IndustryWhat Employers Are Looking for in a Junior Android Dev

Ben Jakuben
writes on November 3, 2014

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We recently wrote a post that discussed what employers are looking for a in Jnr Ruby Dev. It was very popular so we thought we would tackle a different discipline this time – Android development.

It is a wonderful time to be an Android developer. The technology is exciting and evolving, new devices are popping up all over the place, and there is a very high demand for developers. With hundreds of millions of users around the world, the possibilities for gainful employment seem endless.

Working as an Android developer can be extremely rewarding. It can also be extremely challenging, especially when you are just getting started. We often hear about indie developers who have spun their code into gold, but the reality is that such stories are the exceptions, not the rules. It is hard to be successful (financially or otherwise) when you are are still learning so much. Heck, it is hard to be successful when you already know or do a lot!

Our mission at Treehouse is to help students gain the skills they need for the careers they want, and to help them get started and then progress in those careers. Getting started in a junior developer role for Android is similar to many other entry-level programming jobs, but let’s talk about exactly what employers are looking for and how you might start down this career path.

Real Android programmer

This takes “Junior Android Developer” too literally.

Required-ish Skills

“Required” is a bad word to use here. Below is a list of generalized requirements based on my experience being a developer and hiring Android developers, as well as researching junior-level positions. You will undoubtedly run into different requirements than these, but this list should be a good starting point!

This may seem like a lot, but you can build up these skills faster than you might think. If you are already a student at Treehouse taking the Android courses, then you know how quickly you can learn the basics below. After that it’s just practice to understand it all more fully. If you are not a student, check out our Android track as it is structured to teach you everything you need to know to become a junior-level Android developer. We are continually adding to and updating our library to provide more of these skills and others to further your education throughout your career.

Technical Skills

1. Java

You should of course be comfortable with the Java programming language. While you can develop Android apps using a number of different technologies, most positions are for native development using Java and Android Studio or Eclipse as your IDE.

What exactly does it mean to be comfortable with Java? You don’t need to know all the latest details of the latest version, but you should have a well-rounded knowledge of the basic syntax and programming structures. You should know things like variables, lists, loops, control structures and object-oriented concepts like class vs. static methods and inheritance. You should also be comfortable using documentation to learn how to use new parts of the Java SDK. A very big part of any position as a developer is continuous learning. Check out our brand new Java Basics course.

2. The Android SDK

Again, this goes without saying. But what areas of the SDK should you specifically know? The following list includes many basic Android concepts that you should be familiar with:

  • A basic understanding of layouts and views
  • Activities and their lifecycle
  • User input
  • Getting data from the web
  • Storing data
  • Collection views (like ListViews) and Adapters (default and custom)
  • Action Bar
  • Accommodating different screen sizes and densities

As you will be undoubtedly be expected try new things, you should also be comfortable using the Android documentation and resources like Treehouse to get started with a new part of the SDK. And this probably goes without saying, but you should be competent with using the debugger in your IDE to help troubleshoot bugs in your code.

3. Working with APIs

As mentioned above, getting data from the web is a pretty basic skill for app development since so many apps have a network-based component. This may not be required for all jobs, but many postings I’ve seen expect the developer to be able to work with their own API or some other 3rd party API. These will usually be JSON/REST APIs, though XML/SOAP does still pop up! I would recommend focusing on JSON/REST and only learning XML/SOAP if you need to. The basic concepts are still relatively similar; it’s just a different way of requesting and then parsing the data. A few of our courses in the Android track can help you master using APIs.

4. Git

This particular skill may not be required, but whether you are working alone or with a team you will generally want to use some sort of version control system. You don’t have to be an expert at managing a bunch of merge conflicts, but you should understand the basics of creating and using a repository and committing and pushing changes. We have a great Git Basics course at Treehouse that I highly recommend.

5. Back-end Skills

Sometimes job posts will ask that the Android developers also contribute on the back-end of their system. I’ve had this experience myself. This may be harder to add to your skill set when you are just starting out as the back-end technologies vary so much (Rails, .NET, Django, NodeJS, etc.), but I wanted to list it as it comes up often enough to warrant discussion.

Don’t let this discourage you from Android development, though. You can either ignore these posts or use it as motivation to learn or brush up on your back-end skills. And remember, the basic concepts of programming translate well, so sometimes it’s just a matter of getting familiar with the architecture of a system and the syntax of the language. You don’t need to necessarily dive deep into these back-end technologies. Sometimes you just need to be comfortable modifying existing back-end APIs to work with changes to the app you are working on.

