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Best Mobile App Development Certifications 2018

Best Mobile App Development Certifications 2018
Customers are counting on your to keep your company's mobile app safe. / Credit: Apps image via Shutterstock

When you read stories about 11-year-olds creating fantastic apps that make it to the Windows Store, Google Play or Apple's App Store, it makes you wonder why anyone really needs a mobile app certification. The reality is that few professionals are going to make their fortunes, or even a living, by creating and selling the "next big app." In fact, most will take jobs as developers for major companies or do app development as freelancers.

Employers who hire app developers look for candidates with experience creating apps, especially customer-facing apps. They often want candidates with a wide array of knowledge about various programming concepts and languages, such as application programming interfaces (APIs), user experience (UX) design, Python, C#, PHP, JavaScript, HTML/CSS and Swift.

Employers also tend to prefer or require a bachelor's degree in computer science or some related discipline. But because mobile app developers are in such high demand, some employers are willing to train (or pay a third party to train) candidates with a background in a related IT area, such as networking or engineering, or train experienced developers on another platform in mobile development tools and platforms. [Interested in App Maker Development Software? Check out our top picks]

So where does certification fit in? Although mobile app development certifications are not widely requested in job descriptions, a certification can get your resume noticed or prove that you deserve a promotion. And a mobile app developer certification can help you achieve a decent salary. Glassdoor reports that the national average salary for mobile app developers is $92,478, where SimplyHired's national average is $106,979. Those salaries are consistently higher than other common IT-related jobs that require a few years' experience. For example, compare average developer salaries to those of software engineers ($88,000), system administrators ($74,000) and network engineers ($78,000).

We took a detailed look at certifications from Microsoft, Google (Android), Kony and Salesforce. We chose these because of their presence in the industry, their demand by employers and their overall value to certification candidates. We also mention some certifications in the last section of this article that are worthy additions to a developer's portfolio but don't carry as much recognition or cachet as our top five picks do.

Before you begin exploring the featured certifications, look at the results of our informal search of various job boards to see which certifications employers are looking for across the U.S. These results are a snapshot in time from a particular day and may not reflect the actual job demands in your locality, but they should give you some feel for the relative demand for each certification.

Certification

SimplyHired

Indeed

LinkedIn Jobs

TechCareers

Total

Associate Android Developer (Google)**

45

45

2

2

137

Kony Development Certification (Kony)

40

40

74

74

181

MCSD: App Builder (Microsoft)***

13

17

0

0

57

MTA Developer (Microsoft)

59

62

62

24

161

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder

25

26

26

28

93

**More than 870 hits using "Android developer certification" as the key term. **More than 1,200 hits using "MCSD developer certification" as the key term.

Android and iOS dominate the smartphone operating system market, and Android maintains a solid lead with a whopping 85 percent market share, according to IDC. The demand for Android apps is also soaring, which means that skilled Android developers are in high demand as well.

Google provides training and certifications through its Google Developers Certification program to help churn out a competent Android developer workforce. The Google Associate Android Developer is the program's only Android credential, along with Mobile Web Specialist, Google Certified Professional - Cloud Architect, and Certified Professional - Data Engineer certifications.

The Google Associate Android Developer certification recognizes skills in designing, building and debugging Android apps, designing solutions for storage, and designing applications to integrate with interfaces outside the core Android application. The single performance-based exam also requires candidates to put application user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) concepts to work by creating standard and custom layouts using XML and Java code.

Although training for the Google Associate Android Developer is not required, Google offers a bunch of free courses for new programmers, as well as for-a-fee courses for seasoned developers through Udacity.

Certification Name

Associate Android Developer

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None.

Number of Exams

One performance-based exam (a coding project) and an exit interview

Cost per Exam

$149. Sign up through Google.

URL

https://developers.google.com/training/certification/associate-android-developer/

Self-Study Materials

The Google Developers Training site offers several resources, such as beginning, intermediate and advanced courses through Google and Udacity. Workbooks and study guides are available in most courses. (For supplemental learning, anyone can go through the free training on Android.com.) Students may also join a free study jam to discuss Android topics with fellow students, or take Google Developer Codelabs (short, self-paced online modules).

