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The Beginner’s Guide to a Career as an Android Developer

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Are you passionate about mobile apps and interested in becoming an Android app developer?

Your first step is understanding what responsibilities you’ll have as an Android developer and what technical and non-technical skills you need for Android app development. That’s exactly what Natalia Kharchenko is here to share with us in this special guest post.

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Software engineering is a highly in-demand occupation, and the need for qualified tech specialists will only continue to grow in the foreseeable future. This is especially true in terms of the world’s most popular mobile operating system: Android. Over 6K apps are released to Google Play Store daily by Android developers from all over the world. That is a strong reason to believe that mastering Android development skills all but guarantees your future employability.

That brings us to the question: what is it like to be an Android developer? What responsibilities will you have to take on? What are the core skills you need to succeed in Android app development? Where do you look for Android developer jobs once you’ve mastered those skills? Let’s explore the answers in this article!

Responsibilities of Android Developers

Let’s first cover the question of responsibility. There are several main responsibilities you will be faced with being an Android developer, although these may vary depending on the company.

Responsibilities of Android Developers

Image created by Vlad K., Cleveroad

Building App Functionality and UI

Of course, the main task of any Android developer is to create the app’s design and build its 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

It is extremely important for all software engineers to build and maintain effective communication with other members of the team like UI/UX designers, back-end developers, etc. 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.

databases and APIs

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.

fixing bugs

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.

Technical Skills for Android Developers

It is time to dive into the technical skills Android developers need, especially which ones are must-haves to start your career or find an Android developer position in a good company.

android

Let’s see what skills employers are looking at when they decide to hire Android app developers.

1. Expertise in Java, Kotlin or Both

An extensive knowledge of at least one of the two official Android development languages is the first thing you need to start off. You have to be comfortable with Kotlin or Java programming languages.

java

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)
  • Variables
  • Lists
  • Loops

If you’re learning 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. Decent Experience with SQL

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 SQLite experience. Thus, it is a good idea to master this database management system to increase your chances to be hired.

4. Knowledge of Git

This 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.

programming books

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.

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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.

Google play

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 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. Back-End Programming Skills

Some job posts will mention that their perfect Android developer candidate should be able to work with the back-end component of the software as well. 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 back-end programming languages and they are all different (Python, Node.js, .Net, etc.)

It is absolutely up to you whether or not to apply for such a job. Maybe you already have some experience with one of the back-end languages, or maybe you’d prefer to stick with the front end. It is not always necessary to dive deep into learning one or another back-end technology to be an Android developer.

Skills of Android Developers

Image created by Vlad K., Cleveroad

 

Good-to-Have Non-Technical 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.

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 app developer from a merely “good” one.

passion for work

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 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 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.

teamwork

Writing

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.

Having experience working in an Agile software development environment may complement your resume and work well for you during an interview. If you have no experience like this, you should be at least familiar with the principles of Agile methodology.

Business Knowledge of an Industry

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 variety of industries: 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.

Where to Find an Android Developer Job Online

If you want to find a freelance Android developer job, you can look for clients on the following platforms:

If you are looking for a full-time job opportunity, you can try the following job boards and platforms:

This list is not the fullest you can find on the web, but still, those platforms are good enough to start looking for your dream Android developer jobs.

Android Developer Salaries

So, you know what skills you should have and what responsibilities you will have to perform being an Android developer. It is high time to figure out the appropriate level of salary for your software engineering efforts.

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.

Let’s start with average Android developer salary by the level of knowledge in the US (all states):

  • Junior Android Developer: $56,320 per year
  • Mid-Level Android Developer: $106,118 per year
  • Senior Android Developer: $127,928 per year

Average Android developer salary by level in Canada:

  • Junior Android Developer: $58,500 per year
  • Mid-Level Android Developer: $107,250 per year
  • Senior Android Developer: $146,250 per year

Average Android developer salary by level in the UK:

  • Junior Android Developer: £20,300 per year
  • Mid-Level Android Developer: £45,675 per year
  • Senior Android Developer: £72,500 per year

Average Android developer salary by level in India:

  • Junior Level Android Developer: $4,141 per year
  • Mid Level Android Developer: $10,672 per year
  • Senior Android Developer: $13,730 per year

(These figures are averages taken from Indeed and Glassdoor.)

Wrapping Up

If you are a beginning Android developer, you have plenty of things to learn before you will be hired for a middle or senior position. It all depends on you. Even if you are a middle or senior Android developer, there are always new things to learn and skills to improve. When you work in tech, learning is a lifelong commitment!


Nataliia KharchenkoNataliia Kharchenko is a Technical Writer at Cleveroad. It is web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. We are focused on helping startups, small, and medium businesses create competitive and winning software. I enjoy bringing a digital world closer to people and writing about technology, mobile apps, innovations, and progressive management models.


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