This is the first of our IT Career series. These are designed to introduce you to the variety of career options in information technology and how you can get started.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists web development as a career that is growing much faster than national job averages, with an expectation that jobs will increase 27 percent from 2014 through 2024. Web development salaries are also on the rise; as of 2015, the BLS reports an average annual salary of $70,660 for experienced web developers. While you’re unlikely to start at that rate – entry-level web developers tend to make about $34,770 a year or $16.71 per hour – earnings potential can be in the six figures for those who stick with this career.
While web development careers are strong across the nation, California, New York, and Texas have the highest employment numbers for the industry as of 2015 — theses states also feature some of the highest average salaries for developers. The District of Columbia has the highest concentration of development jobs, due in part to a high number of government contractors in the area who work regularly with developers. Other organizations that hire developers regularly can be found in retail, e-commerce, online media, health care, and online service industries.
Before you can start climbing the web development career ladder, you need to know how to become a web developer. Here are three general tips for getting into this hot technology career.
Seek an Associate’s Degree and Certification
According to the BLS, the most common education required for web development jobs is a two-year associate’s level degree. Some companies will hire developers without such degrees if they possess relevant industry certifications, and even with a four-year degree, you might have to demonstrate you have the right knowledge with certifications, resumes, and portfolios of previous work.
One reason certificates or associate’s degrees are important in this industry is that so many coding languages and development platforms exist. A relevant degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have the knowledge and skills necessary for working on a certain platform, and many companies need development professionals who can hit the ground running. Note that a general web developer certification, which is typically offered through an education program, is not the same as a certification for a specific skill.
Develop Coding Knowledge
Whether you are going the formal education route or teaching yourself, you’ll need some minimum coding knowledge to begin a web development career. At the very least, you need an in-depth understanding of HTML and CSS, but most successful developers also understand e-commerce platforms, WordPress themes and PHP, and how to create and run media queries.
Microsoft, Zend, and other companies and frameworks offer certification tests that help you show employers what you know. Zend offers several industry-recognized certification exams, including a PHP Certification and a Framework Certification. Microsoft offers numerous exams, including one for certification in HTML5 with CSS3 and Java script. These exams can costs hundreds of dollars to take, which is why many people attend a degree or training program before sitting for them. In your journey to become a web development professional, you’ll likely want to avoid unnecessary expense, and sitting for a costly exam when you aren’t prepared to pass it is one of those expenses.
Never Stop Learning
Finally, even once you develop coding knowledge or earn an associate’s degree in web development, you should never stop learning. Web developers work in an industry that evolves quickly, and knowledge that is relevant today is often obsolete tomorrow. While degree programs and certifications can help you land a web development job, continuing education – even if it’s mostly self-taught education – makes a huge difference in your ultimate earnings potential.