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What is Web and Digital Design?
Web and digital design is the area of study and practice that is responsible for the construction and implementation of web pages for the purpose of publishing materials such as documents, sound files, images and others. Individuals in this field will have a cross section of design and technical skill, utilizing both to produce navigable pages that meet the needs of clients and accurately and effectively disseminate the information desired.
What Type of Education is Required to Become a Web Designer?
There are no licensure or degree requirements to become a web designer. That being said, employers prefer job applicants with a solid education and/or substantive work experience over other applicants. With a hyper-competitive marketplace in web design and web development, your best bet to land a job and move up in an organization starts with an investment in your education. In fact, over 80% of web designers had a formal college degree or professional certificate in web design or web development prior to entering the field per a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Degrees in Web Design
For students looking to take their career to the next level, there are a series of certificates and degrees you can earn from accredited colleges and universities. The overview below includes the most common programs in web design and a brief description of each to help you make the best decision for your future. Virtually every college has both online degrees in web design, on-site degrees, and/or hybrid programs to offer prospective students with the type of learning that works best for them.
Online Certificate in Web Design
Online Associate Degree in Web Design
Online associate’s degrees in web design and web development are 2-year programs created to provide students with essential building blocks. AA and AAS programs combine core web design courses with general education classes such as philosophy, psychology, and English to help students think differently about the world around them. Degree specific curriculum will often include principles of user experience, web design, multimedia, computer hardware, software applications, and communication devices. Graduates from an AAS or AA program can launch their career in web design or continue their education with a bachelor’s degree in web design.
Online Bachelor Degree in Web Design
The online bachelor’s degree in web design can be a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Arts (BA), or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Bachelor degrees are 4-year programs covering the same classes as an AA or AAS program in a deeper fashion plus additional coursework not found in lower level degrees. With a focus on technical skills, critical thinking, and communication skills, the online bachelor degree program is the most popular choice as nearly half of the practitioners surveyed by the Department of Labor hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. In terms of professional readiness, degree holders will be able to critically think about business problems, apply design acumen to produce quality results, and communicate ideas effectively.
Online Master Degree in Web Design
The online master’s degree program for web design and web development can come as a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or Master of Science (MS) degree. Generally a master’s degree is a 1-2 program presuming all lower level prerequisites are met in advance. Courses for master’s degree students are advanced courses to promote technical skills, problem solving, and design skills necessary to thrive in the web design space. From upper-level classes in programming and user-experience to graphic design and digital capture, a master’s degree can make a substantive impact in your career trajectory.
What Colleges Offer Web Design?
Dozens of accredited colleges and universities from around the country offer web design certificate programs and degree programs. From small art academics to major universities, you can find a plethora of options by visiting the schools below or leveraging our proprietary matching portal to find specific schools that fit your goals and professional aspirations. Which college is best for you depends on your priorities, preferences, and goals. To help determine what is important to you in the college selection process, we created a much-acclaimed book titled The Complete Guide to the College Admission Process that can be downloaded here.
Though it is not necessary to have a post secondary education in this field, an education in design or web development is available, and often useful in procuring employment. Individuals may go to design schools, colleges, community colleges, or trade schools to receive an education in design and/or web programming, earning either an associate or bachelor's degree in the process. Though higher level degrees are available, they are rarely pursued by those looking to enter this field, and as such programs typically take between one and four years to complete. As the field begins to grow and develop, the necessity for at least a bachelor's degree is expected to become more common.
A curriculum may include:
- JAVA Implementation
- Principles of Web Design
- Commercial Design
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Opportunities and Job Growth
Employment options in this field are many, and with the growth of technology and the speed of communication, much of the work may be performed remotely, particularly for individuals who work freelance. Others may choose to work for a design firm, or maintain a specific company's website or family of sites. Due to the high demand of quality work and the need to present a strong presence on the web, growth in the field is expected to increase rapidly over the decade. Additionally, the increased interactivity with websites and the development potential of new technologies means that more opportunities are expected to spring forward as older sites are reworked to meet modern tastes.
What Does a Web Designer Do?
In a recent survey performed by the United States Department of Labor, professional web designers from around the country were asked questions about their jobs. One of the most valuable pieces of data to come from the survey was the clustering of job duties performed by web designers. A list of the top job responsibilities of a web designer include:
- Designing, building, and maintaining websites through the use of digital media, management tools, content creation tools, and various applications
- Performing, managing, and directing website updates
- Writing, designing, and editing content or managing the content creation process
- Meeting with upper management and website development teams to define the scope of a project, prioritize needs, resolve challenges, create content parameters, and effectively solve issues
- Backing up data files from websites to external hard drives, local directories, or cloud-based services to allow for instant recovery
- Securing a website and data through software, applications, and plug-ins
Where Do Web Designers Work?
A web designer can work in a number of different industries for a wide variety of employers. In fact, web designers can work in public companies, private entities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies around the globe. In terms of an industry or sector of business, a web designer can work in a public school district using the same basic skills as a designer working in a high rise office at Expedia. The need for quality web designers stretches across all domains, in every sector of our economy and the need continues to grow as technology becomes more pervasive for users of all ages.
Top Skills of Web Designer
The top skills of a web designer will depend on the scope of the work and customer requirements of a project. With that in mind, we have come up with a set of generally accepted skills most web designers will possess. The top skills of a web designer or web developer include:
- UX (User Experience)
- SEO, SEM, Social Media
- Design Software: Illustrator, Photoshop
- Visual Design
- Photo Editing
- Digital Imaging
- Content Management
Salary and Related Fields
The average salary of a web designer is nearly $78,000 annually. This is due to the amount of expertise and experience necessary to be able to construct and maintain a website, as well as having the secondary design background in order to ensure that the site is aesthetically pleasing while remaining functional. Another reason for the above average income expectation is the reliance on businesses both large and small on ensuring they maintain a web presence, resulting in salaries that reflect that necessity. This reliance is only expected to increase as the mobile space requires a secondary presence through smartphones and other devices. In fact, the BLS estimates a 27% growth in web designers in the coming decade which is over 4 times the national average growth rate for jobs during this time frame.
Top Employers of Web Designers
- Computer Design 27,870
- Information Technology 9,040
- Advertising & Public Relations 6,830
- Scientific & Technical Consulting 6,820
- Management Consulting 6,370
States with the Highest Employment of Web Designers
- California 22,650
- Texas 11,410
- New York 8,540
- Florida 7,740
- Illinois 5,230
Top Paying States for Web Designers
- Washington $90,260
- District of Columbia $86,730
- California $82,930
- New York $81,140
- Virginia $80,950