How to be a mobile application developer

a mobile app developer talking to her coworker via chat

Find out how to become a mobile application developer

People get information and connect to others through their mobile devices. Applications are programs on phones and other devices. “App” is short for application. People who design and make the programs are called mobile application  developers or app developers. Another name for the job is software developer.

About the job


Mobile application developers create code for the programs that run applications. They also help plan and design new apps. They test the apps and solve the problems that show up. They keep existing applications going and update them.

Watch an app developer talk about his job


Mobile application developers may work for large technology companies or small startup business. Some developers work for themselves from home.


The hourly wage for mobile application developer varies widely from $21 to $150 to per hour, depending on experience and location. The national average salary in 2018 was around $100,000 per year. But individual jobs may pay a lot more or a lot less.

About the person

Mobile app developers need to be both technical and creative.

Qualities you should have:

  • Patience with small details and constant corrections and adjustment
  • Good at problem-solving
  • Good at working with other team members
  • Good at communicating technical matters to people who are not experts
  • Ability to working on several different projects at the same time

Skills you will need:

  • Expert in programming languages, such as Java and Objective C
  • Able to code, test, debug, and monitor changes in mobile applications
  • Knowledge of mobile application terms, concepts and best practices
  • Able to adapt existing web applications for mobile apps
  • Expert knowledge of user interface (UX)

Get qualified


You will need a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and mobile application development.

If you have no training in computers, you can start with a computer or coding course. Many community colleges offer low-cost computer training classes. They may have classes especially for newcomers and English learners.


Employers do not usually ask for certification. They will be looking more for experience and knowledge. But some certificates are well-known to employers and will be worth listing on your resume.

Here are the best-known certificates. You can click on the name to go to the information website for each certification.


You will need experience in computer technology or information technology before you can start building programs and applications. The best way to get experience is to work for a technology business, a web design business, or a business that develops apps.

What if I have no experience yet? Where do I start?
You can find an entry-level job in computer technology. Learn basic computer technology skills, such as coding or programming. Then you can get an entry-level job and gain the experience you need.

What if I am already qualified in another country?
If you have technology qualifications or a degree in computer science from another country, Upwardly Global helps work-authorized immigrants, refugees, asylees, and Special Immigrant Visa holders (SIVs) restart their professional careers in the United States.

What else do I need?

More resources

  • Find statistics and other information about being a software developer
  • Read about mobile app development careers on
  • Upwork is a job website for tech and other freelancers working online
    Find jobs at Dice, an online employment site for tech workers
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