A modern wonder regularly accessed by nearly four billion people around the globe, the internet attracts more small business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and content creators every year. The competition for a standout website, high positions in search engine results, and visitor traffic can get intense, and an increasing number of site owners turn to professional web designers and developers to give them an edge.
Due to this high demand, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job opportunities for web developers to increase by 15% by 2026. A successful career in web design and development provides an average annual salary around $68,000. To meet the demand of this growing industry, hundreds of higher learning institutions now offer different levels of certificates and degrees. In the sections below, we break down these degree options to help you forge your own path to a professional web development career.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Web Development?
Anyone with a creative and analytical mind can successfully take on a web development degree. Working web designers and developers come from all demographics and backgrounds. Web development programs accept students who have just graduated from high school, as well as working professionals looking for a change in career or supplementary training for their current tech job. Fortunately, web design degrees offer various paths to completion, allowing the future workforce to make their way with the flexibility each individual requires.
Recent high school graduates, for example, may value a traditional, on-campus degree where they study full time and attend classes with peers. Working professionals may prefer to enroll in an online program in order to take advantage of part-time or self-paced study that creates minimal disruption to their current lifestyle.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Web Development?
Although website design enjoys a standout position as a growing, lucrative career, a web development degree can lead to work in areas beyond crafting and optimizing the look and usability of web pages. The technological skills students gain in a web development program can easily transfer to a variety of jobs -- such as those listed below -- that require working with computers, multimedia, networks, coding, or software.
- Software Developer
Software developers possess the creative and technological skills required to design and program the latest computer software. A job in software development can involve working with the development of applications users see on screen or the processes that determine device function and take place behind the scenes.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560
Projected Growth Rate: 24%
- Graphic Designer
Many individuals who enroll in a web developer degree already possess a certain skill level in graphic design, as the degree tends to attract creative types. Those who pursue a career exclusively in graphic design use software to turn ideas into tangible work that informs or inspires consumer action.
Median Annual Salary: $48,700
Projected Growth Rate: 4%
- Computer Programmer
Although outsourcing has affected this industry, professionals in computer programming can still find lucrative opportunities, particularly if they pursue additional certifications. Computer programmers create and test the code that instructs the operations of a computer, typically with the goal of making a functioning version of software designs and ideas.
Median Annual Salary: $82,240
Projected Growth Rate: -7%
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts plan and develop solutions to improve the efficiency of an organization's computer systems operations. In addition to technological expertise, these professionals also typically have some educational background in business, as the occupation requires work with both technology development and business plans in order to achieve goals in each area.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Information Systems Manager
In one of the most lucrative careers in information technology (IT), information systems managers plan, coordinate, and oversee the actions of all IT professionals within an organization. They bear responsibility for developing and meeting the organization's overarching computer systems goals. Due to the role's managerial requirements, many employers prefer candidates who hold a graduate degree for this position.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Web Development Program
A quick internet search for a web development degree presents thousands of results, each one promising to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to launch a new career in web design. How do you select a single program out of the mass of options? Before you begin a serious search for a program, take time to consider your personal priorities and preferences. Factors to consider when screening web design and development degrees include program logistics, tuition cost, curriculum details, and accreditation status.
Examine the logistics of each program. Do classes take place on campus or online? If online, will any course requirements, exams, or residencies require you to visit campus? If so, consider the additional costs incurred by needing to commute or find nearby housing. Whether you want to study full time or part time, confirm that prospective schools offer the format you prefer before enrolling. Calculate how long it would take you to complete your degree from start to finish. Investigate the curriculum for details on any final projects and to see if it includes any beneficial hands-on experience, such as practicums or internships.
Apart from the program, examine the school on a larger basis. How much does tuition cost? If considering a program outside of your home state, can you afford the out-of-state tuition rate? What support services does the school offer? Finally, look into the institution's accreditation status to determine if its accrediting body or organization meets your professional needs and personal standards.
Accreditation for Bachelor's in Web Development Programs
Reviewing a school's accreditation is an important step in the research process. Two different types of institutional accreditation exist, and you may prefer to enroll in a university with one type of accreditation rather than the other. The two types include regional and national accreditation. Though national accreditation may sound more overarching, the majority of schools (nearly every public institution) participate in regional accreditation. Both forms of accreditation certify a college's credibility and and competency, but enrolling at a regionally accredited institution provides maximum benefits to students interested in transferring credits. Typically, regionally accredited schools do not accept credit transfers from nationally accredited schools. Before choosing a nationally accredited school or program, students should plan ahead and consider whether any circumstance (such as further certification programs) could require them to complete their degree at a regionally accredited university.
