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What is Web Development?
Many colleges and universities in Kansas offer academic majors and minors in web development and other related subjects. While anyone can enroll, this subject area is generally best suited for those interested in creating digital content for themselves or others. The knowledge and skills gained, however, are applicable in many different professions. Most private, non-profit, and government entities actively seek job candidates capable of planning, designing, and maintaining websites.
Web developers are generally responsible for creating and maintaining web pages for companies and organizations, although some professionals in the field opt to work for themselves by starting their own web programming company. In most cases, however, they are hired by businesses to ensure that appropriate images and content are readily available for customers and/or clients to view online. These workers are also frequently expected to oversee various technical aspects associated with the websites they make, such as overall performance and capacity. Notably, the specific duties assigned to web developers can vary significantly from job to job. Some professionals handle all aspects of website construction, while others focus on just one aspect of the process. Similarly, it’s possible for these workers to specialize in a single type of website design, such as E-commerce, news, or gaming.
Some of the most common tasks assigned to web developers include creating and testing applications, making prototypes, writing code, ministering traffic, and designing graphics. These professionals also regularly meet with clients and/or management to discuss website needs, design ideas, functionality, and what information should be included. Depending on the project, it may also be necessary to coordinate creative efforts with other team members.
The majority of web developers work for companies and organizations that deal with computer systems design, education services, advertising, and/or public relations. It’s also common for these professionals to maintain full-time schedules.
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Online Web Development Education in Kansas
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.
Professional and business services is the third largest industry in Kansas, accounting for $18.1 billion in revenue each year. Workers in this field are coveted by many different sectors, however. As companies and organizations continue to increase online offerings, professionals in this field are likely to find employment opportunities in many of the state’s other top industries. Graduates may also have success applying for positions in manufacturing, real estate, education, healthcare, wholesale, retail, finance, insurance, transportation, information, and construction.
Based on data provided by the BLS, Kansas employed 660 web developers in May 2021. The annual mean wage for these professionals was $66,690, which is higher than the state’s reported annual mean wage of $49,680 for all occupations.
There are opportunities to study web development available throughout the nation, with many degree programs offered online. Those interested in pursuing employment in Kansas, however, may benefit from enrolling with colleges and universities located within the state. Local institutions are more familiar with the standards and expectations of nearby employers. As a result, these schools tend to provide geographically relevant curriculums, which can be important when applying for certain certifications as well. Additionally, these colleges and universities are more likely to have established relationships with companies and organizations in the area. This can make internship opportunities more readily available and may even lead to professional employment opportunities after graduation.
Those interested in web development are likely to find that requirements vary significantly for professionals in the field. Opportunities available often depend on preferred work settings and employer size. In some cases, it may even be possible to find employment with nothing more than a high school diploma or by completing one of many certificate programs available across the country. Generally, however, companies and organizations give preference to candidates who possess some amount of higher education during the hiring process.
Many colleges and universities in Kansas 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. These are most appropriate for individuals who already possess degrees in other unrelated subjects.
Online Associate Degree in Web Development (AS)
This type of degree is a good choice for those interested in pursuing entry-level employment in the field quickly and inexpensively. 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 amounts of student loan debt. Graduates typically qualify for employment as web developer, user interface designer, web designer, and computer support specialist.
Graduates are also generally prepared to enroll in bachelor’s degree programs. This is a relatively popular decision as undergraduate class credits can be transferred between properly accredited academic institutions. As a result, those with associate degrees may only need two additional years of education before they are capable of graduating again.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Web Development (BS)
This type of degree is most appropriate for individuals seeking employment as web developers, but may be useful to those interested in more advanced careers as well. Notably, graduates also tend to possess knowledge and skills that are easily transferred to many other professions requiring computer, network, coding, and/or multimedia expertise. While opportunities will vary, some common career options include software developer, graphic designer, computer programmer, computer systems analyst, and information systems manager.
Alternatively, graduates can 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 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. At this academic level, general educational classes are no longer incorporated into the curriculum. Some programs do, however, have strict undergraduate prerequisites that must be met prior to enrollment. This usually impacts individuals with undergraduate degrees in other, unrelated topics most.
Course requirements vary by institution, but students typically study various topics related to user-centered web design and development. Examples of common classes include full-stack development, mobile application development, web design, software practices, and computer programming. It’s also common for those enrolled to learn about programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and development techniques. Independent research and study is frequently incorporated as well, with opportunities to apply knowledge directly by designing working websites and applications.
This type of degree will most benefit those interested in upper-level management positions and other highly specialized roles in computer and information technology. Graduates typically qualify for jobs as computer and information systems managers, information research scientists, and software developers. Notably, many companies and organizations give hiring preference to individuals who have completed graduate school.
It's important to realize that 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 can vary in length significantly, consisting of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. Program structures are also different at every college and university, although students do tend to spend a significant amount of time learning qualitative and quantitative research methods, pursuing independent study, and preparing dissertations. In most cases, written dissertations are required and must be defended before a group of professors prior to graduation.
