How to Become A Mobile App Developer (With FAQs and Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 31, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most people own a smartphone, making mobile app development a lucrative career path for aspiring developers. Mobile app developers use their coding skills to develop apps to solve various problems and entertain mobile phone users. If you are interested in a career in mobile app development, understanding more about the role can help you decide if it's a suitable career path for you. In this article, we explain what a mobile app developer does, show you steps on how to become a mobile app developer, discuss their essential skills, and review some frequently asked questions about this field.

What does a mobile app developer do?

A mobile app developer designs, develops, and updates mobile applications. They develop app mock-ups to test the usability of their work and fix any problem before launching them in an app hosting platform. App developers collaborate with user experience designers to ensure they align the app design to consumers' needs. They also work with business leaders to help them launch the app in the market.

The hosting platform they develop for may distinguish mobile app developers, such as Android app developers or iOS app developers. Android app developers design and create apps for Android-powered devices. iOS app developers build, test, and update mobile apps for Apple devices and use iOS programming language and technologies such as Xcode to create these applications. Some app developers design apps for multiple platforms.

How to become a mobile app developer

Here are the steps you can take to become a mobile app developer:

1. Choose a learning path

There are different paths you can take to learn about app development. One path is to achieve a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering. In this program, you learn how computers and other devices work, how to code, and different programming languages. Completing a degree takes approximately four years. This path is best if you want to work as a mobile app developer. The second path you may take entails enrolling for a mobile app developer course in college. The course takes a few months to one year to complete.

The last path involves attending a coding boot camp organized and facilitated by experienced developers. Typically, boot camps last between three and nine months, with attendees learning the basics of coding and how to launch a tech career. Boot camps also help you network with trainers and aspiring coders. Online learning and boot camps are useful if you would like to pursue an independent app development career. This path is available for aspiring developers who opt out of pursuing a degree.

Related: How To Become a Software Engineer

2. Choose a platform and niche

There are various platforms you may choose to host your app. Each platform has differences, such as programming language, monetization, and market reach. You may choose one platform and continue to learn about the other platforms as you progress throughout your career. Another important factor is to identify which niche you would like to specialize in. Different niches you might choose include:

  • Gaming

  • Fitness

  • Messaging and communication

  • Ecommerce

  • Entertainment

  • Real estate

  • Small business

3. Refine your coding skills

Regardless of the path you chose, coding is the most basic skill that developers need. Even though there are app development platforms where coding is optional, most professional apps and popular platforms require you to be familiar with coding. Having knowledge in coding also allows you to customize your app, include more features, and remove bugs. You can also learn other programming languages such as:

  • Java

  • Swift

  • Kotlin

  • C++

  • C#

  • Objective-C

Refining your coding skills and programming language enables you to develop better apps, making you easily noticeable, which is important when monetizing your work.

Read more: Commonly Asked C++ Interview Questions with Sample Answers

4. Pursue certifications

Mobile app developer certifications are typically voluntary, but it's advisable to pursue certification as they help to verify your coding knowledge. Certifications show your commitment to the profession and to your career growth. They also increase your employability and chances of earning a higher salary. Some certifications you may pursue include:

  • Associate Android Developer

  • GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst

  • Android Certified Application Developer

  • Microsoft Technology Associate Developer

  • TenserFlow Developer Certification

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer

  • Salesforce Certified Platform Builder

  • IBM Certified Mobile Application Developer

  • Oracle Mobile Development Certified Implementation Specialist

These certifications have different eligibility requirements, duration, delivery mode, and cost. It is advisable to research them and decide which certifications are suited for you.

5. Create your resume

Mobile app development is a competitive field, requiring you to have a competitive resume if you are seeking employment. Create a compelling resume that creates a powerful impression with recruiters. An outstanding app developer resume includes the following sections:

  • Contact information

  • Relevant technical skills

  • Outstanding soft skills

  • Relevant work experience

  • Major accomplishments

6. Apply for app developer positions

Once your resume is ready, look for jobs you qualify for and apply. Understand the job posting details and customize your application accordingly. Make use of your networks to learn about vacant positions in different organizations. Prepare well for interviews by rehearsing common interview questions for app developers. You also need to prepare for practice quizzes, as the interviewer may want to test your proficiency in technical skills.

7. Consider profit options

Mobile app developers may opt to work independently as freelancers. While there are many rewards to freelancing, you need to find out how you can fund your app development activities. The most common ways of funding app development include:

  • Crowdfunding

  • Patron funding

  • Angel investors

  • Developing a freemium app

Read more: A Beginner's Guide To Freelance Jobs

Essential skills of a mobile app developer

Here are some of the technical and soft skills that mobile app developers need:

  • Programming skills: Programming is one of the most important technical skills required of an app developer. You need to translate algorithms into efficient codes to create a functional app.

  • Business acumen: Mobile developers need excellent business skills in order to make money from their apps through downloads, ads, and other income models. Business skills also help mobile developers raise funds to finance their activities.

  • Analytical: Mobile app developers need to understand users' needs to create an effective app. They need to analyze how people use their devices and leverage that information to build functional and usable apps.

  • Interface design skills: Mobile app developers need excellent skills in designing a user interface for their apps. User interface design is a core aspect of the app that enhances users' experience.

  • Creativity: Mobile app developers need creative skills to build applications that help users complete various tasks. They need to think creatively about how to incorporate their apps into the daily lives of app users.

  • Agile methodologies: Mobile app developers require knowledge in agile planning methodology. This involves using software development approaches based on iterative tasks and routines to achieve the overall development process.

  • Communication: Mobile app developers need good verbal and written communication skills to enable them to communicate with clients and give instructions to team members. They also need to listen attentively to their clients' needs to incorporate their ideas in the app-making process.

  • Data security: Data security is a major concern for app users and regulators. App developers need a firm understanding of data security laws and app security protocols.

  • Cross-platform app development: Mobile app developers need the skills to develop apps for various platforms. Cross-platform capabilities enable app developers to use fewer resources and capture a wider audience.

Read more: How To List Computer Programming Skills on Your Resume

Frequently asked questions about mobile app developers

Here are some frequently asked questions about mobile app developer jobs:

Is mobile app development a good career choice?

A career as a mobile developer is an excellent choice for anyone interested in developing mobile solutions to various problems. The field of mobile technology is ever-growing, which allows you to continue learning throughout your career. The option of working independently may also make this career appealing to you.

How do mobile apps make money?

You need to create a monetization strategy before you launch your app. The model that is right for your app depends on a variety of factors such as product type, user base, and market intelligence. The most common app monetization strategies are:

  • Ad-based

  • Pay-per-download

  • In-app Purchases

  • Freemium

  • Subscription

Choosing the right mobile app monetization model is critical for the success of any mobile app.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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