Are you passionate about mobile apps and interested in becoming an Android developer?
Learning Android app development can be a great fit for a creative programmer who loves building things.
Your first step is understanding what technical and non-technical Android developer skills you’ll need and what responsibilities to expect as you progress through the Android developer career path.
In this special guest post, Natalia Kharchenko joins us to share information and advice on how to become an Android developer.
Over 3,500 apps are released to the Google Play Store daily by Android developers from all over the world. That fact alone is a compelling reason to believe that mastering Android developer skills all but guarantees your future employability/ability to earn money.
That brings us to the question: what is an Android developer’s job like? What responsibilities will you have to take on?
What are the core Android developer skills you need to succeed? How do you become an Android developer and find good Android developer jobs once you’ve mastered those skills?
And, importantly, how much do Android developers make?
Let’s explore the answers in this article! 👇
Start coding now
Stop waiting and start learning! Get my 10 tips on teaching yourself how to code.
What Is an Android Developer? Why Android vs iOS?
Android developers, of course, are app developers who build on Android. But why might you choose to become an Android developer vs building on iOS? This is often a matter of preference.
➡️ If you want to target Apple product users, learn iOS development. Many people say that learning iOS is a bit easier than learning Android programming, too.
➡️ If you want to target a wider variety of consumers (who use Google, Samsung, etc.) then consider learning Android.
Another consideration: If you don’t currently have an iPhone or Mac, it may be cheaper to get started with Android. Plus, once you know Android design patterns it’s often super easy to learn iOS in case you ever want to switch.
In her interview on the LTCWM podcast, Christine Chapman said:
“I really enjoy the UI parts of Android development. And I think there are a lot of interesting challenges there—like thinking about the space constraints and the fact that you have to support a huge array of devices. You know, with iOS, there’s only so many devices that are currently on the market. For Android, there’s so many different sizes and shapes and not a memory and so kind of figuring out how you can create a good experience for everyone with that is a lot of fun.”
Are Android Developers in Demand?
Before you commit to learning how to become an Android developer, it’s worth considering your future prospects. Let’s look at a few quick facts about Android development demand:
- Larger global market share than iOS: Combined, Android and iOS users comprise 99% of the mobile OS market share worldwide. Android leads by a wide margin, with 71.8% market share compared to iOS’s 27.6% as of 2022.
- More open Android than iOS dev jobs on Indeed: There are currently 542 open iOS developer jobs on Indeed.com, while there are 998 Android development positions open. (That might not sound like a ton, but also keep in mind that a lot of app developers are entrepreneurs instead of working full-time jobs.)
- Android mobile applications now run on Windows 11: Learning Android app development isn’t just for phones anymore—you can now run Android apps directly on your PC with Windows 11! This means demand for Android developer skills will only continue to grow in the future.
📱 Mobile development is on the Learn to Code With Me list of in-demand skills—learn about more of them here!
The Android Developer Career Path
Everyone’s Android career path will look different. The most straightforward progression from the bottom to top of the Android “food chain” would look something like: junior dev > middle dev > senior dev > engineering director > VP or architect.
However, there are other ways to carve your path in Android development as well.
For example, you could start in a help desk role, or as an intern to get your foot in the door. You could also start out as just a regular software developer or web developer and start specializing in Android over time as you gain experience.
Elvis Chidera has one of the most unique Android dev career paths out there!
He grew up in a rural part of Nigeria and taught himself how to code on a Nokia phone, then transitioned to freelance app development, and then got a full-time job as an Android developer at dot Learn, an MIT startup that builds educational apps for students in emerging markets like Africa.
He has also worked on over 50 apps, which collectively have millions of downloads from the Google Play Store.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Android Developer?
This is super subjective! It depends on a lot of factors, such as your other responsibilities and available time to learn, previous experience/tech ability, budget, learning style, resources, and more.
⌛ From our other post on how long it takes to learn to code, the average tends to be at least two years of learning to code before being able to land a full-time job. This time period will likely be shorter if you plan on doing freelance work (since you can often do this while you’re still actively learning).
Being able to create and release your own app independently can also be possible a lot more quickly—just a matter of months for a simple app!
Responsibilities of Android Developers
So, what exactly does an Android developer do? There are several main responsibilities you will be faced as an Android software developer, although these may vary depending on the company.
📱Building App Functionality and UI
If you’re looking into how to become an Android developer, you know the main task is building apps, of course!
You’ll be responsible for creating some (or all) of its design and functionality. This includes writing clean code and building a well-thought-out architecture, as well as considering possible bugs and trying to avoid them.
🤝 Collaborating with Other Team Members
Since in most companies every member of the team performs a specific role, good communication is key to building superb products.
🖥️ Tackling Databases and APIs
An Android developer commonly has to work with external sources such as various APIs and databases.
This means you should be skilled enough at dealing with third-party code written by other software engineers. We will talk about this a bit more later.
🔍 Performing Unit Testing
Unit testing—which is also called module testing—is often an integral part of the software development cycle. It is actually included in the Agile software development methodology, which many companies use.
You should unit test your app throughout the development process.
