Entry-level programmers can earn from $60,000 to $100,00 in the Portland area

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MT HOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE - A student at the college works on creating a game. Mt. Hood Community College will begin offering classes this fall for a new certificate in programming computer games and mobile applications.

"There's a ton of potential here," said Erika Ruhl, an instructor of game design at MHCC. "Students can use this training to fast-track into a programming career with one of the many industry employers in this region."

The 42-credit certificate will teach students programming skills in multiple computer languages — including Swift, Unity, Python, HTML and JavaScript — while offering training in user interface and user experience to prepare graduates to work as entry-level programmers.

Median starting salaries for entry-level programmers range from $60,000 to $100,000 in the Portland area, MHCC said in an announcement.

"This certificate program can also provide great professional development to existing programmers, or it can prepare entrepreneurs to pursue their passions," Ruhl said.

According to a report from App Annie, the "app economy" is expected to reach $101 billion globally by 2020, essentially doubling in size over four years. In 2015, mobile games made up about 85 percent, or $34.8 billion, of revenue in the global app market.

Students in the Computer Game and Mobile Applications Programmer certificate program start with classes in interface design and beginner game programming before moving on to courses in iOS mobile applications development and small games programming.

Those who earn a certificate can continue in their educations to complete an associate degree in business management, mobile application development and marketing at the college. This new two-year degree is aimed at preparing new programmers and providing enhanced training to existing workers.

"Almost every business and public organization needs a mobile presence, often in the form of an app," added Ruhl. "With this certificate and degree, we want to train workers to serve in a rapidly growing field, an industry where the skills gap is increasing year after year."

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