Kony is a fast-growing enterprise mobility and mobile application development platform (MADP) provider with more than 400 customers in retail banking, healthcare, insurance, field services and many other industries. Kony is also well known for its cloud-based mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) solution.

On the mobile app front, customers can use the Kony Visualizer platform to create, configure and manage custom apps for Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry mobile devices. Kony Visualizer provides tools for native design, native prototyping, development and deployment of low-code apps, which makes it popular among developers. (The software is freely available for anyone to download from the Kony website.)

The company's certification program consists of a single credential, the Kony Certified Developer, with more than 1,000 certifications granted as of August 2016. However, the certification is gaining visibility and recognition, and it's edging out some of the better-known mobile app developer certifications from Microsoft in terms of employer popularity. Bundled with the two-week Kony Bootcamp course, candidates can take the performance-based exam at the end of the course, which covers widgets, services, and the Kony application programming interface (API) for developing mobile and web applications, among other topics. Candidates can also sit for the exam outside of the course by contacting certification@kony.com.

Certification is tied to each version of Kony Visualizer, so developers are encouraged to upgrade their skills and their certification when a new version is released.

Certification Name

Kony Certified Developer

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None. Training is recommended. Kony offers online self-paced training as well as on-site training in Austin, Texas and Hyderabad, India. Classroom training in Austin costs $3,000 (the first week is classroom, the second week online); fully online self-paced training is $1,500.
Kony recommends that candidates be familiar with modern mobile devices, web technologies and web development. They should also have current software development skills, such as Java or C# programming, and working knowledge of JavaScript.

Number of Exams

One (candidates build an application to specification and submit it for grading; candidates get two tries, if needed)

Cost per Exam

$250 as a stand-alone exam; cost of exam included in Bootcamp course
$100 for upgrade exam if taken alone; cost of exam included in Designing for Visualizer 7.0 course

URL

https://www.kony.com/services/training

Self-Study Materials

Candidates can download Kony Visualizer for free and get user documentation and tutorials on the Kony Product Documentation webpage. Developer communities are available on LinkedInGoogle+ and the Kony website.

Microsoft offers some of the most popular developer certifications in the world, aimed at app developers (mobile and web), software developers, web developers and quality control engineers. Aspiring developers who are just getting started can begin with the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): Developer certification (covered later in this article). Those who are ready to build mobile and/or web applications and services should consider pursuing the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): App Builder credential.

The MCSD: App Builder requires candidates to have a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) in Web Applications or Universal Windows Platform certification, and then pass one of several exams on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Visual Studio or Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server. Training is recommended but not required before an MCSD exam. That said, we think a candidate should have one to two years of experience working with Azure, C#, SharePoint, Office client, Visual Studio, .NET or HTML5 – whichever technologies or platforms are pertinent to the chosen MCSD exam – to have the best shot at passing the exam the first time.

The Microsoft Certification Program underwent extensive changes in September 2016. Once you earn one of the MCSD: App Builder certifications, you do not have to recertify within three years as was the case in the past. However, by passing an elective exam each calendar year, you add an entry to your transcript that indicates your commitment to staying current on technologies and expanding your skillset.

Certification Name

MCSD: App Builder

Prerequisites & Required Courses

MCSA: Web Applications or MCSA: Universal Windows Platform certification

Training is recommended but not required

Number of Exams

One; choose from the following:
70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
70-488: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions
70-489: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions
70-496: Administering Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
70-497: Software Testing with Visual Studio
70-498: Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management

Cost per Exam

$165. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.

URL

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcsd-app-builder-certification.aspx

Self-Study Materials

Visit the certification webpage and Microsoft Learning for exam prep videos, practice tests, free online training, Microsoft Official Curriculum in-classroom and on-demand training, books, online resources, and more.

Microsoft created the MTA certifications to help students in high schools and college get started with technology certifications. But the certifications have proven to be great stepping stones for folks looking to enter the IT field and for IT professionals who want to change careers (or specializations) as well. Achieving an MTA certification can also help candidates prepare for higher-level Microsoft certifications, like the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), mainly by getting hands-on experience with applicable products and technologies.

One thing that's important to note is that MTA exams are not prerequisites for more advanced Microsoft certifications and do not qualify for Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification.

