IT Career JumpStart

Nov 9 2012   4:20PM GMT

The Interesting Case of Mobile App Development: Where are the certs?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In my capacity as an IT certification guy, I’m often asked to research and opine on hot new emerging job categories, rife with opportunity for employment and possibilities for growth. One topic area or job specialization that keeps popping up on that radar is mobile app development — which is probably best understood as including software design, engineering, development, testing and maintenance of mobile applications for platforms such as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian, and even Windows Phone (aka Windows Mobile). This is indeed an area that’s exploding with opportunity and job potential, and also presents outstanding prospects for future career investment, growth, and advancement.

But when you look around at the infrastructure that supports this subject area, it’s not as well-developed or fleshed out as one might wish, nor certainly as much as one might expect given the hype and furious activity ongoing in the whole mobile app marketplace. You can get an excellent sense of the current status quo at ITCareerFinder where there is a series of Web pages devoted to Mobile Application Developer as one of the IT Career Paths documented on that Website. It also includes the inescapable and breathless prose so often used to describe this area such as

Businesses, consumers and programmers have embraced this innovative content, making mobile application developer one of the most demanded and fastest growing IT careers for 2012 and beyond.

But even though you’ll find a sizable number of academic and for-profit training programs documented there, you will find what can only be described as “slim pickings” when it comes to relevant IT certifications that target mobile application development. In fact the site documents a pretty paltry list of entries, as follows (in fact, the ESRI offerings are mine own, plucked from a search at

Mobile App Development Certifications
Sponsor Name Status Notes
Oracle Oracle Certified Associate: Java SE7 Programmer Still active and available Base/Foundation Java Programming cert
Oracle Oracle Certified Professional: Java ME 1 Mobile Application Developer Still active and available Formerly Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer
Microsoft MCTS: Windows Mobile 6.5, Application Development Retired 6/30/2012 MS working on Windows Phone certs
Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5, Configuration Retired 12/31/2011 MCTS: Windows Mobile 6.5, Configuration
Blackberry Certified Application Developer Retired 10/20/2011 Solution Designer cert still available
ESRI Mobile Developer Associate Still active and available Details very sketchy (ArcGIS technology)
ESRI Mobile Developer Professional Still active and available Details very sketchy (ArcGIS technology)

Overall, this paints a pretty dismal picture: only 7 credentials, with three of them already retired. Is this a snapshot of a growing and emerging field, or an old and fading scene? Fortunately this snapshot turns out to be terribly misleading: there is a lot of new stuff waiting in the wings to be released where mobile app certification is concerned. CompTIA is working with industry specialist firms on a number of mobile oriented credentials (I’ll be talking to their mobile guy next week and report in more detail on what’s up there shortly thereafter). Microsoft also plans to offer credentials for the Window 8 Phone environment (more on that soon, too, I hope). I’m sure other things are also in the offing because this industry niche is already too hot to stay quiet for long. If you know of something I’ve overlooked or haven’t mentioned, please drop me an e-mail to share what you know.

[Sidenote added 11/12/2012]This morning, Certification Magazine reports from the Robert Half 2013 Technology Salary Guide that “U.S. starting salaries for technology positions in the coming year will show the largest increases among all field researched.” And guess what? They also report that “Mobile application devleopers will see the highest increases (average of 9 percent), as companies look for people to help them build business using mobile media.” I’ve got to be correct in assuming that mobile development training and certification offerings should also start popping up soon, like mushrooms after the rain, don’t you think?

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