How to become a mobile app developer
Saying that the mobile app industry is on the rise would be an understatement. Apple and Google offer more than 700,000 mobile apps each, according to the Wall Street Journal, and ABI Research reports total revenue in the mobile app industry is expected to rise to $46 billion in 2016 — up nearly $40 billion from 2011. Mobile app developers with the right mix of skills can potentially find boundless opportunity in this multibillion-dollar industry. But if you're wondering how to become a mobile app developer, you should note that there isn't just one path to get there.
What education do mobile app developers need?
The mobile app development industry is not the kind that requires you to get a specific degree or certification before entering it. While some will come into the field with a bachelor's degree in software development or computer science, it's not always required for landing mobile app development jobs.
But just because there are no industry-standard rules for college courses or certifications, that doesn't they aren't impressive to employers. If you think pursuing your education is the right path, you can take courses or earn degrees or certificates in mobile app development from the following schools, among others:
- Colorado Technical University
- Walden University
- Bryant & Stratton College Online
- San Diego State University
- Full Sail University
- University of California, San Diego Extension, Digital Arts Center
- Rasmussen College
- Mobile Development Institute (MDI)
*List includes matching school ads.
What skills do mobile app developers need?
If you want to become a mobile app developer, the best approach might just be to learn how to develop and start doing it. After all, what companies want to see are the mobile apps you've developed. Whether you're an iOS or Android app developer, there are similar requirements for success. These can include:
- Knowing how to create a user interface
- Being familiar with common programming languages such as Java, C++ and HTML
- Having strong general computing skills, including database management and security
- Using analytical skills to determine users' needs and design an app to suit them
What's the job outlook for a mobile app developer?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't keep separate statistics for this particular job, but software developers overall — which includes mobile app developers — can expect to be in a field that's both well-paying and has strong projected growth. The mean annual wage in the U.S. for applications software developers is $96,260 as of May 2013, and the BLS predicts that these developers will see 23 percent job growth nationwide through 2022, which is well above the 11 percent average for all occupations.
Certain areas are expected to see especially strong growth 2020. According to state labor departments' data collected by Projections Central, the best states for app developers are likely to be:
- Washington, D.C.: 45.7% projected growth
- Alabama: 40.9% projected growth
- Virginia: 39.8% projected growth
- Utah: 39.8% projected growth
- Montana: 38.5% projected growth
If this career piques your interest, check out the infographic below for more information about how to become a mobile app developer and for an extended list of sources.
"In-App Purchases to Outpace Pay-Per-Download Revenues in 2012," ABI Research, Feb. 16, 2012,
"Apps Rocket Toward $25 Billion in Sales," Jessica E. Lessin and Spencer E. Ante, The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2013,
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Software Developers, Applications, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Software Developers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,