How to Become a Web Designer

Web design and web development are growing industries with a bright future. In fact, the very site you’re reading now was designed by a web designer, and maintained by web professionals all the time. There are numerous web design and web development jobs available, and training programs are flexible. If you’re interested in a high-paying career in technology, you’re in the right place. Job Training Hub has the essential facts on how to become a web designer, and how to choose a vocational school that fits your needs.

Here’s a few reasons to consider a career in web design and web development.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a higher-than-average 13% job growth rate for web designers and developers between 2018 and 2028.

The B.L.S. also states that web developers earn an average salary of $69,430 per year.

Web designers and web developers can earn a living working from home.

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Web development and web design are sometimes lumped together. However, the two careers have some specific differences. Both web designers and web developers spend time coding, but web design is more visually-oriented and focuses on the ‘front end’ or client-side of a website. We’ll get into that later; for now, here’s what to expect from a web design career.

Web designers use their visual arts and coding skills to design websites. Web designers spend much of their time working on the front end of a site, and focus specifically on the parts that users see and interact with. Web developers, on the other hand, sometimes also focus on the back end (or, server-side) of a site, which focuses on the ‘under the hood’ aspects of the site that connect it to servers and the internet. 

Web Design Job Description

Web designers and web developers often share job descriptions. Web designers, however, are often employed in the visual-design team that creates the ‘look and feel’ of a website. In a way, web designers serve one of the most important roles on a site design team. Sometimes (using platforms such as SquareSpace and WordPress) web designers are the only person on the website building team. Here are the typical job responsibilities of a web designer. 

‘Wireframing’ or drawing up a layout plan for a site with clients

Working with web development tools

Landing page design

Working with website design platforms such as WordPress

Technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Updating site appearance and functionality

Many web designers spend a great deal of time coding. This is because websites are built with code, and styling a site often requires going behind the scenes and writing it manually. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of knowledge on the internet in regards to coding for web design. 

Web design is a technical field that requires careful mastery of several hard skills and soft skills. Web designers need the skills of designers and coders to make the most out of their careers. And while education doesn’t replace talent, it’s important to find a program that covers the essentials. Here are the most important web design skills. 

Design skills

Obviously, design skills are key to the web design trade. These professionals must develop an understanding of what website users want (and what they need). Web designers must keep track of current site trends, and keep their projects modern and up-to-date.

Programming knowledge

Programming is the basis of web design. Programming languages such as JavaScript and markup languages such as HTML are some of the primary tools for web design. Also, knowing CSS and PHP is also necessary for the position.

Site Builder Knowledge

Web designers must be familiar with popular site building platforms such as WordPress and SquareSpace, especially if they plan on working as independent contractors or freelancers. Web designers should also practice making WordPress themes.

Debugging and Updating

Sometimes, things go wrong on websites that require the attention of a web designer or web developer. Web designers primarily deal with errors on the front end of a website, such as images failing to load or issues with page responsiveness.

Wireframing

Wireframing is the process of creating and designing the layout of a site before building it. Collaboration with companies and other designers is key, especially at this point of the process. Effective wireframing reduces workload and helps establish clear expectations.

Teamwork

Teamwork is necessary, especially when working on a big web design project with multiple designers. Web designers must work closely and collaboratively with back end designers and all kinds of programmers and web developers.

Web developers enjoy unusually high salaries for entry-level careers. Today, the average web development vocation pays $69,430 annually, not including additional income from bonuses and stock options. Web design salaries vary between companies and locations, but experience levels also play a big part in salary. Experienced web developers can earn upwards of $111,000 annually, and business owners can earn as much as they can generate through effective marketing. Here are the average web development salaries for several major American cities with data from Glassdoor.

CityAverage Salary
Atlanta, GA$68,148
Boston, MA$73,921
Chicago, IL$68,490
Cleveland, OH$59,748
Dallas, TX$66,841
Los Angeles, CA$72,309
Miami, FL$63,038
Milwaukee, WI$61,346
Minneapolis, MN$66,358
New York, NY$75,672
Philadelphia, PA$65,585
Phoenix, AZ$64,776
Portland, OR$68,610
San Francisco, CA$92,548
Seattle, WA$77,325

Contributing factors to your salary include location and the policies of your individual company. For example, web designers in Silicon Valley tend to earn higher than the national average

  • Mean Annual Salary: $69,430
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 13%
  • Number of People Employed: 160,000

Web designers use coding, markup, and scripting languages like Python, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The trade involves a considerable amount of coding.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $72,362
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 5%
  • Number of People Employed: 100,000

Network Engineers use their skills to install, administer, and maintain network and communication systems for businesses.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $88,280
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): -7%
  • Number of People Employed: 273,600

Programmers write and test code to ensure that computer applications and software programs function as they should. They work with plans formulated by software developers and engineers and turn them into instructions for computers.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $98,350
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 28%
  • Number of People Employed: 100,000

Information security analysts create plans to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are the first line of defense against cyberattacks.

PositionSalary
Entry Level (0-4 Years)$75,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years)$125,000
Experienced (10-20 Years)$150,000
Late-Career (20+ Years)$200,000

Web designers use their coding skills to design the layout of websites. It’s necessary to have a good eye for styling and modern design, as sites change constantly. Web designers use front end development languages to create sites. Also, developers use site-building platforms such as Wix and WordPress. Web designers should learn to create themes for these platforms, especially if they intend to do freelance work as independent contractors.

Web design, like any trade, takes time to learn. It takes consistent practice and experience to become good at the job, so it’ll take some commitment to become a web designer. Nonetheless, the barrier-to-entry is low and no certification or degree is required to get started. In fact, you can begin learning web design skills online for free. Once you learn the basics, here are the steps you can take.

Education Pathways for Web Developers

Web designers come from all educational backgrounds. There’s no concrete requirement or universal qualification to land a job in the field or to work as an independent contractor. However, most web developers have some formal technology education. The most common education pathways for web designers are college, university, and coding bootcamp.

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Some web designers used online resources and books to teach themselves to code. Self-taught web designers are common in the freelance web development industry.

College graduates often become network engineers through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees. Students can attend a four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree to work in network engineering, or they can get their training from a two-year program at a community college. Some community colleges offer dedicated programs for communications technology and network engineering. 

Many students go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, you don’t need a degree to become a web designer. 

A master’s degree opens many doors for career opportunities in the web design field. Earning this advanced degree helps graduates secure the highest-paying jobs.

A doctorate means you’re an expert in the field. Earning a doctorate in computer science or a related field can put you at the top of all web designers, especially with experience. 

Coding Bootcamp

Coding bootcamps are strictly career training programs. These programs help students learn to code, without all of the additional course requirements of colleges and universities. Bootcamps have recently become popular, and many programs offer job guarantees and income stipends.

College/University

Many web designers graduate from a college or university. These students major in virtually everything, though computer science is the most common path into a web design career. A web design degree isn’t offered through most universities, though many colleges offer courses in the subject.

Self-Study

Some web designers teach themselves the trade. However, most people who attempt to teach themselves take a long time. Additionally, vocational schools help students avoid the frustrations of learning on their own. However, motivated individuals have become successful through self-study, and you can easily learn the basics online for free.

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