In today’s society, we want information at the tip of our fingers: The ability to keep in constant contact with both co-workers and friends, access data and information in a second, and respond to emails from our desk and our couch, alike. Now more than ever, as society continues the shift toward mobile technology, mobile app developers attempt to stay one step ahead of trends and introduce the newest and best software solutions to businesses and consumers. And while predicting the future may be a good trait to have in this field, the ability to adapt to change as well as think outside the box also tops the charts.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that mobility is on the rise. In fact, according to Apple Insider, total app downloads from the four major stores reached 13.4 billion for the Q2 of 2013, and total app revenue hit $2.2 billion. While this growth includes the ever-popular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, having work at our fingertips has definitely expanded the mobility for business pros across the nation. As this trend continues to grow, app developers are going to need to integrate mobile apps into their organization’s IT strategy and determine the best areas to transition from legacy to mobile apps.

Luckily, the transition between the two types of applications is often simple, as they lend themselves to each other. For developers, the same fundamental background is necessary. Within typical legacy app development, gaining an understanding of software development and learning what the consumer needs is important. The current app development workforce possesses a variety of backgrounds ranging from programmers to systems analysts. Each of these professionals has a distinct skill set that allows him or her to measure and create precisely the app that users desire. But the soft skills that are necessary throughout the industry will become increasingly important. Skills such as critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration are going to help professionals transition into the ever-growing mobile world and produce apps that allow us to conduct business anytime, anywhere.

Since nobody can predict where the mobile industry will go and to what level it will grow, having these skills is a necessity. Many jobs of the future have not been created yet and will evolve with the introduction of new devices and technologies. Mobile app developers are going to need to be flexible in their thinking and be able to adapt to change, while pushing the envelope to grow as far as they can. The focus for these developers is going to be on the market and where it is going.

To ensure that professionals’ knowledge continues to grow along with the apps, many colleges and universities currently offer a variety of courses inside a Computer Information Systems bachelor’s degree, including both core and foundation courses. Core fundamental skills can be obtained through courses in foundations of mobile development, and Android/iPhone courses can help an individual learn a new field, or an existing professional brush up on specific topics. Often these courses can also be taken to earn a certificate if someone is interested in the subject but doesn’t have the time, money or need to commit to a full degree program.

In addition to getting back in the classroom, professionals looking to gain training and expertise can attend seminars, webinars or specialized training sessions that will provide supplemental information. App developers will also want to check out articles, books and research studies that are published and released as more information becomes available in the field. All of these options can help both an engineer looking to add to his or her skill set and a programmer interested in making a transition from legacy apps to mobile apps, expanding his or her toolkit to help broaden marketability.

In addition to wanting to learn more and adjust to the changing times, mobile app developers are going to need the skills to protect the security of their apps. Obviously, the introduction of laptops went through a process of its own. From firewalls and encryption to VPNs, the information that is accessed through cyberspace must be protected and secure. For mobile app developers, understanding what information is going to be processed using the apps is important. For example, if someone is going to transfer sensitive material, having encryption directly related to the type of work will be a concern. On the other hand, if people are using their mobile devices to access Facebook or Twitter, encryption and protection of the material isn’t going to be as critical. Additionally, understanding where this protected data will be stored and how it can be accessed are crucial decisions that need to be made.

So what skills should someone looking to get into mobile app development work to strengthen to get into the field? Understanding the broad spectrum of software applications development and ability to tie the knowledge and skills about applications to the mobile device is critical. While many mobile apps currently have GPS, storage features, etc., that are different than a typical application, applicants in the job market with an innovative mentality and the ability to adjust to the changing times are going to be some of the top candidates.

Don’t be afraid to push the limit! The diversity of the mobile app environment is being driven by the mobility of our society. Future mobile app developers can come from any industry, from old-fashioned programmers to artistic game designers, so long as they have the skills that will further the growth of our on-the-go society.

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