College to learn website design?

Posted: March 16, 2008 in Web Design
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A common question I get from people, is whether it makes sense to go to college to learn web design?I’ve talked about the web design profession in other articles. Yet, as you will see in the following email I recently got, I haven’t dealt with all the issues regarding web design and education:

Hi Mr. Tatem,

Anyway, I am interested in web design. I am in the middle of trying to figure out whether I should go to my local community colleges for courses in HTML, photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc … or an actual art school for graphic art/ web design. Of course cost is a factor.

I am a mother of two, and my work schedule needs to be flexible. I am very creative and have a great eye for design.

My question is, which course of action you recommend? How much education is necessary? Is a degree necessary, if so, what type? associate, bachelors, certificate?

What are the salary potentials in web design working for yourself and for outside companies (I have research outside company positions advertising 40k – 50k, is that realistic?)

I’m not young, (a youthful 44) and I really need to do something in the form of a career for myself, other than taking care of everyone else.

Thank you so much for your time

Laura #####

  1. First, let me begin by saying that college degrees always help when looking to get hired as an employee. This is especially true in larger companies, where they have strict rules (in their HR departments) that have to be followed.
  2. On the other hand, if you are looking to become an independent contractor, degrees from college won’t help much … if at all.
  3. How much education is necessary? Is a degree necessary, if so, what type? associate, bachelors, certificate?
  4. The most important thing to have in the website design field is skill and experience. If you have a solid portfolio, where you showcase your talents as a web designer or web developer; that will go a long way to securing a job.    … When I hire people, I look at their past work and skills before their degrees.
  5. I would argue that if you have say, a bachelors in some other field (art, history) and then you supplement that with a certificate in website design, you would be better off than if you just had a tech certificate only. I have found that companies tend to like university graduates more than tech school grades.

Website Design Salaries

  • I can’t speak to exact salaries, as this will change from state to state or country to country. But I know that in large companies, degrees play a big role in terms of your earning potential. But again, more important than a college degree, is your skills.

Website Design’s Most Valuable Skills

  • Typically, the more technically advanced your skills are, the more money you will make. And this applies to both freelancers and employees. So unless your a fantastic artist (in the top 1%) I would be working towards learning more and more advanced skills like PHP, Javascript, Flash and AJAX. Not only will you be able to command a higher wage, you will be opening yourself up to many more job opportunities.

Case in point .. me!

When I was a really active contractor, I found myself more and more busy as I learned new languages. Over the years, I have done commercial work with around 9 programming languages! When you have that kind of flexibility and experience … it’s hard NOT finding work.

Matt Tatem
www.tatemwebsitedesign.com

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Comments
  1. Jed Heelan says:

    I would would like to understand this higher if if anyone has further info? Looks fascinating as I’m not acquainted with this subject.

  2. Andrew Pelt says:

    Found you on Twitter, some of my followers recommended you – and I’m not disappointed after reading this. Great resource.

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