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App Developer Career Guide

The world is getting more dependent on technology. With this means that there is an increasing demand for app development professionals and plenty of exciting job opportunities. App developers typically need a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or another related field. Once in the industry, there is a lot of opportunity for skill development and career progression.

 

The future of mobile is the future of online. It is how people access online content now.

David Murphy

App Developer Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life App Developer Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the App Developer field.
IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33019Senior Application AnalystFemale46 $92,000malvern, PA01/01/2010

Overview

What an application developer does

Application (app) developers are software development professionals who create the applications that we use on our smart phones and tablets every single day. Application developers oversee the entire life cycle of a software application: from the design of it, to the testing of its functionality. Their responsibilities and duties may differ depending on who and where they work. However, typical duties include:

  • Analysing data to determine an application’s requirements
  • Documenting every aspect of the app design process for future reference
  • Coding the application
  • Testing the application and ensuring it runs smoothly
  • Fixing all glitches with the application where necessary

Why they are needed

The world that we live in is getting more and more technology reliant and there is no sign of this slowing down. The number of mobile app downloads each year has been increasing steadily. In 2017, there were 178 billion app downloads. That number is projected to grow to 205 billion this year, and 258 billion in 2022—a 45 percent increase over five years. On top of this, it is projected that the total revenue from mobile app downloads, advertising and in-app purchases will pass $118 billion in 2020.

Clearly, the use of mobile apps is rising. Therefore, app developers are needed to help us keep up with the growing technology demands by creating new, and exciting, apps.

Pros and cons of a career as an app developer:

Pros:

  • The future is digital, which means that the demand for application developer professionals will only ever increase
  • There are opportunities within a career in app development. For example, you can work in the private sector, public sector or as a freelancer/consultant
  • A career in app development will provide you with lots of opportunity to switch roles and progress into different positions
  • You will never stop learning and increasing your knowledge
  • App developers are rewarded a competitive salary

Cons:

  • App developers may have to work long and demanding hours when approaching a deadline
  • Like any job, some app development tasks are repetitive and boring. For example, there is a lot of tasks that involve writing and formatting documentation
  • It is typically a very high-pressured job because apps need to be made successfully and in a certain time frame
  • You will never completely be an expert due to the fast and dynamic pace of the app development industry. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep up and you will find that you always need to learn new skills and adapt to new roles and situations.

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of software developers (which includes app developers) is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

This employment growth is predicted because the number of people who use digital platform and applications is predicted to increase over time, meaning the demand for app developers will grow. Similarly, businesses are starting to recognise the importance of having applications and systems, so the demand will increase further.

Career paths

App developers must usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or another related field. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Aspiring app developers should take classes related to building applications to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation.

After, or during, university, it is advisable to complete an internship at a software development company. On top of this, some employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, app developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

App developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

After a few years experience, app developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Example Job Titles for App Developer

Below is a list of common job titles in the App Developer field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for app developers was $107,510 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $64,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $164,590. The top industries were: software publishing (where the median annual salary was $122,11o), manufacturing ($116,080), management of companies and enterprises ($107,64), computer systems design and related services ($103,670) and insurance carriers and related activities (100,980).

Autonomy and Flexibility

At the beginning, working in app development may not feel like it provides too much flexibility or autonomy as it is typical to start off in entry-level positions and report to more senior roles. In these positions, the hours can be especially long if a deadline is close.

However, as you progress into more senior positions, you quickly receive more autonomy, responsibility and flexibility. With more experience, there is the option to become self-employed or to work as a consultant, which gives you the ultimate flexibility and control.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a mobile app developer, based on average annual wage and availability of jobs were:

  1. Washington, where the average annual salary was $115,678
  2. North Carolina, where the average annual salary was $91,503
  3. New York, where the average annual salary was $98,474
  4. California, where the average annual salary was $103,782
  5. District of Columbia, where the average annual salary was $103,683

The worst states, according to Zippia, were West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Hawaii.

Work environment

The largest employers of software developers, which includes app developers, in 2019 were, computer systems design and related services, which employe 33% of all software developers in the United States. Manufacturing employs 11% of all software developers, software publishers employe 9%, management of companies and enterprises employ 5% and insurance carriers and related activities employ 4%.

In general, app developers will work in teams with other tech-savvy individuals who also contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software. Some developers will work at home.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in App Developer careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and App Developer career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in App Developer.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

Due to app development being a fairly recent and growing profession, little is known about what personality traits successful app development professionals will have. One study found that ISTJ types have been repeatedly found to be very effective personality types for programmer roles in software development literature. This makes sense, as ISTJs focus on accuracy. They like to work with data, focus on detail and are organized and orderly.

Accomplishment and mastery

The sense of accomplishment and mastery in app development professionals is likely to be very high as they are always learning and advancing their skill set. Due to the industry constantly changing, there is a lot of progression and advancement available. As you learn new skills, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and mastery of new skills and resources.

Meaning and contribution

There is a lot of meaning in app development as they are helping to contribute to the development and progression of technology. App development professionals make the lives of many people easier and helps society progress.

Life fit

For the most part, a career in app development can provide an excellent life fit for most people, meaning you can provide for your family whilst still being able to have a good work/life balance. However, at the beginning of an app development career, the life fit might be hard as app developers will have to work long hours to meet deadlines.

Who will thrive in this career?

  • People who are enthusiastic about answering technical questions and getting to the route of the problem.
  • People who are adaptable and flexible.
  • Those who are looking to progress and like to constantly learn and advance their skill set
  • Those who work exceptionally well under pressure and can remain calm when things go wrong.

Who will struggle in this career?

  • People who don’t like change as things can go wrong and app development can often be chaotic and professionals need to keep up with the change.
  • People who aren’t fond of continuous education and skill development as cybersecurity professionals need to learn new skills all the time
  • People who don’t work well under pressure
  • Those who can’t work well as part of a collaborative team will struggle with the team work aspect of app development

Requirements

Skills and talents

The typical skills and talents required for an application developer include:

  • Problem-solving skills, as app developers will need to work to address complex challenges and solve problems when apps don’t work
  • Attention to detail, as missing things when coding and developing apps will have chaotic consequences
  • Communication skills, as app developers will need to work closely with individuals in other roles and departments. They must be able to effectively communicate their ideas across to others
  • Knowledge of programming Languages, such as Objective-C (for Apple IOS developers) and Java (for Android developers). However, it is useful to know multiple programming languages. This will make you stand out from the other job applicants.

Education

App developers must usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or another related field. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Aspiring app developers should take classes related to building applications to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. After, or during, university, it is advisable to complete an internship at a software development company. On top of this, some employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.

Certifications

App developers do not need any official certificates. However, it may be helpful to take courses in Java programming or Objective-C programming. This will increase your career development opportunities.

How to Become

Summary

With the current technological dependency of the world, the app development industry is growing. This means that there is an increasing demand for app development professionals and plenty of exciting job opportunities.

Immediate action (so what can you do)

To kick start a career in app development, it is worth trying to get an internship in an app development role, this will give you the skills and knowledge you need.

Education and learning

App developers must usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or another related field. Some employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.

Skill development

Whilst working as an app development professional, there is a lot of opportunity for skill development and career progression. Many professionals continue to take courses that will advance their application knowledge.

 

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about App Developer careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33019Senior Application AnalystFemale46 $92,000malvern, PA01/01/2010

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