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What skills are needed to get into Android development?

Written by Anastasia Stefanuk.

Android development is on the rise right now as one of the key technology trends. All popular game franchises create Android releases, big brands invade the markets with high-grossing apps – altogether, there are over 2 million apps at Google Play Store (more than on Apple Store).

Seeing the demand for Android development in the market, more developers are needed as well. As a result, more and more devs, as well as tech enthusiasts, are wondering what is needed to start a career as an Android app developer. In this post, you’ll find out the essentials needed to start a journey in the field.

What skills are needed to get into Android development?

When it comes to Android software development, there are complex skill-sets employers are looking for in a candidate. All of these skills are divided into two groups: technical and non-technical.

Technical skills

Android is quite demanding for developers. While there are tools that allow you to not develop from scratch, there’s still a need to write a ton of custom code as well as to know a few programming languages.

1. Java

When it comes to native app development, Java is a primary programming language Android developers have to use. While hiring a junior dev, employers will be examining the knowledge of the following:

● Object-oriented concepts;
● Variables;
● Static methods;
● Inheritance;
● Loops;
● Lists.

Also, when aiming for Android development, make sure you know how to read documentation – here, all the updates on Java SDK are posted.

2. The Android SDK

The first step needed to start development regardless of whether it’s custom or tool-based (such as Android Studio), downloading the Android SDK is whether a developer has to start.

It goes without saying, a strong command of SDKs is necessary if you want to know how to make an Android app. Here are the main concepts you should be focused on learning:

● Views and layouts;
● User input;
● Lifecycles and activities;
● Collection views;
● Storing data.

There are dozens of useful sources to check out while learning the Android SDK. You can look courses up at EdX or Coursera, and don’t forget to surf Stack Overflow as well.

3. Working with APIs

Working with data is a crucial component of any software development, Android programming included. That’s why most companies have network-based applications in mind. This presumes that a developer will get the hang of either proprietary or third-party APIs.

The two main types of APIs are the following ones:

● JSON/REST – these are the new black in the industry and a must-have for a developer to learn;
● XML/SOAP – not as popular these days but is still required by companies.

Both types have relatively similar working principles, with nothing but a few differences in data parsing and request.

4. Back-end

Knowing how to write the back-end code is rather rare among junior developers. However, it’s highly appreciated among employers and will help newcomers to jump-start their careers.
Note, that back-end consists mainly of a set of technologies (.NET, Ruby-on-Rails, Django, etc). A developer should not try to learn all of those at once rather than focus on tackling them one-by-one.

A few main aspects to focus on while learning a programming language for back-end editing are those of the language syntax and the system architecture. Fortunately, most programming concepts easy to translate between languages – the more you know, the easier the next one becomes to learn.

5. Git

Using the repositories, committing and pushing the changes are day-to-day tasks an Android developer has to handle especially if he’s working as a part of the team. Note that there’s no
need to be deeply invested into studying version control but you have to be comfortable using git repositories to manage merge conflicts.

Non-technical skills

While a developer has, above everything else, to be a skilled coder, there are other skills you
has to develop in order to work within different ecosystems (whether startups or big corporations) even if they have nothing to do with cutting edge technology.

1. Writing

There’s no need for an Android developer to be a fluent writer – however, it wouldn’t hurt to
flex the muscle seeing how it prove useful anytime there’s a need to explain the project to a
client or a project manager, prove a point within the team, or ask a question. Now, in the age
of remote work popularity, writing has become the main (and, at times, only) way for a developer to connect with a team – that explains its importance.

2. Collaboration

Having to work in teams is challenging for developers especially due to the fact that, among from those with solid experience of coding, there are managers or clients that have little-to-
no idea about what Android development is from the tech point of view.

Being able to collaborate with people who have different backgrounds is crucial even for junior Android developers. Moreover, thinking about how to hire a developer, companies started paying attention to the way a developer can work as a part of an international team – whether he/she can adjust to video calls in different time zones, understand a person who speaks little English, etc.

Portfolio requirements for junior Android developers

Keep in mind that, even if you are aiming for a junior job, it’s still quite likely that an employer will demand a portfolio in order to prove your dedication and development skills. Here’s what you should be able to showcase during the job interview:

  • 3-4 Android apps. Among these samples, it’s better to have at least one released app that has proven to offer some real-world value. If an app has over 10k downloads the app has in Google Play Market, a developer can go by showcasing this app everyone as his only portfolio sample.
  • A small GitHub portfolio. For many developers, it includes school projects that shows an overall development skill.
  •  Writing about Android development. Starting a blog and offering education content about Android development can come in handy while looking for a job as well. Moreover, it’ll make the entire career easier seeing that a blog can gain traction and
    function as a standalone project.

A journey of an Android development

Where do the fist development skills come from? How does a newcomer know he/she’s good
enough to apply for a serious coding job? Here’s a steps breakdown when it comes to
Android development.

● Education. Some developers have a solid tech degree – seeing that Android has
been around for a relatively short while, most still learn mobile development through
courses, YouTube tutorials, or those on Github.

● Skill validation. At this point, a junior dev can start sharing his/her experience via social media or blog posts, answering Quora and StackOverflow questions instead of asking them, etc. If these answers are useful and well-received by the community, a coder gets a needed boost of companies and can consider applying for a job.

● Preparing application materials. This includes putting a CV together as well as creating a folder with a few portfolio samples. Another way to organize an application is by creating a simple WordPress page to showcase one’s experience and work in mobile development.

● Applying and passing job interviews. The application process for Android developers is mostly spray-and-pray -sending out resumes in bulk hoping someone will reach out. Companies are usually quite eager when it comes to getting in touch with candidates seeing the growing tech talent shortage within the industry.

● Working at a job. While facing day-to-day tasks, a developer should be ready to face many challenges and find out how many development details he/she still has to learn. At this point, you have to have a list of go-to resources, be fast to research online and try to not bug the team lead with all questions possible. Pay attention to the workflow of more experienced colleagues – you can even consider copying it to adopt a project management routine.

Android app development salary

Before learning all the technicalities and getting familiar with the system, it’s always helpful to know how the field pays. Here are the salary statistics for Android app developers in South Africa according to Indeed.com

● Entry-level Android developer: R 8 500
per month;

● Middle-level Android developer – R33 000 per month;

● Senior Android developer: R 75 000 per month.

Conclusion

Android app development is growing at an impressive pace these days. More businesses are discovering the power of mobile technologies and are eager to harness it. That’s why Android developers are in demand in the market at the moment. Starting a career in Android development is time-consuming and challenging. However, in the long run, it’s a worthwhile field to explore, with dozens of job opening available.

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