How to become an Android developer
Although Apple’s iPhone attracts a fair amount of buzz, Google’s Android still holds the majority of the global mobile market. Several phone manufacturers produce Android phones and tablets, and the Google Play app store has millions of apps. For mobile developers, building apps and services for Android can unlock a truly massive audience.
If you’re interested in becoming an Android developer, you’ll need to learn the tools and programming languages that support the platform, and then build your skills from there. Let’s break it down!
Step One: Study Google’s Development Platform (and Language)
Fortunately, Google wants as many developers as possible to build high-quality Android apps, and it is Android Developer Portal offers much of what you need to get started. The Android Developer Portal includes Android Studio, the platform’s integrated development environment (IDE), complete with design tools, a code editor and an emulator so you can test your applications.
There’s plenty of documentation for setting up and configuring Android Studio, along with the latest version downloads for Mac and Windows-based developers. While studying the developer portal downloads and documentation, don’t ignore Google Play Tools and APIs, which allows you to do everything from monetizing your apps to accessing traffic data. Always remember that Google has implemented fairly strict privacy and data controls for apps in the Google Play storefront.
It’s also key to learning the languages that power Android – namely Java and Kotlin. While Java has long been the programming language workhorse of Android, Kotlin has been drawing attention ever since Google called it a “first-class” programming language for Android development.
Two years ago, Google launched Basic Android in Kotlin, a course designed to provide mobile app developers with the fundamental knowledge necessary to build Android apps in Kotlin. Before you explore that portal, check out Google’s long-standing Android Basic Curriculumwhich teaches the basics of building user interfaces, working with databases and dealing with basic errors.
Those dedicated to a Kotlin learning path can also explore Kotlin Bootcamp for Programmers, Android Kotlin Fundamentalsand for those with a little more experience, Advanced Android in Kotlin.
Google also offers courses for build your Android apps in Javaand that is in addition to the enormous number tutorials and documentation out there on Java development.
Step Two: Build your Android apps
Whether you want to work as a freelance Android developer or develop Android apps for an organization as a full-time employee, your chances of landing a gig will increase exponentially if you come to a job interview with a portfolio of previous work.
To that end, it’s always worth spending time building Android apps on your own, or participating in another group’s Android app development. GitHub has a huge number of open source repos devoted to Android apps, many of which need help. Forums and hubs like Reddit can also connect you with like-minded Android developers.
Step three: Apply for jobs
Although it is always difficult to determine the exact questions a hiring manager will ask during an Android-centric job interview, chances are they will want to investigate your skills and experience. For example, they can ask:
- What languages does Android use?
- Which databases are you most familiar with?
- Do you participate in open source development?
- Describe what an Android framework is and why it is important.
- What is the difference between implicit and explicit intent?
- Define the four important activity states for Android.
- Describe the data flow in an Android application.
Some of these questions are simple attempts to find out if you know the basics of Android development; others are far more difficult. Depending on the organisation, you may also be asked industry-specific questions; for example, a healthcare startup might ask about your experience working with confidential data, while a game company wants to know if you’ve ever ported a game to Android before.
Robert Hourie and Cathal McAliskey of tech recruiting firm GemPool previously told Dice that candidates for Android developer jobs should generally have a solid understanding of the following:
- Development experience with Java and Kotlin.
- Experience with agile/lean methods.
- Understanding of RESTful APIs.
- Experience with MV or MVVM design patterns.
- Expertise in building and releasing applications to Google Play.
When applying for Android jobs, make sure your resume and application materials use all keywords (such as “Android,” “Java,” and “Kotlin”) mentioned in the original job posting. Many companies use automatic resume scanners that can weed out your resume if these keywords aren’t present.
Your Android CV and cover letter should also include links to your apps, code repositories, and other evidence of your coding prowess. If you have Android experience, make sure you describe (briefly) how your skills impacted your previous companies’ strategies and goals – for example, if you started building a company’s first Android apps, or accelerated their release to market, should definitely mention it.
Step four: Climbing the career ladder
Android is constantly evolving, which means you can never stop learning. As you progress in your career, you will also need to develop your “soft skills” such as empathy and communication, as they will allow you to effectively lead teams and secure stakeholder buy-in for larger projects.
Virtually every reputable source (including the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) predicts that the need for software developers and mobile app developers will only grow over the next few years, meaning that Android developers will be needed for a long time to come. In fact, the average Android developer salary plugs to $125,372 per yearand it can probably increase with experience and specialized skills.
In addition to smartphones, Android is also used in tablets, and may eventually find its way into the market next-generation devices such as augmented reality headsets. There are many opportunities to expand into new areas, in other words – as long as you stay knowledgeable about the platform.