The internet has changed not only the way we shop, but the entire way that we do business. In the past, most small businesses were forced to run their operations on a relatively local level. These days, any size company can create virtual storefronts and serve customers located around the world through the use of their website. And when there's money to be made, a demand exists for workers with the skills to make it happen.
Web developers are professionals who create, design, and build websites. They are charged with handling the technical workings of web pages, as well as their aesthetic appeal. Web developers may be required to know and write particular programming languages, create and develop graphic elements, or even write the actual content that populates the site. Students who have an interest in graphic design, computers, and programming languages could be a perfect fit for the profession.
How to Choose the Right Web Development Degree
For most entry-level positions, web developers are required to earn at least an associate degree. For those seeking employment in positions that require more technical knowledge and experience, a bachelor's degree may be necessary. Online degrees in web development can help students meet both the educational and technical demands required by potential employers. While in school, students typically take courses in web design, front-end development, database development, animation, web application development, and more.
When it comes to a web development degree, students should carefully consider their options. The following chart lists the different degree levels available in the field, along with some common career paths for graduates:
Length of Completion
Certificate in Web Development
Certificate programs typically take a year or less to complete
Associate in Web Development
Associate degrees generally take up to two years of full-time study to complete.
Bachelor's in Web Development
These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.
Web Developer, Computer Programmer, Computer Systems Analyst, Software Developer, Graphic Designer
Master's in Web Development
These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.
Web Developer, Computer Programmer, Computer Systems Analyst, Software Developer, Graphic Designer, Computer or Information Systems Manager
Ph.D. in Web Development
These programs take three to four years of study after earning a bachelor's degree. A master's degree may be a prerequisite to enrollment.
In order to become a web developer, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that an "associate's degree in web design or a related field" is typically required. For certain positions which require more technical knowledge, such as specializations in back-end development, employers may prefer candidates who hold a bachelor's degree. Students interested in developing the front-end design of websites may wish to take additional coursework in graphic design.
Prior to enrolling in a web development degree program, students should thoroughly consider their desired career outcome. With a number of different degree levels to choose from, potential students should not take this decision lightly. Program lengths vary greatly by the type of degree being sought, and so do the costs. Prospective students would be wise to consider all of their options before choosing a program.
What to Expect in a Web Development Program
While enrolled in a web development degree program, students can expect to receive training in a number of different computer related areas. Professional web developers should have a workable knowledge of different computer concepts, programming languages, and multimedia tools. They must also have the interpersonal and customer service skills required to hold effective meetings with potential clients and bring their clients' ideas to fruition.
As with all degree programs, the courses required for graduation vary by school. Here is a list of some typical core courses found in a web development degree program:
- Web Design and Management
- Introduction to HTML
- Introduction to Programming
- Web Enabled Information Systems
- Graphic Imaging
- Website Graphics Production
- Interactive Web Design
- Website Multimedia
- Server-Side Programming
- Introduction to Ecommerce
- Web Development Career Strategies
- Applications Security
Depending on the school and level of degree being sought, an internship or practicum may be required prior to completing the program. These internships allow students to use the skills and theories they have learned in a "real world" working environment. In addition to gaining practical field experience, students can use these opportunities to meet and connect with professionals already working in the industry.
Web Development Degree Specializations
While students who complete web development degree programs often find work as web designers or developers, their training may also help them land jobs in other closely related careers. Some schools may even offer students the option to specialize in a particular facet of web design or development. Degree specializations can include:
- Front-End Web Development
- Back-End Web Development
- Graphic Design
- Web Application Development
- Computer Programming
Not all web development degree programs or employment situations require a specialization. Thus, students pursuing these degrees should try to become well-versed in many different areas of the field during their time at school. Online degrees in web development can help students gain the well-rounded knowledge they need to find jobs after graduation.
Benefits of an Online Degree in Web Development
Web developers are charged with developing and designing all aspects of a website. In addition to thoroughly understanding certain programming languages, they must also have a firm grasp on the aesthetics of website design and functionality. Because their career revolves around creating and designing workable websites, it only makes sense that an online degree program would be a perfect educational fit.
Students who enroll in online web development degree programs are able to experience many of the benefits of traditional on-campus courses while enjoying the flexibility that online learning provides. Like other online degree programs, students use tools such as video chat, message boards, and email to stay connected to their professors and fellow classmates. And, because they are studying to design websites, students pursuing online degrees in web development are in the perfect environment for learning.
