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How to Choose an Online Web Developer School

By, Scott Ashcroft, MBA, Bryan University Web Development Program Director

I started building websites over 15 years while working as a consultant for business start-ups. As a programmer and full-stack web developer, I’ve seen what it takes to be successful and what skills are in the highest demand.  The market for web developers continues to grow, making online web developer programs more attractive than ever. Choosing the right program depends on where you want your career to go.

There are generally three types of online web developer programs: certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs. Choosing an online web developer school involves finding a program that matches your career goals (including what programming languages you want to learn) and finding a program that fits with your timeframe and schedule. It is also wise to select a program that teaches job-relevant skills and provides support for your learning experience. Finally, when selecting a web developer program, consider what job search resources will be available after you have earned a certificate or degree.

Web Development versus Web Design

web coding team

Before you get started, it is helpful to define what is meant by web development versus web design. Web designers are typically focused on working with a client to determine what a website should look like, such as the graphic elements and layout. Web developers take those requirements and develop the website through proper coding. In terms of web development, you may choose to become a front-end web developer (what the user sees), a back-end web developer (the programming that collects the data) or a full stack web developer (someone who does both).

Types of Online Web Development Programs

When you are selecting an online program in web development there are three common paths:

  1. Certificate programs and Boot Camps offered by independent organizations and colleges and universities.
  2. Associate Degree programs through colleges and universities.
  3. Bachelor’s Degree programs, often in Computer Science.

These programs vary in length, content, format, and cost.

Web Development Certificate Programs and Web Development Boot Camps

There are many online certificate programs and boot camps offered by colleges, universities, and training organizations. Certificate programs and boot camps can range in length from 12 weeks to 12 months. Anything labeled a boot camp is usually delivered in a condensed schedule – usually 12 to 24 weeks. Many boot camps, though not all, will provide a certificate upon completion.

A certificate program through a college or university may be offered in a condensed “boot camp” format or a more gradual format spanning 6 months to a year. One benefit of longer certificate programs is information retention and opportunities to practice, in addition to better school-life balance. In some cases, web development certificates offered through a college or university are accredited such as the Bryan University’s Web Development Certificate, which means financial aid is available if you qualify.

The benefits of boot camps and certificate programs are speed and flexibility. Programs are often offered at flexible times, making them easier to fit in for those already holding down full-time jobs.

Web Development Associate Degree Programs

Associate Degree programs typically last 18-24 months and provide a wider number of programming languages and training than a certificate program may offer. Having an associate degree may also provide a leg up in the hiring process. Some programs, like the Associate Degree in Advanced Full Stack Web Development we offer at Bryan U, allow you to dual enroll in our certificate and associate degree program so that you can apply your certificate credits toward the associate degree program. The associate degree also provides you with additional skills that are not offered at the certificate or boot camp level.

Web Development Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Students interested in web development who decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree will typically choose computer science or a related field. A bachelor’s degree typically includes significantly more classes that provide skills related to programming languages and provide a more well-rounded education.

Front End Development versus Back End Development

If you do not yet know if you want to be a front end or back end developer, consider programs that offer full stack web development training. Check with the program coordinator to see whether you will receive training in both areas. Some employers prefer to have an individual who can do both. At Bryan U, we offer a Certificate in Full Stack Web Development and an Associate Degree in Advanced Full Stack Web Development. We believe that training students to be versatile in the marketplace is important and can lead to greater job opportunities and career growth. It is important to note that there are no firm requirements for being a web developer, but employers will look at any certifications or degree programs completed, and may also wish to view your coding portfolio.

Skills You’ll Learn in an Online Web Developer Program

What you learn varies significantly by provider and program. There is no set standard to become a web developer, so you’ll want to ensure that the program provides marketable skills that are needed by employers. Since a web developer is primarily a programmer, you will want to learn the most common web development coding languages. For example, in the Bryan University Full Stack Web Development Undergraduate Certificate program, we provide training in several programming languages and technologies, including:

  • JavaScript
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Linux
  • js and React.js
  • Mongoose
  • MySQL and PostgreSQL
  • HTTP
  • AJAX

In our Advanced Full Stack Web Development Associate Degree program, we layer on top of these skills additional competencies such as:

  • Python
  • Django
  • NGINX
  • Apache & Docker
  • Data structures
  • Algorithms
  • Testing and QA

One way to confirm what skills employers need is to look at the job postings of companies that are hiring and make sure your tech skills will include the most marketable languages. By and large, JavaScript, CSS and HTML will be required. However, learning additional programming languages can make you a more attractive candidate and make it easier for you to find your next job.