The MTA certification program offers certifications geared toward IT infrastructures, databases and developers. Because the focus of this article is mobile app development, we'll focus on the MTA Developer credential. Only one exam is required from the following three:

  • Software Development Fundamentals
  • HTML5 App Development Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Programming with Block-Based Languages

Microsoft suggests that most candidates should consider the MTA Software Development Fundamentals, which is a great starter certification. They can then choose another MTA credential that's more specific to their career goals, or move on to a higher-level certification. Candidates for the MTA Developer credential should expect to understand and use the latest version of Microsoft Visual Studio as their primary development tool. Unlike many other certifications, MTA credentials don't expire. Once you achieve a certification, it's good for life.

Certification Name

MTA: Developer

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None. Recommended: three- or five-day instructor-led training and some experience with specific programming languages and/or tools.

Number of Exams

One per track:
98-361: Software Development Fundamentals
98-375: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals
98-380: Introduction to Programming with Block-Based Languages

Cost per Exam

$127. Exams administered by Pearson VUE (for non-academics).

Visit the Certiport site to learn about MTA exams for students and faculty in academic institutions.

URL

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mta-developer-certification.aspx

Self-Study Materials

Each exam webpage includes links to self-paced training and practice tests. The Microsoft Virtual Academy has additional resources and Born to Learn offers study groups and forums. Exam prep books can be found on Amazon and other online bookstores.

Salesforce, a leader in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, has more than 150,000 customers worldwide. Salesforce supports its customers with a variety of solutions, from sales and service, to productivity, analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).

With so many products and services available, it's no surprise that the Salesforce certification program is both broad and well developed, and it includes an App Builder credential that generates a good deal of interest on job boards.

The Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder aims at professionals who design, build and implement custom applications for the Force.com platform. The certification requires candidates to pass a single exam, which covers data modeling and management, security, business logic, user interfaces and use cases for social features for custom applications. Candidates must also know how to customize applications for mobile use and deploy them, as well as design reports and dashboards.

Salesforce requires App Builders to maintain current skills. Credential holders must pass maintenance module exams with each new product release cycle (typically in summer, winter and spring).

Certification Name

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None. Salesforce recommends two courses:

  • DEV402: Declarative Development for Platform App Builders
  • CRT-402: Certification Preparation for Platform App Builder

Number of Exams

One (60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions, 105 minutes)

Cost per Exam

$200. On-site exams administered by Kryterion; online exams administered by Salesforce. See scheduling an exam for details.
$100 for a retake exam

URL

http://certification.salesforce.com/appbuilder

Self-Study Materials

The certification page includes a link to the Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder Exam Guide. Salesforce recommends hands-on experience, completion of one or more training courses, Trailhead trails and self-study. See the Exam Guide for more information and links.

Neither the GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB) nor the IBM Certified Mobile Application Developer – Worklight Foundation certifications made the top five list for 2018, although we did feature them in 2017. The Google Associate Android Developer bumped the Android Certified Application Developer by ATC from the 2018 top five list as well. They're all still highly worthy certifications but didn't generate enough interest on the job board this time around to stay in the top five.

Similarly, the Oracle Mobile Development 2015 Certified Implementation Specialist and Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer don't generate much traction on the job boards, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't investigate them on your own. That goes double if you work with Oracle technologies, Java or Red Hat Linux.

Apple doesn't (yet) offer an official iOS developer certification, but anyone interested in immersive iOS developer training should check out Big Nerd Ranch boot camps. You can also take self-paced training courses through UdemyShiny Development and Pluralsight, and you can find plenty of iOS app development training opportunities by searching the internet.

CIW, which is known for its web design and development certifications, is launching the Mobile Application Developer certification in Q4 2017 as part of its CIW Web and Mobile Design series. The certification will aim at application development for the Android, iOS and Windows Phone operating systems.

Learning Tree offers Application Development Specialist and Expert certifications for Android, iOS and mobile web design. A few other mobile app certifications you might be interested in are those from Axway (Appcelerator) and OutSystems.

A lot of colleges and universities also offer mobile app development certificate programs. Browse the offerings from UC IrvineSan Diego State University, the University of Denver and Southern Methodist University (SMU) as examples.

And there are many more. A quick Google search every quarter should reveal at least a few more mobile app developer training opportunities.