Non-Technical Skills

It is easy to focus on the technical skills of a technical position, but do not forget about the important non-technical skills! I have seen and heard of many candidates who knew enough about Android programming but did not know enough about communicating and collaborating with a team.

The list below is again culled from a sample of real job postings for junior-level Android developers.

1. Passion

Argh…I dread seeing this word in job postings, but it appears pretty often. Employers are often looking for “passionate, motivated” employees, but what does this mean? More importantly, how should you convey this in an interview?

Passion is such a loaded word. Don’t worry if you don’t know what your “passion” is…most people I know don’t have a great answer for this. Passions change from moment to moment, and we can be slow and steady about our passion just the same as energized and chaotic.

The important feeling you want to convey is that you believe in what the employer is doing and you believe in yourself that you will excel at the position. In your interview, show the employer that you are interested in the work by researching the company and asking questions. And sell your own abilities to learn and improve. It’s okay to admit you don’t know things as long as you follow it up by explaining how that has never stopped you and that you are willing and dedicated to learn new things.

2. Collaboration and communication

Collaboration with a team is vitally important in most developer positions. Even if you are the only developer working on a product, you will need to collaborate with other people in the organization. Sometimes designers, sometimes management, sometimes end users, but always sharing your work with others and inviting feedback and discussion.

Android talking to an alien

Communication is key!

Collaboration and communication are closely related, so by necessity you will need strong communication skills to collaborate successfully. Make sure you can explain what you are working on to both technical and non-technical people and keep practicing written and verbal communication.

3. Writing

This goes hand in hand with communication, but it appears on its own often enough in job postings that we should discuss it as a standalone skill. Writing is becoming more and more important in an economy that spans the globe, so make sure you are comfortable communicating via written text. As a developer you may be expected to write things like technical documentation, summaries of your work for non-technical coworkers, user-facing text within the app, and regular communication via chat, email, etc.

While we don’t currently offer any courses at Treehouse that can help you become a better writer, there really are two key things you can do on your own. Read and write. That’s it! Read more and write more and you will exercise those parts of your brain that deal with written text.

Other Common Requirements

There are a few other general requirements that appear in many job postings.

1. At Least One Published App

The quickest way to show an employer that you can do something is to have a real app on Google Play with your name on it. Employers know this and often expect to see apps you have already worked on. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or wildly successful, but even a simple app published on Google Play demonstrates a baseline of knowledge about the entire app development lifecycle. If you need a simple app to publish, try customizing the Treehouse Fun Facts app and then publish it using our Publish an Android App course.

2. A College Degree

Many job postings still require a degree, but this is something you can challenge! The tech industry is a leader in hiring people based on what they can do, so if you apply for a job that requires a degree and you don’t have one, show how you have the real experience that is more important than a piece of paper.

What can you expect to earn?

This is a hard question to answer. As one might expect, this varies widely from job to job, city to city, country to country. Very generally, a full-time junior-level Android developer can expect to make somewhere around $60,000 to $80,000 per year in the U.S.

Might want to check that exchange rate!

Where can you find Junior Android Developer jobs?

There are quite a few sites to look for Android jobs, but the following list is a great place to start:

If you are having trouble landing a full-time position, or just want to to gain experience while working elsewhere or while being a student, definitely check out contract work on sites like Elance and oDesk. You can bid for small projects and gain valuable experience while building up your portfolio of work.

Best of luck on your journey. I truly think Android development is a great career path. If you have any advice to share, please do so in the comments below! Perhaps you are a recent hire or recently interviewed for a position and have some valuable insight. Or maybe you are a hiring manager or recruiter and want to have a better talent pool to select from. Whatever it is, let us know in the comments!

If you’re ready to get started with Android Development, check out our free trial today!

Special thanks to the following people on Flickr for the use of their photos: etnyk, thierry ehrmann, JD Hancock, and Pascal Terjan.


Learn in-demand programming skills and become a certified Android Developer with the Treehouse Techdegree Program. Learn more and enroll today.

45 Responses to “What Employers Are Looking for in a Junior Android Dev”

  1. Great Article here about the requirement of being an Android developer. My profession is telecom engineering with 5 years experience. I d like to switch over to being an Android developer. Will employers ever consider a middle aged man like me, someone who wants to change career, for a hire. I ve done Java course and now pursuing Android basics course.

