How to Become a Mobile App Developer

There is no question that the market for mobile app development is growing and prospects say that it will continue to do so. More and more consumers and businesses alike depend on their mobile gadgets for day-to-day communication, which explains the boost in sales of smartphones and tablets vis a vis laptops and desktops in recent years. With the growth in demand for mobile gadgets comes the growth in demand for mobile apps, leading to the growth in demand for mobile app developers.

More App Downloads Than Ever

mobile app downloadsThe number of app downloads have been increasing over the past years at a very fast rate. Back in 2008, total consumer app downloads were only at 2.1 billion per year. This number grew by almost 300% into 8.2 billion per year in 2010. This number grew even more in 2011 with 31 billion app downloads per year. The market for apps has grown over tenfold within a span of 3 years, and demand analysts do not expect this to slow down anytime soon. In fact, thet project number of app downloads for 2016 will be a whopping 66 billion.

Games Are Still King

While more and more apps sprout here and there, there are certain kinds of apps that do much better than others. Gaming apps are at the forefront of the mobile app market. 64% of those who download apps download games. Following gaming apps are weather-related apps, apps for social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; apps for maps, navigation, and search, and finally, apps for music.

The Market is Growing

app market growthThe money in app development is also growing. In 2010, the revenue for consumer mobile apps was at $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, the project revenue for 2016 is at $51.7 billion, implying a growth of over 800% in a span of six years.

With the growth in demand for mobile app developers, it should not be surprising that a lot of people are looking into enhancing their programming and design skills. While most mobile app developers have a background in programming or in computer science, there is no one sure route into developing your own app. If you are interested in developing your own app, here are three routes you can look into.

Education for Mobile App Developers

The first route is through education. Most universities offer a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software development, which of course covers mobile application development. There are also those that offer an associates degree or a bachelor’s degree specializing in mobile application development. If you already have a degree related to programming, you may simply look into enhancing your skills set through further training in various development languages and user interface design.

Some schools you may want to look into include Bryant and Stratton College Online which offers an AOS in Information Technology; Full Sail University which offers a bachelors degree in Mobile Development; Rasmussen College which offers an AS in Software Application Development; San Diego State University which offers an Advanced Certificate in Web and Mobile Applications Development; UCSD Extension (Digital Arts Center) which offers a certificate in Mobile Applications; and Walden University which offers a bachelors degree in Information Technology.

Certifications for Mobile App Developers

The second route is through certification. 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.

certificationsThe 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.

Industry Experience for Mobile App Developers

The third route is quite direct – through mobile app creation. In the industry, it is often said that companies are more interested in what prospective employees have created. As such, some companies, such as Apple and Intel, offer programs that aid mobile app developers. Apple offers an IOS Development Program that supports developers in development, testing, and distribution of their apps. Meanwhile, Intel offers the AppUp Developer Program that supports developers in the creation and selling of their apps. Under the Intel AppUp Developer Program, programmers receive up to 70% of their mobile app revenue.

While there are different paths that you can take in order to become a mobile app developer, there are four mandatory skills that you need to develop in order to become one. These include design skills, computing skills, programming skills, and business skills.

Design Skills

design skillsWhen it comes to designing for mobile apps, app developers need to remember that a mobile user interface is different from one that is non-mobile. The screen size, the speed, and the user behavior for mobile gadgets are different from, let’s say, desktops, and these considerations should be factored in in designing applications that are easy to use while on-the-go.

Computing Skills

Database management, hardware interaction, memory allocation, and security are general skills related to computing that may be helpful in developing an app, especially if the nature of the app being developed entails the collection, creation, and storage of loads of data.


Programming Skills

There are various programming languages, depending on the platform being talked about. Some of the most common languages would include classic object-oriented languages such as Java and C++; cross-platform suites such as AMP and Antenna; mobile platform application programming interface such as Android, iOS and Windows Mobile; and web development languages such as HTML and HTML5.

Business Skills

At the end of the day, development and design is not enough if you want a sound return on your investment in these mobile apps. It takes strategic thinking in order to bring your app into a particular category in an app store or marketplace, and ultimately into the mobile devices of your target market. An entrepreneurial mindset and a marketing background help in understanding the needs and wants of your target market, and translating this information into an app that helps them fulfill these needs and wants.


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