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What is Web Development?

Majoring in web development or other related areas of study can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities in Massachusetts. This is a particularly good option for individuals who want to learn how to plan, design, and maintain websites. Students generally gain the knowledge and skills needed to create digital content for themselves and others. Additionally, expertise in this field is often easily transferrable to other professions. As a result, graduates can often find employment with most private, non-profit, and government entities.

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.

Many industries hire web development professionals. Two sectors in particular, however, are likely to seek out and employ experts in this field. One of these is professional and business services, which is the largest industry in Massachusetts. It accounts for $102.4 billion in revenue each year. Another top sector likely to hire web development professionals is information and technology. This is the sixth largest industry in Massachusetts, accounting for another $31.7 of the state’s revenue each year.

Based on data provided by the BLS, Massachusetts employed 1,670 web developers in May 2022. The annual mean wage for these professionals was $92,570, which is higher than the state’s reported annual mean wage of $76,600 for all occupations. The state also employed 2,490 web and digital interface designers with an annual mean wage of $107,060.

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Online Web Development Education in Massachusetts

As previously mentioned, there are many colleges and universities offering degree programs in web development and other related topics located in Massachusetts. As a result, prospective students can generally choose from relevant options at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Some academic institutions may also offer professional certificate programs, which can be helpful for individuals who already possess unrelated degrees but want to change fields. In general, traditional and remote learning opportunities are both available.

It’s important to realize that employment requirements can vary wildly from one web development job to another. There is really no set standard for the field, as hiring standards are typically determined by individual companies and organizations. It may even be possible to find work immediately after graduating high school or obtaining a GED. In some rare cases, candidates may also qualify for positions using self-taught knowledge and skills. These situations are uncommon, however. The mass majority of web development professionals obtain some level of higher education. Generally, more advanced academic degrees and years of experience result in better employment opportunities with higher pay.

Online Associate Degree in Web Development (AS)

Associate web development programs generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Undergraduate programs like these are typically comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. This means that, in addition to communication, mathematics, and science subjects, students can usually expect to receive instruction in basic computer science, programming languages, web frameworks, various website-building tools, and other web development skills. It’s also common for those enrolled to learn about JavaScript, database programming, WordPress, and mobile app development.

This type of degree is ideal for those planning to pursue jobs as web developers, user interface designers, web designers, and computer support specialists. It’s generally a good choice if obtaining entry-level employment quickly is the ultimate goal. As these programs are frequently offered by community colleges, they are also optimal for individuals who want to save money on tuition and fees. Not only do graduates obtain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in many different information technology careers, but they can do so without accumulating a significant amount of student debt.

Not all graduates seek employment immediately, however. With a strong academic foundation for additional learning, they also tend to be well prepared for further education. This makes them perfect candidates for bachelor’s degree programs. Notably, those who possess associate degrees typically only require an additional two years of classes in order to achieve more advanced academic standing. It’s often possible to transfer the 60 credit hours earned previously to other institutions. This is often the difference between entering as a freshman or a junior.

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. Undergraduate programs like these are typically comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific, web development courses. This means that, in addition to communication, mathematics, and science subjects, students in web development programs can usually expect to receive instruction in web content design, internet systems architecture, JavaScript, computer systems security, and multimedia authoring.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of web development and digital design professionals possess bachelor’s degrees. Not only do graduates from web development colleges typically qualify for these positions, but they can also start careers as software developers, graphic designers, computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and information systems managers. It’s also worth mentioning that much of the knowledge and web development skills obtained at this level can be applied to jobs in other fields. This is especially true for industries that regularly utilize professionals with expertise with computers, networks, coding, web page and web design, search engine optimization (SEO), and multimedia. Students can earn these skills during the course of web development programs or they can complete a certificate program.

While this is an accepted academic standard for web developers in the nation, some graduates still opt to pursue further education by enrolling in related master’s degree web development programs. In these cases, prospective students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by their chosen 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 level, general liberal arts classes are no longer incorporated into the curriculum. However, some programs may require candidates to possess certain major-specific courses as prerequisites. Students who have not already completed these undergraduate requirements may be given the opportunity to do so while enrolled.

In most cases, curriculums focus exclusively on subject matter pertinent to the field. As a result, it’s common for students to receive instruction in full-stack development, mobile application development, web design, software practices, and computer programming, and various other user-centered web design and development topics. It’s also common for those enrolled to learn about several programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and development techniques.

Graduates often have higher earning potential and receive preference during the hiring process. They are typically prepared for careers as computer and information systems managers, information research scientists, and software developers. These are considered upper-level management positions that require more extensive knowledge and training. Those with master’s degrees may also qualify for highly specialized roles in computer and information technology.

Notably, not all colleges and universities offer master’s degrees in web development. In some cases, it may be necessary for students to enroll in other related subjects. Some of the most common and easily applicable options include information technology and computer science. It may also be possible to select web development as a minor area of study or specialty concentration.

