Web Development

From website coding to color schemes, learn how to bring a vision to digital life.

What is Web Development?

Web developers are the people who put the “fun” in functional websites. From the colors and fonts on a site, to its unique features—videos, dropdown menus, animation, logos—a web dev plans and designs each one.

But websites aren’t just about beautiful design and eye-catching compositions. Web developers also write the code on a website’s back end, working in programing languages such as HTML and CSS. Their responsibilities extend to a site’s technical performance: how fast does it load and how much traffic can it handle?

Who Should Get a Web Development Degree

U.S. News & World Report ranks web development as the No. 11 best job for 2015. It’s a fast-growing field, driven largely by the boom in e-commerce and mobile sites.

Want to get in on the growth? The minimum requirement for a web development job is an associate’s degree in web development. You’ll need graphic design skills and a thorough grasp of HTML and CSS programming languages. In many cases, a developer will also need to understand JavaScript, SQL or other languages.

The job demands a blend of creative skills, technical savvy and a great customer service ethic. A web developer must listen carefully to a client or employer’s wish list to translate it into a beautiful, functional site—whether gaming or government, e-commerce or construction.

Traits & Aptitudes

If you have a strong design sense and a dogged approach to details, the web developer role might be a good fit for you. Here are other traits that web developers share:

Technical Flexibility

Web developers must speak multiple programming languages in order to make sites function.

Creative

From color scheme to layout, developers design the overall appearance of a website.

Customer-Focused

Web devs listen carefully to customers and colleagues, responding with proactive ideas and solutions.

Problem-Solver

When complications arise, develop new solutions to keep projects on track.

Detail-Oriented

In coding, a single wrong keystroke can bring down an entire web page.

Technical Flexibility

Web developers must speak multiple programming languages in order to make sites function.

Creative

From color scheme to layout, developers design the overall appearance of a website.

Customer-Focused

Web devs listen carefully to customers and colleagues, responding with proactive ideas and solutions.

Problem-Solver

When complications arise, develop new solutions to keep projects on track.

Detail-Oriented

In coding, a single wrong keystroke can bring down an entire web page.

Degrees in Web Development

The online classroom and web development were made for each other. Wannabe web developers get first-hand experience with online customer interactions, working and collaborating remotely.

Instructors and peers play the roles of future customers, and students learn to respond to feedback and integrate it into their work. There’s no better way to learn this in-demand skill set.

Online Degrees in Web Development

As millions of people enroll in online classes each year, school has evolved to meet the changing needs of adult learners. Gone are the days of giant lecture halls and cramming for exams. You won’t waste time commuting back and forth to class. And you might even pay less for an online program.

But before you enroll in any school, always check to see that it has been accredited. This means the school has met certain standards for quality and rigor. Regional accreditation is the gold standard for all U.S. colleges and universities. For online degrees, two accrediting agencies are the best known: the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology. Federal aid is only available to students enrolled in accredited schools.

How It Works

In an online web development degree program, you’ll spend a lot of time on screen. Before you sign up, ask the school if you can test drive its course delivery system. There are several popular ones in use, including Blackboard, Moodle and eCollege. Once the course begins, you’ll log in for lectures, attending either on your own schedule or within an instructor-specified timeframe. You’ll also participate in hands-on labs, download materials and interact with the instructor and other students via tools like Google Hangout, Skype or Adobe Connect.

Just because a program is online, don’t expect less in the way of student support. If anything, you may need more help along the way to your distance degree. Ask the school what resources it offers students, such as: academic counseling or tutoring; career counseling; job placement services. The school should have statistics to share on both its graduation and employment rates.

Benefits

If you want to get into web development but can’t quit your day job to do it, the online option is ideal. Here are a few benefits of the online approach to school:

Manageable schedules: Log in and learn at the time that’s right for you: after the kids are in bed; before work; on Saturday mornings.

On the go: With mobile apps, your schoolwork is easily portable, allowing you to study whenever you have time—in between soccer goals, at grandma’s house, or waiting in the car for the kids’ dance lessons to end

Short courses: Many online programs deploy shorter, quick-turn courses that last as few as five weeks. This format can help keep the momentum going as you chip away at your degree.

Wide acceptance: Are potential employers good with online degrees? In a word, yes. Businesses are primarily concerned with your skills and the school’s accreditation—not the course delivery method. Bonus: By earning your degree online, you’ve already proven that you can collaborate smoothly in virtual work environments

Why Get a Degree in Web Development?