🪲 Fixing Bugs
Bugs unfortunately just come with the territory of Android app development. Your task as an engineer is to find at least a portion of those bugs in your code, as well as fix the bugs that were found by other team members like Quality Assurance (QA) engineers.
📚 Staying Up-to-Date on New Technologies
Being a software engineer means mastering new skills and gaining fresh knowledge all the time. It is barely possible to be a good developer in today’s rapidly developing high-tech world without paying due attention to learning.
Those are the basic responsibilities of Android developers, but definitely not all of them. Keep in mind that responsibilities usually differ from company to company and depend on your working experience.
The 8 Most Important Technical Android Developer Skills
If you’re brand-new to the idea of becoming an Android developer, you’ll have to start by learning the right skills!
Let’s have a look at the technical skills Android developers need.
1. Expertise in Java, Kotlin or Both
An extensive knowledge of at least one of the two official Android development languages is the first Android developer required skill you’ll need. You have to be comfortable with Kotlin and/or Java programming.
Alternatively, you could use a cross-platform tool to build apps that work on both Android and iOS devices. Learn about native versus cross-platform apps here.
What does that mean? You must have an advanced knowledge of their syntax and structure. In addition, you should understand the following concepts:
- Object-oriented fundamentals (e.g. inheritance, class, and static methods)
If you’re learning Android app development with Java, then you should also be confident with using JDK documentation to be able to quickly learn how to use different parts of the language.
2. Vital Android SDK Concepts
Android engineers should also be good at using the Android Software Development Kit (Android SDK). There are several areas you should be aware of:
- Fundamentals of Views, View Groups, and Layouts
- User input
- Ways to get data from the web
- Storing data
- Action bars
- Adapting apps for different screen sizes
You should also be familiar with Android documentation and various third-party resources that will help you quickly master any parts of SDK that are still unknown to you.
3. SQL Database Skills
Almost every Android app needs to store data in some form, whether that’s the data of the app itself or user data. Correspondingly, your app should be integrated with a database so that you are able to manage the data.
This is why many employers are looking for an Android developer with SQL experience. Thus, it is a good idea to master this database management system to increase your chances to be hired.
➡️ Need to learn SQL? Here are some good places to start.
4. Knowledge of Git
This Android developer skill may not be strictly necessary depending on the company and your needs, but it’s good to have. You will most likely need to use some kind of version control tool eventually.
You don’t have to be a Git “ninja.” It’s enough to be aware of the basics, like creating and using repositories and knowing how to commit changes.
5. XML Basics
XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and is mostly used in the development of web solutions.
Nevertheless, it is an essential technology for Android app development as well, due to the fact XML is used to access web data. Since many Android apps require transferring data to web services and vice versa, XML is a must-have skill to master.
Start coding now
Stop waiting and start learning! Get my 10 tips on teaching yourself how to code.
6. Understanding of Material Design Guidelines
Every Android app has to be aligned with the Material Design language guidelines that cover all essential elements in apps (colors, shades, transitions, element placement, etc.) Otherwise, the app may not be approved to publish to the Google Play Store.
Many job postings for Android developers require this.
7. Android Studio
The knowledge of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Android Studio or any other is also an important skill to have.
Familiarity with Android Studio development will help you work more efficiently. In particular, you can benefit from the built-in debugger and testing tools to write bug-free code.
8. Backend Programming Skills
Some Android developer job posts will mention that their perfect candidate should be able to work with the backend component of the software as well.
It’s absolutely up to you whether or not to apply for these Android developer jobs.
It may be hard to learn another language, especially if you are just starting your career path and lack experience. What’s more, there are dozens of backend programming languages and they are all different (Python, Node.js, .Net, etc).
But maybe you already have some experience with one of the backend languages or you’re up for another challenge!
5 Non-Technical Android Developer Skills
While it is obvious that any technical position requires corresponding technical skills, many developers forget about the non-technical skills that can be equally important to help you become an Android developer and get hired.
Let’s take a look at some of them. 👇
❤️ Passion for Your Work
Every software engineer has their own motivation for waking up in the morning and writing code for eight hours a day from Monday to Friday.
Passion for work is what differentiates an exceptional Android software developer from a merely “good” one. I understand that it sounds like a cliche, but being passionate about what you do is one of the surest ways to climb the career ladder quickly.
Once you find something that sparks passion in any aspect of your work, you should pursue that—be it the use of a certain Android language or technology, the ability to create top-notch products for users from all over the globe, or whatever else.
🗣️ Communication Skills and Teamwork
Most employers require potential tech candidates (Android developers included) to be able to collaborate well with a team.
This involves being able to talk about what you’re doing, delegate wisely, and accept feedback about your work from colleagues.
Especially if you’re working across teams, it’s also valuable if you can explain complex processes in simple terms to non-technical specialists.
Writing is another non-technical skill that many employers have started looking for lately.
An aptitude for writing is useful in any context, whether it’s communicating with colleagues via chat or email or writing technical documentation, articles, work summaries, texts for users, etc.
💻 Agile Methodology
As I mentioned earlier, most companies work with Agile software development methodology these days.
