The proliferation of digital devices is causing huge growth in software development industries, and there are more graduate student opportunities through the internet, than ever before. For aspiring mobile applications designers, this is a dream come true. The iPhone, Android smartphones and other software platforms each utilize third-party software applications, and each platform has its own code. To ensure reliable compatibility across the numerous platforms, many app developers are required just to bring one program to market. In response, schools have been preparing degree programs specifically designed for students who want to build a career in app development.

One such college is Rasmussen College, a system of American colleges with multiple locations in the states of Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois and North Dakota. This higher education institution launched both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in software application development in April 2011, according to Britain’s The Telegraph. This program reflects the school’s belief that more than 300,000 jobs in application development will be available to American workers over the next few years.

Programming languages are very specific and are often tailored for only one software platform. For example, JavaScript is used when a web designer wants to put together an interactive website rich in multimedia. That knowledge of JavaScript is fairly useless, however, when trying to put together a software program for the Android platform. App designers must have a useful concept to develop a successful app, but the most practical application in the world fails if one can’t code it correctly for the desired platform.

Collegiate degree programs in application development focus a great deal on both technical training and artistic training. The technical training focuses on advanced coding, working with different software engines and other topics in software development and web design. Artistically, students typically learn animation, lighting, textures, illustration and other design topics that are relevant to application development. With this education, a student could enter the IT workforce and find a job as an application programmer, a designer or as an app tester.

There is plenty of work for these students as they leave their schools and enter the real world. Since June 2011, there have been at least 12,500 different apps released each month just for the Android software system, according to the Android website AppBrain, which covers developments and maintains statistics for the Android market. In August 2011, nearly 35,000 new applications hit the Android market.

Sometimes, a college degree isn’t even necessary to break into the application development world. An April 2012 story printed by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in South Carolina profiles Aaron Ross, a junior at Spartanburg High School who has developed seven apps for use on Apple products such as the iPad. His most successful app, Scramble-A-Word, has been downloaded more than 2,400 times. He created the application the year before based on his personal coding knowledge and education gained through his school’s AP computer science class.

It’s possible to break into the app development world as a self-starter, but having the college degree in hand opens up opportunities with established firms. Some of the institutions offering software development education also have online course offerings for distance learners. Compared to many other industries in today’s society, app development presents an exciting opportunity to students with an interest in technology and a desire to gain well-paid employment.

Written by Drew Hendricks