The latest mobile devices and applications are changing the way we communicate, do business, and access news and entertainment. Businesses, consumers, programmers and creatives have embraced this innovative medium, making mobile app developer one of the most lucrative and fast growing career paths.
Mobile developers write programs inside of a mobile development environment using the Objective-C, C#, C++, Java, Swift or Kotlin programming languages. A mobile application developer chooses the operating system (a.k.a. mobile platform) they will create an app for, such as Android or iOS, then learns the programming languages and development environment for that platform.
Here are the leading mobile platforms, each with its own core language(s) and development environment:
|Mobile Platform||Core Language(s)||Dev. Environment||Mobile Devices|
|Android||Java & Kotlin||Eclipse||Multiple Vendors|
|iOS (Apple)||Objective-C & Swift||Xcode||Apple Devices Only|
|Blackberry (discontinued)||Java||Eclipse||Blackberry Only|
|Windows Mobile (discontinued)||C#||Microsoft Visual Studio||Multiple Vendors|
As you can see from the graph link above, Apple iOS and Google Android dominate the market (combining for over 99% of U.S. market share), making these platforms the best place to focus your mobile app development education. Businesses typically develop mobile applications for both major platforms at once, to maximize market penetration and return on investment - so the more platforms you master, the more sought-after you become as a professional mobile application developer.
There are numerous mobile application developer training programs and accredited degrees that feature coursework in mobile software programming, mobile media design, and app deployment & marketing for the leading platforms. Compare the top-rated mobile development training programs in the U.S. and online.
a.k.a. Mobile App Designer | Android Developer | iPhone Developer | Mobile Software Engineer
Mobile Application Developer Skills & Responsibilities
Typical day-to-day duties and in-demand skill sets for mobile application developers include:
- Mobile developers are fluent in object-oriented programming languages such as Java, Objective-C and C++.
- Mobile application developers code, test, debug, monitor and document changes for mobile applications.
- Mobile devs are skilled in the leading cross-platform development tools, such as Xamarin, Flutter & React Native.
- Mobile app developers can implement application programming interfaces (APIs) to support mobile functionality.
- Mobile application developers know the terminology, concepts, and best practices for coding mobile applications.
- Mobile application developers migrate and adapt existing web applications to the leading mobile platforms.
- In-house mobile developers work closely with other departments to brainstorm and optimize deployments.
- Mobile application developers recommend changes and enhancements to existing mobile applications.
Mobile Application Developer Salary
The median salary for mobile application developers is $110,000 per year, according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average salaries for mobile application developers and related positions:
- Java Application Developer: $101,000
- Mobile Software Engineer: $102,000
- iOS Software Engineer: $102,000
- Mobile Application Developer: $110,000
- iOS Application Developer: $113,000
- Android Application Developer: $117,000
- Lead Java Developer: $117,000
- Senior Mobile App Developer: $119,000
Top paying cities and metropolitan areas for mobile app developers:
- San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara, CA: $157,000
- San Francisco / Oakland / Hayward, CA: $145,000
- Seattle / Tacoma / Bellevue, WA: $141,000
- Washington DC Metro (DC, VA, MD & WV): $120,000
- Boulder, Colorado: $117,000
- Huntsville, Alabama: $112,000
The hourly wage for mobile application developers varies widely - from $21 to over $100 per hour - depending on the mobile developer's location, portfolio and experience.
Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics | Indeed.com
Mobile Developer Education Requirements
Most employers seek mobile application developers with at least a bachelor's degree in software engineering, mobile application development, mobile computing, computer science or a similar programming-centric field of study. Hiring managers for mobile development positions will also want to see a portfolio with samples of completed mobile applications and your best development projects. The following undergrad and graduate degree programs satisfy both of these requirements with hands-on courses wherein students create a range of applications for the leading mobile platforms, plus specialized lessons on presenting yourself as a top candidate for mobile developer positions, in which active mobile development practitioners help you assemble the apps created throughout the program into an industry-specific portfolio, resume and cover letter.
Research and compare the top-rated mobile application developer training programs in the U.S. and online.
