If you’re thinking about starting a career, accelerating a career, or changing a career, you’ve probably heard of something called “The Skills Gap.” It’s a pretty inescapable topic of conversation in the modern hiring landscape, and it’s front-page news from Fortune to Forbes and beyond.

Growing Demand for App Developers

There are those who maintain it doesn’t actually exist, and others who call it a crisis. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but honestly, the numbers don’t lie. Mobile App Developer, for example, ranked near the top of just about every legitimate “hot jobs” list for the coming year The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects incredible growth, with estimates running above 20% over the next five years, and a recent article in Inc. noted 83,649 more App Developer jobs posted than people hired!

All of which means there is INCREDIBLE opportunity right now for anyone who wants to pursue a career as an App Developer. An article from TekPartners laid the situation out pretty clearly when they wrote the following:

The iPhone and iPad are arguably the two most important pieces of technological hardware created in the last twenty years, and both rely on iOS to serve as their operating system. That is why iOS developers are in such high demand. Any company that wants to reach the tens of millions of customers that use and love Apple mobile products needs to have iOS experts in their workforce, and they are currently searching far and wide for them.

So, what does it take to become a hireable iOS Developer? To answer that question for you, we’ve put together a fantastic list

7 Skills You Need to Be an iOS Developer!

#1 Swift

Swift is the programming language Apple created specifically for developing their apps. This is the language of all future development for iOS. So you have to know it! Our own experts acknowledge it’s not a “small” language, but you don’t have to know everything to land a junior position. What you WILL need to do is make sure you’re comfortable with:

  • Basic syntax
  • Optionals
  • Control Flow (If and Switch Statements)
  • Classes, inheritance & initialization
  • Error handling
  • Objective-C Interoperability

For those with programming experience who want to become familiar with Swift, check out Udacity’s Swift Syntax course.

#2 Spatial Reasoning

The ability to think in 3-D, and visualize the spatial relations between objects, is critical for successful App Developers. Simply put, when you design interfaces for devices like the iPhone, Apple Watch, or the new Apple TV, you must be cognizant of how users will interact with your application. So you need to:

  1. understand the types of controls/inputs available (and popular) for the different platforms, and
  2. be a user of the devices you’re targeting so that you can reason about them!

While some people may more naturally evidence this ability, rest assured it is a learned skill, and can be mastered with practice, and through building real projects.

#3 Design Guidelines

Successful iOS apps are known and admired for being supremely intuitive. The reason for this is that these apps adhere to a strict set of design guidelines. How data is stored and displayed to the user is handled in very specific ways. In order to build your own intuitive apps, you need to know and understand these design patterns. That’s why, if you pursue becoming an iOS developer through our Nanodegree programs, you’ll learn critical things like:

  • MVC (Model-View-Controller): This is the cornerstone of any iOS or OSX App, and it defines how data is stored, how it is presented to the user, and how it is updated in response to user interactions.
  • Delegate Pattern: This is a very common way of passing information among objects in Cocoa (one sender, one receiver)
  • Notifications: another common way of passing information (one sender, multiple receivers)

#4 Networking

To understand the importance of networking to app development, first try to think of an app on your phone that doesn’t interact with the web. Could you think of one? Chances are either you couldn’t, or it took you a bit to think of one, because almost every app we interact with talks to the web in some way. For that reason, it’s crucial for you to understand how to send and receive data from the network.

How this is done is through something commonly referred to as JSON, which stands for JavaScript Object Notation. That might sound complicated if you’re not familiar, but it’s a really a standard format that’s actually fairly straightforward. At Udacity, we’ve got a full course devoted to networking: iOS Networking with Swift.

#5 Core Data

Here’s what one of our Subject Matter Experts recently had to say about Core Data: “Learning Core Data is like exercising: the first few days feel like torture, but by the second week, you can’t believe you lived without it!”

Core Data is essentially THE persistence framework for Apple devices. Imagine if every time you used an app, your data was lost. This would be similar to the early days of video games, where you had to beat Super Mario Brothers in one run since you couldn’t save progress. Core Data is the most important framework for storing data on Apple devices. We’ve got a great course on it here: iOS Persistence and Core Data.

#6 Grand Central Dispatch

Colloquially known as GCD, Grand Central Dispatch is what allows you to add what’s called “concurrency” to your apps, thereby making it possible for multiple tasks to run simultaneously with ease. Why is this important? Our apps do a lot at once: pulling data from a network, displaying information on screen, reading touch inputs from the user…running all of these things at one time would put incredible strain on the user’s phone: it would either run really slowly or crash. So you need to learn about concurrent programming, so you don’t cause crashes! Check out our Grand Central Dispatch course.

#7 Git and GitHub

Effective use of version control is an important and useful skill for any developer working on long-lived (or even medium-lived) projects, and is essential to working with teams. We consider this so important that we actually partnered directly with GitHub to teach it!

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All of the above skills are taught in our programs, but they’re not exclusive to them. There are many paths to a successful iOS Developer career. We’re proud to offer exemplary programs and courses that will teach you exactly what you need to know, but no matter the learning path you opt to pursue, mastering the above should be a part of your plan if you’ve got your sights set on becoming an iOS developer.

According to Robert Half Technology “more than 70% of organizations are implementing some kind of mobile strategy, and they all need the tech professionals who can get the job done.”

So if you’re ready to be in demand, iOS developer is a great career choice! And remember, Udacity has programs that teach all of this and more. If you have little to no programming experience, check out our Beginning iOS App Development Nanodegree program, and for experienced programmers, check out the iOS Developer Nanodegree program.