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 performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site.

Duties

Web developers typically do the following:

  • Meet with their clients or management to discuss the needs of the website and the expected needs of the website’s audience and plan how it should look
  • Create and debug applications for a website
  • Write code for the site, 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 work with clients to make sure it fits in with the type of site it is supposed to be, such as ecommerce, news, or gaming. Different types of websites may require different applications to work right. For example, a gaming site should be able to handle advanced graphics while 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, while others specialize in a certain aspect of it. The following are some types of specialized web developers:

Web architects or programmers 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. Web architects also establish procedures for allowing others to add new pages to the website and meet with management to discuss major changes to the site.

Web designers 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 into the site. 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 test for errors such as broken links. Many webmasters respond to user comments as well.

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Work Environment

Web developers held about 141,400 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most web developers in 2012 were as follows: 

Computer systems design and related services 16%
Data processing, hosting, related services, and other information services 8
Finance and insurance 5
Educational services; state, local, and private 5
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 5

About a quarter of web developers were self-employed in 2012.

Work Schedules

Most web developers work full time.

Education and Training

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

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 web architect or other, more technical, developer positions, 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. 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 have taken classes in graphic design, especially when hiring developers who will be heavily involved in the website’s visual appearance.

Advancement

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.

Personality and Interests

Web developers typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a web developer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Web developers should also possess the following specific qualities:

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

Creativity. Web developers are often 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for web developers was $62,500 in May 2012. 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 $33,550, and the top 10 percent earned more than $105,200.

Most web developers work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of web developers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, 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. Additionally, an increase in the use of mobile devices to search the web will also 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 of a growing trend of firms hiring workers in low-cost areas of the United States instead of in foreign countries.

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.

For More Information

For more information about web developers, visit

World Organization of Webmasters

For more information about computer careers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

IEEE

Computing Research Association

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women and Information Technology

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I think I have found an error or innacurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. We recommend the Career Personality Profiler assessment ($29), the Holland Code assessment ($19), or the Photo Career Quiz (free).