Raymond Gonzalez, a Florida International University senior, is developing an iPhone application called Pet Finder that will allow users to browse the dogs and cats at the local animal shelter or request an animal for adoption. He is also part of a team creating mobile apps that track bank failures, issue alerts about earthquakes and organize homework assignments.
Its a well-calculated effort to learn as much as he can about mobile technology as quickly as possible. My goal is to make all these apps free and open source while using the knowledge gained to build my startup company after graduation, said Gonzalez, who is majoring in information technology.
Whether he starts his own company or works for someone else, Gonzalez is preparing to be a player in a high-paying, sizzling new industry, one that might provide the United States with a big opportunity to increase its exports in coming years.
While the overall economy still lags, the app economy has created nearly 500,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, when there were none.
Companies even worry that the nation isnt moving fast enough to produce new talent for thousands of unfilled jobs as consumers demand more and more gizmos and gadgets for their smartphones.
As a result, salaries are rising quickly: Mobile apps developers can expect pay increases of 9 percent next year, among the highest of any jobs, putting them in the range of $92,750 to $133,500 a year, according to a survey that the staffing and consulting firm Robert Half International released last month.
If the United States can maintain its dominance in the industry, many say the app economy could make a big dent in the countrys federal trade deficit. Last year, for example, more than 20 percent of the apps downloaded in China were made by U.S. developers.
There is unprecedented opportunity for America to capitalize on exploding international markets, Peter Farago, the vice president of marketing for Flurry, a high-tech startup in San Francisco, testified in September before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Farago said his company had more than 100 employees and 50 open positions and that we literally cannot find the talent we need fast enough. He told members of the subcommittee that the app economy would become increasingly international and that the United States should do more to improve education and retraining programs and to make it easier for companies to bring and keep more talent from foreign countries.
Were in a human capital crunch, added Rey Ramsey, the president and chief executive officer of TechNet, a network of technology executives that promotes the industry.
According to a TechNet study released earlier this year, the 466,000 mobile-tech jobs created since the iPhone was introduced include programmers, designers, marketers, managers and support staff for Apple, Android, Facebook and other platforms. California is by far the most dominant player in the industry, accounting for nearly one of every four jobs. New York ranks second, followed by Washington state, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia and Florida.
Among metropolitan regions, New York ranked first, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue. Miami-Fort Lauderdale ranked 19th.