Mobile Application Developer Training
Browse the top-rated college degrees, professional certificates, and self-paced online courses matching the mobile application developer education requirements and career path.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Software Engineering
- Gain the Expertise to Pursue Sought-After Roles in Web and Mobile Application Development
- Full Stack Software Design and Engineering
- Build Systems Architectures to Meet Business Needs
- Design UIs for Embedded, Cloud & Mobile Systems
- Analyze and Design Data Structures & Algorithms
- Cybersecurity Tools & Techniques ft. Secure Coding
Associate of Applied Science in IT: Programming & Software Development
- Develop Software for Web and Mobile Devices
- Graphic Design Training ft. Adobe's Creative Suite
- User-Interface and User-Experience Design
- Software Product Development using Agile
Bachelor of Science in Software Development
- Cross-Platform Application Development Training
- User Interface (UI) & User Experience (UX) Design
- Software Testing, Security and Quality Assurance
- Advanced Data Modeling and Database Development
- Manage Software Projects with Agile Best Practices
- Transfer Previous College Credit to Lower Tuition
Master's in Technology Management
- Prepare to Lead Personnel and Use Emerging Technologies to Achieve Organizational Goals
- Choose from courses such as:
- Business Intelligence and Data Analytics
- Cyber Security Threats & Vulnerabilities
- Managing Diverse Organizations in a Flat World
- Cloud Computing and Virtualization
- Cryptography & Network Security
- Computer Systems Analysis
- No GRE or GMAT Required for Admission
Mobile Development Certifications
There aren't many established mobile app development certifications on the market yet, however as this space continues to grow we will see an influx of both platform-specific and platform-neutral credentials. Currently, the most marketable certifications for mobile application developers include:
- Google Associate Android Developer
- ATC Android Certified Application Developer
- IBM Certified Mobile Application Developer
- Mobile Development Institute Certified Developer (MDICD)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): App Builder
- Logical Operations' Master Mobile Application Developer (MMAD)
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java ME Mobile Application Developer
*formerly Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer (SCMAD)
This list will continue to be refreshed as new mobile development certifications arrive on the scene.
Mobile Application Developer Jobs
Your specialized training and experience in mobile application development may qualify you for a variety of in-demand job roles, including:
- Mobile Application Developer jobs
- Android Application Developer jobs
- iOS Application Developer jobs
- Software Engineer jobs
- Java Application Developer jobs
- Objective-C Developer jobs
Mobile App Developer Job Outlook
The mobile device market is growing at breakneck speeds. This expansion is fueling record demand for mobile application developers. As smartphones, tablets and wearables continue to change the way we communicate, do business and access entertainment, the demand for new apps will continue to rise as devices become more capable and an increasing number of traditional businesses go mobile. The rapid growth of the mobile space is creating a host of employment opportunities for both corporate and freelance application developers.
According to IT hiring managers and recruiters, the demand for talented mobile application developers still far exceeds the supply. Some of the most popular industries hiring mobile app developers include health care, video game studios, marketing firms that aim to build branded apps for clients, media firms that recognize mobile as a powerful content distribution channel, government agencies and financial institutions that want to bring their core services to mobile users, software development companies and real estate agencies.
The job market for mobile application developers is expected to skyrocket by 22% from 2020 through 2030, creating tens of thousands new positions and heralding one of the decade's largest increases for any occupation. The lion's share of job opportunities will be in Android and iOS app development, as these giants now represent 99% of mobile devices used nationwide.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook | StatCounter.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Tech insiders answer common questions from people considering the mobile app developer career path.
What does a mobile application developer do?
Mobile application developers create software programs for wireless devices such as smartphones, tablets and wearables.
What languages are mobile apps written in?
Mobile apps are written using a variety of programming languages, depending on which platform you’re developing for. For instance, Google Android apps are written in the Java and Kotlin languages, while Apple iOS apps are written using Objective-C and Swift.
How much do mobile app developers make?
Mobile application developers take home a median annual wage of $110,000. Drilling a little deeper into the earnings for developers on the major mobile platforms, iOS app developers earn an average salary of $113,000, while Android application developers bring in $117,000 per year.
How do you become a mobile app developer?
The path to becoming a mobile developer can be summarized in three steps: get educated, build a portfolio and gain experience.
- Education: Many mobile developer jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or a similar field of study. However, there is an increasing number of shorter online training programs and accelerated boot camps in mobile app development that can be leveraged to secure a position. During this learning process you will choose the mobile platform(s) you wish to develop for, specifically Google Android and/or Apple iOS as they dominate the marketplace.
- Portfolio: Building a robust portfolio of well designed apps of different types will go a long way in your quest to become a mobile app developer. In fact, many hiring managers will reduce their education and experience requirements - or even bypass them entirely - if you can prove real-world experience developing top-notch applications.
- Experience: The most desirable mobile developer jobs often require previous hands-on experience in a similar role. Common positions to hold before becoming a mobile application developer include computer programmer, software engineer, and web designer/developer.
Is mobile application developer a good career?
Yes, mobile application developer is an objectively good career path. The demand for new and innovative apps is so great that there is a significant talent gap in this field, meaning there are more mobile development job openings than skilled creators to fill them. Add to this demand an average salary over $100k and a comparatively low education requirement, and pursuing a career in mobile development is a solid investment in your future.
Is it hard to become a mobile app developer?
Nothing worth doing is easy, however there is a relatively low barrier to entry for becoming a mobile application developer versus the potential rewards. Some mobile developer jobs require a 4-year degree and years of practical experience, while other roles can be attained by a motivated individual through self-study and a stellar portfolio.
- Software Engineer
- Web Developer
- Computer Programmer
- Graphic Designer
- Video Game Designer
- Database Administrator