How to Become a Mobile App Developer: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Mobile app developers build the apps that you use on your handheld devices: phones, tablets and (if you have one) digital assistants. Developers need to know how to code in software like JavaScript or PHP, and they need the technical skills and creativity to make apps that run well, don’t crash, do everything they’re supposed to, and have features people love.


Annual salaries for mobile app developers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2012, the average annual salary for software developers working in the U.S., including mobile app developers, was $96,260 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for mobile app developers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Mobile App Development

California is the nationwide leader in employment for mobile app developers, with 95,510 developers earning an annual average salary of $112,180. Washington State is second in employment, where 52,000 mobile app developers earn an average salary of $111,380.

The metro areas employing the most mobile app developers are:

  • Seattle-Bellevue (48,440)
  • New York-White Plains (36,140)
  • Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria (32,410)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of mobile app developers are:

  • Seattle-Bellevue (33.41 jobs per thousand)
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale, CA (31.15 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid mobile app developers are:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale, CA (annual average salary $131,270)
  • Sioux City, IA (annual average salary $125,050)

Employment and Salary Information for Mobile App Developers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a mobile app developer. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Mobile App Developer?

It’s highly-paid, highly-skilled, creative work that has plenty of name recognition. And it’s in high demand. To be more specific:

  • Huge job growth. Software development in general is projected to experience 22% job growth from 2012 to 2022—far faster than the U.S. average for job growth.
  • Huge demand. According to comScore, about 173 million people owned smartphones in the U.S. in July 2014. Multiply that by the average number of apps each of those phones have, and you get … a lot. And that’s not even counting tablets and other handheld devices.
  • Pay is very good. Average salary is $96,260, just short of six figures.
  • Use your creativity. App development requires technical skills, but also the use of your creative mind to come up with new solutions to tricky problems.
  • Everyone will be impressed by what you do. Anything in tech is an exciting career to be in right now, and people will understand exactly what you do as a mobile app developer.

Mobile App Development: What You Need To Know

A mobile app developer needs to understand their users: what features they’ll need most, and how they’ll interact with the app. They need to plan the app, diagram how it will work, code it, test it, and upgrade it over time. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Coding Skills
  • Creativity
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Logical Thinking
  • Understanding of User’s Needs
  • Attention to Detail

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about mobile app developer careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Mobile App Development Careers

Bachelor’s degree

A few gifted individuals may be able to get by without one, but most mobile app developers have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Many colleges and universities offer programs in mobile app development, featuring courses on topics that include JavaScript, PHP, Flash, web standards, advanced website design, usability design and internet security.

Most employers will also consider those with undergraduate degrees in other technical disciplines as well, such as computer programming, computer science, web development, software engineering or related subjects.

In addition, those with extensive experience in web programming or coding may also be considered for key positions, possibly opening up opportunities for candidates with other degrees.