Do I Need a Degree to be a Web Designer?

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If you’re interested in programming and you have a knack for visual design, you may want to know more about getting a Web design degree. The truth is, you don’t need a degree to learn Web programming or to get started in the industry, but a degree will help you get hired by companies that employ a staff of developers to work on internal projects.

Making Money as a Web Developer

You might be thinking of starting out in a career as a freelance Web developer, but without industry connections and professional experience, you will only be qualified to bid on jobs listed on job boards such as Elance and oDesk. Nearly all of these jobs pay very little, and you won’t have a realistic chance of making a full-time income if your only source of payment is the clients on freelance websites. It’s quite possible to build a successful career as a freelance Web developer, but it’s best to start out with an industry job to meet contacts and learn how a professional business operates.

The reason you need contacts and experience is that you will have to approach corporate clients and pitch your services to them in order to make at least an average income in this field as a freelancer. You’ll have to show them your portfolio and explain to them why you’re qualified to do the job. Every time you approach a new client, it will be like another job interview. When you have several clients convinced of your abilities, you’ll get repeat business, and then you can quit your day job and work freelance full-time. You will need a degree to get a job with a company in the first place, and your education will prepare you for all of these career steps.

Acquiring Professional Skills

A Web design degree is a two-year program offered at most community colleges and four-year universities. It usually doesn’t lead to a four-year degree, and the coursework focuses on basic high-level programming, visual design and business. If you already have some programming knowledge, you can probably teach yourself all the Python, JavaScript, HTML and other languages you need to have professional-level coding skills in a few months.

If you have a day job you can live on, you can start bidding on freelance jobs from Elance and oDesk in your free time. You won’t make much money at first, but you’ll get real-world experience that will translate to job qualifications as your skill level increases. If you have a steady source of income to live on while you get established on freelance job boards, you can eventually gain enough experience and clientèle to pitch your services to higher-paying clients and quit your day job.

When you have 18 months to a year of experience, it won’t matter that you don’t have a degree. You will probably also find good clients on the job boards who return to you for future work. To become successful without a degree, you will have to be sharp-minded and aggressive, but it can certainly be done.

Computer programming is one of the best skills to have in today’s job market, and an associate’s degree in Web design is one of the best degrees for the money. If you want to ensure that you have professional skills and lucrative opportunities, you may want to consider getting a Web design degree.

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