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Web developer salary & career outlook

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 Web.

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. 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.

Web developer salary information

Data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that Web developers in the U.S. earned a mean annual salary of $67,540 in 2013, with the bottom-paid 10 percent earning up to $33,320 and the top 10 percent of earners taking home more than $110,350 for the year. The industry that employs individual Web developers can have a big influence over salary expectations, as demonstrated by the 2013 mean annual salaries nationwide in these five highest paying industries:

  • Software publishers: $85,210
  • Monetary authorities - central bank: $83,970
  • Securities and commodities contracts intermediation and brokerage: $83,350
  • Depository credit intermediation: $83,010
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing: $81,620

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 2013 mean annual salary figures and their ranking on a 1Q2014 cost of living study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC):

  • Georgia, ranked 11th most affordable by MERIC, might be one of the best states in the country for Web developers. The statewide mean annual salary was $74,360 in 2013, and regional averages in Atlanta and down through the center of the state ranged from $75,970 to $79,240.
  • Texas was the 12th most affordable state in the MERIC study. Although the 2013 statewide salary average was comparatively modest at $64,400, Web developers in the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area took home a mean salary figure of $71,080 for the year.
  • Mississippi, ranked No. 1 among MERIC's most affordable states, reported a mean Web developer salary of $57,270 in 2013. Employers in the state capital of Jackson, however, paid Web developers $74,730 for the year — higher than the statewide average for California.

Job outlook 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.

Sources:

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

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

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