Customers won’t waste their time or money browsing on an unresponsive, glitchy or outdated website, and companies pay top dollar for the talented and qualified Web Developers who can deliver a fast, functional, and reliable site that supports all the utilities their business demands. If you’ve got technical aptitude and a love of designing and building, a career in web development could be right for you. An on-campus or online bachelor’s degree in Web Development is not the only way to get there, but it is the most popular and direct way to train for and gain entry into this challenging and lucrative technical field. Read on to learn about what web developers do, how a bachelor’s in web development works, and what job prospects look like for qualified web developers.
What does a Web Developer Do?
A web developer is a professional programmer who creates applications for the web by building websites from the bottom up. Web developers write custom code to achieve a client’s desired website layout, features and functions. They also test, update, and maintain websites to ensure that they continue to function smoothly.
How is Web Development Different from Web Design?
Web Design and Web Development are distinct and specialized fields, though they do have some professional overlap. Most web developers know some web design, and most web designers know some basic web development skills.
- Web designers create the look, feel and experience of a website, and make use of graphics tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
- Web developers build the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, creating website features and functionality.
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Do I Need a Bachelor’s in Web Development to Become a Web Developer?
The short answer is No. There’s no licensure or degree required to build functioning websites, just know-how. Through independent study, practice and project-building, and with real-life experience, it’s possible to acquire some serious skills in Web Development and break into the field. Aside from a bachelor’s in web development, a few alternate routes to a include:
- Independent Study Viewing tutorials, taking MOOCS, going through Bootcamps, or enrolling in individual college-level classes.
- Portfolios Building an online portfolio of web development projects, either real-world professionals assignments or self-created projects.
- Certifications A certification like Certified Web Developer, Certified Internet Webmaster, Advanced Web Developer and in Mobile Application Development demonstrates mastery of a specific skill set through examination (and sometimes experience hours). Many web developers with a bachelor’s in web development also choose to earn certifications in order to specialize
- Bachelor’s in Web Design Because there’s some overlap in content areas (see below), some Web Developers hold a bachelor’s degree in Web Design, and practice both, usually by building both front- and back-ends of smaller websites.
- Associate’s in Web Development Many new to the field choose to pursue an Associate’s Degree as a way to get a foot in the door, usually while working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Web Development.
There are, however, a number of reasons to pursue an on-campus or online Bachelor’s in Web Development.
- Competitive Edge Many employers look for a bachelor’s degree when hiring, and when making decisions as to who to promote. In today’s workplace, a bachelor’s degree has simply become the standard baseline for entry-level positions, and web development is no exception.
- Comprehensive Education Schools craft their web design bachelor’s curriculums to produce well-rounded and thoroughly-trained professionals, often in collaboration with a panel of industry professionals and leaders who dictate the current workplace skills they look for when hiring. Independent study requires building an education piecemeal.
- Guidance Most schools build projects into their curriculum, so that students graduate with a portfolio of completed assignments that demonstrate their skills, which has been shaped by instructor feedback. Advisors, mentor and career counselors are also important resources for guidance.
- Networking Surveys show that 85% of jobs come through networking. Connections between students and peers, professors, and alumni are a powerful resource, as are connections made through school internships and practicums.
What Will I Learn in a Bachelor’s in Web Development Program?
Every school is different, and will have their own curriculum and approach to teaching web development. That said, there are three essential domains of knowledge that will be taught by any quality online bachelor’s in web development.
- Server-side scripting refers to the backend code that runs on a the server and drives the behind-the-scenes functions of a website. This includes the framework that allows the server’s database to communicate with the browser. As a student, you’ll learn server-side coding languages like ASP.NET, C++, Java, PHP, Python and Ruby.
- Database technology refers to the tools that build and maintain the database which stores a website’s data like files, code, and images. As a student pursuing an online bachelor’s in web development, you’ll learn relational database management systems (RDBMS) like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, IBM DB2, Apache, and MongoDB.
In addition to the coding skills that make up much of a web development bachelor’s degree program, you’ll also cover topics like Internet regulations, Security, Systems design, Graphics and images. In addition, many schools offer a minor or concentration in areaas like cyber security or networking.
What Positions are Available in the Field?
What is the Job Outlook with a Bachelor’s in Web Development?
U.S. News a World Report ranks Web Development 8th in “Best Technology Jobs,” and it’s easy to see why. Web developers earn a median base salary of $66,130, and those at the top of the field can earn upwards of $100,000. Demand is also high, with 21,300 jobs currently open. Better still, the job future looks bright, as the US Department of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for Web will grow 15% by 2022. Best of all, web developers enjoy their work. Web developers report an excellent work/life balance, and 1 in 6 work for themselves. A survey of 1,608 professionals on PayScale found that Web Development was given a 5 out of 5 job satisfaction rating. The potential for satisfying work with a great salary makes a bachelor’s in web development a very attractive option.