Beginning Android Development – Part 1/3

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So you want to start a career in Android Development, welcome on board, your timing could not be better. Android is taking over the world and I am glad that you have joined to share in the bounty! Android continues to be the dominant mobile device platform with 82% market share! A familiar argument against this commanding lead is that those are older devices, actually they are not, according this article from Forbes.com The latest production version of Android called Lollipop has seen 80% increase in adoption.

The demand for Android developers is also sky rocketing. ​According to data  analyzed by the technical staffing firm CyberCoders the demand for Android developers grew by 165% in 2014 compared to 54% for iOS jobs. This growth in demand means employers are willing to pay premium compensation for Android development skills and the price range (atleast in Southern California where I am) is anywhere between $80K to $175K annually  or more depending on your skill set. Whats more, people like myself has made the transition from cubicle to working 100% remotely. I bet you will like one of those jobs! So lets talk about how you can get one.

​Roadmap to Android Developer

To command premium pay as an Android developer, or have the flexibility of working remotely, or enjoy any associated reward of being an Android developer you need to do all of the following in varying proportions:

  • Program - to be an Android developer, you need to write computer programs - lots of it. Do not be scared off, programming is completely doable. all programmers did not know how to program when they started to learn how to program. The important things is that they got started - and it looks to me that you are ready to get started!
  • Publish - past performance is the strongest predictor of future performance, save your future employers the time of doing a research project to figure out what your future performance will be, show them your past performance, show your published app, they are not interested in your app ideas or your personal story.
  • Promote - the defining difference between top developers and rank and file developers according to John Sonmez in his book Software Developers Life Manual is that top developers see themselves as service providers and take responsibility of "promoting" themselves while rank and file developers see themselves as employees.

The proportion of your time that you should spend programming vs publishing vs promoting depends on your why. Why do you want to be an Android Developer? 

  • Want to be a Freelancer?
  • Spend more time with family?
  • Opportunity to make more money?
  • Want to build the next cool Android app?
  • Dissatisfaction with your current career path?
  • A combination of the above reasons and some more?

The common theme from the above listed reasons is money, the lack thereof or the desire to make more of it. Paid employment aka "9-5" is the most common and I dare add the "easiest" way to monetize Android development skill. The other options are freelancing or create your own apps.

Creating your own mobile  app with the goal of making a living from it in comparison to paid employment is tough with high risk especially if you are getting started with your Android development career . The biggest disconnect with this is that some developers do not realize that mobile apps are products and consumers ONLY buy or download products, they do no want to buy or download programs. And programmers create programs not products. Products require business development, product design, marketing, packaging, promotion in addition to lots of programming. 

The extent to which you need to "publish"  and "promote" vs "program" depends on the monetization path that you have chosen. Whether you choose to work for the man or do your own thing you still need to program so lets talk about what it takes to program, shall we? What it takes to be a successful Android developer is not different from what it takes to be successful in other professions. So what do you need to succeed as Android developer? :

What it takes to be Android Developer

What it takes to be an Android Developer

  • Study - you need to read and comprehend considerably. What should I read you may ask,? my answer will be to save the money for that texbook and start at the source Android Developer Site. So important is reading that some people use the "f" word to stress the point, google the term RTFM. Yes this involves reading manual,  guides and other dry writings. If you find the information too dry then find textbooks or blog post that wraps the key points in a conversation style communication. The downside is that such blog post tend to be long, like this one. Either way, be prepared to read code and content- a lot.
  • Practice - programming is typing instructions for the computer to perform certain tasks. To type better instructions you type more instructions. And you are better at  typing that type of instruction you might get new responsibilities which requires slightly different type of instructions.  You get the point - practice makes perfect.
  • Time - time is an important ingredient in achieving your goal as an Android developer.  Peter Norvig a great thought leader in the field of programming said that it will take you 10 years teach yourself to be a programmer and he has valid points however I believe that the times have changed and you can become and established Android Developer in 2 years with lots of practice, laser focused on one general area of Android development and persistence - Paul Graham a great thought leader in Entrepreneurship calls this "formidable".
  • Formidable - in this essay Paul Graham said that the most important ingredients investors look in a founder is formidable and he provided great context to that term in his essay. I want to paraphrase that in the context of programming as the ability to overcome challenges, adept in finding solutions and a mind set of there has to be a simple solution to  any challenge you run into. Permit me to paraphrase a scriptural reference from the King James version of the Bible - "there is no temptation that has taken place than that which is common to man" - translation there is no programming challenge you will encounter that some else has not encountered and chances are they have shared their solution in some blog post or forum. I dare to add that for your first year in programming if you run into a programming challenge that no one else has encountered ever before - you are completely off track and we may not celebrate your second year anniversary as a programmer - you are in danger of quiting!.

Now that have covered a general overview of what it takes to be an Android Developer, do you still want to proceed? Is this close to what your perception of coding career is ?  If not can you use the comment box to share with me brief summary of what you thinks about programming career specifically Android development. Either way,  I will like to hear your thought. If find the article interesting can you use the share button to share it with anyone who you think can benefit from it. What next?

In Part 2 of this post series I will cover the fundamentals of Android development. If you want to get started right away, I believe you can benefit from my Udemy course on Learning Android Development and How to Promote Your App. Use coupon ValBlog19 to get the course for only $19.

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About the Author valokafor

I am a Software Engineer with expertise in Android Development. I am available for Android development projects.

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