How to earn an associate Android developer certification

Google's Android developer certification is a solid, low-cost credential that can prepare you for a career programming for Android OS with Java and Kotlin.
Written by Matthew Sweeney, Contributing Writer

Thinking about working as a developer specializing in Android OS? Consider pursuing Google's Associate Android Developer (AAD) certification. This entry-level credential can boost your resume by proving your skills in Android-based development.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, web developers can anticipate an employment growth rate of 13% from 2020-30. AAD certification, inexpensive and rigorous, can help you get your first job in this rapidly-growing field.

Read on for our guide to AAD certification, covering cost, what to expect, and where to find study aids.

1. Decide whether earning an associate Android developer certification is right for you.

The AAD certification caters mostly to beginning developers starting to master Java and other common programming languages. This certification may help you get your foot in the door for entry-level employment as a mobile or web developer, though it may be less helpful for higher-up positions.

According to Google, 82% of certification grads see some kind of career benefit, such as increases in their mobile app developer salary. 

You can pursue additional Google career certifications and information technology certifications after becoming AAD certified. Pick your certifications based on the content areas that interest you.

2. Check your eligibility

First, make sure you fit Google's eligibility criteria:

  • Capable of reading and speaking English
  • Using the latest version of Android Studio
  • At least 13 years of age
  • Can present ID from a non-U.S.-embargoed country

You will also need a working webcam and microphone for the interview component of the interview.

3. Decide whether to take this exam in Java or Kotlin

The exam gives you a choice between using Java or Kotlin. Java and Kotlin are among the easiest programming languages to learn, and mastering at least one is essential for Android development specialists.

Java is an object-oriented programming language invented in 1995. 3 billion devices run Java software. Java:

  • Works with every major OS
  • Is stable/portable
  • Is popular in back-end development

Unfortunately, it is slow and requires extra memory space.

Kotlin is an open-source programming language invented in 2011. Because it incorporates functional and object-oriented programming, Kotlin:

  • Runs faster than Java
  • Produces clean code with few bugs
  • Has become popular among mobile developers

However, online Kotlin learning resources are limited.

If you have already mastered Java, consider learning Kotlin to expand your repertoire, especially if mobile development interests you.

4. Study up

It's important to be well-prepared (Google suggests two to three months of 10 hours of study weekly) before taking the exam because each attempt costs $149. 

The exam's core topics cover foundational knowledge for a mobile app developer, including:

  • App functionality
  • Android User Interface
  • Data management
  • Debugging
  • Testing

Google provides a free study guide to the exam, organized into five main sections. Each section contains links to helpful free courses from Codelabs and Android.

Consider taking a Java bootcamp prior to the exam, even if you already have experience with Java. You can also access free resources such as Codelab's free Kotlin Bootcamp for Programmers bootcamp course and Android's free Android Basics in Kotlin course. 

5. Register for the exam

To register for the exam, go to the Associate Android Developer site and click the signup link to log in for either the Java or Kotlin exam. Read and sign the terms of conditions, then verify your ID. Finally, you'll pay the $149 exam fee.

6. Take the exam when you're ready

Now you can take the exam, which covers Android Studio, Android SDK, and Java or Kotlin. The exam's first section asks you to add functionality to and debug a project. 

The second section is an exit interview that will:

  • Confirm that you completed the project
  • Measure your proficiency in the five core areas

You don't have to start the exam immediately after registration. However, once you begin, you get eight hours to manually submit the exam before it auto-submits. Don't rush.

7. Wait for results

The exam is graded using an automated system first, then manually. It can take 45 days to see your results, so sit tight.

8. Celebrate or try, try again

Don't get discouraged if your first attempt fails. Google's retake policy is as follows:

  • After your first fail, you must wait fourteen days before retaking the exam
  • After your second, you must wait two months before retaking
  • After your third, you must wait a whole year before retaking

You will need to pay $149 for each retake.

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