  2. Guys if you don’t have 2 years minimum “commercial” exprerience, it would be almost impossible to find a job. Android isn’t only about SDK. Companies ask from junior people knowledge of TDD and NDK(which is C++).

    I have 19 cool projects on my github account,600 reputation on stackoverflow ,2 apps in playstore and still cant find nothing. I only speak for myself,and don’t mean to discourage people. Just to let you know that there are some really hard topics in Android.

  3. To be very frank, I am learnt Android Programming from TeamTreehouse.com
    It is awesome platform for learning new programming skill.
    I am these all skills mention for android app developer because I am also android app developer.
    I am the farmer student of TeamTreehouse.com

  4. It is necessary for the popularity of any type of app that we should create apps and get changes in them according to people’s needs so that our app should get lots of popularity in comparative situation of app development profession. I am totally agree with you that mobile app development is very rewarding but it is possible only when we know all deeply facts of app development. Some people are interested in this profession and they want to know that what skills a perfect app developer should have. you are really helping that type of people by this type of detailed informative posts.

  5. I have 2 apps in the Play Store and 8 others in my Github. I’ve studied algorithms and data structures with a private tutor, to make up for no CS degree. I know how to consume RESTful APIs including OAuth for login. I have a UI/UX certificate. I’m a great communicator and people person, yet have no problem working independently. StackOverflow is my best friend, and I’m close to 1,000 reputation.

    I have been looking for an Android job for 5 months now and I seriously don’t know how junior developers get started. No one wants to hire someone without experience! Yet, people have to get started somehow, so this is a huge puzzle to me. Employers love my portfolio, so I know it’s not that. I’ve passed many coding challenges… there’s just always an applicant who has actual professional experience, and they always get chosen. What can I do? I’m really at a loss here. :/

    – Sulking in Seattle

  6. It’s a great post about technical and non technical skills. This post explains clearly about qualities that should be present in android app developer. Very helpful for preparing to face an interview.

  7. Hey Ben, as a previous student of yours (Crystal Ball App), you helped me create my first application which I still use until this day when going on interviews. It’s true that they do take you more seriously when you have something published on the store. A few months ago, I was shocked that Google reached out to me for an interview and I got to the third round, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. My experience in your course giving me my first start to finish taste of developing, and the Google interview process have kept me from giving up on myself in the seeking of an entry level android development role. My question is, how do I elaborate on my experience building the Crystal Ball app on a resume? A hiring manager from JP Morgan chase told me to elaborate on it more, but I wasn’t sure how. Thanks!

    • Ben Jakuben on February 25, 2016 at 10:36 am said:

      What about doing it again and adding some additional features? Maybe make them personalized with the user’s name, for example. Or playing custom yes/no/maybe sounds based on the type of answer.

      By going through that kind of exercise, you’ll be able to talk in more detail about the code you wrote. You’d be able to elaborate on the new features you add. The key really is building different apps, even if you don’t publish them all. Practice and experience are worth so much. 🙂 Good luck!

  8. looking through some of the Junior android job listings some of them are asking for 1 – 2 years of android experience how do we get this experience if we don’t have any is freelancing a bit on the side enough.

    really enjoying all the java and android courses keep up the amazing work

  9. Nice article! I’ve recently been recruiting for some Android developer positions and found your explanation quite helpful.

  10. FactGatherer on January 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm said:

    Hi Ben:
    I’m a female treehouse student with over 10k points covering lots of your topic areas. I’ve taken the beginning level Java course (which I enjoyed) and am working on my first Android app.

    My question is: are employers open to hiring jr. Android developers who are middle-aged and changing careers? I’ve been a professional musician, journalist, marketer, digital media specialist, etc. I have a life-long love of learning and enjoy change. One of my greatest strengths is pattern recognition (which was evident in my music career and in investigative journalism). I’m wondering how I should gauge the ‘landscape’ of opportunity. Any candid thoughts are welcome. Thanks!

    • Ben Jakuben on January 27, 2016 at 7:44 am said:

      Absolutely! I’d love to say that anyone can get hired anywhere, but of course some places are still very much based on who you know. But lots more are moving to hiring models like we use Treehouse where candidates are initially evaluated on what they actually can do, since that’s ultimately the biggest predictor of success. The best thing to do is build up a portfolio of work that demonstrates your abilities, with code you can share on GitHub and apps you can link to on Google Play, even if they’re pretty simple.

