Best Degree for Web Development: Your Path to Becoming a Web Developer in 2024
Best Degree for Web Development

Best Degree for Web Development: Your Path to Becoming a Web Developer in 2024

A career in web development is one of the hottest tech fields right now. With the internet continuing to expand and companies relying on robust online platforms, the demand for skilled web developers keeps growing. So what’s the best degree for web development? While you can certainly teach yourself web development through online tutorials and bootcamps, getting a college degree opens up more advanced job opportunities and higher earning potential.

Let’s explore the various degree options available along with key factors to consider so you can make an informed decision and understand just how to become a web developer.

The Rising Demand for Web Developers

Let’s start with an overview of why web developer roles are so in-demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2022 to 2032 – a rate much faster than the average across all occupations.

So what’s fueling all these new jobs? In short: the unrelenting growth of the internet economy and companies needing specialized talent. As more businesses move online and leverage digital platforms for sales, marketing, and customer engagement, they need professionals who can build, maintain, and optimize their websites and web applications.

E-commerce is also seeing tremendous growth, with online retail sales in the U.S. increasing over 15 percent year-over-year. All those online stores need web developers behind the scenes!

Even traditional brick-and-mortar companies now rely on digital presences and web-based services, meaning web developer skills are in high demand across practically every industry.

With technology constantly evolving as well, companies need web development teams who can keep their online platforms up-to-date with the latest trends, devices, and user expectations. Jobs in web development clearly aren’t going away anytime soon!

Why Earn a College Degree?

With such strong demand, you may be wondering if you even need a college degree to become a web developer. It’s a fair question. After all, many successful developers are self-taught and clearly you don’t need a formal credential just to learn coding and build websites.

However, a college degree in web development (or a related field like computer science) provides essential foundations and serves as a credential that many employers want. Here are some of the key benefits and why it’s the best web development option:

  • Deeper technical skills: Degree programs provide comprehensive training across front-end development, back-end systems, databases, security, testing, and more.
  • Understanding of methodologies: You learn established processes for designing, building, and maintaining complex websites and applications.
  • Exposure to various languages and frameworks: You get to experiment with popular platforms like JavaScript, .NET, Ruby on Rails, and React.
  • Soft skills development: You collaborate on team projects, practice public speaking, refine writing abilities, etc.
  • Networking opportunities: You build connections with professors, classmates, alumni, and sometimes local employers.
  • Recruiting pipeline: Many companies actively recruit out of certain college web developer programs.

In one survey of IT leaders, 95 percent said they prioritize job candidates with a tech-related college degree. So while still possible to get a web developer job without a degree, earning one can provide a valuable competitive edge.

Degree Options for Aspiring Web Developers

If you decide to pursue a college program, there are a few common degree options, each with their own focus and career outcomes.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

What is computer science? It’s the backbone and foundation behind web development, and can lead you many directions within the tech space. As a computer science major, you’ll come away with theoretical foundations of computing and software development from a technical perspective. Coursework typically includes programming languages, algorithms, data structures, operating systems, artificial intelligence, and more.

While not specifically a “web development” program, a bachelor’s in computer science equips you with in-demand skills for creating websites and web apps. You’ll get familiar with general programming techniques and concepts that apply across all platforms and languages. 

This versatility lends itself to many technology career paths, from software engineering to database administration and cybersecurity. Essentially, the bachelor of computer science degree is the swiss army knife for a tech-related career and will give you many options to succeed.

Bachelor’s in Web Design, Web Development, or Interactive Media

For students who know they specifically want to design and develop websites over other tech specialties, a targeted web design or web developer degree makes sense. Coursework is focused directly on the client and server-side skills needed for the web, covering areas like:

  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Front-end frameworks like React
  • Back-end technologies like PHP, Ruby, Java, and ASP.NET
  • Responsive web design for mobile
  • Search engine optimization
  • User experience (UX) design

These programs may exist within computer science or information technology departments or be interdisciplinary degrees combining tech and creative disciplines.

Web development degree programs offer more niche preparation but can still open the door to various front-end, back-end, or full-stack developer roles.

Bachelor’s in Information Technology or Information Systems

Information technology (IT) and information systems majors take a broad look at how technology supports business operations through networking, database management, project implementation, security protocols and more.

You’ll develop technical abilities combined with business analysis skills relevant for technology jobs in any industry. Typical courses include database design, IT infrastructure, systems analysis, cybersecurity management, ERP platforms, and often some programming or web development.

IT and IS degrees can prepare you for web developer roles or related positions like systems administrators, IT project managers, database developers, and UX designers.

Associate’s Degrees and Certificates

If committing to 2-4 years for a bachelor’s doesn’t fit your situation, associate’s degrees and certificates in web design or web development are shorter alternatives that teach baseline skills.

Associate’s degrees take about 2 years and include web development basics along with some general education courses. Graduates can work entry-level developer jobs or transfer credits towards completing a later bachelor’s degree.

Certificates focus directly on specific competencies like front-end web coding or web application programming, typically taking less than a year to finish. They allow professionals to quickly add web development skills without formal prerequisites or unrelated requirements.

Key Considerations Choosing a Web Development Program

Web Development Program

With an overview of the degree options available, let’s explore key factors to weigh as you evaluate programs and make a decision about your education path:

Career Goals and Specialization Interests

A web developer career can take many forms across technologies like JavaScript, PHP, Java, .NET, databases, content management systems, mobile apps, and emerging platforms.

Think about your interests and strengths and whether you want to specialize in front-end design vs back-end logic early on vs keeping your options open in case you change technical direction later on.

