How to Start a Career in iOS Application Development

October 16, 2020

How to Start a Career in iOS Application Development

Starting a career in iOS application development involves more than just programming skills, passion, and unique app ideas. If you want to seriously pursue a career as an iOS application developer, you have to give more than just time and effort to become a good – or even outstanding – one. In order to stand out in a high-demand industry, you have to know what to do, where to start, and how to put your plan into action.

What Does an iOS Application Developer Do?

When asked about what an iOS developer does, what’s usually the first thing that comes to your mind? Most people would say, “iOS developers build apps for Apple devices”. While this is true, there is more to an iOS developer than just building Apple-based apps.

An iOS application developer writes programs that run iOS apps. The bulk of the task is programming using a language called Swift. Coding is not like composing an essay or a poem, though. When an iOS developer writes a program, it involves typing specific lines of instructions into a text editor. To a non-developer or non-programmer, the text looks like hard-to-crack codes, but computers understand them perfectly well.

Understand, however, that a career in iOS application development will not involve creating designs for apps. Instead, you’ll be working with user interface designers who are tasked with the responsibility of working on the visual appearance of apps.

So, basically, what an iOS developer does is create, test, and modify/improve applications for Apple mobile devices.

Requirements and What You Need

One cannot become an iOS developer overnight; you have to learn and train (and then repeat at least three times) to become one. There are two programming languages you need to familiarize with and several skills to acquire.


As an iOS developer, one of the most popular programming languages you will use is Swift. Introduced in 2014, it is the primary coding language for anything Apple-related: macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and iOS. The SwiftUI framework was introduced in June 2019 and is built into Swift. It helps make writing codes easier and more intuitive. Learning Swift is vital if you want a successful career in iOS application development.


Before Swift came, the main programming language for iOS was Objective-C. It’s still used nowadays, so learning and familiarizing it too would be a significant advantage for you. Objective-C was first introduced in 1984. It’s a class-based object-oriented programming language based on C.

Apple shifted its focus to Swift in 2014. Swift is faster, safer, easier to learn, and easier to maintain than Objective-C.

Learn and Understand Everything About the iOS Platform

Since iOS application development is focused on the iOS platform, you have to take time to study its environment. There are several online guides, sources, and courses for this. Be sure to do this separately from your Swift training. Learn Swift first before studying the iOS platform, especially if you have limited programming knowledge.

Learn to Use Xcode

Xcode is an IDE or integrated development environment developers use for creating iOS apps. You’ll find several useful online tutorials that can help you identify and understand its features and functionalities.  It is available for free via the App Store and the Apple website.

Essential Skills Needed

Aside from the technical skills already mentioned above, there are others that are just as essential for iOS application development.

Visual skills or spatial reasoning is a primary requirement for iOS developers. You should have the capability to visualize spatial relationships as this is vital for designing Apple apps.

Basic networking skills are also important, particularly when it comes to receiving and sending data. Learn all that you can about JSON or JavaScript Object Notation.

Git and GitHub platforms are needed for version control requirements. Learning how to use these two should be a priority.

Version control is a vital skill for developers because it is needed for versioning systems.

Other skills you need to learn or improve include design guidelines, GCD or Grand Central Dispatch, Core Data, UI and UX design, and UIKit, among others.

Additionally, you should also learn how to use interface builder and other similar tools. Apple’s Interface Builder is a drag-and-drop tool that will help you learn how to create beautiful and unique interfaces.  

Other Requirements

An iOS developer has to have the right tools for learning and developing applications. While you’ll get most of the software for free, you’ll need to invest in a good MacBook or Mac computer and an iPad or iPhone. For the computer, choose one with more than enough tech specs (MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, & Mac Pro with above average display, processor, storage, memory, and graphics). For the mobile device, you can go with the pro model of either the iPad or iPhone.

If you’re worried about how much these devices will cost you, look around the internet for good quality second-hand options.

Another required investment is an “Apple Developer Program” membership. It’s an exclusive program for Apple developers. It offers access to resources essential for iOS application development. If you plan to create just iOS apps, you really don’t have to enroll in the program. However, if you want to distribute your apps on the App Store, membership is necessary. There’s a minimal annual membership fee, but it’s a worthy investment for serious iOS developers.

Practice Coding

They say “Practice Makes Perfect” and this is true for iOS application development. So, you should find time to practice and hone your coding skills. This is especially important if you have limited coding or programming experience. Aside from helping you improve your skills; consistent practice will also help you gain confidence.

Prepare Your Portfolio

A portfolio will serve as proof of your experience and expertise, so it’s important that you create one, especially if you want to be taken seriously – and regarded as a professional. It’s okay if you don’t yet have big clients; what’s important is you have completed projects you can showcase.

If you’re a fresh graduate or haven’t had iOS application development experience yet, you can build a portfolio showcasing programs or codes you’ve created while still at school – your theses or internship for instance.

Again, starting a career in iOS application development is not an overnight thing. It requires time, effort, dedication, and a lot of skills and knowledge. Patience is also important because it can take months or even years to become an iOS app development expert.

About the author: Baptiste Leroux - CEO

After several years in the corporate world, I create my first Web startup as a social enterprise. Working with talented people, excellent software development skills, good communication, and a competitive pricing, we shifted our focus to web & mobile outsourcing projects. View on Linkedin