How to Become a Web Developer in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for Web developers. Get the facts about education requirements, degree options and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Graphics & Multimedia Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web developers possess a wide range of technical skills in the areas of programming and graphic design. They are responsible for working with clients, both individuals and companies, to create a website that fits their artistic vision and is aesthetically pleasing. Beyond the design aspect, they also make sure that the website is able to function efficiently and smoothly for visitors. They monitor the amount of traffic the website receives and report these statistics back to clients. If you're interested in acquiring them, take a look at the chart below to learn about education requirements and other aspects of this career field:

Education Required An associate degree is commonly required; a bachelor's degree is preferred for more technical positions
Education Field of Study Web design, information technology or a related field
Key Responsibilities Consult with clients, update websites, write and debug code, develop content
Certification Voluntary professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 27%*
Median Salary (2015) $64,970*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Web Developer?

A Web developer is a technical specialist who designs websites and creates Web applications for the Internet. As a Web developer, you need broad technical expertise to work with a wide range of programming and scripting languages, content creation tools and management tools on a wide variety of server platforms. You must also remain current with ongoing developments in Web technology and programming.

Specific duties in the design and development process include implementing website updates; conferring with clients, managers or development teams about client needs, the scope of a project and problems to resolve; evaluating code for robustness and compatibility with browsers and operating systems; identifying and fixing bugs revealed during testing or discovered by customers.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

High school courses in algebra, trigonometry, calculus and English provide you with the initial preparation for further education with computers. You should also take advantage of courses with direct application to Web development, such as computer programming, Web design, graphic design and multimedia. Many high schools offer these courses and also provide opportunities to participate in Web design competitions or design for local businesses.

Step 2: Earn a Degree

You're more likely to find associate and bachelor's degree programs in Web design and development or information technology with a Web development concentration at colleges and universities. Coursework emphasizes hands-on engagement with programming and design. HTML, JavaScript, interface design, graphic design, 3D modeling, Web programming, Web applications and database management are examples of courses. You also have to complete general education courses in communications, the humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences.

Step 3: Participate in an Internship

Some degree programs include an internship within their curriculum. The career center at your college or university can also arrange a Web development internship for you. You can gain real-world experience, content for your portfolio and possibly even employment, as organizations sometimes hire graduates who worked for them as interns. Religious institutions and community groups are other places to get practical Web development experience.

Step 4: Gain Employment

Opportunities are available to pursue a Web design and developer position with Web services firms, private companies, schools, government agencies or non-profit organizations. You could also consider going into business for yourself. Whether as an employee or an independent contractor, you need a portfolio of the websites you designed or participated in designing. Divide your portfolio into four sections, such as writing and content creation, Web programming, Web design and content management. Depending on the Web development job you're seeking, you would display only that part of your portfolio to a prospective employer or client.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 127,070 web developers were employed in 2015. A 27% employment growth was expected to result in a total of 188,000 Web developer jobs by 2024. Web developers earned a median salary of $64,970 as of May 2015.

Step 5: Obtain Certification

Certification is voluntary, but it can help your career by demonstrating your expertise with development tools. If you do or plan to do a lot of development with Java, Oracle offers the Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD) credential. If you're working extensively with the .NET framework or Visual Studio, Microsoft offers the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) designation.

Specifically, the SCWCD credential is for developers building applications with Java servlet technology and Java Server Pages. The certification exam tests your knowledge of Web application structure and deployment, the Web container model, session management and application security.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Aspiring web developers may also wish to consider some other similar careers, like computer programming. Programmers deal less with the design of a website and instead focus on writing code for computer software and applications to ensure they run smoothly on the computer. However, if an individual has a strong interest in design, they could consider a career in graphic design, which involves creating designs for websites, as well as print media and applications.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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