So you want to be an Android developer. Maybe you’ve read the job description and think it sounds like a perfect fit. Perhaps you’ve heard about the exciting trends in Android that are set to reshape our world—and want to be a part of it all.
Or maybe you just need a better and more secure job, and you love the sound of average salaries that top 100K and an OS that runs eight out of ten mobile devices worldwide.
Whatever your reason, Android’s popularity and the fact that it comes from tech behemoth Google mean that you have a myriad of resources to choose from if you want to learn how to work in Android development.
We’ve rounded up a few of the best—to suit every learning style and budget. Read on!
Getting your feet wet
If you’re just starting out, you may want to take Android development for a test drive before really committing to a long-term plan of study. For people looking to just “try it out”, a good place to begin is a short self-guided tutorial on Udemy that promises to get you from 0 to Android mobile app in just 27 minutes!
If you’re more of a video and lectures sort of person, a similar offering is this hour and a half video intro to Android development by a professional developer.
You’re obviously not going to be an Android guru after either of these, but if you just want to get a sense about what’s involved in the life and work of an Android dev, and decide whether or not you want to pursue more in-depth courses, these two resources offer a nice glimpse of the world of Android and just might help you make a decision.
Do you speak Android?
The first step towards a serious study of Android development is learning one of the two official languages of Android: Java or Kotlin. Kotlin is the hot new thing and has boosters who swear up and down that it’s the undisputed future of Android development.
And there are already some great tutorials available if you want to get started. For those with some programming experience, there’s a quick tour of the language with an interactive IDE at the Kotlin language’s official site. And if you’re looking for a bit more thorough, beginner-friendly introduction to Kotlin, Google has developed a free two-week bootcamp course for Udacity.
While Kotlin has (deservedly) generated a lot of buzz in the community, Java is still the old reliable standard of Android development—and since it’s been around a lot longer, there are tons of places to learn it. If you’re a complete newb in the world of programming, Udemy has a full online tutorial designed specifically for novice coders. And if you’re looking for a Java course that puts the needs of Android developers front and center, EdX has a nice free offering as well.
The full course
For those looking for a more complete and career-oriented training in Android development, there are some great comprehensive courses on the market. They vary in price, with some geared more to folks on a shoestring budget, and others definitely aimed at people with the means to make a serious financial investment in education.
First on the list is the Android app development “Specialization” offered through Coursera. Created by Vanderbilt University computer science professors, this five-module specialization takes you from beginner to developer in just about six months. Offered on a subscription basis for about $50 per month, it’s definitely within reach for most people.
And if you’re at all on the fence about the course, they offer a 7-day free trial during which you can preview the materials and decide whether or not it’s for you.
Next up is online coding school Team Treehouse. With an established track record and a friendly, active community of students, Treehouse can be a great place to study Android development. Their Android “Tech Degree” program is priced at $199 per month, but is largely self-paced: the course length is listed as “3 to 9 months”, which is obviously a significant difference in terms of time and price.
So if you learn (and work) quickly, and have serious time to devote to your study of Android development, Treehouse could be a smart choice. Don’t rush things, of course, but if you look at the material and think you could work through it in less than half a year, you might wind up saving a pretty substantial chunk of change!
Rounding out the list is Udacity’s Andoid developer “nanodegree” program. Built in partnership with Google and highly-rated, as the name implies this course is like a miniature degree in software development with an Android focus.
The two-term offering is aimed at intermediate students—so people who already have some knowledge of Java, Android basics, and version control software. It’s not cheap—at $999 for each of the two terms, it’s definitely a bit more than some are going to be able to spend.
But if you have the money and are thinking long-term—and looking to get into a profession where “entry level” is 70K a year—then this kind of initial outlay in a well-designed, well-supported, career-focused program can make a lot of sense.
The bootcamp route
Coding bootcamps for all sorts of software development have exploded in popularity in the past few years. It’s easy to understand the appeal—they offer a programmatic, structured plan of study in a (relatively) short period of time, with the goal of getting an actual job in development at the end of the course.
They offer a hands-on style of learning with lots of guidance and feedback from mentors, and go well beyond the simple technical aspects of programming into job search and interview coaching and even career planning.
But there are some potential drawbacks as well—bootcamps aren’t cheap: for most people, they represent a major investment. They’re also, by design, full-time and incredibly intense, which means that working any kind of paying job during a bootcamp is not realistic (or advised) for most people.
So if you don’t have some money saved for living expenses or supportive family members with spare bedrooms, there may be better options.
And some people have complained that it’s getting harder to stand out as a bootcamp graduate, since the job market is nowadays full of people with the same qualifications, even though their actual skills vary widely: employers are a little more wary of bootcampers than they were a few years ago.
That said, coding bootcamps can be a great way to jumpstart a career in development—just make sure you go in with your eyes open and take any claims of “guaranteed jobs” with a grain of salt.
Do your research, read the fine print, and above all, try to talk to graduates of the program you’re considering to see what their experiences were during—and more importantly, after—the bootcamp.
If you think you’d like to pursue an online bootcamp for Android development, the well-established Bloc has a popular program. And if you’d like to find a face-to-face program in your local area, well, in the spirit of Android development: Google it!