Web Developers

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Web Developers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

Duties of Web Developers

Web developers typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients or management to discuss the needs and design of a website
  • Create and test applications for a website
  • Write code for websites, using programming languages such as HTML or XML
  • Work with other team members to determine what information the site will contain
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the website’s layout
  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video into the website
  • Monitor website traffic

When creating a website, developers have to make their client’s vision a reality. They build particular types of websites, such as ecommerce, news, or gaming sites, to fit clients’ needs. Different types of websites may require different applications to work right. For example, a gaming site should be able to handle advanced graphics, whereas an ecommerce site needs a payment-processing application. The developer decides which applications and designs will best fit the site.

Some developers handle all aspects of a website’s construction, and others specialize in a certain aspect of it. The following are examples of types of specialized web developers:

Back-end web developers are responsible for the overall technical construction of the website. They create the basic framework of the site and ensure that it works as expected. Back-end web developers also establish procedures for allowing others to add new pages to the website and meet with management to discuss major changes to the site.

Front-end web developers are responsible for how a website looks. They create the site’s layout and integrate graphics, applications (such as a retail checkout tool), and other content. They also write web-design programs in a variety of computer languages, such as HTML or JavaScript.

Webmasters maintain websites and keep them updated. They ensure that websites operate correctly, and they test for errors such as broken links. Many webmasters respond to user comments as well.

Work Environment for Web Developers[About this section] [To Top]

Web developers held about 148,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employ the most web developers are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 20%
Educational services; state, local, and private 7
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 5
Publishing industries (except Internet) 5
Other information services 5

About 1 in 7 of web developers were self-employed in 2014.

Web Developer Work Schedules

Most web developers work full time.

How to Become a Web Developer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Web Developers near you!

The typical education needed to become a web developer is an associate’s degree in web design or a related field. Web developers need knowledge of both programming and graphic design.

Web Developer Education

Educational requirements for web developers vary with the setting they work in and the type of work they do. Requirements range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree in web design or related field is the most common requirement.

However, for more technical developer positions, such as back-end web developers, some employers prefer workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a related field.

Web developers need to have a thorough understanding of HTML programming. The most recent version, HTML5, contains new features that web developers need to understand. Many employers also want developers to understand other programming languages, such as JavaScript or SQL, as well as have some knowledge of multimedia publishing tools, such as Flash. Throughout their career, web developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Some employers prefer web developers who have both a computer degree and coursework in graphic design, especially if the developer will be heavily involved in the website’s visual appearance.

Advancement for Web Developers

Web developers who have a bachelor’s degree can advance to become project managers. For more information, see the profile on computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities for Web Developers

Concentration. Web developers must sit at a computer and write detailed code for long periods.

Creativity. Web developers often are involved in designing the appearance of a website and must make sure that it looks innovative and up to date.

Customer-service skills. Webmasters have to respond politely and correctly to user questions and requests.

Detail oriented. When web developers write in HTML, a minor error could cause an entire webpage to stop working.

Web Developer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for web developers was $63,490 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,680.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for web developers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Other information services $67,270
Publishing industries (except Internet) 66,380
Computer systems design and related services 64,850
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 59,170
Educational services; state, local, and private 58,930

Most web developers work full time.

Job Outlook for Web Developers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of web developers is projected to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment of web developers is projected to grow as ecommerce continues to expand. Online purchasing is expected to grow faster than the overall retail industry. As retail firms expand their online offerings, demand for web developers will increase. In addition, an increase in the use of mobile devices to search the web will lead to an increase in employment of web developers. Instead of designing a website for a desktop computer, developers will have to create sites that work on mobile devices with many different screen sizes, leading to more work.

Because websites can be built from anywhere in the world, some web developer jobs may be moved to countries with lower wages, decreasing employment growth. However, this practice may decline because the cost of managing web developers in multiple countries can offset the savings to businesses. Furthermore, web developers must understand cultural nuances that allow webpages to communicate effectively with users, and domestic web developers are better equipped for this task, curtailing the work that may be moved to other countries.

Web Developers Job Prospects

Job opportunities for web developers are expected to be good. Those with knowledge of multiple programming languages and digital multimedia tools, such as Flash and Photoshop, will have the best opportunities.

Employment projections data for Web Developers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Web developers 148,500 188,000 27 39,500


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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