Mt. Hood’s business studies department is rapidly building a new associate’s degree in Business Management, based on an app development program. And chasing after dollars is central to the field, and to planning the new degree.
The Mobile Application Development and Marketing degree in Business Management will be offered beginning next fall if all goes well, according to MHCC’s business department.
The program will focus on making mobile applications marketable and profitable, as well as developing the apps.
“One of the overarching objectives of this degree is to not just do the technical aspect of the information systems of programming it, it’s the business layer on top of it,” said business instructor Harry DeWolf.
“That’s the key sweet spot of this blended degree program. You’re getting the tech guys who really want to do it – make their own thing, and then take it to market,” he said. “Then, you have the business people that want to know more about it so they can help manage a project.”
When the program starts, the focus will be on the iOS platform. Mt. Hood will be the first community college on the West Coast to offer such a program.
“There are a couple of other programs that they’re talking to back East, but we are farther along already than they are,” said DeWolf.
Mt. Hood’s business department had the idea for a program last October and spent countless hours researching the market for mobile applications. Leaders say the program will be forward-looking, by necessity.
“We are focusing our attention on the way technology not is now, but on where we project the technology to be in the next 5 to 10 years,” said Wayne Machuca, Computer Information Systems instructor.
Hot job market
There’s plenty of money in the business, Machuca said.
“Right now, we’re seeing the average income for mobile app developers at $103,000 in the Portland metro area. Starting salaries are in the high 50s,” he said. “That’s someone who’s coming out the door (of training) with zero experience.”
Machuca said the rate of job growth for app developers goes from 6-to-8 percent in places like Astoria, to 33 percent in the Portland area. “That’s not even the replacement positions, that’s the new stuff that’s coming in, so we’re focusing on this bonanza of opportunity for job growth.”
The first few terms of the program will consist of introductory business and accounting classes.
As students progress, they will be required to take web development classes, courses on e-commerce, and then the app development classes.
“This first term is the same first term for pretty much all the business degrees,” said business instructor Amber Lamadrid. That’s regardless if students “come in and say, ‘I want to be in small business,’ and then halfway through, they decide, ‘Oh, you know what, this looks more interesting to me,’ ” she said.
Other MHCC business degree programs that require the introductory courses include Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, Marketing and Small Business Management, and Hospitality.
The structure of the new app program is not permanently set and will most likely evolve. “It may be that as we develop the program, we’ll add additional courses,” said Andy Wong, Business Management and Administration instructor.
The logic of pairing app development with marketing is to give students a skill set that is practical soon after leaving the college, instructors said.
“The first question we’re asking is, ‘What’s the student and the community really looking for?’ And (then), what can we do to close that gap (between degrees offered at Mt. Hood and the needs of the market), so that when (new graduates) walk off the stage they have a command of a really strong, long-term opportunity,” said business instructor Stephen Konrad.
“It’s right on the cutting edge of where we’re at,” said Rod Barker, MHCC dean of the Business, Computer Information Systems, & Social Science divisions.