Potential Career Paths

What 21st-century business doesn’t need a website? From insurance companies to gaming sites and everywhere in between, web developers are in high demand. They’re most commonly found in the field of computer systems design, but are also legion in data processing, web hosting, finance, e-tail, insurance, education, government and nonprofit organizations.

Fancy striking out on your own? About one in seven web developers were self-employed in 2014, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

With a degree in web development, you might also pursue a role as a web programmer, front end developer, web architect or web master.

Job Outlook

U.S. News and World Report ranks web development as the No. 11 best job in the country for 2015. The profession shows no signs of cooling off. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts annual demand for web developers to grow at a 27 percent rate through 2024, outpacing most other jobs. What’s driving the growth? The boom in e-commerce sites and mobile devices.

Salary

Web development is a field that pays off. The median annual pay for the profession is $63,490, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Love of Learning

Web developers don’t just make pretty sites; they create complex and functional interactions for tablets, laptops, phones and more. The technology landscape shifts constantly, and web developers must keep up. Between learning new code and animating up-to-the-minute features, there are always new paths to pursue in this field.

Forward-Looking

In technology, it seems that what was cool and cutting-edge yesterday is tired and stale today. If you love work that continually surprises your expectations and stretches your capacities, a role as a web developer could be just the thing.

Educational Paths

Certificates

Sometimes created in tandem with technology industry pros, certificate programs deliver expertise in programming languages, client/server scripting, web design content management and more practical skills.

Program Length

Certificates drill down into the specific skills of web development and usually require one year to 18 months to complete.

What You’ll Study

Have you already logged time in the workforce and are looking to make the leap to a new path? Especially if you’ve mastered HTML, JavaScript and other programming languages, a certificate may put you on the path to a role as a back-end web developer.

Come to any job interview with a solid portfolio of work that showcases your talents. Even if you haven’t been paid for the sites you’ve developed, it’s important to demonstrate your skills to the employer.

Certificate courses generally include web authoring, content management systems, database development and Java. Some certificate programs carry prerequisites, such as technical writing, mathematics and a working knowledge of computer applications. Check with the school you’re considering to see if your education or work experience meet the bar for entry.

Associate’s

To break into website creation, you’ll need at least an associate’s degree in computer science or web development.

Program Length

The associate’s degree in web development requires two years of study.

What You’ll Study

To maximize your potential job options, look for an associate’s program that covers both front end and back end web development. By the time you complete your studies, you should have not only a diploma, but a solid portfolio that demonstrates your skills in coding and design.

The coursework delivers a firm grounding in essential knowledge such as math, English, economics and social science. You’ll also gain practical skills in web development with classes such as HTML and CSS, Java programming, logic and design and network security.

Bachelor’s

When you earn a full bachelor’s degree in web development, more doors open on your career path.

Program Length

A bachelor’s degree usually requires four years of study. If you’ve already earned credits in science, mathematics and/or engineering credits from an accredited program, you might speed past some of the basic requirements. Ask the school if you can transfer these credits to your web development program.

What You’ll Study

In a high-octane web development program, you’ll also get a leg up on career development skills, such as business communication and portfolio development.

Specific courses in a bachelor’s program might include designing for Web standards, interfaces and usability, scalable data infrastructures and Web programming.

When you earn a full bachelor’s degree in web development, more doors open on your career path.

Want to focus on technical structure instead of design? Web architects (or programmers) mastermind the framework of a site and make sure it works as planned. They set the procedures that guide who can add to or change the site.

Meanwhile, web designers are all about the appearance of a site. They design the overall layout, map out the user flow, write programs and integrate applications such as retail checkout and interactive elements.

Working behind the scenes, webmasters keep websites working properly, updating them and testing for broken links and other glitches. Responding to user comments is also part of the webmaster’s job.

Master’s

At the end of a masters program in web development, you’ll have expert-level skills to drive innovations in the IT field.

Program Length

A master’s degree in web development generally requires two years of study.

What You’ll Study

As websites—and the devices that display them—proliferate, there’s an ever-greater need for skilled web developers with top-notch leadership and project management skills. Equipped with a master’s degree, you’ll be set for roles in design firms, creative agencies, marketing teams—any business that relies on web design expertise for its success.

Go beyond website design and construction to learn how people really use the Internet. How can demographic and other data improve a site’s traffic and usefulness? How should you collect statistics on a website—and which ones are the most relevant?

Look for master’s programs that include core coursework such as advanced website design and management, core technologies, Python programming, data security and principles of database design.

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