Take a moment to examine this Web page. Everything in your browser window–the blue-and-yellow color scheme, the twelve-point Verdana bold font, and the stock image of the Web-browsing brunette–is a decision under the control of a Web designer. On the technical side, Web developers create and maintain the databases behind some sites and design sites so that search engines could bring you here. If you have a head for code and an eye for design, a career in Web design and development may offer the perfect opportunity to put your skills to work.

A career for the digital age, Web design and development involves the design, construction, and maintenance of Web sites–as well as the files that keep them online. Web designers combine text, photography, animation, and sound to create an intuitive interface–also identifying problems through testing and user feedback. Because Web designers and developers work in a digital medium, their profession combines the creative disciplines of art and design with the technical aspects of computer science and computer system design.

The Final Frontier: Web Design and Development
If you’re interested in a Web design career, you couldn’t have picked a better time. With the dot-com bust now almost ten years behind us, the next generation of Web pioneers is forging a new frontier. Over the next decade, continued growth in the online community is expected to expand job prospects for Web designers and developers by 14 to 20 percent–faster than the average for all occupations. Computer systems design and related services (a sector of the economy that includes Web designers and developers) is expected to add 489,000 new jobs during the decade between 2006 and 2016.

While your career prospects are bright, your potential to earn a competitive living may prove even more attractive. According to a 2007 Salary Guide released by Robert Half International, annual salaries for Web designers range from $47,500 to $69,500. For Web developers, annual salaries ranged from $54, 750 to $81,500. Senior Web developers enjoyed even more competitive earnings, with salaries ranging from $71,000 to $102,000.

Education for Web Design and Development
If you aspire to the income of today’s most senior Web design and development pioneers, postsecondary education is an important stepping stone. Although you can find entry-level Web design or Web development work with an associate’s degree or certificate, employers generally prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree and professional experience. Thankfully, you can gain education and relevant experience through a number of college degree programs.

Design coursework can provide you with a solid aesthetic foundation in typography, color theory, and writing for interactive media–while courses in scripting language, content management systems, digital media, Web page scripting, scalable vector graphics, interactive motion scripting, and interface design can help prepare you for the more tech-heavy responsibilities of a Web design career. Additionally, college degrees for Web designers and developers often include elective courses in project management, argument and debate, English composition, and mathematics to round out your professional skill set.

Between the attractive compensation, expanding job opportunities, and the wide availability of education for careers in Web design and development, you have ample reason to check out degree programs at local colleges and universities, or even online programs. Don’t wait, though–after all, the final frontier won’t wait for you!

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