How long does it take to learn iOS development?

By Eddy Chung

Learning iOS development can be incredibly rewarding, and beginners are usually itching to build their first production ready app.

How long does it take to learn iOS development? In general, it can take between half a year to a year for a beginner in programming to get a solid, employable foundation. However, this depends on several variables, including:

  • experience
  • available learning time
  • desired skill level
  • learning route

Learning iOS

For starting to learn iOS development, Swift, Apple’s own programming language, is the one to focus on. While Objective-C is the original language for iOS, Swift (released in 2014) is a much better option.

Swift is easier to learn and use than Objective-C, and you can use it on apps that were built with Objective-C. In short, Swift is not only more useful but will also take a shorter time to learn.

While Swift has made it easier than it used to be, learning iOS is still not an easy task, and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. There’s no straightforward answer for knowing how long to expect until they learn it. The truth is, it really depends on many variables.

Factors such as your level of experience or how much time you have available will really affect your learning speed. What you’re working towards, what level you want to reach, and how you plan on learning are also important considerations. Lastly, how fast you learn will also be influenced by the type of person you are.

The quick answer is, “just stop worrying about that and hit the books”. But, you won’t cave that easily, so let’s get into the details.

Level of Experience

Whether or not you already have experience with programming will determine how long it can take to learn iOS. While every programming language is different, being able to code in other languages will help you learn iOS development much faster. For an experienced developer, Swift could take a few days/weeks to learn.

If you are a beginner in programming, it would be useful for you to learn some basic concepts before moving on to Swift, such as object-oriented programming. Even though it will take a bit longer to reach Swift, having a programming foundation will pay off in the long run and will make learning iOS smoother.

If you’re overly excited about starting with iOS, make sure to check out Swift Playgrounds, a free app for iPad for learning Swift as a complete beginner. The app makes the learning process really interactive and entertaining.

Learning Time and Motivation

You can learn development at any age and stage of your life. You can incorporate your learning time into your schedule and make it work for you. However, the amount of dedicated time you’re able and willing to put into learning to code will affect how quickly you will reach your goal.

If you have a full-time job, kids, or a busy life in general, you might be able to dedicate 30 minutes to 2 hours per day to studying. If you stay consistent and keep working, you will inevitably progress. You might reach your desired level in a year or two. And that’s ok.

If you don’t have as many responsibilities and can study for several hours per day, you will be able to learn much faster. In a few months, you will likely have the basics and the ability to develop a simple app, such as a to-do list app.

In my opinion, if you are serious about learning programming, you should stick to learning and coding every single day. If you can only do it for 30 minutes, do it. For this, your personal motivation is also important. What are you working towards? Are you learning it as a hobby? Or do you wish to pursue a career in iOS development?

If you have a strong motivation, you will stay focused and learn faster.

Desired Skill Level

What is your goal? When thinking about how long it will take to learn, what is the level at which you can say that you have ‘learned’ it?

The truth is you will be learning forever. As a developer, you never stop learning. You never reach a level where you know everything. And that’s great! That’s what keeps it interesting and challenging.

Even as an experienced developer, there are many times when you initially don’t know how to do what the client requested.

But that’s not a problem. In the beginning, you may not have the answer, but you work hard and overcome the challenge. By theend of the project, you will have learned something new, and you will be abetter developer.

If you are asking how long it will take until you can build a basic app, the answer is: not long. Probably a few months. If you want to know when you will reach a high level, become an experienced developer and tackle complex projects, it can take years.

Learning Route

How are you planning on learning? There are various ways to learn to program, such as:

  • university degree
  • online courses
  • self-taught
  • bootcamp

If you are considering going to university, and want to become a developer, a degree in Computer Science might be a good option for you. It will offer useful foundations for programming. However, you can also learn software development without a degree. Studying at university is a long and expensive way of learning, and it is not for everyone.

A cheaper option for people who are not interested in university, or have already finished their degree is doing online courses. There are platforms such as LinkedIn Learning or Udemy that offer affordable courses for various levels.

Apple also offers in-depth free guides for learning iOS development, which you should definitely check out.

Of course, there are many available tutorials and blogs such as this one, dedicated to helping people learn how to program. Usually, these are free high-quality resources offering significant value.

Sites such as Stack Overflow will also be extremely helpful for you, and will provide answers to your questions. Just make sure you understand the code, don’t just copy-paste it. Otherwise you won’t learn, and you will not be sure about what code your app is running.

Having someone to mentor or help you is very useful. You can also attend workshops and conferences to learn more and network. Making new connections is great on a personal and professional level. You already have something in common with the people attending the events: a passion for programming.

The way you’re learning will definitely have an impact on how long it will take. A combination of these methods will most likely result in learning faster.

Know Thyself

Developing for iOS (and in general) is rewarding and some people absolutely love it. But it’s not for everyone. Many people realize that while they liked the idea of programming, they don’t really enjoy the work.

Becoming good at developing takes a lot of hard work. If you don’t love it, you will probably be slow and will not get very far.

Ideally, you are a person who loves applying logic, and finding solutions to problems. Developing apps can be a very repetitive work, where you try 1000 ways of doing something before you find out what works. Your patience and creativity will be tested. However, you also get immense satisfaction when you solve an issue or complete a project.

With the right personality for this type of work, you will be a much faster learner. You can only find if this is right for you by starting and trying it out.

Developing for iOS (and in general) is rewarding and some people absolutely love it. But it’s not for everyone. Many people realize that while they liked the idea of programming, they don’t really enjoy the work.

Good luck and enjoy!

Is Swift difficult to learn? No, Swift is not difficult to learn compared to other languages. It is much easier than Objective-C, and a better starting point for beginners.

How long does it take to build an iOS app? It could take from a few days to around a year. It depends on the complexity of the app and your level of experience. Simple apps can be developed much faster, while a high-quality complex app can take much longer to build.

Do you need an iPhone or iPad to start learning iOS development? No. While having an iPhone or an iPad helps, you can still learn and build apps by using iOS simulators instead.

If you liked this post, you'll love my free guide: Secrets To iOS Development. Speed up your learning curve - hundreds of students have already downloaded. Thanks for reading!
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Eddy Chung

I am a professional iOS developer in Silicon Valley. I teach iOS development on ZeroToAppStore.com. If you'd like to learn more about me click here or you can contact me at: eddy@zerotoappstore.com

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