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What is a Web Developer?

Web developers build websites, but that just scratches the surface of what they do. Whereas the website designer creates the overall look of the website, the developer has a deep understanding of authoring or scripting languages used to create websites. This allows them to convert the different components (from audio and graphic to video and text components) into compatible web formats that are accessible to the end user. In addition to the technical aspects of web development, these professionals must possess a great understanding of user needs in order to make sure those needs are met in the best way they can be.

Because the technology is always changing and new research is showing different developments in user trends, it’s essential that web developers stay up to date and current with software programs, scripting languages and trends. With the phenomenal growth in the online world, and the increasing number of individuals and businesses utilizing websites, web developers are in high demand. Those interested in pursuing a career in this industry should have a strong background in computer science or programming. It’s also important that these professionals be well-rounded – knowledge of graphic design, multimedia publishing tools, and marketing techniques can make a web developer’s resume more attractive to potential clients or employers.

Work Environment

Because web developers spend most of their time on computers, the typical work environment for this professional is an office or area in an office building. However, an increasing number of web developers are self-employed and may work from their own home office. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 141,400 web developers were employed in 2012 and about ¼ of those developers were self-employed.

Freelancing can be an exciting and flexible way to practice web development, but there is a downside: freelancers work job to job and this style isn’t conducive to a steady and reliable paycheck. Those who would rather not pursue freelancing, which can be considered somewhat risky, will be happy to know that a number of great industries employ full-time web developers. The BLS reports that as of 2012, the computer systems design and related services industry employed 16% of web developers. Other industries that employ these professionals include data processing, hosting, related services and other information services (8%), finance and insurance (5%), educational services (5%) and religious, grant-making, civic, professional and similar organizations (5%).

Education Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most common type of degree obtained by web developers is an associate degree in web design or a related field. However, those interested in more advanced and technical developer positions or web architect positions may benefit more from a bachelor’s degree, which will allow them to obtain an adequate amount of computer and technical knowledge. Web developers may also benefit from courses that will allow them to bring more to the table, such as graphic design, multimedia art and marketing. Graphic design may be especially important to employers who are seeking web developers as part of a team heavily involved in a website’s visual appearance.


According to the BLS, the annual median salary of web developers in May 2012 was $62,500 – more than double the average salary of all other occupations. A web developer’s actual salary can be influenced by a number of different things, from the industry they’re employed in to the location they live in. The top 10% of earners brought home more than $105,000 in 2012. Industries hiring web developers that pay the most include software publishers (with an annual median wage of $85,210), monetary authorities ($83,970) and securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage ($83,350). The 5 top-paying states that employ web developers are: the District of Columbia, Washington, Maryland, Virginia and Massachusetts.

Job Outlook

The web development industry has an incredible outlook, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment is expected to grow 20% through the year 2022, which is nearly double that of all other occupations. Ecommerce is growing at a tremendous rate and more and more companies and individuals are creating websites – all of which requires excellent web developers. States that have the largest numbers of web developers include: California (16,900), Texas (8,310), New York (8,270), Florida (6,990) and Washington (5,280).

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