What do Web developers do?
In short, Web developers plan and program websites. More specifically, developers are responsible for focusing on the technical nuts and bolts of a site and implementing site elements using programming languages such as HTML, XML, CGI and Java. Developers may produce the "back end" of the site, integrating databases and producing the site's functional infrastructure such as payment applications for e-commerce or the training program search tool found on this site. Developers may work collaboratively with Web designers to create the front-end user experience, developing navigation features, animated content and special tools such as calculators.
Web developers typically work alongside product managers, content managers and user-experience designers. Though the development role is primarily technical, Web developers may also assume creative or managerial responsibility as site producers or managers.
What's the job outlook for Web developers?
As media and commerce continue to gravitate toward digital communications, more and more businesses are relying on Web professionals to craft their online presence. Web developers are in particularly high demand because they possess the technical skills to create high-functioning websites and push out key innovations. The Web functions as a cultural and commercial marketplace because of the products developers create like e-commerce applications, secure online payment systems, interactive features and mobile apps. And the industry is only growing. ComScore reports that over $29 billion was spent at online retailers last holiday season--up four percent from the previous year -- with some segments like apparel and accessories increasing online sales while the overall category declined.
Career opportunities extend across the spectrum of Internet-related businesses: media outlets, graphic or Web design firms, digital advertising shops, online gaming companies and mobile app startups are among the companies employing Web developers. Many of these industries are growing rapidly; Internet advertising, for example, is expanding three times faster than traditional advertising, reaching an estimated $25.8 billion in U.S. spending in 2011. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts "strong demand" for Web developers as the scope of Web services expands.
What's the salary for Web developers?
Web developer salaries vary by experience, technical skill and job role. The AIGA/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries, which polls over 35,000 tech professionals worldwide, reports a $60,000 median base salary for front-end Web developers and $65,000 for back-end developers. Salary.com, which collects survey data from thousands of HR professionals, puts the median expected Web developer salary at $71,896.
Web developers with either specialized skills in high-demand niche areas or broad Web production skills can command premium salaries. High-value specializations include e-commerce development, interface or user experience development, database architecture and security management. Experience with content development, product development and Web design may also lead to higher pay. Some employers also reward developers who hold professional credentials in Web development or a programming technology such as Perl or Java.
What training or certification is needed to become a Web developer?
Web developers generally come to the field with a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems or a related field. Some colleges offer specialized programs in Web design, Web development and e-commerce. Formal education programs not only offer a theoretical and technical foundation in Web development, but also allow students to build a development portfolio.
Web development certifications help developers keep pace with evolving technologies and distinguish themselves in the job market. Some high-profile development certifications even come with a salary boost. According to Certification Magazine, developers with Microsoft and Oracle (formerly Sun) Java certification, for example, report earnings well above the national median. Java developers earned a median salary of $107,400 in 2010, while Web Component Developers brought in $88,520.
Key Web development certifications include:
- Microsoft Certified Professional Program: Microsoft offers several certification avenues for Web developers, including Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). Both credentials focus on enabling developers to program applications for the .NET framework.
- Oracle Certification Program: Oracle's certification program covers Web development credentials previously branded as Sun Microsystems, including Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD), now Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 5 Web Component Developer. These certifications focus on training developers to use either the Java development platform or MySQL.
- PHP Developer: The PHP Developer certificate demonstrates mastery of PHP and SQL scripting languages. These programming standards empower dynamic and interactive online features by allowing websites to retrieve and update data from a database via the Internet.
- IBM Certified Solution Developer: WebSphere: IBM's Web development certification assesses the developer's ability to design and execute Web services using WebSphere Software V7 and WebSphere Applications Server V6.1.
Due to the rapid advance in Web technologies, formal continuing education is a central part of the Web developer's job description. Certification helps Web professionals gain a foothold in a development role, or advance an established career.