Go to any website on the Internet, and a Web designer has had a hand in creating it. The site could have been built from scratch, or started from a template, though either way, the best websites are created by designers who are knowledgeable and skilled in a number of software and tools, are creative, have an eye for detail, and have a sense of what people want. In the Web design field, there can be much overlap in positions, but here are general job titles people can have:

  • Webmaster.

    Webmasters maintain websites, dealing with any user issues, connectivity, and analyzing Web activity and traffic. It’s a somewhat antiquated term – it was in vogue at the start of the World Wide Web – though some people still identify by it.

  • Web designer.

    This is the person who creates the website using software and tools, organizing the information in a user-friendly manner and deciding on the overall visual appearance.

  • Web graphic designer.

    These designers don’t create the whole website, but focus on making graphics, such as logos, banners, and navigation menus.

  • Multimedia Web designer.

    As the name implies, these designers are in charge of the multimedia features of a website, such as infographics, navigation controls, and content presentations.

  • User interface designer.

    This person is responsible for the overall experience of the website – its look, usability, and accessibility – and is often involved in branding efforts.

What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Web Design?

Web designers may find work at a company that produces websites for clients, managing the website of a single company, or doing client work on a freelance basis. The latter is more common, and sometimes preferred, as the designer can set his own hours and take on as many assignments as he likes. Different jobs in Web design require different credentials and experience. A multimedia Web designer may only need to be proficient in certain tools, while a webmaster usually needs a certificate or associate degree. Web designers and user interface designers also may need a Web design college degree at the bachelor’s or master’s levels. Depending on what type of company they work for, designers may also be proficient in the business. Web designers who work in telecommunications, for instance, may need to be proficient in electronics.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer systems administrators, which includes Web designers and masters, earned a median $69,160 a year as of May 2010. AIGA, also known as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, also does an annual survey of salaries in design occupations. According to its 2011 survey, Web programmers/developers working on back-end systems earned a median of $60,000 a year, while those working on the front-end systems earned median of $70,000 a year.

The type of industry a Web designer works in may influence pay. According to the BLS, the highest paying industries for network and computer systems administrators were in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing (average of $93,910 a year); insurance and employee benefit funds ($90,630); and securities and commodity exchanges ($90,530). The top three industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation were computer systems design and related services; management of companies and enterprises; and elementary and secondary schools. Opportunities for Web design work may also vary by location. According to the BLS, the states with the highest employment of network and computer systems administrators were California, whose Silicon Valley is home to major Internet companies such as Google, eBay, and Yahoo!; Texas; and New York. The top-paying states were all concentrated in the same area: District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland.

These figures and figures are informative, though it is important to remember that they are not indicative of what you can expect to make in the field. Salary and job opportunities will greatly depend on your level of education and experience, as well as the economic climate, demand in your field, and competition from other designers.

What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Web Design?

Students interested in getting Web developer degrees online are at a natural advantage when it comes to distance learning – they tend to already be comfortable online working with many different types of user interfaces. This comes in handy, as during a course, communication may be done via chat, message boards, or email, with lectures given in a text, video, or live format.

For those just starting out, a Web design course online would begin with the basics, teaching certain tools and software all Web designers need to know, such as HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, Flash, JavaScript, and Photoshop. Once a student has the basics, more advanced courses will go into more technical software and marketing practices, such as mobile platforms, social network applications, and Search Engine Optimization, as well as Internet legal issues, such as copyright and trademark laws, and business training, since many designers work freelance.

Given the ever-evolving nature of the Web, Web designers are constantly learning new software and practices to improve their skills and remain relevant and competitive in the field. Valid credentials are just as important as the new skills you learn, so for those planning on pursuing higher or continuing education, we recommended taking courses through an accredited Web design online school.