Mobile Application Developer (MAD) as a Career

As market demand surges for apps to run on iOS, Android and whatever operating system will power the next wave of smart devices, companies are facing a dearth of mobile development talent. For IT professionals with programming skills, that gap represents a fresh opportunity to embark on a career makeover.

Mobile device and mobile app markets will be the “next big thing” for IT professionals across the world.

Currently, there are 5 major mobile platforms, each with its own core language and development environment:

Mobile Platform
Core LanguageEnvironmentMobile Devices
Java or C++
Multiple Vendors
iOS (Apple)
Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod
RIM (Blackberry)
Blackberry Devices Only
Multiple choices
Multiple Vendors
Windows Mobile
Visual Studio 2010
Multiple Vendors

Businesses that develop mobile applications and freelance mobile developers typically write apps for multiple mobile platforms simultaneously, e.g., Android & iOS, to maximize market penetration and return on investment - so the more mobile development platforms you learn and master, the more in-demand you become as a professional mobile app developer.


To a perspective:, a website for freelancers, reports comparable demand: In the first quarter of 2011, there were 4,500 mobile developer jobs posted on the site -- an increase of 101% over the number of similar job postings in the same quarter last year.

What is MAD?

Mobile application developers write programs inside of a mobile application development using the Objective C, C++, C# and Java programming languages. A mobile developer chooses the operating system (a.k.a. mobile platform) they will develop on, such as Google's Android or Apple's iOS, then learns the programming languages and development environment for that platform.

While there are ample pools of Web and Java development talent, professionals with expertise building native apps for Apple's iPhone or iPad, or for the BlackBerry or any of the newer Android devices, are in short supply because of the relative newness of those platforms.

Who will be the right Fit?

Qualities expected for the candidate:

  • Strong Java, HTML and general technical skills
  • Developers who are steeped in the tenets of modern object-oriented programming
  • Good understanding of user interface and design patterns
  • Should understand  how users interact with their devices
  • Good grasping power to understand and deliver highly targeted functionality in small real estate frames

How to go about?

  • Lot of short term training programmes are available in market
  • Full time graduate courses are also available
  • There are countless undergraduate, continuing education and certificate courses on hot related subjects such as HTML 5, object-oriented programming, Java and iOS and Android programming etc
  • Learning by doing is the next best approach, and one likely favored by the bulk of existing IT professionals

Mobile Application 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 may also want to see a portfolio with samples of completed mobile applications and best programming 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 you create throughout the program into an industry-specific portfolio, resume and cover letter.

Marketable skills to look for in a mobile development education program include iOS application development (iPhone & iPad), Android application development, object-oriented programming (OOP), Java programming (Java SE, Java ME & Java EE), JavaScript, HTML, Objective-C and C++ programming, usability & user-interface (UI) design, game & simulation programming, mobile app portfolio assembly, database & OS fundamentals, and mobile media marketing & deployment. The subject matter in mobile application development training works extremely well in online learning formats.

Mobile Application Developer Salary Range

Mobile Application Developer average annual salary (U.S.): $50,000- 100,000

The hourly pay rate for mobile application developers ranges from $20 to $150 an hour, depending on the developer's location and credentials.

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 application developers are proficient in the programming environments for one or more mobile platforms.
Mobile application developers 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.
Mobile application developers work closely with other departments to brainstorm new app deployments.
Mobile application developers recommend changes and enhancements to existing mobile applications.

Mobile Application Developer Certifications

Some of  existing certifications for mobile application developers include:

Oracle Certified Associate: Java SE 7 Programmer
Oracle Certified Professional: Java ME 1 Mobile Application Developer
MCTS: Windows Mobile 6.5, Application Development
MCTS: Windows Mobile 6.5, Configuration
BlackBerry Certified Application Developer

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