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What is Web Development?

Are you considering pursuing a web development degree in Florida? Many colleges and universities in the state offer this major, as well as other related fields of study. Those with a strong interest in creating digital content for themselves or others will find it most useful, although the knowledge and skills gained can be applied to many other professions as well. The ability to plan, design, and maintain websites is expertise most private, non-profit, and government entities actively seek in job candidates. Generally, the major is best suited to those with excellent communication, problem-solving, and customer service skills.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for web developers and digital designers is projected to grow 23% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an increase of about 21,800 job openings each year. Most of these opportunities are expected to result from the need to replace workers transferring to different professions or exiting the labor force completely.

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Online Web Development Education in Florida

Education requirements can vary significantly for web developers depending on preferred work settings and employer size. In fact, it’s sometimes possible to find employment right after high school if you already have experience in the field. Notably, however, most companies and organizations prefer to hire candidates who possess some amount of higher education.

Many colleges and universities in Florida offer web development degrees, as well as programs in related subjects. Prospective students can generally choose from options at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Additionally, it’s common for academic institutions to have relevant professional certificates programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Online Associate Degree in Web Development (AS)

Associate degrees in web development generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. These are undergraduate degrees, meaning that students typically take both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. While curriculums vary, most are designed to help those enrolled gain the knowledge and skills needed for succeed in many different information technology careers. Students can typically expect to receive instruction in basic computer science topics, as well as various programming languages, web frameworks, and other website-building tools. Some common course examples include web development fundamentals, JavaScript, database programming, WordPress development, and mobile app development.

This type of degree is ideal for those interested in pursuing entry-level employment in the field as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Most associate programs are offered by community colleges, which tend to charge lower tuition rates. This allows students to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment without accumulating large student loans. Graduates typically qualify for employment as web developer, user interface designer, web designer, and computer support specialist.

Alternatively, graduates can choose to continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. This is a popular decision, as undergraduate class credits can be transferred between properly accredited academic institutions. This means that those with associate degrees may only need two additional years of education before they are capable of graduating again. Most colleges and universities accept up to 60 or 90 semester hours in transfer credit, which equals approximately two academic years.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Web Development (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in web development often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. These are also undergraduate programs comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but students can expect broader learning opportunities at this level. Some common course options include web content design, internet systems architecture, JavaScript, computer systems security, and multimedia authoring.

This type of bachelor's degree is ideal for individuals who plan to seek employment as web developers, as well as those interested in more advanced careers. The knowledge and skills gained are easily transferrable to other professions or fields requiring computer, network, coding, and/or multimedia expertise. Some common employment opportunities include software developer, graphic designer, computer programmer, computer systems analyst, and information systems manager.

Graduates may also choose to pursue further education by enrolling in related master’s degree programs. Prospective students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by gaining institutions.

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Online Master's Degree in Web Development (MS)

Master’s degrees in web development generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Curriculums vary, but most include training in user-centered web design and development. Common courses include full-stack development, mobile application development, web design, software practices, and computer programming. Students can also expect to learn about various programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and development techniques. Additionally, independent research and study is frequently incorporated, with those enrolled often applying their knowledge of standard concepts by designing working websites and applications.

This type of master's degree is ideal for those interested in upper-level management positions or other highly specialized roles in computer and information technology. Graduates can often qualify for jobs as computer and information systems managers, information research scientists, and software developers. Notably, many companies and organizations give preference to individuals who have completed graduate school.

Not all colleges and universities offer master’s degrees in web development. As a result, it may be necessary to enroll in information technology or computer science programs with applicable concentrations.

Online PhD Degree in Web Development (PhD)

A PhD or doctorate in web development may consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Program structure and length varies, and most options at this level are available only online. In most cases, students spend most of their time learning about qualitative and quantitative research, which they utilize when preparing to defend dissertations prior to graduation.

It's important to realize that relatively few institutions offer PhD and doctorate degrees in web development. Those interested in continuing their academic pursuits in this field will likely need to major in computer science, computer engineering, machine learning, language processing, or biological engineering.

These types of degrees are most appropriate for individuals planning to pursue jobs in higher education as professors, although some research positions may also be available.

Become a Web Developer in Florida

The process of becoming a web developer in Florida generally starts by establishing your ultimate career goals. As previously mentioned, there are many different information technology professions related to this field. Graduates can often choose to pursue a variety of opportunities. As such, it’s important to identify your preferred occupation early. Not only does this make it easier to determine the level of education necessary to meet minimum hiring qualifications, but you will also know which elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities are most appropriate.

