Career Spotlight: iOS Development

Intro

Everyone knows what a mobile app developer is. These guys need no introduction. Admittedly, they’re probably responsible for half the population’s chronic procrastination problem. However, they’re also the masterminds behind groundbreaking innovations like Shazam, Uber, Pandora, and BaconFinder. Queue the Gregorian chanting and beam of holy light.

What is an iOS Developer?

iOS developers don’t just make websites smaller. They also don’t just write code for fun, new iPhone apps. iOS developers play a hands-on role in the entire lifecycle of an iPhone application; helping with mock-ups, determining feasibility of design specs, writing code, debugging, testing, and more. And iOS developers are in huge demand. The most popular smartphone in America is, after all, the iPhone. With over 600 million users, you really can’t go wrong here – we’re talking about the biggest explosion of technology since the Tamagotchi.

What do they do all day?

As an iOS developer, you’d probably start the day with a stand-up meeting to get on the same page as your team, grab some coffee, and then get down to coding. Meetings with UX designers, product managers, and other developers pop up throughout the day, giving you and your coccyx a break from your code. So make no mistake,  developers don’t just sit behind their computer 24/7!

What talents / degrees do I need to become one?

A bachelor’s degree in computer science will give you a strong foundation and jumpstart your career in iOS development. Some employers may desire an additional certificate in iOS or mobile development. To kickstart your career though, focus on perfecting these basics:

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Don’t know where to start? The book iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide gets rave reviews. Apple also has some great online tutorials to get you going. If you already have some coding experience, you may want to pop down to Github to browse others’ projects, run their code, and submit edits. This is great because it means you can learn without starting from scratch. While you’re getting the hang of it, start developing a portfolio of your work – it’s something employers will want to see as you become more experienced.

What kind of salary am I looking at here?

The entry level salary for an iOS developer averages around $75,000. With the right experience, that number can rise to $100,000+. But, get this, many iOS developers work as freelancers, charging per hour. This cost ranges from $15/hour to over $200/hour – it depends largely on whether you’re working on the next Instagram, or a Flappy Bird spin-off. Since this field is just taking off, hard and fast numbers are hard to come by, but don’t worry – you’ll be paid well and climb the ladder fairly quickly as an iOS developer.  Keep in mind that as a relatively new field, you won’t need to work for years and years to be considered “experienced.”

What are my chances of getting the job?

Employers want mobile developers. Companies need mobile developers. Seriously – try to name an industry that avoids mobile applications and development. Retail, hospitality, healthcare and home automation applications need more iOS developers, especially ones who can improve and maintain existing applications. And there is definitely a looming shortage; the industry is expecting close to 300,000 new mobile development positions to open up by 2020. Granted, this may have something to do with Kanye West’s intended run for presidency, and the year-long social media maelstrom that is expected to accompany it. But whatever the reasons, there is going to be a far greater demand than supply. iOS developers will be hot property.

So, how do I do this?

Okay, so you’ve decided you’re going to drop everything and go into iOS development. However, one does not simply become the most prolific coder the world has ever known, overnight. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

Make Connections: Knowing someone in the industry increases your chance of landing that first interview. Don’t be afraid to ask for a business card, email that engineer you met at your parents’ fondue back in ‘09, or introduce yourself to recruiters at career fairs!

Code Everyday: To crush a technical interview, you need regular practice. You can’t cram months of experience into an all-nighter of preparing. But remember, interviews aren’t meant to destroy you. Work with the interviewer and talk out your thoughts as you go.

Know your Favorite Apps: The hot companies to work for are the ones with the popular iPhone apps, but there are many places creating iPhone apps not directed at the average iPhone user. Notice what you like about certain apps, how you’d improve them, and how they may be built. Understanding current apps on the market can only help convince an employer that you’re really into the field.

The bottom line

iOS remains one of the hottest topics of the 21st century. Over the past year, only Donald Trump’s notorious hairpiece has possibly received more media coverage. And it’s really easy to understand why, considering the job pays well, the work is challenging and the demand for coders is huge. So, if you’re an innovative young visionary that’s looking to turn your ideas into reality, then make 2016 the year you learn to code.

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