      I’ve heard many success stories of people who have carved out a new career like this later than the average junior developer. It sounds like you have a lot of additional value to bring to the table, which will be worth a lot for certain positions. Communication skills are more important than ever. And some of the best developers I know have a background in music. There definitely appears to be some overlap with programming that is valuable there!

      Best of luck and I encourage you to continue this discussion with the Treehouse Community. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being a student!
      https://teamtreehouse.com/community

  11. It would be really nice if you guys could make a similar article on what you need to become a junior iOS developer. I’m aspiring to become on and an article like that would be very helpful.

  12. Hi Ben,

    Iam actually from Commerce back ground and has 7 plus years into Recruitment.
    Iam planning to move into IT. Is education is related for a person to move into IT. I know mobile apps developers has good demand. Can you suggest me , if it will be okay if i move into and would be able to pickup.

    Thanks,Praveen

  13. When will you write a post on What Employers Are Looking For in a Junior JavaScript Developer or Front End Developer

    what is the mean salary for junior web devs in US. Can past experience be considered of someone is in technical writing for software industry and making a career shift

  14. Well Done !!! Nice Blog

  15. detroitteatime on November 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm said:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been doing Android apps on the side for a few years now, and have an app on Play, but I wouldn’t consider myself a senior Android developer. However, almost all the job postings are for senior or lead Android developers. How do you get from at-home hobbyist to senior Android developer? Can you do it by yourself, or is it the catch 22 where you have to have an Android job to become senior, and you have to be senior to get a job?

    Is there a list of must haves to be a senior android developer?

  16. سا I don’t want to stay on PeopleSoft forever but want to become a mobile app developer eventually for the iPhone and Android. I have released 2 apps on the iTunes app store and 1 app on Google Play but felt like I needed to brush up on some skills and make sure I review the basics and pick up some new skills (i.e. consuming REST web services on mobile devices). I know I am junior developer now in my current job but that will change as I gain more experience with time, experience and knowledge. Have you ever seen anyone go from an

    • Ben Jakuben on October 28, 2015 at 9:23 am said:

      Keep up the practice and hard work! I used to work on a PeopleSoft system before getting into mobile development. Keep working on apps and trying things out and you’ll get more and more confident in your skills to apply for a job. You definitely want to have a pretty good handle on consuming REST services.

  17. Sir i am student of commerce under graduation. This is my last year of graduation. But i dont want to continue my future in accounting. I want to built my future in Android. I live in India. So please guide me how i can start my journey for this….

  18. Hi Ben!
    Great article! I graduated with my under graduate in CIT (Computer Information Technology) about 5 years ago. My emphasis was in programming and I love being able to develop web sites, mobile apps, software, etc… Currently I am a junior software developer for a non-profit organization on an HR product called PeopleSoft. I’ve been pretty blessed to have been able to pick up how the system works and how to code. It’s also kind of funny because my position currently is “junior developer” but I’ve been giving training sessions to the senior developer(s) and help them debug their code from time to time resulting in solving their coding problem(s). It’s also not just working with the senior developers but I am one of the lead developers on writing web services for PeopleSoft at my company which are for both SOAP and RESTful services. I love this part of my job right now because I am doing the “back-end” development, gaining great experience and knowledge, and I am creating APIs for front end developers to consume.

    I don’t want to stay on PeopleSoft forever but want to become a mobile app developer eventually for the iPhone and Android. I have released 2 apps on the iTunes app store and 1 app on Google Play but felt like I needed to brush up on some skills and make sure I review the basics and pick up some new skills (i.e. consuming REST web services on mobile devices). I know I am junior developer now in my current job but that will change as I gain more experience with time, experience and knowledge. Have you ever seen anyone go from an intermediate developer or senior developer for one product down to a junior developer on something else? I am currently getting recruiters at different companies contacting me saying that I look qualified for a senior level software engineer and that I should interview with them but I feel inadequate. Do you have any recommendations or any thoughts that you can provide me with? I would like your input from a professional level. I know I should still go through all the tutorials on Team Treehouse and I should continue to create apps that broaden my skill sets and challenge me. But how do I know that I would be ready for a higher level engineer position if I get to a higher level in a different product? I also would hate my salary to go from $100,000 down to $80,000 hypothetically speaking. I hope my post makes sense and if it doesn’t e-mail me and I can try to clarify.

    Thanks for your article and the awesome lessons/sessions on Team Treehouse!

    – Trevor

  19. Fantastic article indeed!! Right now I am on a verge of getting started with Android and was doing my part of research. This post was a very simple yet powerful way of inspiring/ motivating for people like me who are thinking about/getting started to learn android.

