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Android Developer vs. Web Developer: Key Differences

Jason Gilmore
Published: August 22, 2022

While Android development and web development are both great career choices, there are still some things to consider when starting your own coding career journey. Many developers find that one area of software development better fits their interests, passions, and career aspirations. How do you know which developer role is right for you?

In this post, we’ll discuss the key difference between Android and web development in terms of career paths, salaries, learning requirements, and more. By the end, you should have a better idea of where to get started with coding.

TL;DR: Android Developers vs. Web Developers

  • Android developers create mobile applications for the Android platform.
  • Web developers build web applications that are accessible within web browsers.
  • Many developers find front-end web development easier to learn than Android.
  • Both Android and web developers can work in-house, at an agency, or as a freelancer.
  • There’s a strong long-term career outlook for both Android and web developers.

What is Android Development?

Android development means creating applications for the Android operating system. This open source mobile operating system created by Google runs on phones, tablets, smart watches, TVs, and many other devices. In fact, Android is the most popular smartphone operating system currently in use with 2 billion users worldwide.

Many beginner software developers find Android harder to learn than front-end web development, but also very rewarding. It becomes much easier once Android developers learn the unique aspects of developing applications for the Android platform (such as working with the Android SDK). Since Android is open source and widely used, there’s also a large global community surrounding the platform that’s helpful when getting started.

The demand for Android developers continues to increase alongside the growth of the Android platform and the increase in smartphone usage in general. Since Android development is slightly more difficult to learn, there’s also less competition for experienced Android developers when looking for jobs.

Android Developer: Key Aspects

Android developers are responsible for building Android apps — usually for distribution on the Google Play Store. This involves writing Java or Kotlin code that uses a variety of capabilities that come with the Android SDK to create a functioning Android app. Most of the programming work is done within Android Studio, which is an integrated development environment (IDE) that includes the essential tools a developer needs to write and debug code.

Android developers also write code that interacts with APIs and databases to share and store information with back-end or third-party systems. This enables developers to integrate more advanced features into their Android apps, such as user account management or payment processing, that would be difficult to include in the app bundle itself.

Some mobile developers also choose to learn iOS development so that they can build apps for both major mobile platforms. Since it can be challenging to have deep expertise in developing native apps for both Android and iOS, some development teams choose to use a cross-platform mobile framework like Flutter or React Native. This cross-platform approach is growing in popularity, but it requires a very different skill set from native Android development. 

Android Developer Career Opportunities

There are a variety of ways that Android developers can put their skills to use. More experienced developers might choose to work for themselves as a freelancer, but most beginners will likely start their career working for a company.

In-house Android development jobs can vary quite a bit. You could work for a small startup that builds mobile games or a large enterprise that offers an Android app as part of a larger suite of applications for employees or customers. Mobile apps are growing in popularity across nearly every industry — from gaming and financial services to healthcare and retail — so there are many different in-house job opportunities to choose from.

Another option is to work for an app development agency. Many companies (especially small to mid sized) lack the resources to hire an in-house development team. Instead, they’ll outsource this work to an agency that has the expertise necessary to build an app. Working for an agency gives Android developers the opportunity to gain experience developing a variety of different apps in a shorter period of time.

Android Developer Salary

The average salary for an Android developer ranges between $100,000 to $120,000, but this can vary greatly depending on the type of role. For example, an entry-level developer might earn much less than a more senior Android developer with years of experience. Android developers could also choose to launch their own Android app or freelance — both of which could be very lucrative options or lead to very little earnings. 

The biggest takeaway? Android development gives you a lot of opportunities to build a career path that fits your lifestyle.

Required Programming Knowledge

Here are some of the basic skills a beginner Android developer needs to learn:

  • Java programming (and increasingly Kotlin)
  • XML (Extensible Markup Language)
  • Using the Android Studio IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
  • Working with the Android SDK (Software Development Kit)
  • Basic Android UI design skills
  • Communicating with APIs
  • Working with databases

For a more comprehensive list of Android development skills, see the Treehouse course library related to Android development.

What is Web Development?

Web development involves building websites and web applications that are accessible on the Internet through web browsers, but there are a few different areas of focus for web developers.

  • Front-end developers focus on the user-facing aspect of a web app. At a minimum, this requires an understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to bring mockups or wireframes from web designers to life. Most front-end developers have an interest in designing great user experiences.
  • Back-end developers work with databases and servers to handle the more complex functionality of a web app. This requires knowledge of a back-end programming language like Java, Python, Ruby, or even JavaScript. Back-end developers also need familiarity with building APIs, interacting with database management systems, and maintaining servers.
  • Full-stack developers are proficient in both front-end and back-end development. This gives them a much more holistic understanding of building a web application from end to end. Full-stack developers are currently one of the most in-demand software development roles.

Web Developer: Key Aspects

Web developers have multiple career paths to choose from, but each role has a common goal: building a website or web application that’s user-friendly. The specific area you specialize in depends on your talents and passions. Front-end developers are generally more creative and have an eye for design while back-end developers enjoy solving complex problems and working with data.

Web Developer Career Opportunities

Similar to Android developers, web developers can choose to offer their skills as a freelancer or work for a company. Almost every company at the very least has a website — and many larger companies are launching web apps with more advanced features — so the opportunities for places to work are nearly limitless.

Web Developer Salary

The average salaries are $102,000 for a front-end developer and $117,000 for a back-end developer, reflecting the additional level of expertise required for back-end development. It’s important to note that salaries can vary greatly depending on location, experience, role, and a number of other factors. 

Required Programming Knowledge

Front-end developer:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Communicating with APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
  • Front-end web frameworks like Angular.js or React.js
  • Cross-browser optimization
  • Knowledge of user experience (UX) design for websites or web apps

Back-end developer:

  • Programming in a back-end language (Python, Java, PHP, or JavaScript)
  • Building and maintaining APIs
  • Back-end frameworks like Flask or Django
  • SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Knowledge of database management systems
  • Common algorithms and data structures
  • Basic server management

Begin Your Career Path at Treehouse

As you can see, Android development and web development are both very different, yet very rewarding career paths. Once you’ve built the skills necessary for a software development role, you can choose to freelance, work for an agency, or find a job in-house at a company in nearly any industry.

Treehouse has dozens of different tracks software development students can take when starting their code journey. These tracks include sets of courses for Android and web development to kickstart your learning. In addition, Treehouse offers an in-depth Front End Web Development Bootcamp designed to help you build the real-world skills you need to succeed as a web developer. 

No matter which career path you choose, Treehouse has learning resources to help you quickly become proficient enough to land a software development job.

Source: blog.teamtreehouse.com