Bachelor's in Web Development Program Admissions
Applying for college, especially as an upcoming high school graduate, can seem like a mysterious and intimidating process. Some schools, especially high-demand online programs, may require extensive application materials, essays, and letters of recommendation, while other colleges may only require a filled-out form.
General advice for prospective college students involves applying to around six different schools: two "safety" schools you believe you would be accepted into, two "target" schools you may or may not be accepted into, and two "reach" schools whose minimum requirements you may not meet. Although peers or parents may want to influence your choice, remember your education remains a personal decision. When considering which schools to apply to, examine their program offerings, campus culture, location, faculty and staff reputation, and tuition costs. Application requirements may vary from one school to another, but the materials listed below are components that most schools require.
- Minimum GPA: Average minimum GPA requirements for public colleges range from 2.5 to 3.0. Students who do not meet this requirement may still gain admission, especially if they can demonstrate exceptional test scores, athletic skills, or extracurricular promise.
- Application: Application details vary from school to school but generally gather necessary personal information in a convenient form for an admissions office. The Common Application allows students to submit applications to multiple schools at once.
- Transcripts: Undergraduate admission requires official transcripts from previously attended high schools and colleges (any dual-credit courses or associate degrees). It may cost a small fee to have someone retrieve transcripts from your former schools' records.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many schools require two letters of recommendation for college admissions. Seek out two teachers or mentors who know you well and request the letters well in advance.
- Test Scores: First-time college students typically need to submit either SAT or ACT scores. Check with your prospective institution to see which test they prefer, and what scores they expect to see.
- Application Fee: Most colleges charge a moderate fee to discourage applications from less-committed individuals. Average costs range from $25 to $90. Various third-party organizations can provide assistance or waivers to low-income families.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Web Development Program?
While web developer degrees at the undergraduate level rarely offer true concentrations, some degree plans feature an additional specialization as part of the core coursework. In the section below you'll find information on these popular specializations as well as information on typical program length, cost, and career outlooks. Details will vary depending on the school or program you ultimately select.
|Mobile Application Development||Web development degrees with an additional focus on mobile application development typically supplement website-related courses with instruction concerning the design, development, and function of modern mobile apps. Students develop a working knowledge of programming languages as they relate to creating interactive mobile user interfaces.||Mobile Application Designer; Web Application Designer|
|Web Administration||Students in a web development and web administration program learn not only the technical skills required to design, build, and develop a functioning website, but also how to manage various types of sites from an administrative level. This includes preparing technical updates, maintaining current front-end information, and otherwise keeping the site running smoothly.||Web Developer; Webmaster|
|Multimedia Design||Multimedia and web design degrees provide students with a variety of technical and creative skills, both in designing interactive websites and in manipulating images, video, and other multimedia formats. Students may take courses in typography, illustration, or photography to supplement their technical web design education.||Web Designer; Video Editor; Social Media Manager|
|Interactive Web Media||Closely related to degrees in web and multimedia design, interactive web media programs look to turn students into creative web designers capable of directly incorporating interactive effects like animation, video, and graphics into their web design projects. Skills learned in this type of program provide maximum transferability to a variety of occupations.||Web Designer; Graphic Designer|
|Graphic Design||The increasing demand from employers for individuals who can not only design a website but also manage the offline graphics needs of an organization makes a graphic design and web development degree ideal. Students develop skills to build professional web pages as well as attractive, standalone graphics.||Web Designer; Graphic Designer|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Web Development Program
While all web development programs provide students with similar learning outcomes, the exact course makeup of your web design and development degree will depend on the school you choose to attend. The sample courses listed below provide a glimpse at what you may encounter during the completion of core classes.
- Web/Mobile User Experience
Courses focused on user experience present students with the issues and challenges of creating websites and mobile applications in innovative but user-friendly or user-centered ways. Students may also discuss the experience of clients and stakeholders within the web design process, including how to communicate and work with them effectively.
- Website Design
The most important course in a web design program introduces students to the process of creating professional, powerful websites. Often large in scope, web design courses teach students the vital languages used to build website elements, adjust website appearance, and create interactive functions.
- Web Page Scripting Lab
Many web development degrees feature lab courses, which allow students to apply their classroom knowledge to special projects that can ultimately find their way into a professional portfolio. In a web page scripting lab course, students use scripting languages to build basic sites and web components with the guidance of their instructor.
- Graphic Design
Web design degrees often feature a fundamental graphic design course to introduce students to design software, visual problem solving, and the appeal of various graphic design methods. Along with gaining valuable technical skills, graphic design courses also provide additional opportunities for professional portfolio building.