Essentially, Agile breaks each project into iterations that are also called sprints. Each sprint lasts an equal period of time (e.g. two weeks). During the sprint, the team works on a specific piece of functionality, which is released at the end.
The exact implementation may vary depending on the company.
If you have no experience like this, you should be at least familiar with the principles of Agile methodology.
🧠 Specific Industry Knowledge
The last but not the least skill to mention here is having a business knowledge of a certain industry.
Why? Because Android developers typically build mobile apps for a particular industry: healthcare, entertainment, real estate, etc.
A decent understanding and experience of working with one of them can distinguish you from dozens of other candidates for a desired position.
For example, if you have knowledge of the healthcare field, then you have a deeper understanding of what their users need and which Android app features could be most useful for the target audience—which translates to a more effective app and higher profits.
How to Become an Android Developer & Find Work
If you want to find a freelance Android developer job, you can look for clients on the following platforms:
- Upwork (learn how to stand out on Upwork)
If you are looking for how to be an Android developer in a full-time job, you can try the following job boards and platforms:
There are more platforms than just these ones for finding Android developer jobs. However, this list can certainly get you started.
How Much Do Android Developers Make?
💰 So, you know what Android developer skills you should have and what responsibilities you will have to perform once you become an Android developer. It’s time to talk money—how much do Android developers make on average?
Of course, the higher your level of expertise is (junior, middle, senior), the higher the salary will be. It also largely depends on the country of your residence, so I am going to consider several countries.
🇺🇸 Average Android developer salary by the level of knowledge in the US (all states):
- Android Developer Entry-Level Salary: $88,618 per year
- Mid-Level Android Developer: $104,726 per year
- Senior Android Developer: $132,006 per year
🇨🇦 Average Android developer salary by level in Canada:
- Android Developer Entry-Level Salary: $81,556 per year
- Mid-Level Android Developer: $105,000 per year
- Senior Android Developer: $111,822 per year
🇬🇧 Average Android developer salary by level in the UK:
- Android Developer Entry-Level Salary: £33,908 per year
- Mid-Level Android Developer: £62,823 per year
- Senior Android Developer: £75,000 per year
🇮🇳 Average Android developer salary by level in India:
- Android Developer Entry-Level Salary: ₹182,837 ($2,443) per year
- Mid-Level Android Developer: ₹336,000 ($4,468) per year
- Senior Android Developer: ₹810,471 ($10,830) per year
8 Top Courses for Learning Android App Development
We have a list of Android mobile app courses for you to check out here, but here’s a quick roundup of options for learning Android app development skills!
Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned in this article. If you buy a product through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!
1. Android App Development – Coursera Specialization
This specialization takes you through five different courses that each teach you some new Android developer skills.
Start with learning Java programming, then the components of a Java app, various development and testing methods, and much more, ending with a capstone project.
2. Build Your First Android App (Project-Centered Course) – Coursera
This Coursera Android development course focuses on learning by doing.
You should start with some background knowledge of the Java programming language, so you can combine that knowledge with the building blocks in this course to create your own real-world Android app.
3. Learn the Basics of Android – Codecademy
In this course, you’ll learn about Android Studio—the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android.
You’ll learn the fundamentals Android Studio development skills you need to build simple Android apps and run them on a real or simulated virtual device.
4. Complete Java Masterclass – Become an Android App Developer! – Mammoth Interactive
No prior experience is necessary for this class. If you’ve never done any coding before, Java might be a tougher language to dive into as your first, but it’s certainly possible.
Learn Java fundamentals, how to navigate Android Studio, how to overcome challenges, etc.
5. The Complete Java and Android Studio Course for Beginners – Mammoth Interactive
Another project-based course, this one teaches you how to build real-world apps from calculators to games to map travel apps.
Along the way, it focuses on the Java concepts and Android Studio tools you’ll need for these apps.
6. Learn to Code in Kotlin by Building an Android App – Mammoth Interactive
So far, most of these courses have focused on Java as the main programming language to use as an Android software developer. This one mixes it up by teaching you the other main up-and-coming Android language, Kotlin, as you build a to-do list app.
We’re going back to Java with this course, which features 80 hours of video content and 36 coding exercises.
Go from total beginner to an Android developer prepared to build apps and even sit for the Oracle Java Certificate exam.
8. Android Basics by Google – Udacity
Built with Google, this course is perfect for aspiring Android developers who are new to programming and want to learn real-world skills.
If you want to know how to build and accelerate your journey towards becoming a professional Android Developer, this is the course for you.
Beginning Your Android Developer Journey
So there you have it—everything you need to know to become an Android developer!
If you’re still interested in the Android developer career path, I’d recommend taking some of the courses mentioned above to dip your toe in the water and check you like Android development in practice.
Start developing the skills we’ve discussed, try building your own Android apps, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Android developer!
About the Author
Natalia Kharchenko is a Technical Writer at Cleveroad, a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. They are focused on helping startups, small, and medium businesses create competitive and winning software. She enjoys bringing a digital world closer to people and writing about technology, mobile apps, innovations, and progressive management models.