Notably, Florida does not have specific education requirements for web developers. Hiring standards are instead managed by individual companies and organizations in the state. Expectations can range from high school diploma to bachelor’s degree, with some more prestigious positions in the field necessitating master’s degrees. As a result, it may be helpful to identify desirable employers in the area and research their hiring standards.

Once you select an intended profession and earn the relevant degree(s), you are likely to benefit from obtaining one or more certifications in the field. While not always necessary for employment, those who possess additional credentials often stand out among job candidates. As certifications are meant to help professionals develop and hone specific skills, they are particularly helpful for professions intent on gaining specialized knowledge of specific systems and/or programs.

Prospective professionals should realize that there is no single important credential recommended for web developers. Those interested in the field are generally free to pursue certifications that expand their knowledge in areas of personal and professional interest. The most vital component of the selection process is verifying that the credential is offered by a credible provider such as an academic institution, professional organization, and reputable company. Other factors to consider are price, required skill level, and career applicability.

Some examples of potential certifications available to web developers include:

  • Google UX Design Certification
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Front-End Web Developer Certification
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Full Stack Development Certification
  • Springboard Software Engineering Certification
  • CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Certification
  • Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) Certified Web Application Defender Credential
  • Adobe Digital Learning Services Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
  • Oracle University Java Enterprise Oracle Certified Expert Credential

Web developers can also benefit from becoming members of professional organizations and associations. These bodies offer many perks including discounts for development opportunities, access to academic journals, and invitations to networking events.

A few prominent options include:

  • International Web Association (IWA)
  • American Webmasters Association (AWA)
  • Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb)
  • Web Professionals (WOW)

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Potential Careers for Web Development Graduates

  • Application Developer
    Application developers are responsible for creating, developing, managing, and maintaining new programs and software for use on smartphones, computers, tablets, and more. These professionals work to ensure companies and organizations remain relevant with the latest technologies and web developments. In some cases, this may require collaborating with other web and information technology professionals. According to PayScale, application developers make an average base salary of $72,450 per year.
  • Computer Systems Analyst
    Computer systems analysts are responsible for using computers and related systems to better automate various distribution, manufacturing, and sales functions. These professionals generally base procedures on employer needs, identifying the most accurate and efficient processes available. They may also be tasked with recommending, installing, configuring, maintaining, and upgrading computer and networking software. According to PayScale, computer systems analysts make an average base salary of $73,200 per year.
  • Computer Technical Support Specialist
    Computer technical support specialists are responsible for diagnosing and troubleshooting hardware and software problems. Working as part of information technology services departments, these professionals are often tasked with helping customers install and operate new purchases. This frequently also entails providing assistance to fellow employees and/or consumers when issues arise. According to PayScale, computer technical support specialists make an average base salary of $53,200 per year.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist
    Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists are responsible for developing and implementing SEO strategies for text, images, and videos across numerous search engines. Their primary goal is to ensure that their employers appear early in online search results for designated key words. They may also be tasked with checking content created by other professionals to verify all optimization standards are adequately met. According to PayScale, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists make an average base salary of $49,050 per year.
  • Software Tester
    Software testers are responsible for helping quality assurance or engineering quality control departments throughout the program development process. These professionals generally receive and test software at various stages of completion, documenting any repeatable crashes and bugs for further development. All insights and recommendations are then communicated to the development team. According to PayScale, software testers make an average base salary of $56,450 per year.
  • UX Researcher
    UX researchers are responsible for studying user needs and wants in relation to the systems and/or products offered by their employers. Using qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct comprehensive examinations, they find ways to enhance the items, services, and/or software offered. As a result, these professionals often spend time writing screener questionnaires, recruiting targeted users, implementing surveys, and conducting interviews. They must then organize and present their findings to team members. According to PayScale, UX researchers make an average base salary of $88,850 per year.
  • Web Content Manager
    Web content managers are responsible for establishing and maintaining publication strategies for websites owned by the companies and organizations that employ them. These professionals generally take charge of digital publication work flows, which means they oversee all associated content standards and policies. They also work to ensure that digital campaigns are cost-effective and produce satisfactory results. According to PayScale, web content managers make an average base salary of $60,650 per year.

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