Are you a creative person who enjoys working with computers, stays up to date with the latest technology, and has a good eye for design? If so, an online web design program may be an excellent fit for you. The following guide highlights the benefits of earning an online web design degree and what you can expect to learn in the process.
It also explores some of the most popular and lucrative jobs for professionals in the field. With training in this area, you can position yourself for an exciting career as a web developer, computer support specialist, desktop publisher, graphic designer, and more. Ultimately, this degree helps online learners develop the necessary skills and earn the credentials to become attractive candidates in today's competitive job market.
Overview of Web Design Degrees
Web designers work with clients to develop user-friendly web pages and associated apps. These professionals help to maintain websites, design touchscreen-compatible pages, and write code for troubleshooting issues in today's rapidly changing technology fields. Students who earn an online web design degree work with cutting-edge software such as Dreamweaver, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, WordPress, and Adobe Photoshop to meet the demands of virtually any client or company.
At many schools, online students in this area typically enjoy fully remote programs with no on-campus obligations. These programs best serve students with a creative eye and an understanding of the fundamentals of aesthetically pleasing design and web page layouts. Incoming students with no prior experience in design can still develop all the necessary skills for success.
Professionals with an online web design degree enjoy above-average salaries and job growth. An increasing number of companies, individuals, and other entities rely on web design professionals to meet their daily web technology needs and ensure that their online platforms function properly. Unsurprisingly, job opportunities in this area look exceptionally bright in the coming years, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that careers in this area will grow by 15% by 2026.
Applicants for an online web design degree typically submit an online application, application fee, and accompanying materials. Application fees range from $25-75 per application. Most schools require each prospective student to submit their official transcripts, a personal statement or essay, and standardized test scores. Most schools for web design do not ask for letters of recommendation. It is wise to have a potential writer in mind, however, just in case. If pursuing a graduate degree in web design, the school may also ask you for samples or a portfolio of your previous design work.
Tracking down official transcripts in a timely fashion is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. In most cases, each application typically asks for one copy of your official transcripts. You must order each copy directly from your previous educational institutions. Schools that ask for official transcripts often do not accept photocopies, only original, sealed documents from your previous schools will suffice.
Applicants should submit requests for transcripts at least three months before their application deadlines. Incoming transfer students who wish to have their transcripts evaluated for potential transfer credits may wish to request them sooner. Most schools typically charge a $15-30 fee for each copy of a transcript, so if you apply to several schools, be sure to plan accordingly.
What Will I Learn?
Distance students pursuing an online web design degree can engage with diverse curricula that incorporate general education classes with technical design skills, programming basics, graphic design, and more. Some programs feature courses on legal aspects of design, ethical standards, copyright issues, and intellectual property laws.
Schools that offer business- and marketing-focused classes may incorporate training in areas such as search engine optimization, AdWords, and search analytics. Additional topics necessary for today's modern web design professional also include HTML and CSS coding, advertising design, creative drawing, 2-D design, typography, and design for social media platforms.
Most online web design degrees feature an even distribution of credits between major-specific classes and general education courses. For example, bachelor's degree seekers can anticipate a curriculum consisting of about 50-60 credits of general education, 30-35 credits in web design, and 25-27 credits for electives. Some programs offer more elective credit opportunities than others. Students who wish to tailor their degrees to meet their personal needs should identify online programs with extra elective credits and faculty members that specialize in their areas of interest.
Ethics, Design, and CyberlawStudents in this course can develop a foundational understanding of professionalism and standards in web design and related fields. Faculty members help students explore the history of ethics, related laws, and modern case studies for up-to-date examples that affect how web designers conduct business today.
Small Team CommunicationMany web design professionals today find themselves working in small businesses and teams. This class helps learners to develop confidence as contributing members in these settings. The class covers group development dynamics, power dynamics, leadership and conflict, and problem-solving methods. Students can also explore what it takes to lead groups and become helpful team players.
Photoshop SkillsAs one of the primary tools used by web designers today, this class covers the fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop and related digital imaging software. Learners can focus on capturing and altering images for print formats and web-based content. The class allows students to explore photo retouching, painting, image manipulation, composition, graphics formats, color correction, and more.
Professional PortfoliosAll serious designers need to possess a professional portfolio that encapsulates their best work and displays their strengths. This class can help students with the preparation and presentation of portfolio materials needed for job interviews, grant applications, potential clients, and more. Faculty members teach both traditional and digital formats to offer constructive criticism and guidance.
TypographyThis class ensures that students understand the fundamental importance of typography and its various uses in web design projects. Enrollees can explore the history of typeface and examine numerous modern fonts to learn about spacing, readability, and legibility. In most cases, students use Adobe software and Mac OS.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Web Design?
An online web design degree provides students with the opportunity to develop a diverse set of core skills for lucrative careers across the technology and design industries. The following sections highlight some of the notable competencies distance learners can acquire in web design programs their significance for professionals in the field. Additionally, we look at some popular web design careers and their earning potential.
