How to Become a
Mobile App Developer

Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications

There are many educational and professional pathways to help you become a mobile app developer. Successful mobile app developers are creative, proficient in coding languages, and top-tier communicators. If you want a lucrative job in tech, try app development.

If you’d like to pursue a career in mobile app development, our comprehensive guide can help. Read below for more information about degrees, bootcamps, certifications, and job prospects.

What Is a Mobile App Developer?

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A mobile app developer is a professional that builds functional mobile applications. This job merges software development skills and creativity. Understanding the principles of software design and technology is essential.

Mobile app development is a step up from general software engineering. A mobile app developer is usually fluent in iOS or Android development technologies. If you have an idea for a groundbreaking app, then mobile app development might be for you.

What Does a Mobile App Developer Do?

A mobile app developer uses creative and software-building skills to create mobile applications. You need many prerequisite skills and qualifications to become a mobile app developer. You should invest in your coding language knowledge and general software development skills. Below are some responsibilities that app developers have in the field.

Analyze the Needs of Clients

Mobile app developers often work for clients. This applies both to freelancers and developers working in a company. In order to create functional and groundbreaking applications, app developers need to analyze what a client wants and why. It is crucial for app developers to understand the core objective of any project.

Solve Problems

App developers should always know how to improve an idea or a project. There is a lot of brainstorming and troubleshooting. App developers need to be able to manage complicated situations. This applies to the initial stages of a project as well as the development stage.

Apply Technical Skills

Once a project has the green light, a mobile app developer makes it come to life. iOS and Android specialists have different skill sets. A mobile developer needs to learn languages like Swift or Java depending on the specialization. Swift is used for iOS and Java is used for Android.

Mobile App Developer Education Pathways

If you want to become a mobile app developer, you need to get some sort of education. Although you can learn some skills for free online, it’s wise to invest in a degree or certificate. You can choose a formal degree, a tech bootcamp, or individual courses.

Mobile App Developer Degrees

You can find many undergraduate programs that cover mobile app development. The most well-rounded education you can have is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. If you’re interested in further education, graduate and postgraduate programs can help you land a high-paying job.

Mobile App Developer Bootcamps

Bootcamps offer specialization programs in mobile app development and can last up to a year. If you have a background in coding, you should consider a mobile app developer bootcamp. The Tech Academy and App Academy are both great options because they can teach you well-rounded app development skills.

Mobile App Developer Courses

You can find hundreds of online courses that can teach you app developer skills. Online course providers like Udacity and Codecademy offer short courses that are often free of charge. This is a great option if you would like an initial dip into the world of mobile app development. Udacity offers introductory courses for both iOS and Android development.

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

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

There are lots of different ways to become a mobile app developer. Coding bootcamps might provide an intensive curriculum, but computer science degrees tend to cover more ground. You can choose which works best for your needs. If you want to become a mobile app developer, follow the general steps below.


Learn Technical Background Skills

Successful mobile app developers start off by learning general programming. Computer programming is taught in bootcamps and in universities. You’ll need to develop the foundational building blocks of software design and programming languages.


Choose to Specialize in iOS or Android Technologies

If you want to become a mobile app developer, make sure you choose a system you enjoy. iOS and Android are the two most popular options. There are many more such as Symbian, Windows, and Blackberry Rim, but it is more difficult to find a job.


Learn a Few Coding Languages

If you decide to specialize in iOS, you will need to learn languages like Swift or Objective-C. If you opt for Android programming, you will need to learn Java or Kotlin. This step becomes easier if you already have a background in computer science and language learning.


Build a Professional Network

Throughout your programming journey, you will meet many like-minded professionals. Colleges and bootcamps both provide networking opportunities. Take it upon yourself to meet others and ask questions. You never know when you will meet your next professional colleague or client.


Create a Portfolio

Becoming a mobile app developer requires creativity. You can use your personal, school, and professional projects to build a portfolio for clients. Keep track of your ideas and creations. You never know when your projects will come in handy.

Top Mobile App Developer Skills

Bootcamps and universities offer tech education and networking opportunities. However, to become a successful mobile app developer, you need to develop skills both in and outside the classroom. Communication and presentation skills are just as useful as hard skills. Read below to learn more about what skills you need as a mobile app developer.

