iOS Developers: What They Do, Skills, and Salary

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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Chief Technology Officer
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iOS Developers: What They Do, Skills, and Salary

Table of Contents

Learn what an iOS developer does, the hard and soft skills required for the role, what they typically earn, and how to hire iOS developers to join your team.
Published on
January 4, 2024
Updated on
January 4, 2024

iOS developers use the Swift programming language to create apps for the iOS ecosystem. Formerly known as iPhone OS, iOS is a mobile operating system created by Apple Inc. for its hardware. iOS powers many Apple devices, including the iPhone and the system software for iPads predating iPadOS, which was released in 2019. 

This article discusses the soft and hard skills required to become an iOS developer, their average junior and senior-level salaries, and the best software for iOS developers. It also provides tips to help hire top iOS developers.

What Is iOS Development?

iOS development is used to design, create, test, and launch apps through the App Store on the iOS platform.

To develop intuitive and striking iOS apps, iOS developers must understand how iOS works on different Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. They should also have at least several years of experience developing iOS apps in Swift, a high-level, multi-paradigm, and fundamental programming language for all Apple platforms.

iOS development can be used to create any app you can think of, including:

  • Mobile apps and games
  • Productivity applications, such as note-taking apps
  • Business applications for billing, inventory management, customer relationship management, and other business functions

Any industry or company can use iOS app development since most companies use iOS applications for product support or customer relations. Top industries employing iOS developers include finance, retail, and technology.

What Does an iOS Developer Do?

iOS developers use various skills to create, test, and maintain iOS apps, including programming, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) skills. These skills can be sorted into soft and hard/technical skills. 

Soft skills are interpersonal and communicative skills that help hires get along with others. Candidates can also use soft skills to increase productivity

Meanwhile, hard (or technical) skills are testable knowledge or skill sets that hires learn through courses and work experience. Candidates must have certain hard skills to create high-quality iOS apps using Swift. 

Based on career paths, certain soft and hard skills are more applicable to junior versus senior-level developers. For instance, senior-level developers are expected to have strong leadership and mentorship skills, while junior developers are not. Similarly, senior-level developers are expected to have experience working on complex iOS projects and building on legacy systems, while junior software developers are not typically expected to have such experiences.

Soft Skills

iOS developers are generally expected to have the following soft skills:

  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Accountability
  • Patience
  • An eye for detail

Hard Skills

Here are some of the hard skills companies require junior iOS developers to have:

  • Some experience with Swift
  • Some familiarity with Xcode
  • Some knowledge of SwiftUI and UX
  • Some experience testing and debugging iOS apps

Companies typically prefer hiring senior iOS developers with these hard skills:

  • Over six years of experience with iOS development, including experience with XCTest, WatchOS, and Swift 5
  • Experience building applications that require RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Comfortable working on complex and large-scale projects
  • Strong knowledge of Auto Layout, UIKit, and building interfaces

Technical Skills

Here are some of the technical skills junior iOS developers should have:

  • Knowledge of current iOS development trends
  • Experience developing at least one iOS app from scratch
  • Understanding of Apple's Human Interface Guidelines

Senior iOS developers should have the following technical skills:

  • Familiarity with different software frameworks and design patterns
  • Experience providing architectural design for native iOS apps
  • Experience with tools such as Bitbucket, Jira, and Confluence
  • Understanding of reactive programming, concurrency, and software architecture

iOS Developer Salary

According to Glassdoor, iOS app developer salaries depend on the hire's seniority and experience, ranging from roughly $88,000 to $110,000 in the U.S. Junior or entry-level hires tend to earn lower wages than their senior counterparts.

Junior/Entry Level 

Junior or entry-level developers have zero to three years of iOS development experience. They are usually responsible for collaborating with others on simple iOS projects. 

According to Glassdoor, the average junior or entry-level iOS developer in the U.S. earns a base salary between $75,000 and $131,000 annually. 

Mid-Level

Mid-level iOS developers have four to six years of iOS development experience. They have more leadership and mentorship roles than junior and entry-level hires. They may also be responsible for more complicated tasks and projects. 

According to Glassdoor, the average mid-level iOS developer in the U.S. earns between $78,00 and $133,000 yearly.

