How Much Can You Make in a Web Design Career?
While no degree guarantees a particular salary or job title, a web design degree often leads to high-paying positions in the growing industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information technology professionals earn a median annual salary of $86,320, well above the national average for all occupations.
The BLS projects a 12% increase in computer and information technology positions from 2018-2028, which translates to more than 546,200 new jobs. The table below details daily responsibilities, salaries, and job growth expectations for online web design school graduates.
- Back-End Web Developer
Median Annual Salary: $69,430
Job Growth (2016-2026): 13%
Web developers design and build websites. Many web developers work for computer systems design companies, publishing companies, and advertising firms. Back-end web developers build the underlying framework of websites. They construct technical aspects such as mechanisms that allow other developers to change and add pages. They also ensure that websites function properly and can handle appropriate amounts of traffic.
- Front-End Web Developer
Median Annual Salary: $69,430
Job Growth (2016-2026): 13%
Like back-end developers, front-end web developers typically need at least an associate degree in the field. Front-end developers are primarily responsible for a website's appearance. They design the website's layout and add graphics and applications. Front-end web developers meet with clients, test site features, and write code using languages such as XML and HTML.
- Software Developer
Median Annual Salary: $105,590
Job Growth (2016-2026): 21%
Software developers design programs and operating systems. They sometimes write code but more often work closely with computer programmers. These professionals test prototype software, recommend software updates to clients, and create diagrams to guide programmers' work. Applications software developers create computer programs, while systems software developers build operating systems and custom platforms.
- Computer Programmer
Median Annual Salary: $84,280
Job Growth (2016-2026): -7%
Computer programmers work in industries such as computer systems design, finance and insurance, and software publishing. Using coding languages such as C++ and Java, they build software programs, mobile applications, and computer programs. Computer programmers receive instructions from clients and developers, identify bugs, and update existing applications. Some design entire programs, while others take direction from software developers.
- Graphic Designer
Median Annual Salary: $50,370
Job Growth (2016-2026): 3%
Graphic designers create visual elements for advertisements, publications, brochures, and websites. They may design by hand or use computer programs to edit images, develop layouts, and create illustrations. Graphic designers often meet with art directors, present their ideas to clients, and alter existing designs.
According to the BLS, the top 10% of web developers earn more than $120,000 per year, while the bottom 10% earn less than $38,000 annually. Factors impacting earning potential include job duties, industry, and geographic location. For example, web developers in Washington State earn the highest median salary, $94,060 per year. The data below covers salaries and job growth for web developers in each state.
What Courses Can Be Taken for an Online Web Design Degree?
Bachelor's in web design curricula vary between schools, but many programs share some key features and include similar classes. Online students typically build graphic design skills through classes on photo editing. They also learn to design web pages and often explore basic IT concepts. The table below provides an overview of common web design classes, but students should research specific degree requirements for each prospective school.
In this course, students learn to create new images and edit existing images using software such as Adobe Photoshop. Students learn to create high quality visuals for digital and print applications.
Students learn to program scripts that run on users' browsers. This course explores processes that occur on servers that host websites.
This class prepares students to plan and build effective and attractive websites using HTML, CSS, and XML. Topics include interactivity, usability, and responsive design.
This course explores the underlying technologies of the internet. Students learn about web infrastructure and become familiar with web protocols, servers, and middleware.
Students explore database design and the various applications of databases. They learn to design databases for use in web applications.
How to Choose the Best Online Web Design Program
Prospective students should consider many factors when deciding where to earn their web design bachelor's degree online. Learners should consider each college's reputation, since graduating from a respected university can help individuals secure a job. Additionally, students should heavily consider schools they can afford.
Prospective students may also research accreditation, faculty, and academic requirements. The tips below can help you choose the best school for your needs and take full advantage of your degree in web design.
- What are my degree options?
While some schools offer stand-alone web design programs, many departments offer web design and development as a concentration. Students interested in web design must often pursue a broad degree. Programs in information technology, graphic information technology, and digital media commonly offer web design specializations. Additionally, some programs focus on technical aspects of web design, while others emphasize graphic design.
- How should I choose courses and electives?
Learners should consider their career goals and personal interests when choosing information technology electives. Students might take classes in penetration testing, intrusion detection, and cybersecurity. Web design students can also use electives to learn about topics in other fields. To select electives, students should consult online syllabi and research the faculty member who teaches each class.
- Are there different online learning formats I should know about?
Distance programs typically use an online platform that provides access to materials including recorded lectures, assignments, class notes, readings, and discussion forums. Asynchronous online programs allow students to complete work at their convenience, while students in synchronous programs must log on at set times. Learners can also pursue hybrid programs, which include on-campus and online courses.
- Will I need to complete a capstone project to graduate?
Many of the top web design and development programs include a capstone requirement, which learners complete during the last semester. Students work independently or in teams on a web development project they can include in their professional portfolio. Through the capstone course, learners demonstrate proficiency in key aspects of web development including programming, web services, and design.
- How do I find the most affordable program?
Cost is among the most important factors to consider when selecting an online web design program. Students who prize affordability should look for programs at public institutions in their state, which tend to have lower tuition rates than private schools and out-of-state institutions. Learners can also search for schools that offer tuition discounts for online learners.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Web Design Programs
While a college degree offers numerous benefits, higher education requires a substantial financial investment. Online students often save on costs such as meal plans, transportation, and on-campus housing, but distance learners still have tuition expenses.
Bachelor's in web design students can take advantage of many funding opportunities, including grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships. Students should prioritize scholarships and grants, which recipients do not need to repay.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation offers this scholarship to qualified African American or black students majoring in the visual arts. Acceptable fields of study include graphic design, video production, illustration, and photography. Candidates must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and must be enrolled full time at an accredited U.S. institution. Applicants must submit a resume, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and five original designs.
In 2007, the ESA Foundation introduced this scholarship to aid minority students and women pursuing degrees related to computer and video game arts. Each year, the foundation awards up to 30 scholarships, each worth $3,000. The ESA Foundation awards 15 scholarships to graduating high school seniors and 15 to college students. Candidates must study at an accredited college or university and must maintain at least a 2.75 GPA.
Fireart is a design studio that provides motion design, product design, application development, and web development services. The company offers a $1,000 scholarship to college and high school students studying a field related to web and mobile applications design or user experience. Applicants must submit a PDF outlining a proposed redesign of all NASA web pages. Candidates must have at least a 3.5 GPA and a minimum 1150 SAT score or 27 ACT score.
Lounge Lizard is a New York City-based company specializing in web design, digital marketing, and SEO services. The firm offers a semiannual $1,000 scholarship to U.S. students enrolled or accepted to accredited institutions. Applicants must submit a web design project, an application, and official transcripts. In addition to the monetary award, the scholarship winner receives a design critique from Lounge Lizard's founder and chief creative officer.
PGSF is a nonprofit organization that offers financial aid to undergraduate and graduate students planning to work in the graphic communications industry. Scholarship candidates must plan to pursue a career in graphic communications, technology, or management and must be studying full time. Awards range from $1,000-$5,000 per year and can be renewed for four years, provided the recipient maintains at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and an essay.