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iPhone apps: A DIY skill that's in big demand

Employers need iOS developers and you can teach yourself enough to go after these big-money jobs

By , Network World
November 09, 2011 06:07 AM ET

Network World - iPhone developers are in demand across the United States and Canada, causing salaries to skyrocket for those with experience creating complex, mobile applications on Apple's iOS platform.

And there's good news for programmers without such skills: You can teach yourself how to develop iPhone apps, thanks to the extensive amount of free information that Apple provides to developers on its website.

"The type of talent that we are constantly looking to attract is the iOS developer," says Scott Michaels, vice president of Atimi Software, a 100-person mobile application developer based in Vancouver that counts among its clients HBO, ESPN and Bloomberg. "We need developers with experience in Android and Windows Mobile, but our primary demand is for iOS and Mac-capable developers."

Michaels says there aren't enough developers that have deep knowledge of and experience with Objective-C, a computer language used in Apple products that differs from the more common C and C++.

"We're 100 people, but we have work for 130 people. We just don't have those extra 30 bodies," Michaels says. He adds that salaries for experienced iPhone developers "just keep going up. Our year-over-year salaries are up almost 20%."

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Atimi isn't the only company looking to hire experienced iPhone developers. So are eBay, CapGemini, Oracle, Charles Schwab, General Electric and hundreds of other software, consulting and Internet-savvy corporations.

Indeed, IT job site Dice.com has 1,380 postings for iPhone developer positions, up 191% compared to last year. Similarly, Dice.com lists 1,617 available jobs for Android developers, up 129% from last year. Another 1,215 job postings ask for mobile developers in general, without specifying a platform.

"Mobile is one of the hottest [IT skills]," says Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com. "All of these things are converging at the same time. You have this explosion in smartphones. You have this sudden interest in tablets and other devices. ... You have a shortage of experience and great demand. If you're a mobile app developer, that's the perfect, perfect storm for you."

While the demand for mobile app developers is strong across all smartphone platforms, the money is tied squarely to iPhone skills. Hill said tech professionals who develop on the iPhone platform report to Dice.com that they earn nine times more income from app development than those who work on Android.

Hill agrees that iPhone app development is so new that programmers can teach it to themselves and be credible applicants for the available jobs.

"The platforms are really new. You're not going to find this huge workforce of experienced developers," Hill said. "If you have actually developed an iPhone app and gotten it through the Apple approval process, you're going to have a lot of job opportunities. ... Even if you're fresh out of college but can show a really good mobile app, you can get hired. It's a nice growth area for what would traditionally be entry-level employees. They can now jump to the front of the line."

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