Senior-Level

Senior-level iOS developers have over six years of professional iOS development experience. They have strong leadership and mentorship skills and are required to meet with the C-suite and clients. They are also responsible for testing junior and mid-level colleagues' code for robustness and errors.

According to Glassdoor, the average senior-level iOS developer in the U.S. earns $87,000 to $148,000 per year, depending on their years of experience.

Best Software for iOS Developers

iOS developers use various tools and technologies to design, create, test, launch, and maintain iOS apps. 

Below are some examples of the best software for iOS developers.

Xcode

Used to build robust apps, Xcode is Apple's free integrated development environment (IDE). Experienced developers can use it to develop, test, and distribute apps for all iOS Apple platforms. In addition to using it to build apps, it offers many features for designing and launching apps faster, including:

  • Enhanced code completion
  • Live animations
  • Interactive previews
  • Test reports with video recording
  • Powerful macros
  • An iOS simulator
  • Performance analysis tools

AppCode

One alternative to Xcode is JetBrains' AppCode. An intelligent IDE for macOS and iOS development, AppCode focuses on efficient code navigation, code quality, on-the-fly code analysis, and smart code completion. Besides Swift, it supports Objective-C, C, C++, and many other languages via plugins. Coders can work simultaneously in Xcode and AppCode — AppCode will ensure everything is up-to-date and synchronized.

AppCode's key features include:

  • Intelligent code assistance
  • Refactorings and code generation
  • Static analysis for all supported languages
  • Editor customization

Alamofire

Alamofire is an open-source HTTP networking library written in Swift for macOS and iOS developers. It provides an easy-to-use API for common networking tasks, simplifying the process of making network requests in iOS applications.

Alamofire has the following key features:

  • Support for various authentication methods, including HTTP Basic Authentication and OAuth
  • Request and response serialization
  • Request and response validation
  • Streaming
  • Upload and download progress tracking

Parse

Parse is an open-source tool that offers a mobile backend as a service. iOS developers can use Parse to store data in the cloud, manage dashboards and push notifications, and run custom code in the cloud. Using Parse can cut costs and increase efficiency.

Other Parse features include:

  • Identity log-ins
  • Cloud-based file and object storage
  • Social media integration abilities

Programming Languages for iOS Developers

Developers can use two programming languages for iOS development: Objective-C and Swift.

Objective-C

Objective-C is an object-oriented language built with the C programming language. It has remained largely the same since the early 1980s.

Objective-C supports inheritance, encapsulation, polymorphism, data hiding, abstraction, exception handling, and operator overloading. Developers can use this language to write software for macOS and iOS. 

Swift

Swift was introduced by Apple in 2014 as a replacement for Objective-C. It has many features that Objective-C lacks, including:

  • Type safety: In Swift, value types are used instead of reference types. This means a new copy of the data is assigned whenever modified. This approach helps to prevent aliasing problems.
  • Polymorphism: With Swift, coders can write code that can be applied to any type that matches the protocol without knowing the specific type. On the other hand, Objective-C's categories run in compile time and can only be used to extend a specific type's functionality.
  • Type inference: Swift has type interface, which means the compiler can automatically infer a variable's type based on its value. As such, developers don't have to explicitly declare the variable type, which can decrease development time and make the code more concise. 
  • Better type safety: Swift is less likely than Objective-C to produce unexpected results due to type mismatches. As such, developers have an easier time debugging Swift code.
  • Better memory management features: Swift uses lazy initialization. This reduces memory usage and makes reading and writing code faster and more reliable.

Most companies prefer hiring iOS app developers who are fluent in Swift. However, some companies using legacy software prefer hiring iOs developers who are fluent in both. This is because Swift only works with iOS versions from the last decade, while Objective-C is compatible with almost all versions of iOS. Objective-C also has more tools than Swift due to its nearly 30 years of use.

Hire iOS Developers With Revelo

Hiring the right iOS app developer can be an uphill battle, especially if you have a limited budget or HR team.

But Revelo can help. As Latin America's premier tech talent marketplace, we can match you with the ideal iOS developer who has the skills you need. Our talent is in U.S. time zones and has been thoroughly screened for English proficiency, hard and soft skills, and experience. Revelo can also help you with onboarding, payroll, compliance, benefits administration, and employee retention/management, so you can focus on growing your business.

Interested in experiencing the Revelo difference? Contact us to hire an iOS developer today.

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