If you've already tried your hand at programming some simple mobile or web applications and are looking to turn this skill into a full-time career, you may wonder where to begin. Because apps are a fairly recent development in the technological world, there haven't been many (if any) college and technical degree programs focused on this programming specialty -- however, with an ever-increasing demand for web- and mobile-based applications by all types of businesses, this trend may be changing. Should you seek a degree in software development before pursuing a career as an application designer, or simply begin sending out job applications and let your work speak for itself? Read on to learn more about the job market and educational options for app developers to determine your best path toward the career of your dreams.
Should you seek a degree before pursuing a career as an application developer?
Many of the most commercially successful applications were envisioned and programmed by individuals without a degree and with only self-taught coding knowledge. In fact, some enterprising high school students have been responsible for the creation of apps that have done everything from improve bystanders' ability to report crimes to helping streamline food drop-off programs to assist those in poverty. There are a number of online resources that can allow you to learn to code from the privacy of your own home, and you certainly don't need a post-high school degree to create and market your own web apps.
However, unless you have the app idea of a lifetime and are certain your work product will be enough to rocket you to the top of a stack of resumes, you may want to seek more formal education before entering the career field. Although software design and development still tends to care more about the presence of raw talent than the letters after an applicant's name, this attitude is changing -- and having a degree in your specialty can make you more marketable to both potential employers and potential clients.
Although some institutions offer degrees specifically in software application development, there are a variety of other software-related degrees that could help you gain the marketable skills you'll need to write applications for a living. A degree in software engineering or software programming can give you a leg up on the competition and let potential employers know you have the skills to tackle any challenges that may present themselves.
What are your job opportunities after receiving training or education in application development?
Once you've obtained a degree in software development, you'll have some flexibility -- either to go into business for yourself and market your services to companies that can't afford to keep their own programmers on staff, or to seek a W-2 or contractor position with a private company or even the government. Some app developers have also made a good living from offering to put others' ideas into action, creating an app at their direction and then signing over rights to market and sell this app.
The job opportunities in this field are projected to grow at a much faster pace than other areas, with more than 300,000 software programming and development jobs being added in just the next few years. Once you're hired by the government, a private company, or a start-up, you can expect to earn an average of between $67,000 and $105,000 per year, with some senior app developers earning several multiples (or more) of these amounts. This higher than average starting salary will allow you to pay for your degree quickly, rather than leaving you burdened with students loans for years to come.