About the job
Web developers, or website developers, create websites for clients. They handle the nuts-and-bolts aspects of getting a website up and running. “They deal more with (writing) code,” said Mark Caron, co-owner of Scriptable Solutions, a website company based on St. Paul Street in Rochester. “Developers use a programming language of choice … they handle the technical aspects, the functionality. They’re more on the programming side, working with the platform and underlying code, server-side.”
Web designers, on the other hand, generally oversee aspects like how the website looks and interactive features, Caron added.
With some companies, including Scriptable Solutions, the web developer also is heavily involved with what’s known as “search engine optimization,” or SEO – which equates to directing as many people as possible to the website.
Computer savviness and ability to write code are, obviously, essential. Caron also mentioned qualities like attention to detail, the ability to work independently, being proactive and following through on tasks with clients, as well as performing well under deadline pressures.
Also key, Caron said, is good communication skills. “That’s huge in our work,” he said. “You’re dealing with a lot of clients. There’s a lot of back-and-forth with clients.”
A college degree, with a concentration in computer science or computer programming, is “generally” necessary, Caron said – but not always. “We put more emphasis on, are you good at what you do,” he said. What’s important, he added, is familiarity with computer language or languages.
Responsibilities would be different for junior and senior web developers. For junior developers, “We wouldn’t expect there to be any training, but some learning … generally, we give them tasks to complete to prove themselves.”
What the job pays
For junior web developers, Caron estimated the salary range from $40,000 to $60,000. For senior developers, he said the salary could be $80,000 to $100,000 and perhaps up to $250,000.
The New York State Department of Labor calculates the median salary for “web developers and digital interface designers” at roughly $60,000 in the Finger Lakes region. (Caron said there will be overlap between those positions but said they have two different skill sets.)
The job picture
Caron said there is “definitely a market here” for junior web developers, but not so much for senior web developers, who tend to flock to areas like Silicon Valley.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth for “web developers and digital designers” at 8% through decade’s end, or “much faster than average.”
Lots of people nowadays know how to develop websites, or say they do, but there’s more to it than that, Caron said. Following through with clients is crucial, he said, equating the job to construction.
“Everybody with a hammer is a ‘contractor,’ but only a certain percent are good contractors,” Caron said. The top complaint Caron said he gets from potential customers is someone having problems with an existing website and not being able to get in touch with their web company.
“This is a personal thing, an important part of the business. We answer the phone here.”
Where to learn more
Colleges like Rochester Institute of Technology have plenty of information from the academic side about web development. Websites like www.websitebuilderexpert.com cover all kinds of topics about the profession.
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Alan Morrell is a Rochester-based freelance writer.