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Here's the questions - Web Developer

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Previous Entry Here's the questions Feb. 17th, 2005 @ 01:56 pm Next Entry
Well, I got the OK, so here goes:

As someone who's never been an IT insider, I only have knowledge of *how* to do things, not how to get paid to do them. Almost everything I know I've taught myself, from HTML 3 way back in the day to PHP 5 over the past year. My only concept of what it's like to work in this field is based on my experience in my last job. So what's out there? I know that web design and web development are often considered separate fields, but is this always the case? What are the positions like? Should I go back and get a degree? If so, what kind? If not, what do I need to impress potential employers? I'm more interested in design than development at the moment, but I like both and would be happy doing either full-time... really, any information you can provide would be helpful at this point!

(cross-posted to webdesign)
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Date:February 17th, 2005 07:37 pm (UTC)
Claiming that you know HTML & PHP is nice but if you don't have any work experience you're going to need a portfolio to show off your skills. This is essential if you're going to go into a more design oriented field.

Check listings on monster, dice, craigslist and the like for design and development jobs to get an idea of what employers are looking for.

People debate the college option as IT drifts back and forth between being a tradional professional career and a trade. Depends on who you're working for. Corps want you to be profesional so BA or MA is required. If you're approaching it from a trade perspective (I don't need a degree, I know what to do) you'll need to show them you're capable through experience. Degrees allow you to get your foot in the door without experience, even if the degree isn't in a related field (mine is in a science... not CS)
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Date:February 17th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC)
I'm the lead programmer at my company (a small but profitable .com) and I do the hiring for new programmers. We don't hire design people, we just buy templates which are really cheap.

This is my advice if you want to get a job as a programmer. Have something to show! Create a site (a message board or something more creative) that shows you know how to code, you have the discipline to code on your own, and that you enjoy coding. Large companies, with non technical hr departments, may not even send your resume to the hiring manager because you don't have a degree or experience. However, most small companies will look at it if you have a good cover letter and something to show. Degrees always help and if you know you want to code then a CS degree is best.

Side Note: We hired an entry level programmer not too long ago and I asked everyone I interviewed if they were familiar with design patterns and MVC specifically. Only one knew what MVC was. Little things like that can easily differentiate the people that study coding and those that don't.
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Date:February 17th, 2005 11:01 pm (UTC)
If you're webmaster, you need to know both design and development.

If you want to go either design only or development, go for a company that hires teams.

As for degrees, big corporations usually want people with degrees. Small companies don't care as long as you know what you're doing. You might be able to rise -- or not. It depends on the job, too. People with degrees are ideal for leading/directing/managing/overseeing a web site design and development team.

AND yes, you MUST have a portfolio, and a working site, some reference to show that you know what you're doing.

From where you stand now, you sound like you would do fine either going back to school and getting a degree, or going to work for a small company that has a design/developer team or being your own webmaster on the side. You could be mentored to a level close to one holding a real degree. But eventually, I think you will want a degree if you want to make that your career.

Of course if you're people savvy as well as webbie, you'll go much further.
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