With the growth of e-commerce, demand for individuals capable of creating engaging websites and compelling online marketing campaigns is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% growth for web developers by 2026, a field where employees earn an annual salary of $68,000 on average.
Should I Get an Associate Degree in Web Design?
Web designers are creative, computer-savvy people, comfortable working in an online environment where the demands of the job vary widely. Because web design requires so much technical knowledge, students must be able to learn programming languages quickly and feel confident using them. They should be comfortable working as freelancers or company employees, as both are common in the field. Web designers should enjoy finding innovative solutions that combine graphic design and business sensibilities to make products and services desirable and accessible to an online audience.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Web Design?
A web design associate degree opens a number of career opportunities to you, including pursuing further education in web development, graphic design, or computer science.
- Web Designer
Web designers are coding and programming experts, creating websites, pages, and apps for clients. Unlike web developers, they aren't involved in site maintenance, working as design architects to ensure the interface and functions of a site meet client expectations.
Median Annual Salary: $48,998
- Graphic Designer
Graphic designers use color, typography, and artwork to create striking visual presentations. Graphic designers work in print and online media, and can either freelance or work for companies as part of a marketing department.
Median Annual Salary: $42,667
- UX Designer
UX designers are focused on the user experience of a website or app. They are responsible for testing beta versions and creating patches and upgrades to ensure consumers don't encounter bugs while using the interface.
Median Annual Salary: $72,520
- Web Developer
A web developer, whose career may begin with a web design associate degree, develops and maintains websites or apps for their clients, ensuring features of the site function properly.
Median Annual Salary: $53,866
How to Choose an Associate Program in Web Design
Students should consider a number of factors when choosing a program, including whether to take classes online or on campus. Online programs are known for their flexibility and convenience. They are ideal for working professionals or those with family obligations. Recent high school graduates may feel more comfortable in on-campus programs, where the structure of a face-to-face education will feel familiar. On-campus programs provide networking opportunities with faculty and fellow students, and services like advising and job fairs can help students find employment.
Students should also consider cost; most community and junior colleges are affordable by design, though students should still investigate scholarships and financial aid for assistance paying for tuition. Unlike four-year institutions, two-year schools typically do not offer housing, so if students plan to relocate, they should include housing costs in their calculations.
Associate in Web Design Program Admissions
Associate degree admissions are usually different from four-year school admissions. Most U.S. community colleges offer open enrollment, so students with a high school diploma or GED are guaranteed acceptance. Because two-year schools aren't concerned with test scores, recommendation letters, or personal statements, prospective students should focus on admissions deadlines, including timelines for financial aid and class start dates.
- Application: Applications to community college are very straightforward, as students typically do not provide supporting documents. Applications can be completed online, and some states, like California, offer applications that allow students to apply to multiple schools with one application.
- Transcripts: You will need to provide a copy of your transcript, since often the only requirement for admission is a diploma or GED. Depending on your academic record, schools may be able to offer you placement credits.
- Application Fee: Application fees vary by school. Some states offer enrollment fee waivers as part of a financial aid package, so inquire about a fee waiver.
Educational Paths for Web Design Associate Programs
Students seeking to further their education after completing an associate degree have many options, as the core courses for this program can be applied easily to many related majors like digital arts or computer science. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics posits a link between bachelor's degrees and higher earning potential, so students looking for advanced career opportunities should examine paths of further study.
- Computer Graphics
This major is similar to web design, as both use the latest technology to create new works. At the four-year level, you will learn about geometric modeling, pattern design, 3D research models. A popular concentration within the computer graphics major is 3D animation.
- Digital Arts
A digital arts major filters the skills and knowledge from a web design associate degree through a communications lens. Digital arts focuses on conveying messages, like marketing campaigns, through visual cues.
- Information Science
Web design uses data about consumer web traffic to determine effective design strategies. Students in information science majors learn how to collate, analyze, and interpret data to improve web performance.
What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Web Design?
An associate degree in web design varies by school. However, these programs all impart the fundamental coding and programming skills necessary to create compelling online spaces. Associate degree programs in web design typically require 60 credits to graduate.
Courses in an Associate Program in Web Design
Depending on the school, the courses in an associate degree in web design may differ. That said, the basic curriculum of a web design associate degree program should include the same overall course content in coding, programming, and design elements.
- Introduction to Digital Media
In this course, students learn about digital media like video games and the Internet, studying the steps for creating a modern audience. Topics include narrative, genres, and the role of politics. The course typically requires lab sessions and culminates with a design presentation.
- Web Development
In this course, students learn to develop for the web. They study the implications of their designs, learning to critique their peers' creations in a workshop style. Topics include quality, design standards, and the creative process.
- Introduction to Digital Art
This introductory course teaches students to use editing tools to manipulate images. Students learn how to apply filters, create layers, and choose special effects to render images for client use.
- Animation Basics
Students study the history of animation, from hand-drawn to 3D animation. Students explore topics like image design, the stop-motion process, and what a storyboard is, applying their knowledge to create basic animations.
- Internet Commerce
In this course, students study online marketplace strategies. As a web designer or developer, understanding e-commerce is important to the work you do. Each part of a website should work toward increasing traffic and sales for a company, so e-commerce will dictate the work you do and the creative process you use.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Web Design?
Associate degrees take two years to complete if attending full time. For students enrolled part time, it may take between three and five years. Beyond attending full or part time, program length may also be affected by credits a student brings with them, either from prior enrollment or through placement credit.
How Much Is an Associate in Web Design?
Though a 2017 report on trends in college pricing from the College Board found that tuition at the community college level is on the rise, the cost of tuition at two-year schools is still significantly less than four-year schools -- even if you plan to enroll in a four-year institution after graduating with your associate degree, attending a two-year school to complete general education and introductory courses means saving money on tuition.
The most affordable community colleges are in-state public institutions; students pursuing their education at private or out-of-state schools often pay for tuition, in addition to housing, transportation, and moving costs.
Professional Organizations in Web Design
Benefits of professional organizations include networking, continuing education opportunities, mentoring, and annual conferences. For students pursuing a web design associate degree, membership in a web designer professional organization may prove fruitful for finding career advice, job listings, and scholarship opportunities.
AIGA is the oldest professional organization for graphic artists. The institute maintains a job board, offers webinars, and allows students to create campus affiliate groups.
This guild provides webinars about the creative process from industry professionals, portfolio spaces to allow members to share their work with potential clients, and guides to pricing and industry best practices.
Created in 2008, this organization began as a web directory for professional web designers and now offers job postings.
AWA, founded in 2003, provides members with continuing education seminars, job listings, and awards to highlight excellence in website design.