How to Become an iOS Developer?

October 16, 2020

a female programmer coding

Did you get the new iPhone 14? Have you updated to iOS 16? These exciting updates open many opportunities to create the next big app. So, if you’re considering becoming a developer, this article will guide you on how to become a iOS developer!

Starting an iOS developer career involves more than just programming skills, passion, and unique app ideas. There will be lots of investments and sacrifices that you need to be ready for. In such a high-demand industry, you should know what to do, where to start, and how to implement your plan.

Here, we’ll help you take your first steps to entering the iOS development world. Let’s start!

Establish if Becoming an iOS Developer is Right for You

apple magic keyboard and mouse

The mobile application development industry is a growing field with immense opportunity, and if you’re excited about the prospect of creating the next big app on iOS, it could be your dream job. 

Before taking the plunge, you should determine if iOS development is the role for you. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Your interest levels in becoming a developer

One way to determine your interest in becoming a professional developer is to consider the skills required for the job. Do you have a natural aptitude for programming? Do you enjoy solving complex problems? Are you excited by the prospect of learning new technologies?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then you may have what it takes to succeed in this field.

2. Check your skills and experience against the requirements

learn programming languages quote

While it’s possible to develop any kind of app without a formal education, most professional iOs and Android developers have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. It’s essential to have strong skills in Objective-C or Swift, the programming languages used to develop iOS applications.

Whether or not you have surface knowledge of these languages, your desire to learn programming languages can help you get there!

3. Readiness to compete with the pool of talented developers

As anyone in the tech industry knows, the salary of a software developer is high, and it’s also true for an iOS developer salary. Payscale indicates the average salaries per year for iOS developers in the United States are:

  • Entry level (1-4 yrs. of experience: $85,405
  • Mid-career level (5-9 yrs. of experience): $107,833
  • Experienced (10-19 yrs. of experience) : $122,918

Some companies may even be willing to pay top dollar for the best and brightest, making it challenging for new developers to compete. If you think you are ready to face the challenge and become an iOS developer, let’s tackle the next step!

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Get the Requirements for iOS Developers

One cannot become an iOS developer overnight. Along with passion and determination, you have to acquire the programming fundamentals that you need to be one.

Since iOS application development is focused on the iOS platform, you have to take time to study its environment. Don’t worry because there are several online guides, sources, and courses out there.

If you don’t know where to start, here’s a checklist to help you out:

1. A Mac computer

If you’re looking to break into the world of iOS development, you’ll need to invest in a Mac computer.

Although it’s technically possible to run macOS on a Windows or Linux PC, it’s not as simple as you may think. Moreover, it’s not allowed by Apple’s license. This is because the software used to develop iOS applications is only compatible with Mac computers.

In addition, all of the tools and resources you’ll need to be an effective iOS developer are only available on a Mac. So if you’re serious about becoming an iOS developer, you’ll need to get your hands on a Mac or a MacBook with adequate processing power.


We know that getting a new personal computer is expensive. Your best bet is to look for a second-hand Mac or even a Mac mini. The latter can run a smooth mac operating system and is more affordable than the former.

Get another Apple device (optional)

A quick side note here: you can also get different Apple devices to see how your app will run on them. For instance, you can get mobile devices, like an iPad or iPhone, to see how your app will function and look on those devices.

Again, you don’t need to get another Apple device, but it could be helpful. It’ll give you a better understanding of how iOS apps are used in the real world and what users expect from them. Plus, it’ll give you a chance to test your own apps on different devices before you release them to the public.

2. Install Xcode

Once you have a Mac or any model of the MacBook line, it will be easy to install the Xcode.

Xcode is an IDE or integrated development environment developers use to develop iOS apps. You can find many helpful online guides that will show you how to identify and use all its features. Plus, it’s free on both the App Store and Apple’s website.

We recommend you get it on the Mac App Store to avoid needing to create an Apple account, although, at some point, you will need one. It will also automatically give Xcode updates so you can ensure that your software is up to date.

3. Learn iOS App Development Programming in Swift

swift and objective-c quote

With all your resources in place, it’s time to get technical. You will have to learn Swift, Apple’s programming language.

Introduced in 2014, Swift programming language is a powerful and versatile used as a primary coding language for anything Apple-related. If you’re thinking about it, the apps you use in your Apple Watch and Apple TV were all coded in this programming language.

The SwiftUI framework was introduced in June 2019 and is built into Swift. It helps make writing codes for iOS devices easier and more intuitive.

Programming languages Swift and Objective-C are vital if you want a successful career in the iOS application industry, so we recommend focusing on them before you try to learn anything else.

Should you still learn Objective-C?

Before Swift came, the main programming language for iOS was Objective-C. The debate on which of the two to learn first has been around for a while now, with Swift winning long ago. With the recent introduction of SwiftUI, the argument is even stronger.

So if you find any articles online debating Objective-C vs. Swift, feel free to ignore them as they are most likely outdated.

a programmer coding in three screens

4. Enroll in Top-Rated Online Courses

Although you can find helpful guides and tutorials online, we recommend taking some top-rated courses to get a more structured learning experience.

Here are some of the most popular courses for learning Swift and iOS development:

  • Developing iOS 11 Apps with Swift by Stanford University (edX)
  • Apple ARKit by Unity (Coursera)
  • iOS 12 & Swift – The Complete App Dev. Bootcamp by Angela Yu (Udemy)
  • Learn Swift 4 for Beginners by Rick Walter (Udemy)
  • Youtube videos or Youtubers (CodeWithChris, Sean Allen, Archetapp, etc.)

These are only a few of the many excellent courses available online. You can find more by doing a quick search on any e-learning platform.

Should you still join the iOS Developer Program?