    Cheers!! and Thanks for such an awesome write up.

  20. no much hard, what u you’ll really need to learn is the input from the touchscreen and sensors on the device.

  21. Ben, do you know any type of online work on android development ?

  22. Vijay Ramdass on November 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm said:

    Excellent article with great information! I have a degree in Marketing and was thinking about going back to school for a degree in Computer Science until I found you guys. This is the first time in a long time where I am excited to learn something new. I am always eager to jump right on and complete more of the track I’m on. When you mention having a college degree, I am pretty sure they will just look over my marketing degree correct?

    • Ben Jakuben on November 12, 2014 at 9:42 am said:

      I am so glad to hear that you are excited to learn something new. There is so much to learn and it really can be an exciting journey.

      The importance of the degree is really based on the company or people hiring. At Treehouse we don’t care about a degree as long as you can demonstrate that you can do the work. I know other companies are like this, but others of course still make it a requirement that is hard to slip by. Hopefully it won’t be a problem for you! And a marketing degree could be a huge asset in certain development positions. 🙂

  23. Wow!! nice I will learn these from now on. I know some non-technical skills and writing and getting clients for that only. Though I’m looking forward to learn technical things the pro way. Your article is very inspiring and covered everything.

  24. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your excellent article. Unfortunately, I started learning from Treehouse but the complexity of setting up ADT bundle and further errors stopped me and intimidated my learning process. I am planning to learn it again but I am confused whether I will learn android course or IOS course?

    • Ben Jakuben on November 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm said:

      Definitely come back! I’ve revised the first few courses (and more to follow) that make it easier to get started. It helps a lot that the main tool now used is Android Studio, which is better and much easier to setup. Start with Build a Simple Android App and I think you’ll have a much better experience. Let me know via the Forum if you have any trouble and we’ll all make sure you get help.

  25. Matthew Ong on November 9, 2014 at 1:16 pm said:

    Great and informational post!
    This is only tangentially related, but is PHP used as a backend language for android development?

    • Ben Jakuben on November 10, 2014 at 11:58 am said:

      Yes, totally! It just depends on who setup the backend and when. If PHP is your preferred language then you can absolutely use it. It’s a massively popular platform, so definitely good to know.

  26. how about becoming a freelance app developer working with clients and personal projects or would the recommended pathway be to get a job at a company.

    many thanks

    • Ben Jakuben on November 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm said:

      I don’t have experience as a freelancer, but it seems like a great way to go as long as you are comfortable with the instability of it. Check out the freelance sites I mentioned (elance and odesk) and also the Treehouse “How to Freelance” course: http://teamtreehouse.com/library/how-to-freelance. I think the trick to being an app developer freelancer is constantly networking to get your name out there and connecting with potential clients. Check freelancing sites, post on social media, use personal connections, canvas local businesses, etc.

  27. I think web development is also required seeing that most mobile apps have to connect to a web server to get and set data.

    • Ben Jakuben on November 4, 2014 at 12:38 pm said:

      Totally! That’s what I meant with the section about interacting with APIs. Most developer positions these days require knowledge of at least a few different areas and technologies, it seems!

      • Jaroslav on November 4, 2014 at 6:16 pm said:

        Hi Ben,

        I’m finishing the Android track and would like to continue learning here at TreeHouse, could you recommend a course that would help me to start with the backend part?

        Btw thanks for the courses.

        • Ben Jakuben on November 5, 2014 at 9:15 am said:

          It can be hard to choose, but the good news is that learning the concepts about one back-end technology applies very well across the spectrum. There are certain patterns and concepts that make it easy to pick up whatever you need in the future, just like knowing Android makes it easier to understand building apps in iOS.

          At the moment, I’d recommend the Ruby on Rails track simply because it is our most developed back-end track. We’re working on bringing the rest up to speed, though, and I’d also highly recommend Python, which we are building up quickly.

  28. Hi Ben, I am learning Android Dev, I am from El Salvador, you Know how much is the possibility of getting work in USA or what choices are there for someone like me?

    Thanks!

    • Ben Jakuben on November 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm said:

      Sadly I don’t have any experience with the process if getting the required paperwork to work in the US. This should be something that job postings list up front, or you can ask if they will sponsor a Visa for the position. The one thing I can say is to not have any preconceived notions about what kind of company will or will not sponsor a Visa. Both big and small companies are often willing to help with the process, assuming the candidate is the right person for the job!

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