How To Become An App Developer: Everything You Should Know

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Jun 13, 2023

Mobile and website applications have become an integral part of our daily lives. In just a few clicks, we can access a vast range of products and services offering unparalleled convenience, boosting productivity and facilitating communication. Apps provide endless entertainment and learning opportunities, too––all at our fingertips.

With the rise in mobile and web app usage comes a demand for skilled app developers. These professionals are trailblazing the technological landscape and innovating how people interact with the world around them.

Can you envision yourself contributing to the future of technology and transforming industries like healthcare, finance and education? If so, a career in app development may be an excellent fit for you. App development is a challenging yet rewarding field that combines technical expertise and creativity.

This article overviews how to become an app developer, including what this profession entrails and a step-by-step guide on starting your career.

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What Does an App Developer Do?

App developers design, develop and maintain apps for various devices, including mobile devices, tablets, desktop computers and web browsers. These developers typically specialize in desktop, web or mobile app development.

App developers design and build scalable, maintainable and secure applications that meet user needs. They use programming languages like HTML, CSS, Python, C++ and Java to write the code that tells a computer or mobile device how to operate an application. This code builds user interfaces, connects apps to databases, integrates application programming interfaces and services, and handles user interactions.

App developers work across several industries, including healthcare, education, nonprofits, information technology, logistics, travel and tourism, food services, retail and hospitality.

The day-to-day responsibilities of an app developer can vary depending on the specific position, company and industry; however, typical everyday tasks include the following:

Conceptualizing and designing new apps or new features for existing apps
Programming apps using coding languages
Testing and debugging apps to ensure they run smoothly
Maintaining and updating existing apps
Researching emerging trends and technologies

Salary and Career Growth for an App Developer

According to Payscale, the average salary for an app developer is around $74,000. Multiple factors can influence earning potential, including educational background, training, experience, certification, industry and location.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment opportunities for software developers (including app developers) to grow by 26% between 2021 and 2031, significantly faster than the average for all occupations.

Steps to Become an App Developer

Several pathways can lead to a career in app development. From pursuing formal education to enrolling in coding bootcamps or following a self-guided learning path, aspiring developers can choose a career path that suits their needs and goals. Below are steps you can take to become an app developer.

Consider a Degree

While app developers do not always need a college degree, earning a relevant degree—such as software engineering, a bachelor’s degree in web development or computer science—can provide a structured, comprehensive foundation for fundamental web development and programming concepts. Relevant degree programs typically cover programming languages, computer systems, industry-standard tools and trends.

Bachelor’s programs take around four years of full-time study to complete and comprise 120 credits divided into general education and major-specific coursework. Curricula vary depending on major and degree program; however, software development and related degree programs commonly cover the following topics:

Programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, C#
Database systems
Operating systems
Network systems
Mobile programming
Web application development
Cloud computing
Data structures and algorithms

Learn Coding Languages

Coding languages form the foundation of any software development. Developers use coding skills to build applications, debug and troubleshoot issues, perform modifications and updates, and implement new features. Some of the best programming languages to learn for beginners include the following:

HTML
CSS
Python
Java
JavaScript
Ruby
C

Knowing how to code in languages like Swift, Kotlin, Objective-C and C/C++ is critical for developing iOS and Android applications. Knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is essential for developing web applications that can run on desktop and mobile devices.

Several free and paid online resources can help you learn and master a coding language, including online courses and video tutorials, coding bootcamps, hands-on practice projects, articles and books. Online forums and social media groups can provide you with valuable insight, advice and help from more experienced programmers.

Gain Relevant Work Experience

Gaining practical, hands-on experience in coding and software development is a must for aspiring app developers. Employers value candidates with relevant experience, which can come from internships, coding bootcamps and personal projects that demonstrate proficiency in programming languages and tools.

Top Skills for an App Developer

App developers should have a broad skill set including programming languages, user interface design, cross-platform app development and backend computing. Being tech-savvy doesn’t necessarily translate to solid app development skills. The design and development process tailors apps to specific platforms such as mobile devices, laptops, tablets or desktop computers.

Proficiency in programming languages. Proficiency in one or more programming languages enables you to write code, which is a primary component of building applications. Writing code requires a comprehensive understanding of programming concepts, data structures and algorithms––the building blocks of software development.

App developers use programming languages to implement these concepts and create high-quality apps.

Software development skills. App developers design, build and manage their applications using computer software. This process involves testing, debugging and troubleshooting to ensure the app functions well and meets user needs.

Staying up to date with the latest software tools helps app developers remain competitive and create applications that perform well on the latest platforms and devices.

Cross-platform development. The ability to create applications for different platforms and operating systems allows you to develop apps that can run seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices with minimal modifications. Cross-platform development competencies include reusing code, designing consistent user interfaces, testing and deploying applications to different platforms.
Product management skills. Product management skills are essential to creating and launching new apps. These skills help developers conceptualize, plan, develop, test, deploy and maintain their apps. With product management skills, you can identify market opportunities, understand user needs and make strategic decisions about an app’s features, functions and launch.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming an App Developer

How much money can an app developer make?

According to Payscale, the average app developer earns around $74,000 per year. Several determinants can influence earning potential, including educational background, training, experience, certification, industry, company size and location.

What qualifications do you need to be an app developer?

App development doesn’t require any particular credentials, but most employers seek candidates with some technical expertise, education and training. Having a portfolio of relevant projects demonstrates your skill set and contextualizes your experience for potential employers.