App development can be a fairly lucrative career pathway if you dedicate yourself to consistent personal study and experimentation. Many tech enthusiasts and STEM students are choosing careers in this emerging field because it offers plenty of job security, high wages, and provides the exciting ability to work all over the world in a variety of sectors and industries.
There are iPhone app developers and Android development firms popping up all over the world, with many agencies currently advertising a plethora of positions. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of jobs in the Australian app economy grew from 136,000 in January, 2019, to 156,000 in January, 2021.
This boom is only going to continue, with CNN Money projecting a 19 per cent increase over the next 10 years and listing the occupation as the ninth fastest-growing job in the United States.
These are enticing figures for those looking for a career in IT as there are going to be plenty of highly paid positions available around the world in the coming years. But what’s involved in the process of becoming an app developer? And how can you get started? We’ll be exploring the answers to these questions below.
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App Development Vs. Programming
Many people apply for tertiary computer programming courses because they have a passion for tech and want to pursue a career in that field. There are, however, many different fields of expertise and streams in the IT industry, which can naturally lead to some serious confusion. This is the case when it comes to app development and programming.
It’s all too easy to think that the two streams are the same thing, or that they are at least a similar means to a similar end. In reality, however, they are actually totally different streams, which is important to understand well before you apply to study at any tertiary institutes.
App developers are responsible for creating apps for mobile, tablet, and computer devices while computer programmers are responsible for creating software, testing computer systems and different programs, and developing solutions to fix any issues (or ‘bugs’) that may arise.
Another misconception is that app developers primarily create apps for mobile devices. While it is true that the mobile app industry is massive (at the beginning of 2021 there were 3.5 million apps on the Google Play Store and a further 2.2 million on the Apple App Store), app developers also have the skills to create apps for tablets, laptops, desktops, and other connected IoT devices like TVs.
As you can see, there are many parallels between app development and web development – but they are not the same. Apps have a more narrow focus in their design, and will usually only have a few basic functions or purposes. On the other hand, web development involves a multitude of tasks, operations, functions, and design aspects that all need to be ticked off in order to create a serviceable user interface.
Naturally, your decision regarding which stream you feel most passionately about will undoubtedly impact how you go about your study. If you seek to study app development, then you’ll be laying a foundation for a future career in app development. However it is possible to become a programmer or web developer and also have the skills to develop apps, giving you more scope for job opportunities in the future.
The Steps Required To Become An App Developer
A secondary education level certificate is the first step on your learning journey. On top of this, however, you may also need the right prerequisite subjects and an adequate Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to qualify for admission into your selected course. These vary depending on which university you’d like to study at.
If you do not have the required subjects and ATAR, or you are looking to become an app developer later in life, The Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation through TAFE is a bridging course that can also help get you there.
Secondly, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in a technical field that includes course materials on app development. There are diploma courses available, but you will be at a disadvantage against other job applicants without a bachelor degree and you will likely also have limited scope in terms of what jobs you’ll be qualified to take on in the IT field as a whole. This is, after all, an industry that runs on highly specialised and skilled professionals. A good education and a good resume will open many doors.
A Bachelor of Information Technology (Mobile App Development) will provide you with all of the skills you’ll need to know including design, development, and the vital security skills required to protect your client’s data once you start working at firms. This bachelor’s degree is still relatively new, however, and only a limited number of tertiary institutions may be offering it currently.
This presents an opportunity in the short term, because many employers are accepting applicants that have bachelor degrees in other areas like a Bachelor of Information Technology (Software Development), for instance. You can learn all of the skills you need at a university closer to home or that offers remote learning and still become a fully qualified app developer upon your graduation.
But What About People Who Already Have IT Degrees?
If you completed your bachelor’s degree in a year prior to app development subjects becoming available, you won’t need to undertake another three to four year period of study.
Instead, you can learn the additional skills required in app development through a diploma course or even through private training companies to upskill alongside your full-time or part-time work, and effectively learn everything there is to know about app development without needing to put a hold on your career development.
Your original bachelor’s degree in tandem with this new certificate will make you highly employable, because you’ll have the skills coupled with valuable industry experience.
Read more: Tips For Startup App Developers