Earn a Web Development Certificate Through a College Program Online

Many premier colleges offer online certificates in web development. A certificate is awarded is awarded after the completion of 3-6 college credit courses and often takes 2-3 semesters of online learning.

Certificates are more expensive and take longer than certifications, but they pay off on your resume.

We suggest you begin a certificate program soon after deciding to become a web developer, but do not wait to finish the program if you feel you are ready to start interviewing for jobs.

Colleges offering online certifications:

Earn a College Degree Related to Web Development

Many prestigious colleges offer Associate and Bachelor degrees in fields related to web development.

If you plan to make a career as a web developer we suggest you begin a degree program as soon as you feel comfortable.

A degree is not needed to begin or maintain your career. The degree is helpful when you start looking for higher paying roles with more responsibility.

The site GetEducated.com is a great resource for finding online degree programs.

You may also find your local university or junior college offers online or hybrid programs which help you get your degree faster.

Be sure to select a college which is non-profit and regionally accredited. That is the only way you can ensure your diploma is valid and not from a degree mill.

A Non-Traditional Degree Path

At the surface Thomas Edison State University (TESC) looks like any other college, and it is an accredited State University in New Jersey. (Wikipedia entry for Thomas Edison State University)

What makes it special is that is accepts almost unlimited transfer hours, and it allows you to test out of many classes.

There are a variety of options to build credit towards your degree with Thomas Edison State University at your own pace. Some people have been able to start and finish in less than a year.

Our suggestion is to start with an Associates and then get your Bachelors. That way you’ll have something to show faster.

Start with this prgram : The Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Multidisciplinary Technology.

Then complete this program after your Associate degree: The Bachelor Science in Applied Science and Technology in Technical Studies.

We suggest you pursue the more generic degree majors like Multidisciplinary Technology & Technical Studies. Those classes allow for more classes which can be tested out of, or done at your own pace online.

Complete the classes you want to test out of before you apply. Go down the requirements for the degree and match that will classes you can do on your own.

Once you do all those tests or online classes on your own time, then apply and send your work in for credit. That saves you from spending money on school fees before you need to.

Web Development Job Titles

When you start searching for paying jobs and contracts you will see there are a variety of job titles for web developers.

Most job titles are just a variation on Web Developer,  Front-end Web Developer or Back-end Web Developer.

Below are some lists to help you determine which type of developer the job listing is looking for. If you see a title which is not on this list you can read the job requirements in detail to find out what type of development experience they are looking for.

Web Developer Titles

  • Web Developer
  • Web Engineer
  • Web Programmer

Front-end Web Developer Titles

  • UI Developer
  • User Interface Developer
  • Client-side Web Developer
  • HTML Developer
  • CSS Developer
  • JavaScript Developer

Back-end Web Developer Titles

Back-end developers are often referred to by the name of the programming language they work in, such as

You will find some job titles start with Junior, Senior or another descriptor for the experience expert for the role.

  • Junior web developers often have 0-3 years of experience and are expected to do the more repetitive and less complex tasks.
  • Senior web developers usually have over 5 years of experience and are expected to provide leadership and experience to a team.

Principal and Lead are two other common descriptors for senior web developer positions (ex: Lead UI Engineer).

Many large organizations have multiple levels of developer titles in their organization, and the hierarchy of those titles is unique to that organization. For example, at one company a Lead Front End Developer may be above the Principal Front End Developer  in the organizational hierarchy, and at another organization the Principal Front End Developer may top the hierarchy.

Preparing for the Web Development Job Hunt

When you have 3 good websites in your portfolio and at least one certification or certificate, you are ready to find a paying position.

When presenting yourself to potential employers or clients, always lead with your portfolio. It is the best representation of who you are and what you can do.

When you are first starting out you may not have any work experience on your resume related to web development. So instead of work experience you should list the 3 projects you worked on to build your resume.

Discuss what programming languages you used in the project and point out some of the special details you built into each site.

Your resume should have links to your portfolio or projects, a listing of your certifications or certificates, and a list of the programming languages you are proficient in.

Once you have all that together you are ready to make money!

Freelance Web Development Work

Freelance work is when you work directly with a client to produce a website and they pay you directly. You often have to find the client and bid on the project they offer.

It may be smart to build an LLC or Corporation before taking on freelance work. Consult a tax specialist or an internet resource to determine what you should do with your freelance earnings to reduce your tax liability. You may have to pay 40% tax on your earnings if you do not plan correctly.

There are a number of sites online designed to help developers find freelance work. One of the most popular is Freelancer.com

We suggest you also use Craigslist to find projects you can bid on. It can also be a good idea to find a web designer you can work with on projects. If you can combine your skills you may be able to bid for larger projects.

Finding Web Development Employment

Aggregate internet job boards like JuJu.com are the best place to find web development jobs.

Indeed.com is also good for searching for contract or full-time positions. It is a great aggregator of open positions from all over the web.

Dice.com is a great site for searching for IT focused positions. At the very least you should submit your resume and profile to their site.

You should also submit your resume to MonsterCareerBuilder, and any other big job boards. They may not have many good web development positions, but recruiters use them to find potential employees.

Another technique is to do a Google search for IT recruiting firms in your area. Then go to each of their web sites and submit your resume. They will contact you if you match any open jobs they are recruiting for.

Work as a Web Development Contractor

We suggest you begin your career by working as a web development contractor.

Web Development contractors are hired on temporary contracts (usually 3-9 months long) by companies who need temporary help on a project or who want to try out developers before committing to hire them.

It is usually easier to be hired as a contractor. While it is a temporary position without the benefits of full-time employment, contract positions make up for that by paying you more money than their full-time employees.

By looking for contract jobs first you are more likely to find work, and you are able to get a variety of experience. If you spend your first year on two different 6 months contracts you will have built up some great experience and added two positions to your resume.

Do not worry about having a lot of short term employment on your resume. There is no stigma in web development towards short-term employment. It is understood that many people work on contracts.

Many companies use contract positions to test out developers for full-time positions. Sometimes companies will hire 5 contractors with the intention of keeping 3 for full-time employment at the end of the contracts.

These are called contract-to-perm positions, and they give you the length of the contract to prove you are worthy for the benefits of full-time employment (if you want it).

Check for contract Web Development positions in your area.

Work as a Full-Time Web Development Employee

Most companies, governments, and non-profit organizations have positions available for full-time employment.

Full-time employment as a web developer is very secure. The job market is in the favor of the web developer, and it is very costly for a firm to train new web developers on their systems.

Full-time employees at an organization are usually regarded as being above the contractors in hierarchy, and full-time employment offers you all the medical and work benefits you would expect.

Web Developer Interview Techniques

Interviews for contract and full-time positions are usually the same. Full-time employment may involve more background and reference checks, but your interactions with the interviewer is usually the same.

Interviews for web development positions are usually based on a series of questions and some discussion of your past work.

These resources have lists of questions you will often hear in interviews. Study these questions and write out an answer for each one before the interview so you can be ready to recite your answer in the interview.

When the interviewer discusses your past experience and projects you must be honest. You will not be able to hide the fact that you are starting your career as a web developer, but you can emphasize the positives you can offer their firm.

All you have to worry about is getting hired. Do not ever talk yourself out of applying for any job.

If a company is willing to hire you they will give you enough time after you start to learn what you need to know to work there.

Remember, even a bad interview gives you good experience for future interviews.

Your Web Developer Career Path

Our advice is to begin your career as a contractor for a small or medium sized organization.

You should try and join an organization where you will work under senior web developers. As long as you show interest and work hard you will be able to learn a great deal at your first position.

Do not plan to stay at any job more than 2 years in your first 5 years as a web developer. You need to be exposed to different web site structures and systems to be a well-rounded web developer.

As you work at your first job you should continue researching the different aspects of web development and decide how you want to shape your career path going forward.

Here are some good questions to help you evaluate your position.

  • Do you like working as a contractor?
    • Would you rather be a full-time employee?
  • Do you like where you work physically?
    • Would you rather work from home?
    • Or work from a different environment?
  • Do you like the size and structure of your organization?
    • What would you change about it?

The beauty of the web development field is that every organization needs a website, so you have many choices about where and how you want to work.

You cannot know exactly where your career will take you, but you should have a general idea of what your ideal job is and how you can move towards that job.

Use that idea as your focus when you make career decisions.