Mobile Developers, the World is Your Oyster

Susan Hall

In IT jobs generally, the focus is on developers, developers, developers, but mobile developers in particular, because suddenly every business wants a mobile app.


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Chetan Sharma Consulting expects the market for mobile software to soar from from $4.1 billion last year to $17.5 billion by 2012, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. It quotes Todd Thibodeaux, chief executive officer of the trade group Computing Technology Industry Association in Oak Brook, Ill., saying:

Anybody that has an application that has been working on a notebook now wants that to work on an iPad, an iPhone, and on Google Android.

Thibodeaux also describes the talent pool as "scant."


In an interview with Tom Silver, senior vice president at IT career services provider Dice.com, blogger Don Tennant talked about the lead other countries have in mobile development and the urgency U.S. companies feel to catch up. Said Silver:

As companies try to figure out how they're going to integrate mobile into their overall technology strategy, that's when they'll probably evolve the skills internally. But if I was a contractor now, I would be all over mobile applications and how to make those work [in the enterprise]. I think that's going to be a very, very hot area coming up.

It already is, according to Bob Miano, president and CEO of U.S. Operations for recruitment consultancy Harvey Nash. In an interview with me this week, Miano had some interesting comments about trying to fill jobs for mobile developers:

Mobile apps is an area where there's a lot of turnover and a lot of demand. Apps like the iPad are smaller in terms of development cycle and the assignments are pretty short. ... That makes a lot more churn in the industry. If you have a client who says, 'We want three years of experience'-it hasn't been out that long. It's difficult to find people. There's a very small labor supply out there. That's a typical assignment for a contractor. And there's not that many contractors who want to move for a two- or three-month assignment.

According to a survey Bloomberg ran with Dice.com with employers and recruiters, the largest group, 41 percent, said the most common annual salary range for mobile engineers and designers was $75,001 to $100,000. About 28 percent said average pay was $100,001 to $125,000, while 21 percent said it was $50,001 to $75,000. Almost a third of employers said they paid "higher than normal" salaries for mobile developers because of the competition for talent. That's for full-time, permanent jobs, of course.


This TechRepublic piece lists skills mobile developers need, including Objective C, C, C++, C#, Java variations, Ruby on Rails, HB++, Silverlight, XNA and ActionScript, though it's anybody's guess what additional skills will become hot over time.


In light of Miano's comments, though, it struck me that if you were skilled and single and could find somebody's couch to sleep on, taking those short-term mobile app-development contracts could be a really interesting way to build a portfolio, make a good living and see the world.

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