As more consumers skip traditional storefronts to buy clothing, food and services online, websites need to serve customers by making purchasing fast, easy and convenient. Web developers provide the necessary knowledge and tools to create a functional website that provides a positive user experience.
The increased demand for e-commerce is one of several reasons why careers within web development are projected to grow by 27% through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What is a Web Developer?
Web developers are skilled computer professionals who design, build and maintain websites. Web developers do more than just write code, the programming language that tells a computer what you want your website to do. Code and software applications enable interactive elements like online gaming or payment processing, ensure a site’s performance and handle the number of people who visit.
The life cycle of a website includes planning, building, sustaining and testing. Web developers play an important role within each of these stages. Some developers, also known as full stack web developers, handle all aspects of website construction and maintenance, while others specialize within a portion of a website’s life span.
- Front-end web developers are responsible for how the site looks across browsers and platforms. This includes how content is presented and using web applications to create drop-down menus and other interactive elements.
- Back-end web developers create the basic framework, the “power” of the site, and establish procedures for allowing others to add new pages. The back end of a website consists of the server, database and server-side applications – essentially, it is the machine that runs the site.
- Webmasters oversee the functionality and maintenance of a website. Sometimes called website administrators, they solve technical problems and test for errors, including broken links and images. One of the most important duties of a webmaster is to maintain the server, a computer where all of the information required for the website is stored.
Typical job duties include designing, building and maintaining websites, writing code and using programming language such as HTML, XML and CSS, integrating graphics, audio and video into the website, and monitoring website traffic.
Job Outlook and Salary Range for Web Developers
U.S. News & World Report ranked web developers as No. 4 in Best Technology Jobs and No. 31 in The 100 Best Jobs of 2017, which considers employment rates, salary data and future job growth.
Careers in web development are significantly outpacing other IT jobs, according to the BLS. As of May 2016, the BLS reported 129,540 people were employed as web developers nationwide. By 2024, 188,000 positions in this field should be available, according to federal projections.
The median annual salary for a web developer was $66,130 in 2016, according to the BLS. The highest 10% earned more than $119,550 per year. Several factors including a candidate’s educational attainment, professional experience and regional market conditions affect salary potential and job opportunities.
Education and Training for Web Developers
Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Science will help set you apart in this growing field.
Coursework may include understanding program logic and design with an emphasis on program engineering, structure of data and basic algorithms. You may also gain in-depth knowledge of database analysis and design, as well as understanding data integrity.
According to BLS, a four-year-degree is not a requirement. However, many web developer positions listed on popular job sites require or prefer a bachelor’s degree. A successful web developer should possess a wide range of skills, from knowledge of the most recent software programs, web applications and programming languages to understanding clients’ or employer’s target market or intended audience.