Mobile App Developer: What It Pays, and Best States for Jobs

If you’re considering mobile app development as a career, we have good news for you: as an industry, it’s poised to grow considerably over the next 10 years.

Burning Glass, which compiles and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, estimates that mobile app developer jobs will grow 30.7 percent over the next decade. And that makes sense, considering how smartphones and tablets dominate the computing lives of consumers and businesses alike; although it’s difficult to predict long-term trends in tech (who in 2004 could have foreseen the iPhone and its seismic impact, for example?), it’s a safe assumption that people a decade from now will still rely on mobile apps to get things done.

In the meantime, mobile app development remains an in-demand job, with a median salary of $103,805 (according to Burning Glass, at least; it’s higher via other sources, including analyst firm Robert Half, which estimates a median salary for a mobile app developer at $141,000 per year). Across the country, the average time to fill a mobile app developer position is 43 days, which suggests a high level of demand. 

Read on for a breakdown of the skills necessary for mobile app development, as well as the top states for salary and job demand.

Mobile App Development: iOS and Android

Right now, the mobile app ecosystem is basically a duopoly: Google Android and Apple’s iOS. Here’s a breakdown of what you’d need to know for each.

iOS

Two programming languages dominate iOS development.

Objective-CApple’s longtime language for iOS app development, Objective-C is still useful for maintaining legacy applications and platforms.

Swift: Currently at version 5.1, Swift is Apple’s newer development language, and it’s adding all sorts of things that developers really need, such as module stability. “Now that we have Module Stability and ABI Stability in Swift, the language is likely to change at a slower rate than we’re used to,” developer Donny Wals wrote in a recent blog posting about Swift’s progress. “We should see less radical, source breaking changes and the language should slowly mature into a beautiful, fast and stable language that will be a great basis for your applications for years to come.” 

Android

Those building for Android, meanwhile, need to keep two different languages in mind:

Java: Android apps have traditionally been built in the Java programming language. As you might expect, Google offers a nifty development guide on its official Android developers site, for those who need to learn the fundamentals.

Kotlin: Although Kotlin wasn’t developed by Google, the search-engine giant has nonetheless embraced it wholeheartedly as a “first-class language for Android,” including it in its Android Studio IDE. However, it might take a little bit more time for developers to switch from Java to Kotlin, at least if our recent poll and analysis is any indication.

Examining the Burning Glass data, here are the skills that pop up most frequently in companies’ job postings. It’s worth noting that, in addition to programming languages and “hard” tech skills such as Java, Swift, and software development, there’s also considerable emphasis on “soft skills” such as teamwork and collaboration. Check out the list:

Mobile App Development: Best States

Of course, median salary on a national level differs considerably from what’s offered on a state-by-state basis. Fortunately, Burning Glass also gives us a granular look into what various states pay—as well as the local time-to-hire. As you might expect, states that are home to tech hubs and huge corporations tend to pay mobile app developers the highest median salaries, which is usually a reflection of demand (especially given the low unemployment rates in tech at the moment).

Thanks in large part to the rise of remote work, mobile app developers don’t necessarily have to live in a particular state to work for a company based there. And in many ways, that’s a great thing—imagine if you can earn a San Francisco-caliber salary while living in a state where the median rent is much, much lower

No matter where you live, though, it’s clear that mobile app development isn’t a field that’s reached it’s saturation point quite yet—employers seem more than happy to pay high salaries to those with the right skills, and they’re clearly prepared to do so for quite some time to come.