Prospective students should realize, however, that relatively few institutions offer PhDs and doctorate degrees in web development. Instead, 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. Notably, many relevant degree options at this level are available online.
These degrees are most appropriate for individuals planning to pursue jobs in higher education as professors. A limited number of research positions may also be available to graduates.
Become a Web Developer in Kansas
If you are interested in becoming a web developer in Kansas, one of your first steps should be identifying your ultimate career goals. With so many different information technology professions available in the field, graduates are able to choose from a wide variety of engaging opportunities. Identifying your preferred occupation early will be helpful when selecting a degree program, especially when it comes to determining the level of education necessary to meet minimum hiring qualifications. Researching profession expectations can also make it easier to pick relevant elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities.
Beyond standard employer education expectations for the field, Kansas does not require web development professionals to licensed or certified. Hiring requirements are generally set and maintained by individual companies and organizations in the state. Depending on the job, candidates may be expected to possess varying levels of education, from high school diplomas to master’s degrees. Notably, only the most prestigious positions with supervisory elements are likely to necessitate graduate degrees.
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While not necessarily required, you are likely to benefit from obtaining one or more certifications in the field. Additional credentials often demonstrate dedication to the field and can help you stand out among other job candidates. Certifications are particularly relevant to prospective professionals interested in gaining specialized knowledge and skills related to certain systems and/or programs.
Fortunately, there are many credentials available for professionals involved with web development. Notably, however, there is no single most important recommended certification. As a result, workers can choose to pursue credentials that are most applicable to their career goals, expanding their knowledge in areas of personal and professional interest.
Some of the most common options 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 should keep several factors in mind when selecting which certifications to pursue. Price, required skills level, and career applicability are all important. Additionally, it’s vital to ensure that the credential is offered by a credible provider such as an academic institution, professional organization, or a reputable company.
There are also many professional organizations and associations that offer memberships to individuals working in the field. Members generally pay a yearly fee in order to gain access to many career-related benefits. In most cases, these 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)
Potential Careers for Web Development Graduates
- Application Developer
Application developers create, develop, manage, and maintain new programs and software for use on smartphones, computers, tablets, and more. They are generally responsible for ensuring companies and organizations remain relevant with the latest technologies and web developments. In some cases, they must collaborate with other web and information technology professionals. According to PayScale, application developers make an average base salary of $72,463 per year.
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts use computers and related systems to better automate various distribution, manufacturing, and sales functions. As employer needs vary, these professionals must adjust procedures accordingly in order to identify the most accurate and efficient processes available. In some cases, they may also be expected to recommend, install, configure, maintain, and upgrade computer and networking software. According to PayScale, computer systems analysts make an average base salary of $73,224 per year.
- Front-End Developer
Front-end developers manage complex project details and analyze associated design requirements. They are expected to interpret and design plans to meet their employer goals, as well as identify and solve various problems that arise and may also be tasked with recommending technical solutions that allow projects to be scalable, maintainable, and efficient. According to PayScale, front-end developers make an average base salary of $78,420 per year.
- Graphic Designer
Graphic designers create visually captivating imagery for their employers such as logos, item packaging, print materials, and websites. The graphics generated typically portray specific messages or advertise products and services offered. They often have the knowledge and skills to utilize many different mediums, but most utilize Adobe Illustrator and InDesign software for access to various color schemes, illustrations, and fonts. According to PayScale, graphic designers make an average base salary of $48,052 per year.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist
Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists develop and implement various strategies to make text, images, and videos easier to find across numerous search engines. They are generally expected to ensure their employers appear early in online search results for designated key words. In some cases, they may check and verify that content created by other professionals meets important optimization standards. According to PayScale, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists make an average base salary of $49,062 per year.
- Software Developer
Software developers generate computer applications intended to help users perform specific tasks on various electronic devices. They typically work with teams of systems engineers and computer programmers to perfect the products offered. While qualifications vary by job, most are highly familiar with various computer languages such as C++, Python, and Java. They also know how to utilize different operating systems including Linux, Solaris, and HPUX. According to PayScale, software developers make an average base salary of $74,229 per year.
- Software Tester
Software testers provide assistance to quality assurance or engineering quality control departments during the program development process. Once test software is received, it is their responsibility to check it at various stages of completion. This generally entails documenting any repeatable crashes and/or bugs so they can be developed further. They are expected to provide any insights and recommendations to the development team. According to PayScale, software testers make an average base salary of $56,468 per year.
- Web Content Manager
Web content managers are employed by companies and organizations to establish and maintain successful publication strategies. They are typically put in charge of digital publication workflows, overseeing all associated content standards and policies and may also be expected to ensure that digital campaigns are cost-effective and produce satisfactory results. According to PayScale, web content managers make an average base salary of $60,637 per year.