The short answer is no. You don’t need to join the iOS Developer Program to create an app or even test it on your own device. Joining the program is only necessary when you’re ready to deploy your app on the App Store or distribute it to other people. The annual membership fee is $99 and is only valid for one year.

If you’re unsure whether you want to commit to the program yet, you can always wait until you’re ready to deploy your app. By then, you would have saved up enough money to cover the membership fee and any other costs that might come up.

apple apps

Time to Create iOS Apps

After learning to program in Swift, the next step is learning how to make iOS apps. However, you cannot start without exploring the iOS platform.

Every software platform in mobile development is different, so even if you are already a developer, you will have to learn how things work in an iOS app, including its technologies, frameworks, and design patterns. This could be a lot, but not everything is equally important.

Here’s what we recommend that you do:

1. Practice Your iOS Developer Skills

When you create apps on iOS, you will put your skills to the test. Remember that you cannot master each one in an instant, so allow yourself to make mistakes.

Take note of these essential skills in iOS development:

Visual or Spatial Skill

When creating mobile apps, you need visual skills or spatial reasoning. As an iOS developer, you should be able to visualize spatial relationships, which is vital for designing the user interface of Apple apps.

Interface Building

Similarly, you should take the time to learn how to use interface builder and other similar software to build apps. For example, Apple’s Interface Builder is a drag-and-drop tool that can be used easily to create an appealing user interface.

Manage Data

You need to know how to perform network requests. When it comes to receiving and sending data, JSON or JavaScript Object Notation is the most popular format. This framework for storing data on Apple devices is an important part of almost any app.

Version Control

This is another vital skill for iOS developers because it is needed for versioning systems. With this skill, you will learn how to track, manage, and merge changes made to the codebase.

Problem-solving Skills

Last but not least, you must have problem-solving skills. As an iOS developer, you will face many challenges, so being resourceful and finding solutions quickly is a must. Many resources are available online and offline to help you improve your problem-solving skills.

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

coding for apple ios

2. Build User Interfaces

Apple announced their new framework during the WWDC 2019 called SwiftUI, which replaces their old one: UIKit. However, there are problems with adopting every function of UIKit to SwiftUI, so learning the former will not render you obsolete.

Regardless of whether you want to work for a company or just build hobby apps in your spare time, the drawbacks of SwiftUI compared to UIKit are:

  • Limited API (Application Programming Interface) integration
  • It’s only available on iOS 13 devices or later
  • Fewer solutions available

If you intend to become an iOS developer within the next two years, knowing how to use UIKit will either be a firm requirement or a strong bonus. However, with the advancement of SwiftUI, all three problems listed above will slowly shrink each year. It’s expected to become more prominent, adopted, and supported.

For now, at least, you need to learn both UIKit and SwiftUI for developing apps.

3. Learn the Relevant Parts of the Foundation framework

Although SwiftUI and UIKit are only UI frameworks, they aren’t the only ones you’ll need to learn when building iOS apps. Another essential framework for iOS development is Foundation.

Foundation is extremely comprehensive, but you don’t need to know everything about it in order to start developing for iOS. A basic understanding of its features should be enough.

We recommend learning the following features:

  • Numbers, Data, and Basic Values
  • Data Formatting
  • Units and Measurements

4. Use Git

Git is a version control system (VCS) for tracking changes in files and coordinating work on those files among multiple people. It’s essential for any developer, no matter their programming language. It helps you track your code changes, revert to previous versions if necessary, and collaborate with other developers more efficiently.

Sooner or later, you will also meet GitHub, a vast platform for hosting Git repositories, and it’s also a great place to find other people’s code projects to which you can contribute.

Bitbucket is a less popular alternative to GitHub. What’s good about this is it also integrates with other online tools many companies use, like Jira.

man shaking hands with a woman

4 Tips to Successfully Become an iOS Developer

Now that you have polished all the essential ios developer skills, the next challenge you must face is making it through your dream company.

The percentage of people learning to code online has increased from 60% to 70% in just one year, according to the 2022 Stack Overflow survey report. With this, you have to make sure that your resume and online presence stand out against the competition.

Here are our tips for budding iOS developers like you:

1. Join the iOS Development Community

You are not alone in your journey to becoming an iOS developer. There is a whole network of developers out there who have been through the same thing and are more than willing to help you out in your journey.

Senior developers may advise you to establish yourself in the industry, and you just have to look for them. Consider online communities on various platforms, like Twitter, Reddit, and Stack Overflow. You can also attend WWDC each year to keep up with the latest trends and network with other developers.

2. 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 or an internship.

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 development expert.

a woman looking up a building

3. Apply to Your Dream Company

When applying to your dream software development company, one of the most important things to remember is that the process is not just about impressing your potential employer with your skills and experience. It’s also about finding out if the company matches the career path you want to become an iOS developer.

You will likely get interviewed by a senior iOS developer to gauge your valuable addition to their team. So, be sure to express your dedication to become an iOS developer for the company and let your personality shine through.

If you don’t have any companies in mind, check out these platforms where you can find open positions for iOS development companies:

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • GoodFirms
  • G2

4. Trust the Process and Keep Trying

Do not be discouraged when you keep receiving rejections or think you deserve a higher position than starting as a junior iOS developer. It can become frustrating when things don’t work out the way you want or when you hit a coding roadblock.

It’s easy to feel like you’re never going to be good enough to be a successful iOS developer. But it’s important to trust the process and keep going. Remember that everyone, even the most experienced iOS developers, goes through these struggles.

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Work with Us!

The world of software development is constantly changing and evolving. Companies need talented individuals who don’t only learn iOS development for the sake of becoming an iOS developer but who are passionate about it.

Here at StarTechUP, we are always on the lookout for software developers who want to make a difference in the world of mobile application development.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to work with the best in the industry and learn from them, submit your application today!

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin