the other hand, you can attend an app development bootcamp, which might last as few as 12 weeks. Some of these training institutions offer internships or a job guarantee, meaning you can expect to be working professionally very soon after completing your course.

Should You Become a Mobile App Developer in 2021?

If you have the financial resources and the desire to learn to become a mobile app developer, you should start studying right away. The growth in this career in 2021 isn’t expected to slow down over the next several years.

This is also a great career path if you want to study or work remotely. Once you’ve finished your training, you’ll be able to explore an abundance of job opportunities to find the one that matches perfectly with your career goals.

Mobile App Developer FAQ

What programming languages do mobile app developers use?

Java and Swift are among the top programming languages used by mobile application developers. Android developers tend to lean on Java while iOS developers favor Swift and Objective-C.

How much does a coding bootcamp cost?

The tuition price for a coding bootcamp averages around $10,000 to $20,000. This may go up or down depending on the bootcamp and program. For example, Nucamp offers a mobile app development course with tuition starting at $1,800. General Assembly, meanwhile, offers a software engineering program that costs $15,950.

How long does it take to get a job as a mobile app developer?

The amount of time you spend getting a job as a mobile app developer depends on your credentials and practical experience. Flatiron School, in its 2020 Jobs Report, says that more than half of its job-seeking graduates receive an offer within two months.

However, if you’re offered a job that doesn’t align with your career goals, you may need to spend longer finding your ideal job.

Is there a demand for mobile app developers?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers will grow by 22 percent between 2019 and 2029. This demand extends to mobile app developers.

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