How to become a mobile app developer

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Mobile app developers create applications for mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. As more users adopt mobile technology, the need for developers increases.

Becoming a mobile app developer involves obtaining a relevant degree, attending a boot camp, or even learning the skills through self-study. Internship opportunities provide hands-on training, portfolio content, and a chance to experience different work environments.

This guide will walk you through the steps to start a career as a mobile app developer.

Mobile app developers create applications for phones, laptops, and tablets. They can focus on iOS, Android or Windows app development.

Individual developers at larger companies typically don’t work on an app from start to finish. Instead, they focus on individual components of the process.

Daily tasks include:

  • User Interface Design
  • Write code
  • Testing apps
  • debugging
  • Documenting processes
  • Project management

Mobile app developers should know programming languages ​​such as Swift, Python, Java, Flash, and SQL, depending on whether they work with iOS or Android operating systems. Depending on the size of the project, they can work alone or in teams of developers, engineers and designers.

Larger employers include technology companies, financial firms, retail and service companies, and healthcare facilities.

Mobile app developers need both creative and technical skills.

On the technical side, they should have knowledge of programming, database administration, and debugging. On the creative side, app developers use design and artistic skills to build visually appealing apps.

People (or “soft”) skills, such as teamwork and project management, also play an important role in mobile app development.

soft skills

analytical thinking

Attention to detail




Difficult Skills

Designing functional user interfaces

Development and configuration


programming languages

Testing and Troubleshooting

How do I become a mobile app developer?

This section covers all the steps to becoming a mobile app developer, from your first decision and testing the waters to landing a runway.

1. Make sure you really want to be a developer.

If you’re not sure if you want to become a mobile app developer, don’t have any development experience, or just need a refresher, you can coding practice websites

Try these free sites:

  • CodinGame: This site contains 25+ programming languages ​​to practice through games, puzzles and competitions.
  • LeetCode: 2,000+ practice problems build skills in algorithms, database structures, and 14 programming languages.
  • Globe Online Judge (SPOJ): Code and build algorithms through over 20,000 problems designed for students.

2. Learn mobile app development skills through degree(s), coding boot camp(s), or self-study.

Mobile app developers usually earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science degree† Students should look for curricula that offer courses in design theory, algorithms and data structures, and programming languages.

Some CS programs offer tracks in mobile development. You choose between iOS development or Android development with Android Studio

Other useful majors and concentrations include application development, game development, interactive media design, software engineering, and web development

Coding Boot Camps and mobile app development bootcamps provide accelerated routes to a career in mobile app development. Without the general training subjects of a study programme, they focus exclusively on professional skills.

Both types of boot camps effectively train students for mobile app developer roles, but coding boot camp participants must ensure that they learn programming languages ​​applicable to mobile apps.

Another option to acquire skills is to build your own program with free online courses

3. Choose your focus: Android or iOS.

Mobile app developers state that: iOS development is faster and easier to master than Android. The Swift language used for iOS app development is more efficient than the Java or Kotlin languages ​​used in Android development.

Using iOS developers:

Android developers use:

Since the programming languages ​​are quite different, developers usually choose iOS or Android.

4. Practice skills and build your portfolio.

Mobile app developers can sharpen their programming skills coding websitesJoin online developer communities to brainstorm app ideas, take free courses, and practice building their own apps.

Projects you’ve created yourself, along with projects completed in boot camps, training, and internships, count towards building your portfolio.

Highlight projects in your portfolio that demonstrate your design skills, mastery of programming languages, and ability to create easy-to-use apps. You can view examples of portfolios on project sites like Github.

TO SEE: How to build a coding portfolio

If you are planning a career as an Android developer and have mastered Java or Kotlin, consider testing for a link Android developer certification† Designed for aspiring developers, this reference showcases your skills to potential employers.

5. Do an internship.

Internships provide invaluable experience and opportunities to make connections. You will likely work with a mentor or supervisor and work on various project components. Internships can cover: remote work or on location.

Social media companies, technology companies, video sharing and game developers, real estate companies and retailers offer mobile app development internships. Find internships on the types of workplaces you would like to explore for future jobs.

Look for internships on general job boards and those who specialize in technical roles.

6. Determine the career path of your mobile app developer.

All sectors of business and industry use mobile applications. That you can probably choose from areas of specialization and career areas.

Whether you’re interested in developing Android, iOS, or web-based apps, employment opportunities span business, healthcare, service, and retail.

The salary potential also scores high. Salary Details from May 2022 shows the average salary developer mobile app for $76,131. Median income rises to $94,000 with five years of experience.

7. Create your resume and apply for jobs.

When preparing your applicationtailor-made for every employer.

Focus on relevant skills learned through courses and internships and highlight previous roles similar to the position advertised. Also mention relevant volunteer positions and school projects.

The typical application process consists of:

  • An initial screening performed by: interview by phone
  • A technical interview by phone or video call that may include technical reviews or problem sets
  • A final on-site interview, which may include meetings with potential supervisors and colleagues

This article has been reviewed by Darnell Kenebrew

Darnell Kenebrew, a man with dark hair and a short beard, smiles in a professional headshot in front of a brick wall.

Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate of the 2020 class of San Francisco State University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, which helped him launch a career in technology and pursue roles within data and engineering.

He is currently a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers – a nonprofit organization for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people opportunities and that everyone should have equal opportunities in the labor market. He believes that COOP Careers helps to realize this equality.

Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be used in many aspects of business decisions to achieve goals. In addition, he has a passion for inclusion, community, education and using data for good. He hopes that he can redirect business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will have a positive impact on end users as well as achieving business goals.

Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Last reviewed on May 19, 2022.

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