What Type of Degree Do I Need to be a Website Designer?

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Web design and development is a lucrative and fast-growing career, with 28,500 new jobs expected to be created between now and 2022. If you love graphic design and technology, it’s possible to become a website designer with just an associate’s degree. However, a solid portfolio of work is a crucial aspect of becoming successful in this field. Read on to learn more about the type of degree to become a website designer.

Degrees for Web Designers

Web designers who focus solely on the way the site looks typically have only a high school diploma or associate’s degree. Because of the visually-oriented aspect of these positions, a portfolio of work is more important to employers than specific coursework. However, in order to advance in the field, a higher degree may be required. For example, many web designers strive to become web developers, a professional who designs both the external look of the site and the internal infrastructure. Developers usually must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, although some learn through on-the-job training.

School Yourself in Programming

The most important education for web designers is a thorough understanding of the programming language HTML. If you’re a student who is interested in this career path, start off by learning HTML with books, online tutorials, and creating basic websites on your own. Experimentation is one of the best ways to learn how to build effective and beautiful websites. After you become proficient with HTML, begin branching out into other programming languages, such as Javascript, SQL, and Flash. Many local community colleges offer courses in design and programming. You can also try a website like http://www.w3schools.com/, which offers free tutorials. In addition to programming languages, learn and become an expert in design tools such as the Adobe Creative Suite.

Building a Portfolio

Another important aspect of your web design education, whether in the classroom or on your own time, is practicing the skills you’ve learned. Start designing websites for friends and family as well as for the industry in which you’re interested in focusing your talents as a designer. Free, basic websites are a great way to build up your portfolio and impress future employers. You should also spend time studying the websites whose designs you admire and figure out how certain aspects of the sites work.

Self-Promotion

Once you feel fairly confident in your design skills, the next step is to build your own site where you can showcase your web design work. This site should highlight your abilities and strengths as a designer, since you’ll be using it not only as a portfolio when you apply to web design jobs, but also as your business site if you plan to pursue a career as a freelance web designer. As many as a quarter of website designers work independently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While you don’t necessarily need a specific type of degree to become a web designer, an associate’s in design in combination with on the job learning and independent study are the best ways to get your foot in the door for this exciting and lucrative career.

For more information on obtaining your design degree, please see “Top 10 Online Graphic Design Degree Programs“.

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