Distance students pursuing online web design degrees can learn how to build aesthetically pleasing and functional websites. In many cases, clients hire these professionals to build user-friendly platforms that take into account their specific branding, marketing strategies, typeface preferences, and other visual aspects that contribute to the uniqueness of a brand or company.
To reach this level, students in web design can learn programming languages such as HTML and CSS to obtain the necessary building blocks for websites. Additionally, designers consider user experience (UX) to help them make decisions regarding website design and usability.
Beginners and advanced designers alike can work with similar software such as Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator. These industry-standard programs help creative web designers carry out projects from start to finish. The top colleges and universities that offer online web design degrees ensure that all students obtain the necessary skills and techniques to use this software to its fullest potential.
Many web design programs emphasize training in these areas for their versatility and usefulness in many careers. Online learners can prepare for jobs built around these helpful design tools and the exciting final products they produce.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Professionals with accredited online web design degrees pursue careers in a variety of exciting industries. Many degree holders work for small independent companies, large corporations, advertising agencies, and virtually any other company with a public presence online, in print, or on television.
Today's web designers typically pursue careers as systems analysts, UX researchers, web content managers, web developers, multimedia programmers, and more. By earning credentials from a top program, degree holders can also increase their earning potential and position themselves for more diverse and lucrative positions in the workforce. The table below offers a description and average salary of five popular careers in the field.
Annual Median Salary: $50,370
These professionals use a combination of colors, fonts, and other visuals to create a design and presentation for websites and products. Their projects include logo design, website layouts, product packaging, previous content, and more. Graphic designers work in advertising firms, newspapers, magazines, and technology-driven companies. Additionally, many graphic designers today work from home as independent freelancers.
Annual Median Salary: $42,910
Desktop publishers ensure that electronic documents meet employer and client standards. They typically act as the leader of multiple publishing projects at once. These professionals monitor time management for their departments and typically need a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in publishing, graphic design, text processing, or electronic publishing.
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Annual Median Salary: $72,520
These professionals create animation and graphics for television, movies, video games, and various types of electronic media. Most workers in this area possess a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. They often work in teams at small businesses, large special effects companies, and more.
Annual Median Salary: $69,430
Computer Support Specialists
Annual Median Salary: $53,740
These specialists help customers with technical issues with software, computers, printers, and more. They often work at small or large companies and provide in-person support for clients. Most computer support specialists also provide assistance over the phone or online chat. Some employers require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Web Design?
Undergraduate programs that offer an online web design degree typically prepare distance students for entry-level careers across the technology field and related professions. Associate and bachelor's degrees, coupled with extensive work experience or specializations, may open additional employment or advancement opportunities.
Work experience is one of the most valued characteristics of web design professionals today. Undergraduate degree holders with a strong professional portfolio of previous work, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work as a team member are highly sought after in the modern technology job market.
An online learner interested in a mid-level position, leadership role, or specialized web design career, however, may wish to pursue further education beyond an undergraduate degree. Advanced degrees allow online pupils to develop documented specializations or skill sets, conduct research, and expand their professional networks. Some employers seek out candidates with advanced credentials to hire more distinguished and experienced web designers. While not always the case, an advanced degree could increase your earning potential and expand employment opportunities.
Accreditation for Web Design Bachelor's Programs
It is important that your online web design degree is offered by an accredited school. Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities meet certain educational standards established by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Accredited programs also provide you with an education that is worth your tuition dollars and awards credentials that can help their alums advance their careers.
Accredited schools in the U.S. possess either regional or national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools usually offer many majors and programs, at all levels of degree. Nationally accredited schools typically grant credentials to career-focused institutions that specialize in specific trades or vocations. Individual degrees, majors, or programs may also earn programmatic accreditation.
Not all schools seek out programmatic accreditation, especially those that already possess regional accreditation. Programmatic accreditation shows that a school went above and beyond to ensure its quality of education in that area and to distinguish itself from other programs. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design is the top accrediting body for web design.
Web Design Professional Organizations
Professional organizations can benefit students and seasoned professionals. These associations typically offer a diverse set of networking opportunities, online access to exclusive discussion boards and articles, and active job boards. Many organizations host annual meetings that allow professionals from all over the world to convene and collaborate. Most organizations maintain up-to-date websites with reliable news sources and current events in the field. In a quickly changing, technology-based field such as web design, professionals can rely on these organizations to stay abreast of new technological advancements and related research.
Graphic Artists Guild
Established in 1967, this membership organization offers online webinars, educational resources on copyright law and ownership, guides to contracts and professional agreements, and more. The site features a special section of resources for educators and a way for potential clients to locate GAG members for hire.
International Web Association
Widely recognized as one of the top associations for web professionals, the IWA provides its members access to educational and certification information, job postings, and the latest news. All types of working professionals in web-based fields can take advantage of the association's professional development programs, networking opportunities, and international member database.
World Organization of Webmasters
Founded in 1997, this is a membership-based, nonprofit community of web professionals. The organization strives to facilitate communication between professionals in related web-based careers, stimulate the growth of careers in the field, and provide the latest information for interested parties. Its website includes access to certification information, continuing education classes, and a professional job board.