Mobile apps are projected to generate around $189 billion in revenue by 2020, up from an estimated $15 billion in 2011. By 2018, the number of mobile app buyers in the U.S. is expected to reach 85 million. As of January 1, 2017, Apple’s App Store had a staggering 2.2 million available apps, and Google Play had the same number as of June 2016.
Other app stores such as Windows Store, Amazon Appstore and Blackberry World had a combined 1.5 million available apps as of June 2016, according to Statista. These available apps run the gamut from simple tools such as maps, translators, and newspapers to games, videos, and social media apps. While growth for this explosive industry is expected to continue at a rapid pace, it has already created tremendous opportunities for coders, programmers, game designers, developers, mobile advertising, and even animators.
Professional animators will find that the same technical skills used to create animations for other forms of media can be applied to working on design teams for mobile apps. However, many professional animators looking to break into the mobile app industry choose to enhance their skill set by getting a second degree, a certificate, or by taking additional courses. Fortunately, many colleges and universities have created innovative degree programs specifically for aspiring app designers and developers, while others have incorporated the most in demand courses into the curriculums of existing degree programs. Two of the most popular program options include Digital Animation and Multimedia Design and Development.
Community colleges have jumped on the bandwagon too and now offer single courses, certificate programs, or two-year degree programs that include app design and development coursework. The following are just a few examples of available courses for programs offered at schools such as University of Denver (Mobile Application Master’s), Ohlone Community College in Fremont, California (Multimedia Program), and Baker the Mobile Application Software Engineering BS at Baker College, Flint, Michigan.
This course introduces students to rich media design, animation, and interactive development for the web, desktop, mobile, and more using Adobe Animate CC. Students learn the fundamentals of working in the Adobe Animate CC authoring environment to produce web assets, small animations, and basic interactive modules for multiple target platforms. –University of Denver
Advanced Interaction Design for Web and Mobile
This course introduces students to advanced techniques in web site design and web-based mobile applications. In addition to industry standard software like Dreamweaver and Photoshop, this course focuses on CSS for layout, user experience design, and navigation. Other topics include rapid prototyping; forms; Ajax and JQuery; dynamic image galleries; building accessible and flexible layouts for screen, tablets, and mobile devices; and professional practices in web site design. –Ohlone College
Mobile Application Development
This course is a practical and project-oriented introduction to creating Web and native applications for mobile platforms, specifically for Apple iOS and Android devices. Topics include user interface design, software design patterns, application architectures, Dreamweaver's mobile templates, jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap. –Ohlone College
Introduction to Android Mobile SDK
Focuses on mastering the Android SDK tools in relation to each platform being discussed, specific to application development. Engineering tools are reviewed as well as Java application. –Baker College
Mobile Application Development with Web Standards
Native Application Development with Adobe Air on Mobile Devices
During this course students will learn how to use a set of languages and tools to build business and media-centric applications that run on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and eReaders running on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. This course will illustrate the best practices for reusing code, structuring projects, and submitting applications to app stores. Throughout the course, students will utilize an IDE such as FDT or IntelliJ, MXML, and ActionScript to build cross-device native applications. Students will also learn how to add functionality to their Adobe AIR native applications by leveraging third party Native Extensions to access native features. –University of Denver
Programming for Mobile Devices
Provides students with opportunities and the experience of developing applications for various mobile devices (i.e. phones, tablets, other multi-media mobile devices). –Baker College
Animators looking for work in the mobile apps arena won’t have to look far. The U.S. is home to thousands of companies that develop apps, so opportunities for freelance or contract work are not that difficult to come by. The following mobile app development firms may use a combination of in-house and contract employees:
Affle AppStudioz, India, Singapore, UK, USA
Amadeus Consulting, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Apptology, India, UK, USA
Apptraction, New York, USA
ArchTouch, San Francisco, USA
BR Softech, India, USA
Creative 27, Los Angeles, USA
Credencys Solutions Inc., La Palma, California, USA, Singapore
Debut Infotech, Chicago, Leesburg, Virginia, USA, India
Digital Brand Group, Kerala, India, USA
DMI, Spain, UK, USA
Eleks, Poland, Ukraine, UK, USA
Fueled, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, USA, London, UK
Fuzz, Brooklyn, USA
Hedgehoglab, India, UK, USA
Intersog, Chicago, Ukraine, USA
Kogi Mobile, Florida, USA, Medellin, Colombia
Mubaloo, Germany, UK, USA
Nomtek, Poland, UK, USA
Qburst, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Raizlabs, Boston, San Francisco, USA
Reliant Tek, USA, India
Sourcebits, Bangalore, India, San Francisco, USA
UrulT, Medellin, Colombia, Montevideo, Uruguay, South America, USA
Willowtree, Charlottesville, Virginia, Durham, North Carolina, New York, USA
xCube Labs, Bangalore, Hyderabad, India, USA
Y Media Labs, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York, San Francisco, USA
ZCO Corporation, Boston, Nashua, New Hampshire, USA
So how much can animators working in the apps arena expect to earn? So far, it looks like the sky’s the limit. According to an Apple App Store news release, app developers earned $20 billion in 2016, up 40 percent from 2015. And since the App Store launched in 2008, developers have earned over $60 billion. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not publish salary information for app designers and developers just yet. However, it does offer figures for software developers, programmers, and multimedia artists and animators.
In 2015, the median pay for multimedia artists and animators was $63,970. The highest 10 percent earned more than $113,600 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than 36,930. Software developers averaged $100,690. The highest 10 percent earned more than $153,710 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,340. Programmers averaged $79,530. The highest ten percent earned more than $130,800, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,450.
Note that individual salaries vary based on a number factors ranging education and experience to the size and geographic location of the company.
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