Then choose a flexible degree program or specialization track accordingly. Those uncertain might prefer computer science’s breadth, while students sure they want to code websites specifically might narrow in on interactive web development programs.

Time, Cost and Learning Style Factors

Going back to school is a big investment, so practical considerations around program length, tuition fees, and delivery format matter.

Generally, certificates and associate’s degrees are shortest and potentially more affordable. Bachelor’s programs provide more comprehensive education but take roughly 4 years to complete – although Jessup University offers a great option with online classes so you can get your degree from home. Accelerated options like online degrees or combined BS/MS programs can save time and costs too.

Analyze the return on investment for any program based on expected graduate salaries minus total tuition paid. And your individual learning preferences influence whether traditional, online-only or hybrid models suit you best.

School Reputation and Outcomes

While new programs seem to emerge frequently, established colleges and universities with years of experience teaching web development carry valuable reputational clout with recruiters.

Look for data on graduate hiring rates and average salaries. Review forums like Reddit to gather student perspectives on elements like career guidance, instructor quality, internship opportunities etc.

And verify the overall school and specific program hold regional accreditation signaling academic excellence and universal credit transferability.

Hands-on Learning Opportunities

Gaining real-world web development experience through projects, labs, and internships gives you a considerable leg up before applying for jobs.

Evaluate how much practical application is built into any prospective program versus just theoretical coursework. Some colleges partner with local companies or organizations to facilitate regular student work building websites and web apps addressing actual business challenges.

Optional Career Paths for Computer Science Majors

Optional Career Paths for Computer Science Majors

Once you earn your degree credential, what career options exist? While specific roles depend partly on economic conditions and geographic location, here are typical web developer jobs graduates pursue:

Web Developer

As a web developer, you work as part of internal IT development teams designing, coding, and modifying websites. Daily tasks involve translating site layouts from concept to finished pages using languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. Troubleshooting issues and optimizing performance are big parts of the job too.

Web developers may concentrate on front-end code and interfaces or back-end server-side logic. Or larger groups may divide up responsibilities, with some managing databases and APIs while others focus on visual designs and interactions.

Web Designer

Closely related to developers, web designers concentrate more on site aesthetics, branding and ease-of-use while worrying less about complex programming. Using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, they craft page layouts, graphics, icons, fonts, color schemes, animations and other visual elements.

Often designers hand off creative concepts to developers to engineer the requisite HTML/CSS/JavaScript components. But coding literacy allows you to implement more of your own vision. Some “development designers” can build and style entire sites themselves without relying on a separate engineering team.

Software Developer/Engineer

Given web developers utilize many of the same languages and problem-solving abilities, some branch out into related software engineering roles building desktop or mobile apps instead of websites.

You might help construct commercial off-the-shelf software products, customize platforms for clients’ unique needs, or develop innovative new solutions driving business growth. Understanding usability and customer needs from past web work proves very applicable developing any type of software.

IT Project Manager

Strong technical grounding combined with people skills can also open up project management opportunities overseeing web products and IT initiatives. Drawing on hands-on insight into development processes, IT PMs interface extensively with clients about budgets, features, planning and launches.

They assemble and coordinate teams working towards identified deliverables and deadlines across analysis, programming, QA testing and deployment phases. Often fast-track management trainees, web developers seem natural fits given their firsthand experience collaborating on websites and apps.

UX/UI Designer

Those web developers attracted to visual styling frequently transition into dedicated user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design roles. You already understand technical constraints and user behaviors. Branching into pure UX design lets you fully concentrate on interaction flows, usability testing and making interfaces intuitive.

Supplement existing skills with study in design thinking, human-computer interaction and psychology. Or if you coded attractive site front ends before, emphasize those UI portfolio pieces when applying for graphic design positions. And web design vs ux design? Check out the difference between these amazing careers in our latest post.

Web Analyst

Leveraging server admin and data retrieval abilities, some web grads move into web analyst jobs. Here you put analytical mindset, statistical knowledge and programming capability towards gathering and interpreting web traffic patterns and metrics.

Monitor SEO impact, diagnose site issues, identify navigation improvements, showcase ROI and performance for clients and leadership. Master web data mining tools like Google Analytics alongside database and basic analysis proficiencies.

Chief Technology Officer

Further down the road after substantial experience, demonstrated team leadership and shrewd business judgment, talented web developers may ascend to directing full-scale IT operations as Chief Technology Officers (CTOs).

You oversee entire departments of designers, programmers and tech support addressing foundational infrastructure and emerging initiatives. High visibility role bridging technical personnel and executive management that leverages the breadth of your accumulated web development expertise.

As you can see, a college degree in web design, web programming or related discipline offers a versatile mix of technical and creative competencies fitting many IT functions. Let your interests guide you as technology steadily transforms what’s possible.

Start Building Your Future in Web Development with Jessup University

Life as a web developer brings no shortage of variety with a healthy mix of independent coding, intense collaboration, creative problem-solving, and continual learning required daily. Impactful work and strong compensation combine to make web development an appealing long-term career choice.

While fluency in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other programming languages requires dedication over time, web developers enjoy scarcity of supply and huge business demand for their specialized skillsets across practically every modern industry. 

If you seek to blend your interests in computing with desire to examine its profound influence on individuals and humanity as a whole, Jessup University presents an exciting choice in computer science. Our graduates pursue diverse careers they find meaningful via strengthened character and convictions alongside computing skill sets powering the leading technologies, companies, and innovations shaping our world.

Learn more about Jessup University’s distinguished Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program by contacting an admissions representative today. Turn your aspirations into reality and begin forging your future in web development or related technology fields with spiritual enrichment guiding every step ahead.