Web developers are responsible for a large portion of what goes on behind the websites and apps we use every day. The knowledge and skills necessary to take a web concept from pre-design to buildout are a hot commodity in the IT job market, and a web development degree program is a great way to gain this specialized training.
The specific duties performed by web developers can vary quite a bit from job to job, but here's a list of a few general responsibilities common among web development positions:
- Discussing the goals of a website with clients or organizational management
- Developing an organizational structure for the site's functional foundation
- Working with graphics, information and user experience designers to assemble site layout
- Building, testing and implementing web applications
- Maintaining websites and apps to ensure continued security and usability
Some manner of formal education is necessary for employment as a web developer in all but the rarest cases. An associate degree in web design or development may be satisfactory for certain positions, but employers are likely to prefer candidates who have earned at least a bachelor's degree in a related field.
Web Development: Degree Overview
Every college or university offers a slightly different curriculum for web development majors, but the core concepts tend to be fairly consistent from program to program. Students pursuing a degree program in technology in web development can expect to study most, if not all, of the following subjects:
- HTML programming
- Web application development
- Database design and integration
- Web client and server scripting
- Digital media production
- User experience design
- Digital media publishing
Certificate and associate degree programs tend to cover design and programming fundamentals, while bachelor's degrees often delve deeper into web page construction, graphic editing and user interface (UI) design. Students can also continue their training at the graduate level. Graduate studies may be beneficial if developers intend to write complex code for business sites with millions of users or work toward positions in website management.
Career Outlook for Web Developers
Employment opportunities for web developers should increase faster than average over the next several years, according to projections released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Demand is expected to grow 20 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022, leading to roughly 28,500 new jobs in the field. This job growth is linked to predicted expansions in online commerce and the increasing proliferation of mobile devices.
The BLS also reports a median annual salary of $67,540 for web developers in 2013, with the bottom 10 percent earning $33,320 and the top 10 percent bringing in $110,350. After gaining some specialized job experience or additional education, former web development majors can move up in the IT field and transition to a number of different careers, including:
- Computer programmer
- Software developer
- Computer systems analyst
- Information systems manager
Most of the positions listed above require at least a bachelor's degree, and information systems managers typically earn a master's in information systems or business administration.
"Web Developers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
"Computer and Information Systems Managers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-14 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm#tab-4
"Web Developers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, April 23, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151134.htm