Typically, courses include both prerecorded lectures and written materials. Because of this, students usually have round-the-clock access to their required coursework. Thus, they can easily develop a study schedule that works around their already busy life. This makes online education a great way for parents and working adults to pursue their education at a time that is convenient for them.
Careers in Web Development
A web development degree opens the doors to a range of different career options in related fields. Although an associate degree is typically the entry-level barrier for most web developer jobs, earning a bachelor's degree or higher may help make graduates more marketable. Listed below are some of the most popular career options for those holding degrees in web development, along with relevant wage and employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics:
Projected Job Growth 2014-2024
Mean Annual Wage in 2015
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer and Information Systems Managers
With demand for web developers far surpassing national averages, a web development degree could be an excellent way to hone the skills needed to succeed in this growing profession. Since your future career is based on the internet, online degree programs are a great option when it comes to acquiring training in the field.
To learn more about online degrees in web development, or get information on a specific program, check out any of the schools listed on this page.
Online Associate Degrees in Web Development
An associate degree in web development can help individuals prepare for supporting roles in the field of information technology. Students who complete their associate degree may start their careers as assistant web developers, supplementing their formal education with on-the-job training. The Lumina Foundation has released a report on the value of associate degrees, describing them as marketable credentials with demonstrated usefulness in the labor market. Associate degree programs traditionally provide students with a targeted education and the chance to get ready to enter the workforce.
What Does an Associate Degree Program in Web Development Entail?
Full-time students may be able to earn an associate degree in approximately two years, depending on the school, class scheduling and the student's abilities. The curriculum in an associate degree program focuses on the technologies and practical coding skills required in web development professions. Courses may include the following:
- Introduction to Web Development: An overview of a variety of web development tools, software and applications. The course is designed to present a general idea of how different web development technologies work. Students gain exposure to fundamental computing and coding skills.
- Application Development: An in-depth look at the elements that go into web applications. Students may complete web development projects where they can build core competencies and become familiar with tools used by professionals.
- Web Server Administration: An overview of how to set up and configure a web server. Instructors may discuss the mechanisms of various types of web server software, such as Microsoft and Apache. One possible topic is bandwidth throttling, the act of intentionally limiting the speed of responses in order to prevent a network from slowing down.
Online associate degree programs also may require students to complete general education classes, which emphasize core competencies such as mathematics and English composition. Some schools also require students to complete elective coursework, which allows them to enroll in classes that parallel their personal interests. For example, courses in user experience design may be offered for those with an interest in creating a better software and/or web experience for consumers.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Web Development
An online bachelor's degree in web development can help students prepare to pursue entry-level positions in the industry, such as web application developers or Java web developers. Students may find a bachelor's degree in web development or a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) with a concentration or emphasis in web development. Both degree programs focus on the theory and application of various web technologies, covering the assortment of skills used to build and maintain websites.
What Does a Bachelor's Degree Program in Web Development Entail?
Online bachelor's degree programs typically offer flexible schedules, but most full-time students take four years to complete the course work. Depending on the institution, accelerated programs may also be available, where students take courses year-round, which could allow them to earn their degree in a shorter timeframe. The curriculum usually covers web design and database management concepts, as well as several programming languages. Individual courses may include:
- Database Fundamentals: An introduction to the different types of hierarchical and relational database structures. The course looks at material through the eyes of database administrators and professionals, aiming to supply knowledge through real-world case studies. For example, students explore MySQL, a standard for today's open source relational database management systems. Developers set up and query MySQL databases to retrieve and return large volumes of information.
- Database and File Management: A course on higher-level database and file management tools and concepts. Students may study Structured Query Language (SQL), which is a programming language designed to manage information in databases. Developers can insert new data and update or delete large amounts of data using SQL.
- Web Implementation Techniques: An overview of how to improve the software implementation process by utilizing the most up-to-date techniques and tools. Students may work with AutoIt, a graphical interface builder for automating general tasks, including website and network monitoring, as well as helping to diagnose potential issues before launch.
Bachelor's degree programs usually break courses up into three categories: general education, major requirements and electives. General education courses typically include basic requirements in science, mathematics, social sciences and English. Elective courses -- specialized options selected by students -- may include courses in web standards, enterprise web applications and mobile development frameworks.
The following schools offer online bachelor's degree programs in web development or a related field. For those ready to take the next step in their education, request information from one or more of the colleges listed below or speak with an admission counselor directly to learn more about specific programs.
Computer and Information Systems, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
Computer Programmers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
Computer Systems Analyst, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
Graphic Designers, Analyst, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm
May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Software Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm
Web Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm