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WEB DEVELOPER

You can thank Web developers for all your favorite sites on the Internet. Learn more about what they do, how much they make and whether it's a good career for you.

Web Developer

A good website operates like a well-oiled machine, with the design elements of the user experience and the various scripts and code modules cranking away under the hood, all working in harmony. It's a Web developer's job to make sure the public face of a site and those hidden engines of code function properly together, employing different techniques to create, debug, deploy, manage and modify the look, feel and underlying virtual machinery of the public side of the Web.

On a daily basis, you may find developers doing any of the following:

Meeting with clients to review website needs and strategies.

Writing code for websites.

Testing website applications and debugging as needed.

Integrating multimedia elements such as video and audio into a site.

Monitoring Web traffic to the site.

College iconHow Much do Web Developers Make?

Data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that Web developers in the U.S. earned a mean annual salary of $68,670 in 2014, with the bottom-paid 10 percent earning up to $33,790 and the top 10 percent of earners taking home more than $112,680 for the year.

The industry that employs individual Web developers can have a big influence over salary expectations, as demonstrated by the 2014 mean annual salaries nationwide in these five highest paying categories:

  • Independent artists, writers and performers: $89,360
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing: $87,440
  • Software publishers: $86,590
  • Depository credit intermediation: $84,010
  • Monetary authorities: $83,510

Some of the highest-paying areas for Web developers — Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, California and Washington, D.C. — also have some of the highest costs of living in the country. There are some states and metropolitan areas, though, which boast good salaries as well as more affordable everyday costs. Here are a few such places, listed with their BLS 2014 mean annual salary figures and their ranking on a 2015 cost of living study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC):

  • Georgia, ranked 10th most affordable by MERIC, might be one of the best states in the country for Web developers. The statewide mean annual salary was $74,980 in 2014, and regional averages in Atlanta and down through the center of the state ranged from $70,870 to $78,060.
  • Texas was the 13th most affordable state in the MERIC study. Although the 2014 statewide salary average was comparatively modest at $66,990, Web developers in the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area took home a mean salary figure of $71,600 for the year.
  • Mississippi, ranked No. 1 among MERIC's most affordable states, reported a mean Web developer salary of $55,140 in 2014. Employers in the state capital of Jackson, however, paid Web developers $71,490 for the year — higher than the statewide average for California.

Checkmark iconOccupational Requirements and Job Types for Web Developers

A Web developer's top skill is knowledge of computers, including web programming languages such as HTML, PHP and JavaScript. A keen understanding of how Internet users interact with a site and its features is also crucial.

While some workers in the field are self-taught, a degree in Web development may be the easiest way to gain necessary skills. According to government data, 43 percent of Web developers have a bachelor's degree, 23 percent have an associate degree and 13 percent hold a post-secondary certificate.

Organizations that handle large amounts of data or serve high-traffic sites may employ a team of Web developers, each one of whom focuses on a one aspect of the design, data architecture, application programming, site maintenance or other elements of enterprise computing. Professionals who want to specialize in a certain aspect of Web development may fall into one of the following job types.

  • Web architect or programmer: People working in this job are responsible for creating the "bones" of a website. They code a basic foundation for a site and then implement a process for others to add new pages and content to that framework.
  • Web designer: The designer is responsible for a site's aesthetics. They develop the layout and integrate graphics and other content to improve its visual appeal and functionality.
  • Webmaster: Once a site is written and laid out, the webmaster is in charge of maintaining it. These professionals may identify bugs, troubleshoot errors and respond to user comments and feedback.
What's the Job Outlook Like for Web Developers?

Occupations in the tech sector remain hot commodities on the job market, and Web developers in particular can expect to see rapid employment growth as the decade wears on. Job opportunities for Web developers are projected to increase 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, leading to about 28,500 new jobs in the field.

Some positions may be available to candidates without a degree in the subject, but employers often prefer applicants who have undergone some form of on-campus or online Web development training. Job prospects should be good to excellent across the board, with candidates who understand multiple programming languages or have experience with multimedia software tools expected to have the best opportunities.

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Sources

1. Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm
2. Occupational Employment and Wages: Web Developers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151134.htm
3. Web Developers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
4. Web developers, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1134.00#Education