Swift or Java

Swift and Java are the most popular programming languages in mobile app development. If you want to work in this field, you need to master at least one of these languages. You can learn in formal education or with an individual course. Swift is the default language for iOS apps. Java is a popular programming language for Android developers.

HTML5 and Apache Cordova Frameworks

Apache Cordova is a multi-purpose framework that allows mobile developers to input HTML and JavaScript code. It is widely popular in 2021 because it is compatible with both iOS, Android, and even Windows mobile technologies. HTML5 is a versatile coding language that is used on Apache Cordova. It is an important language to learn as a developer.

Compatibility Mechanisms

Many platforms allow developers to create apps for both iOS and Android. Xamarin, for example, is a popular cross-platform tool that allows developers to share a codebase on iOS and Android. Other technologies like React Native and NativeScript are increasingly popular. This is another vital skill you need as a mobile developer.

Mobile App Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Mobile development is a very popular career in 2021. In 2017, CNN considered a mobile app developer to be one of the best jobs in America. According to PayScale, mobile app developers earn around $73,000 per year. App developers in the United States lead very comfortable careers both financially and socially.

Entry-Level Mobile App Developer Job Requirements

You need at least one year of experience in a bootcamp or a computer science college to start entering the job market. Coding positions don’t always ask for degrees as prerequisites, but you need to demonstrate some technical skills for your first job. Entry-level mobile app developers earn about $50,000. This is higher than many other fields.

How to Prepare for Your Mobile App Developer Job Interview

Before you enter your interview, make sure you’re prepared and that you feel confident. If you have been chosen for an interview, you already fit the bill in terms of technical requirements. Show off your personality and soft skills and you can get the job.


Mobile App Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • What makes you qualified for this position?
  • What project have you done that you are most proud of?
  • How do you design push notifications?
  • Can you describe a bug or problem that you helped solve?
  • How do you approach user onboarding?
  • How do you approach app testing?
Mobile App Developer Certifications

Mobile App Developer Certifications

Many developer certifications can ramp up your resume. These can usually be obtained by completing an online course followed by an exam.

Below are some of the best mobile app development certifications.

Android ATC - Android Certified Application Developer

To obtain the prestigious Android ATC certification, you need to score 70 percent on a challenging app development exam. In the run-up to the exam, you will follow an extensive curriculum on Android frameworks, layouts, dialogues, and more. This is a critical certification if you would like to specialize in Android app development. The price is $150.

Microsoft Certified - Power Platform App Maker Associate

This short course takes you through the process of creating and designing apps. This certification has technical prerequisites such as data modeling and process analysis. There is an exam at the end of the course which will assess your progress. The certification costs $120.

IBM Certified - Mobile Application Developer, Mobile Foundation V8.0

This exclusive certification requires competencies in Java, database connectivity, and Swift. This is an intermediate-level course and focuses on client-side applications. The cost varies between $100 and $200 and it includes an exam.

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

Becoming a mobile app developer can take as little as a few weeks with an intensive bootcamp. The recommended route is to take a computer science degree, which can last up to four years. If you would like to learn in your own time, you can explore online courses. However, this track often takes longer because it is less comprehensive and organized.

Why You Should Become a Mobile App Developer in 2021

You should become a mobile app developer because the tech industry is booming. Mobile app development is a career pathway that gives you a huge amount of opportunity and flexibility. Developers can often choose to work in an office or remotely.

Mobile app developers are also constantly learning, which makes this an exciting career path. New languages and technologies are constantly being developed. Additionally, the mobile app industry is getting bigger. In 2021, the total value of the industry will increase to nearly $190 billion.

Mobile App Developer FAQ

Yes. In fact, this is highly recommended. Most of the technologies you use as a mobile app developer are foundational software engineering technologies. These can include JavaScript and other programming languages.

That’s your decision. Globally, Android is much more popular than iOS. You can try each platform and see which you prefer. You can also learn both if you want to explore your options.

Java and JavaScript are widely used in backend development. Otherwise, Node.js, Ruby, and Python are also popular. You should research which languages are most common in your specialization.

Building an app takes at least four months. Medium-sized apps usually take six months to build and require a team of proficient developers. The budget can reach thousands of dollars.

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