4 Pathways to Becoming a Mobile App Developer

By Chris Bigelow Published on February 13, 2016

In today’s high-tech world, mobile app developers are rock stars! Through Apple’s App Store alone, more than 100 billion apps have now been downloaded. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, so far Apple has paid out more than $30 billion to mobile app developers.

In the job market, Android app developers are even more in demand than Apple (iOS). “Jobs posted for Android positions grew by 110 percent from 2012 to 2014 compared to 54 percent for iOS jobs,” reported CyberCoders.com. “Android has been aggressively seizing Apple’s market share. In fact, Android’s share of the market grew by 24 percent year-on-year, compared to iOS’s 17 percent.”

Want a piece of the action? Here are three ideas on how you could launch an exciting new career as a mobile application developer, mobile app designer, or mobile software engineer.

1. Teach Yourself

Are you a self-starter, a do-it-yourself type? There’s nothing holding you back from getting started now on learning to create mobile apps.

If you’re interested in developing iOS apps, you’ll need to do your programming on a Mac computer. For $99, you can sign up as a developer and download the programming tools. Beginners and experienced programmers alike can find good resources on how to use Apple’s programming tools and languages. For example, take a look at this book: Programming in Objective-C.

To program apps for Android devices, you’ll need a computer that runs Windows, iOS, or Linux. The Android software development kit is free to download. You’ll need to learn Java, a programming language. To view guides on using various Android app tool kits, visit Google’s Android developer website.

Remember, the top question that any employer or client will ask is, “Can you show us examples of mobile apps that you’ve developed?” Additional mobile platforms you could learn include RIM (Blackberry), Symbian, and Windows Mobile. For more helpful tips on becoming an app developer on your own, check out this post.

Before you get too excited about self-education, however, consider this reality check from the New York Times:

“When the market started to take off, anyone with a bit of tech-savviness could download some tools, read some books, or take some classes and then whip up an app. But now that mobile app stores are overflowing with hundreds of thousands of options, consumers are leaning toward buying highly polished apps, and the market is no longer so friendly to amateurs.”

2. Get Some Training

If you want to get some formal credentials in mobile app development, you could start getting trained and certified. Here’s a helpful overview of some certification opportunities:

While there is no single certification as per industry standards for mobile app development, some employers and companies may require certain certifications or knowledge. Some of the mobile app development certifications available include the MDICD, CompTIA Secure Mobile App Developer Certification, and SCMAD.

The MDI Certified Developer (MDICD) certification is a general mobile developer certification offered by the Mobile Development Institute (MDI). Meanwhile, the CompTIA Secure Mobile App Developer Certification is a security-specific certification offered by CompTIA and viaForensics. Lastly, the Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer (SCMAD) is a programming certificate for the Java 2 Platform.

3. Coding Bootcamp

Less than ten years ago a new option opened up for learning computer programming. They’re called coding bootcamps, and they are intensive training programs designed to teach coding skills in a reduced period of time. This training model came into being because of the high demand for coders, and the insufficient supply from traditional post-secondary education.

Coding bootcamps last from a single weekend to several months depending on the program. They’re immersive, with students spending very little time in lectures, and instead of spending the majority of their time practicing code. Some require the student to be physically present for training, while others can be completed online.

There has been a moderate level of controversy regarding coding bootcamps, both because of the prices at which they’re offered and because of some uncertainty over whether they actually help students obtain positions where the skills are applicable. This is largely because bootcamps focus on skills directly applicable to a specific field of coding, while a traditional education (like a CS degree) tends to focus on fundamentals. Employers seem to have caught on to this, and as a result seek to hire bootcamp students for some jobs, and CS majors for others.

In other words, bootcamps prepare you to work in a narrow field, where a CS degree gives you the tools necessary to branch out wherever you please.

4. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

To prepare for a successful career as a mobile app designer, consider getting your degree. “Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field,” reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The best degree programs “tend to cover a broad range of topics,” according to the BLS. “Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation.”

At California College San Diego (CCSD), you can get your degree in Computer Science with a Software and Mobile Applications Development emphasis. You’ll learn valuable skills in object-oriented programming, software testing and security, systems analysis, applications development, and user-interaction design.

With CCSD, you can finish your online bachelor’s degree in as few as 36 months! Now’s the time to get going. Employment of applications developers is projected to grow 23 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to one industry source, “In 2010, the revenue for consumer mobile apps was at $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, the projected revenue for 2016 is $51.7 billion, implying a growth of over 800% in a span of six years.”