Online PhD Degree in Web Development (PhD)

A PhD or doctorate in web development generally varies in length between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. This is a relatively rare degree option, however, with few colleges and universities offering it as a major. Instead, those interested in pursuing further education at this level typically study computer science, computer engineering, machine learning, language processing, or biological engineering.

Every program is different, but curriculums that vary vastly from institution to institution. In most cases, doctoral students can expect to spend the first few years of enrollment studying relevant topics in traditional classroom settings. They are also likely to spend a significant amount of time learning about qualitative and quantitative research methods. Later, those enrolled build on the knowledge gained by pursuing independent study and research. In most cases, these degrees culminate in the preparation and presentation of dissertations before a board of professors.

Few careers in web development require these degree types. They are typically most appropriate for individuals pursuing jobs in higher education as professors, although a limited number of research positions may also be available.

Become a Web Developer in Massachusetts

As there are many different jobs available to individuals interested in web development, it can be helpful to determine your ultimate career goals early. Knowing the type of work you want to perform will help narrow your academic focus and ensure you obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for professional success.

Every occupation in the field has its own unique hiring standards and employment expectations. By identifying a particular area of interest, you will be better prepared to select an applicable degree level and program. You will also have a better understanding of which minor areas of study, extracurricular activities, academic concentrations, and/or internship opportunities are most likely to complement your professional ambitions.

While the state of Massachusetts does not require anything specific of web development professionals, choosing to obtain one or more relevant certifications can prove very beneficial. Companies and organizations generally establish their own hiring requirements for job candidates, but the majority of employers prefer candidates with additional credentials. These not only demonstrate your knowledge and skills in specific areas, but also show a dedication to continued learning in the field a whole.

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There is no single most important recommended certification for web development professionals. As a result, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of relevant options available. In most cases, people make selections based on career applicability, but seeking credentials based on personal interest is also viable. Important factors to consider when picking which certification(s) is most appropriate include price, provider, required skill level, and candidate expectations.

Some of the most common certifications sought by web development specialists 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

In most cases, you will find certifications related to web development offered by academic institutions, professional organizations, and reputable companies. Some options carry more weight than others, however, making it important to verify provider credibility prior to beginning the application process.

Additionally, it’s possible to gain membership in professional organizations and associations relevant to web development. While benefits vary, members generally enjoy access to developmental opportunities, relevant academic journals, networking events, discounts, and other helpful resources.

A few prominent options to consider include:

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

Notably, you should always research potential job opportunities thoroughly prior to submitting applications. Qualifications can differ significantly, even between positions with the same titles. It’s also important to remember that individuals with the most education and experience often have access to the highest paying positions. This is especially true for occupations with supervisory components, as employers typically expect these workers to possess graduate degrees.

Careers for Web Development Graduates

  • Application Developer
    Application developers can work for themselves but are often hired by companies and organizations across numerous industries. In most cases, they are expected to help their employers remain relevant with the latest technologies and web developments. This often entails creating, developing, managing, and maintaining new programs and software for use on smartphones, computers, tablets, and more. They may also collaborate with other web and information technology professionals on projects or when troubleshooting issues. According to PayScale, application developers make an average base salary of $72,463 per year.
  • Computer Systems Analyst
    Computer systems analysts are hired to automate various distribution, manufacturing, and sales functions using computers and related systems. They frequently adjust procedures to better meet employer needs and identify the most accurate and efficient processes available. They may also recommend, install, configure, maintain, and upgrade various 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 are hired by companies and organizations to oversee and manage complex project details and analyze associated design requirements. They interpret and design various plans based on employer goals and must be able to identify any problems that arise, as well as 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 captivating imagery, and they can work for themselves or as independent contractors. They can generate a variety of color schemes, illustrations, and fonts using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign software, among others. They are most commonly expected to make business logos, item packaging, print materials, and websites which must adequately portray specific messages or advertise the products and services offered. According to PayScale, graphic designers make an average base salary of $48,052 per year.
  • Software Developer/Engineer
    Software developers work to generate and perfect computer applications that help users perform specific tasks on various electronic devices work. They must be familiar with and capable of utilizing various computer languages such as C++, Python, and Java. Additionally, it’s common for them to use various operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, and HPUX. While they are sometimes self-employed, these professionals more frequently coordinate with teams of systems engineers and computer programmers. According to PayScale, software developers make an average base salary of $74,229 per year.
  • Cybersecurity Software Tester
    Software testers work to assist quality assurance or engineering quality control departments during the development process of new programs. This generally entails checking test software at various stages of completion and offering insights and recommendations to the development team. In order to better direct developmental efforts, they may also be tasked with documenting and reporting repeatable crashes and/or bugs. 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. In most cases, they are responsible for overseeing the various content standards and policies associated with digital publication, as well as ensuring that digital campaigns are cost-effective and productive. According to PayScale, web content managers make an average base salary of $60,637 per year.

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