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Application Developer Career Guide

How to Become an Application Developer

An estimated 85% of Americans own a smartphone, a figure up 35% over the past decade. No matter the smartphone type that these individuals use, they are familiar with mobile applications. Mobile applications are programs designed to run on tablets and smartphones, built by application developers to help users perform essential functions.

Whether a smartphone user is calling a friend or searching for directions, they are likely using a mobile application designed by an application developer. Application developers write software programs for use across mobile operating systems, including Apple, Android, and Windows devices. Once applications are created, application developers are also responsible for testing the application and providing updates whenever necessary.

If you have a passion for technology and you want to leverage software programming skills to create a variety of useful applications, the career of an application developer could be right for you.

Two developers look over some code within an office.

What Is an Application Developer?

One of several potential careers for individuals with information technology degrees, application developers design applications for use across mobile devices and tablets. They can also create applications for use across mobile and desktop spaces, particularly design and office programs.

Applications are sometimes known as app developers. Though application developers can sometimes share responsibilities with software developers or programmers, they are unique in their ability to design high-quality applications specifically for use on mobile devices.

To become an application developer, you’ll typically need to obtain an undergraduate degree. In addition, you might be asked to obtain one or more certifications. Some employers prefer to hire applications developers with at least a few years of experience in programming, development, or another IT-related field.

What Does an Application Developer Do?

Whether they’re creating new applications or updating existing apps according to new security protocols, application developers work to provide the best possible mobile experience for users.

Application developers are often responsible for the following duties:

  • Creating new applications that help mobile or tablet users perform tasks more efficiently.
  • Tailoring application details to ensure compatibility across both mobile and desktop hardware.
  • Integrating mobile applications with a company’s existing network.
  • Troubleshooting issues with application operations.
  • Optimizing applications according to new security standards and changing business practices.
  • Ensuring compliance with any local, state, and federal application parameters.
  • Training new employees in the best application development practices.
  • Communicating with other IT and technology employees.

These and other responsibilities keep application developers busy as they work to build and refine applications for users to enjoy.

Where Do Application Developers Work?

Application developers can work in a variety of different locations. Some application developers will contract independently with companies or clients, to provide applications according to their preferences. Other application developers are hired to work internally with a company’s IT or technology department, fulfilling similar responsibilities.

Application developers can work in the following industries and locations:

  • Technology research firms
  • Private businesses
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • IT providers
  • Mobile phone research and production companies
  • Cellular service providers

Application development is commonly considered a part of marketing, similar to growth hacking and other surprise marketing careers. As a result, some application developers can find employment at marketing agencies, advertising firms, or brand consulting companies.

What Education Does an Application Developer Need?

Education is a valuable component of any successful application development position. Before you can begin a career as an application developer, you’ll need to complete a few academic requirements.

You’ll need to obtain your undergraduate education to work as an application developer. Many aspiring application developers choose to complete a bachelor’s degree in software development, where they can develop their knowledge of data management, scripting, and programming. Additionally, a bachelor's in cloud computing could be a good fit for aspiring app developers, giving important insight into cloud systems and programming in those areas.

Cloud Computing – B.S.

A program designed to arm you with the certifications and...

A program designed to arm you with the...

A program designed to arm you with the certifications and credentials you need for a career like systems administrator, computer systems analyst, cloud support specialist, AWS support administrator, and more.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 35 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,085 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster,

Certifications included, at no extra cost:

  • Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • Amazon AWS SysOps Administration–Associate
  • LPI Linux Essentials
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Axelos ITIL® Foundation

Earning certs on the path to your degree gives you credentials that will boost your résumé right away, even before you complete your online degree program.

Software Development – B.S.

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities.

  • Time: 67% of graduates finish within 30 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: several CompTIA included in this program.

CompTIA certifications included:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Project +

Software development is the second-highest rated specialty within IT. Secure your future with a degree and additional certifications.

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What Skills Does an Application Developer Need?

Application developers operate with well-developed skillsets. When optimizing an application, communicating with IT staff members, or reporting on an application’s performance, you’ll depend on skills that help make the job easier and more enjoyable.

The skills an application developer needs can include:

  • Programming: The ability to deploy common coding languages that interact well with the most popular operating systems.
  • Data structures: The ability to create and navigate program arrays, linked lists, and other structural essentials.
  • Database management: The ability to work with a company’s database files, setting up proper backup protocols, and identifying easy ways to source any necessary files without compromising database security.
  • Troubleshooting: The ability to identify and overcome any issues that a mobile application or an IT department might face.
  • Application testing: The ability to test applications before they go live, to identify any bugs or inconsistencies, and eliminate them before the application is finalized.
  • Data analysis/reporting: The ability to collect, protect, analyze, and share data regarding application functionality that helps create an even more successful final product.
  • Optimization: The ability to tailor application design and development specifics in ways that make the user experience even easier.
  • Teamwork: The ability to work well alongside IT staff members, fellow application developers, programmers, web developers, and any other individuals necessary to facilitate project success.
  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to communicate effectively with other employees, company representatives, and executives.

These and other skills help application developers succeed each day, in a fast-paced technological environment that requires adaptation and flexibility.

How Much Does an Application Developer Make?


The exact income of an application developer can depend on several factors, including your employer, employer’s location, employer’s size, years of experience, education, and active certifications. On average, the salary of an application developer is $70,438, with a range of roughly $50,000 to $101,000 earned each year.

What is the Projected Job Growth?


As companies embrace cloud services and cybersecurity protocols, the outlook for an application developer should remain positive in future years. Employment for software developers and quality assurance analysts is expected to grow 22% from 2019 to 2029. This forecasted growth rate is much faster than the average across all occupations.

What Certifications Does an Application Developer Need?


Application developers often need to obtain a few certifications. These certifications can improve your understanding of specific IT fields, and help to separate you from other applications developers during the hiring process.

The certifications an application developer needs can include:

-CompTIA certifications

-CIW certifications

-Amazon certifications

-ITIL certifications

-Linux certifications

After you have obtained all necessary certifications, you can confidently apply.



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