- Human-Computer Interaction
This course surveys the relationship between humans and computer technology with a focus on the design of interactive systems. Through a combination of psychology and computer science, human-computer interaction courses broadly explore how technology's effect on its users can influence the way web developers create and implement plans.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Web Development?
On-campus and online bachelor's degrees typically require a commitment of four years, or eight semesters, to complete. Adjustments to this length may be possible according to your personal preferences and the policies of your institution. Most schools limit the number of courses a student can take at once, but some programs may offer accelerated course options for those who wish to finish their degree faster. Additionally, busy or working students can enroll on a part-time basis, taking fewer courses at once, which would extend the overall time spent earning a degree.
Check carefully with your school to determine how scheduling may affect your overall cost. Though the school's website may list a standard cost for a 120-credit bachelor's degree, a longer enrollment period, such as that of a part-time student, may result in paying extra student fees for additional semesters of study.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Web Development?
The total out-of-pocket cost of earning a degree varies depending on dozens of factors, including the type of school you attend (public or private), the tuition cost of each credit hour, the cost of living in your school's city, and even whether you choose to live in resident housing on-campus or an apartment off-campus, or purchase a campus dining plan. For web development degrees, additional costs may accrue for the purchase of personal technology hardware and software needed to complete assignments.
The price of college attendance often varies by thousands of dollars from one state to another. Generally, full-time undergraduate tuition rates at public universities can range from around $3,000 to $12,000 per year for in-state students, and around $8,000 to $26,000 per year for out-of-state students. Undergraduates attending private schools can expect to pay a significantly higher amount: $12,000 to $38,000 per year. Web design and development students enrolled in an online program often pay the same tuition and fees as their on-campus counterparts, but they may save money by avoiding room and board fees.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Web Development Prepares For
- WebProfessionals.org Certifications
The highly respected nonprofit, World Organization of Webmasters, offers three different levels of certification examinations for web designers, web developers, and web administrators through their website, WebProfessionals.org. Earning a certified apprentice, certified associate, or certified professional designation may increase an individual's industry value and earning potential.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
- Amazon Web Services Certified Developer
Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers technical certifications for a variety of professionals who use their platform. Web developers who create applications with AWS tools can showcase and improve their skills through online certification exams. Additional benefits include digital badges, access to a LinkedIn community, and invitations to AWS events.
- Adobe Certified Expert
Web designers and developers can earn an Adobe certified expert designation for any of Adobe's well-known programs, including Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Prospective exam takers can, but don't have to, enroll in Adobe's training courses ahead of time. Adobe certifications make an excellent addition to any web developer or designer's resume.
- Zend Certified PHP Engineer
Successfully completing the extensive certification exam offered by Zend Technologies provides web developers with a professional mark of distinction and may elevate their standing with prospective employers. The PHP engineer examination requires travel to a participating testing center and covers topics including site security, web features, site functions, and error handling.
Resources for Web Development Students
A List Apart began in 1997 as a mailing list and now exists as a site with a constant flow of curated content focused on best practices in the field, written by web professionals for web professionals.
Founded in 2006, this independent web publication provides web designers and developers with practical articles on industry topics, an online job board, and conferences.
First and foremost an online community, DevShed promotes ongoing learning and discussion about web development and coding on their forums, which boast more than a million regular users and three million individual threads.
As the name suggests, UX Magazine is a publication that focuses on the discussion and development of user experience. Its content aims to inspire designers and developers of all industries to work toward experience-focused design.
Professional Organizations in Web Development
Working professionals, enrolled students, and recent graduates can all reap numerous benefits by joining a professional organization. Several organizations exist for web developers, web designers, and other technology professionals, offering online and in-person networking opportunities, continuing education and training courses, and career advancement opportunities, such as job boards and professional directories. Several of these organizations are listed below, and most offer membership opportunities at no cost or reduced cost for college students.
In addition to offering certification opportunities, WOW encourages membership, which provides access to online training, employment information, and affordable liability insurance. Students join at a reduced cost.
AIGA claims rank as the oldest and largest professional design organization, with over 70 chapters and 25,000 members. Benefits include access to exclusive job postings, professional development webinars, and numerous third-party discounts.
Joint membership to the HWG and the International Webmaster's Association provides access to certification and training programs, databases, job resources, and networking opportunities.
As the world's largest computing society, ACM provides its 100,000 members with multiple print and digital subscriptions, and access to an online learning center, local chapters, and a digital research library.
Dedicated to promoting the interests of freelancers in all industries, no-cost membership in Freelancers Union provides online networking opportunities, resources and guides, and access to vital services like insurance and retirement plans.