Web Development Course Schedules

First, identify how much time you can commit each week to school based on your schedule. If you already have a day or night job, pick a program with class times that work for you. Some programs will be a straight 12 or 24 weeks, full time. Others may be 6 months or two years but provide more flexibility. In the college or university setting, most programs will be in a semester format. For example, the Web Developer Certificate and Associate Degree programs at Bryan University allow you to take 2 courses every 8 weeks until the program is completed. Students select day or evening live sessions on Zoom and have access to recorded session for those they miss.

Online Web Development Training versus On Campus

Another consideration is the training format. Online programs can provide a level of flexibility that’s hard to beat, but there’s a balance between flexibility and making consistent progress. It’s important that if you choose the online format, it should include live, virtual interaction with professors and peers, to ensure you get the help and motivation you need to continue making progress and finish what you start. On campus formats also generally provide live instructor or peer assistance, but they may require a more substantial weekly time commitment.

Online Learning Tools to Learn Faster

If you choose an online learning format, ensure that the program provides the latest and greatest learning technologies to help you learn faster and measurably boost your skills. For example, Bryan U has developed an innovative, immersive online learning experience using technology tools like Cerego, which encourages long term memory retention. We also offer tutoring and study sessions to help support you every step of the way.

Showcase Your Web Development Skills to Employers

Regardless of which program you choose, you’ll want to showcase your work at the end of your program so that employers can verify you have the skills they need. For example, at Bryan U, we utilize Portfolium to help you collect and track samples of your work throughout your program.  You also have the opportunity to use industry-relevant tools such as Visual Studio Code, GitHub, and Slack, providing even more experiences to impress employers.

Other Frequently Asked Questions for Web Development

Do I need a degree to be a web developer?

There is no set standard for web developers, so the short answer is no. However, employers do look at your training certifications, degrees, experience, and other qualifications when hiring. A degree program is often an advantage for employment opportunities. According to a worldwide survey of over 90,000 software development professionals, over 75% had an associate degree or higher.1

A certificate is a good way to get into the job market quickly but completing a degree program can open more doors. At Bryan, those who choose our web developer certificate program can use those credits toward an associate degree. This dual enrollment option allows them to start work as soon as the certificate is complete while remaining enrolled in the associate degree program.

Is there a good job market for web developers?

Yes. The U.S. Department of Labor projects careers for web developers will grow much faster than average through the year 2029 at a rate of 8% or higher in the US. 2 According to U.S. News’ Best Technology Jobs of 2019 Web Developer ranked #6 of the top 10 jobs.3

Some of the roles that are open to qualified web developers include:

  • JavaScript Developer
  • Full Stack Developer
  • Front End Developer
  • Quality Assurance Developer

Employers of all types hire web developers, from large companies like Amazon to midsize companies to non-profits. Industries that use web developers include software/IT, Finance and Banking, SaaS, Healthcare, Education and Retail.

Can veterans or active duty personnel use educational benefits for web developer programs?

man on computer

Some online web developer programs are approved for use with veteran’s educational benefits. Veterans who are interested should check with the online program to see if participates and check if their benefits qualify for use. All programs at Bryan U are proud to serve veterans and active-duty personnel who are interested in using their military benefits for school. We also offer veterans and active-duty personnel tuition discounts.  

Your Future in Web Development

As a web development professional, I love seeing students learn and thrive in this exciting field. If you choose to pursue a career in web development, I encourage you to select a web developer program that has your back. Pick a program that trains you in the most marketable programming languages, fits your schedule, and provides career support.


I’d like to invite you to learn more about the web developer certificate and associate degree programs at Bryan U by calling us at 888-768-6861 or completing the Request Information form.

1Stack Overflow (2019). Developer Survey Results 2019. On the internet at https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2019.

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2020-21 Edition. On the Internet at https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1134.00.

3https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-technology-jobs

 

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