Leveling Up: How to Build Web Development Skills

Web development skills can empower workers to escape from behind a cubicle wall to discover new opportunities, including working from home, finding employment as a freelancer, or even creating one’s own business. In fact, the world of web development is vastly changing. Many companies now have their fundamentals down and their sites built, but need more help integrating their websites with databases or making their sites more compatible on mobile platforms. Of course, there are new companies starting every day that may need the coding skills of a developer as they build their site from scratch.

There are many paths into the web development field. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that at least an associate degree is needed, prospective developers also can gain skills in other ways, including through coding boot camps, Khan Academy videos, and massive open online courses (MOOCs). Learning skills in HTML, Java, and CSS is essential, but students can learn additional languages and even contribute to open-source projects for hands-on experience.

Talented web developers know code front to back, up and down. The benefits to becoming a web developer can be substantial. Besides having access to a broad web developer community, the job can be well-paying and offer flexible scheduling for aspiring telecommuters.

This guide explores web development opportunities and how to gain the skills to springboard into this career.

Fast Facts: Web Development

Jobs for web developers are expected to grow faster than the U.S. average in upcoming years. By illustration, the BLS (Oct. 2017) projected that openings in this field would swell 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is because web developers serve needs in growing economic sectors, including a booming e-commerce market. People have been turning to the Internet to buy items online, but these purchases are not being made from just web-based companies, but also from retailers that have both physical stores and online counterparts. In fact, online worldwide spending in 2015 was estimated at $2.7 trillion in U.S. dollars and that figure is expected to keep on growing. Additionally, the expanding use of mobile devices and applications is contributing to a high demand for these skilled professionals.

According to the BLS, there are currently more than 160,000 web developers working in the U.S. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that there are more than 11 million professionals working as web developers worldwide, with many living in China and India. Their skills of web developers are important in:

  • Building websites
  • Analyzing user needs
  • Using a programming language to write code for a web page
  • Identifying and fixing problems on web pages
  • Putting different web page components on a page in a compatible format
  • Creating and testing applications

Knowing a programming language and how to code are essential skills in this field. Some of the more well-known languages include JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Python, and SQL, but it is estimated that there are well over 250 languages, including lesser-known ones such as Lasso and Oberon. Fundamental coding skills can be learned through a degree program, but skills also can be developed through other resources, such as EdX or Udacity.

Mentors – Three Web Development Gurus to Know

Whether you already are knowledgeable about web development or just want to let your spark of interest grow, it can be helpful to get to know a school professor and to find out more about their challenges. stumbling blocks and successes in the career. Professors often have industry expertise and can provide a guiding, mentoring hand to interested mentees. Details on three such college instructors are provided below.

Featured Web Development Programs

Fortunately, there are many programs available in web development, including a wide selection that are online. Below are details on five such web development programs, including information on curriculum, location, and tuition.

  • Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an online bachelor of science (BB) degree in web design and development. The 120-credit program includes instruction in database and website design, network and telecommunication management, and cybersecurity assurance. As with most bachelor’s level programs, the final year of this degree requires upper-level math courses and the completion of a capstone project. The university is located in Manchester, N.H., but because the program is available online, students do not need to live nearby to enroll. As of January 2018, the cost per undergraduate credit-hour was $320 for a program total of $38,400. Students are also expected to pay a $150 graduation fee, but are not charged an application fee. While books and materials may be extra, tuition discounts are available to military students. Be sure to contact the school for information on tuition and pricing.
  • Full Sail University, in Winter Park, FL offers both online and campus-based degrees for its BS in web design & development . Both options contain similar curricular modules, but the online program takes longer to complete because of the flow of those specific modules. Curriculum in both courses starts with the fundamentals, such as visual frameworks and applied design tools and interfaces, and moves to the deployment of web applications and portfolio development. The campus-based program generally takes 20 months to complete and the online option takes 29 months. The university also uses learning modules instead of the more traditional three-credit courses. More information on tuition can be found by contacting Full Sail University.
  • Arizona State University, in Phoenix, AZ features an online bachelor of applied science (BAS) degree in internet and web development that integrates multimedia design, new web technologies, and cross-platform graphic applications. This degree is designed as a completion program, meaning that students already need to have an associate of applied science degree before enrolling. Students in this program complete 60 credit-hours in courses that include advanced web mark-up and scripting and website and e-commerce strategies. A senior project is required near the end of the program. Students can expect to spend approximately $15,000 per academic year on their education, when that academic year includes at least 12 credits per semester. More information on tuition can be found by contacting Arizona State University.
  • Brookhaven College, in Farmers Branch, TX has campus-based learning available through a web design and development degree. This two-year associate of applied science (AAS) program provides classes in database-driven websites, page design, client and server programming, and internet server management. The 60-credit program includes several general education courses, electives in the discipline, and a student project. Students living in Dallas County, where the college is located, pay $59 per credit-hour (Jan. 2018). For a 60-credit program, that tuition is projected to be $3,540. Other fees may be associated with the program, however. Students living outside of Dallas County pay $111 per credit-hour, for a total tuition cost of roughly $6,660. Contact the school for more information on additional fees.
  • Champlain College Online, based out of Burlington, VT, offers an online bachelor of science degree in web design and development. This 120-credit program provides a foundation in general electives, but as students advance, they learn about web page development, relational database design, and internet and web architecture, and ethical hacking. In the core part of their program, students select six technical courses, but there is no escaping a15-week senior seminar project at the end of the degree program. Rates vary, but as of early 2018 were $1,920 per course or $7,680 per semester for four or more classes. Books and other fees may be additional. Be sure to contact the college for more information on rates.

DIY Web Development

Of course, there is more than just one way to gain an education, including enrolling in free or low-cost online training modules in web development. Just consider TED talks, Khan Academy lectures, or MOOCs. Here are some ideas for the do-it-yourself training approach:

  • Udacity offers a “nanodegree program” in full stack web development that costs $199 per month. A nanodegree, as described by Udacity, is an innovative program that focuses solely on teaching career-ready skills. The program teaches server-side web applications, scalability, and multi-user support systems. The program takes six months to complete and was co-created by Amazon Web Services, AT&T, Google, and GitHub.
  • Coursera provides training in full stack web and multiplatform mobile app development. Its online program was created by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and encompasses five different courses that take four weeks each to complete. A price quote is available once an interested student completes an enrollment query form.
  • EdX gives an overview of the contemporary skills one needs to become a web developer. A May 2017 blog post on its site lists four programming skills that are essential to the future of the field. The blog writer suggests knowing Java, SQL, C, and Python as musts. Links to related EdX courses are available from the blog. Many of the EdX courses are free, but a verified certificate is also available for $99.
  • Lynda is another resource offering a program to become a full stack web developer. The course covers 76-hours of expert-created videos and gives students the opportunity to learn about CSS concepts, HTML, JavaScript, databases, and more. A basic or premium membership can be purchased to start the courses.
  • Thinkful offers two programming bootcamps that can be completed in either five or six months (the student’s choice) with weekly mentor sessions, training in JavaScript, the opportunity to create a portfolio, and more. Tuition varies for the bootcamps from $8,550 to $14,000, but financing options also are available. Additionally, Thinkful offers a full-refund to graduates who are not employed within six months of graduation.
  • Khan Academy has many useful videos that can be watched piecemeal to help interested students or career-changers gain new skills. Simply head to the web development category to watch videos about HTML, CSS, HTML tags, web development tools, CSS layout, and more. Most videos are just a few minutes long and the comments below each video can provide more insight.
  • CareerFoundry offers a web development course that includes one-on-one mentoring and a hands-on project to create fully functional e-commerce shop. Learn HTML and CSS, along with the Bootstrap framework. Enroll to find out more about tuition, but the organization does offer a two-week money-back guarantee and a job guarantee within six months following graduation.
Maggie O'Neill
Maggie O'Neill
Writer

After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in English, Maggie O'Neill followed the call to move across the country to the land of open-space and awe-inspiring views and vistas. She settled in Northern Nevada, where she pursued a career in journalism, writing for several newspapers and covering beats as varied as education, crime, and the outdoors. She launched her own business, RenoFreelancerLLC, in 2014. When she isn't busy writing, researching, and interviewing, she is having fun with her two girls and the menagerie of animals that now comprise their home.

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