Becoming an app developer is a pretty solid career choice, though the path to becoming one can appear to be challenging. The truth is that the path to being an app developer will vary greatly, and no two paths are the same. However, here’s a few tried a tested ways that you can set yourself up for a successful career as a dev.
How to become an app developer
Like many other online careers, there is no one set route to becoming an app developer. It’s unfair to say that traditional routes into higher level app development aren’t followed here – many developers have followed a traditional path of studying via College or University, with a Computer Science degree being the most common route.
However, you can opt for a related topic like Software Engineering, and nowadays you can also get a more specific degree in subjects like, Game Development and sometimes even in Mobile App Development itself.
Though working for some larger app development companies may require a degree and even a Masters, they’re by no means a necessity – this is especially true if you want to work for yourself or with start-ups. The truth is that you can learn everything you need to know to become an app developer online – though the steps and pathway forwards to becoming an app dev can be difficult to plan out.
This is why many aspiring devs have found a happy medium between studying at university and going completely alone, by instead opting to attend coding bootcamps (more on that in a minute).
And though it’s a career with some great job prospects, it’s still fairly easy to find an app developer online that can fulfil a companies requirements. So, how can you set yourself aside from the rest of the employment market and make yourself one of the most sought after
Android vs iOS Mobile App Development
There are obviously more than just these two operating systems out there for developers to build apps on, however between them, Android and iOS make up such a significant amount of the market that no other operating system that compares (right now, anyway). For this reason, many app developers choose to hone their expertise on one platform more than the other, at least to start with.
Which should you start with if you’re looking to begin your mobile app development career? It can be a tough decision to make between the two operating systems, and data shows us that there’s no clear winner when it comes to the salary of app developers, as they’re about even when it comes to earnings.
Android mobiles still dominate the market globally, but iOS has a good grasp on the American and European markets, with iOS users likely to spend more on their phones and in-app purchases than their Android equivalent.
There are a ton of courses out there to choose from, with some of them claiming you can become an app developer in just a few hours. Though there are different softwares and tools that have made it easier than ever for someone to create an app themselves, custom coded app development is a skill that generally takes years to learn and master your craft – you don’t just become an app developer overnight.
Starting with iOS can be a good idea. Swift is a general purpose programming language developed by Apple specifically for their closed ecosystem of devices, and though it’s not simple, Apple have put a lot of effort into creating tutorials around how to create apps using their Swift language – you can get started with Swift here.
If you want to learn how to build mobile apps for Android then you’ll probably want to start with learning Java – the Codecademy Java course is still going to be one of the best places to start for free, though there’s a wide array of different courses, tutorials and e-books out there you can read through too. As Android makes up the majority of the smartphone market worldwide, Java is amongst the most popular programming languages to start with for budding mobile app devs.
Those focusing on Android app development will also want to learn Kotlin, which in 2019 was announced by Google as the preferred language for developing apps on their Android platform. The good news is that both Java and Kotlin can be used within the same dev project, and Kotlin can easily be called to Java.
What about using software to build apps?
Though not considered to be a true app developer, there are ways that you can make your own app without having to learn how to code – we usually refer to these platforms as app development software. You may have heard of the No-code revolution, where softwares like Appy Pie are giving users the opportunity to build their own apps with No-code tools that can be as simple as using a drag-and-drop builder.
No-code or low-code apps definitely have their place in the market, and for first timers who are on a shoe-string budget, then opting to use an app development software can be a great choice. But it has to be said that no-code can’t replace the advanced customisation you can get by custom developing an app, which removes a lot of boundaries that you’ll have to face with no-code.
There’s a reason why most companies are still paying a lot of money for custom developed apps, as the flexibility is necessary to create more advanced systems and complex projects.
In conclusion, there are clearly a few different decisions you’ll need to make if you’re looking to make a career for yourself in the app development world, starting with the platform and programming languages you’re going to focus on first.
In an ideal scenario eventually you’ll learn both Android and iOS app development over time, as this will allow you to become more sought after by companies searching for someone that can build cross platform apps. Though most agree you should start with one, learn it to a certain level and then consider focusing some time on the other platform.
After you’ve chosen your platform, you then need to decide your learning path- whether to go it alone, take a traditional computer science route or even potentially invest in a coding bootcamp instead. Once you have your pathway chosen, the only thing stopping you is you – spending many hours refining your technical skills is key for an app developer, and over time, you’ll gradually get better and better at your craft.