Web Development Certificate Guide
| Will Capella
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Web developers design, build, implement, and maintain websites. A web development certificate indicates that a student has completed a series of web development courses. Certificates can show employers which applicants have the necessary skills and knowledge to qualify for jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% job growth for web developers and digital designers from 2019-2029. This rate is double the projected growth for all occupations (4%).
Since most organizations have some sort of online presence, web developers can find employment in almost any industry. Many web developers can also find remote work that offers a flexible lifestyle with little or no commute.
Continue reading to learn more about web development certificates and how they can help you land a job.
What to Expect From a Certificate in Web Development Program
Web developers handle the front and back end of websites and servers for clients. The back end involves a lot of the unseen code and systems of a site, while the front end is what users see when browsing the web. Both sides of the stack require coding experience and knowledge of computer systems to build a functional website.
A web development certificate program teaches students the foundations for creating functional websites. Most programs teach the basics of popular programming languages used in site design and other systems. Since these courses cover the components of computer systems and code, participants should be comfortable with technology before enrolling.
A certificate offers a flexible and cost-effective nondegree route to learning web development skills. Certificate programs can last anywhere from a few months to under two years.
The admission requirements for each web development program vary depending on the institution and type of certificate. Some organizations offer web development programs requiring no academic prerequisites. Schools may refer to programs without admission requirements as professional development programs.
Other schools hold strict admission requirements for certificate programs considered "post-degree". For example, the University of Cincinnati only offers its web development certificate to students with a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
The application process for many certificate programs often resembles that of degree-seeking programs. Applicants must supply additional materials such as official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a resume or CV. Students can submit online applications and find detailed admission information on an organization's website.
Different Certificate Types
Job-seekers should know the difference between certificates and certifications. A certificate marks the completion of coursework in a particular subject, such as web development. Most students can earn a certificate without taking a qualifying exam.
A certification, on the other hand, often requires candidates to pass a test to show proficiency in the subject. Certifications usually come from professional organizations and companies, while schools award most certificates. Employers tend to use certifications as an industry standard, though these are not necessary to work in web development.
A certificate marks the completion of coursework in a particular subject, such as web development. Most students can earn a certificate without taking a qualifying exam.
Certificate programs come in all types to fit different learning styles and availability. Students can find many remote online programs or go for a traditional in-person experience. Schools may also offer hybrid courses that blend in-person and online requirements. Those with a busy lifestyle can look for asynchronous programs with classes that require no set meeting times.
One of the biggest distinctions between web development certificates lies in different concentrations. Some certificates focus on the general aspects of web development, but others hone in on subjects like user experience (UX) design.
Popular Web Development Certificate Courses
Web development certificate programs offer a variety of courses. Different concentrations or curriculum updates may affect course availability. Some programs place certificate-seekers in the same class sessions as degree-seeking students.
Class types come in core (mandatory) and elective (optional) variants. Core courses tackle the fundamentals of web development, while electives allow students to explore specialized or niche topics.
The examples below highlight some common courses in web development curriculums.
- Fundamentals of Web Development: This hands-on course introduces the study of web development. Participants learn development tools, modern theories of web design, and document layout with CSS. This class teaches the basics of HTML/XHTML and other prevalent tools while emphasizing functionality.
- Information Architecture: This seminar course examines the fundamentals of information storage and organization in computer systems. Topics include balancing function with usability and efficient storage of large amounts of data. Students use their previous knowledge of HTML, CSS, and programming languages to design a working information system.
- Collecting Data with Forms: This class provides an in-depth look at the front and back ends of online digital forms. Students create online data-collecting forms from scratch after learning the basics of web requests and the hypertext transfer protocol. The course includes topics on UX and ways to ensure accurate data collection.
- Web Accessibility: This course takes a user-oriented look at web design to meet the needs of diverse viewers. Topics include industry standards and legal regulations applicable to web design. Students engage with the course material through labs and create content that meets minimum accessibility requirements.
How Much Do Web Development Certificates Cost?
The total cost of a web development certificate ranges from $3,000-$11,000. Costs depend on the school, program length, and other factors such as methods for calculating fees. Schools may charge a tuition fee per credit or a flat fee for the entire program.
For colleges offering web development certificates, the same factors affecting the cost of traditional education apply. A public institution may cost less for local students compared to those living out of state. Private schools tend to feature higher costs compared to public institutions.
Students can find scholarships offered by the school, state, or field-related organizations. FAFSA eligibility depends on the program. Some schools qualify for the use of financial aid, but that eligibility might not extend to certificate programs. Learners can also apply for loans or payment plans.
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Why Get a Certificate for Web Development?
Requirements vary for entry-level jobs in web development. While the BLS states that many web developer jobs require an associate degree, the bureau also indicates that a high school diploma may suffice for some positions.
Finding an entry-level job with no education other than a certificate in web development can be challenging, but not impossible. A certificate alone may suffice for finding a job. However, certificate-holders without formal degrees should provide strong portfolios, including previous projects and coding experience.
Earning a certificate in web development increases your chances of finding a job. A certificate can help you:
- Build Web Development Skills: Certificate programs can teach programming languages or skills catering to specific roles in the market. Topics include coding, UX design, content management systems, and performance testing.
- Round Out Your CV: Completing a course of study in web development can make a positive impact on employers. A certificate demonstrates dedication to the field and initiative to learn new skills.
- Work Toward Certifications or Degrees: Some certificate curriculums are built with official industry certifications in mind. For example, DeVry University's program helps prepare students to take the Adobe certification exams.
Should You Get a Certificate or an Associate Degree?
A certificate and an associate degree can appear similar to those pursuing web development careers. Both program types teach the fundamentals of web development and the necessary skills for entry-level jobs.
An associate degree might cost more and take longer to complete, since it requires more credits than a certificate. Students also learn more and gain better preparation for the job market. Earning an associate degree provides a foundation for a bachelor's program.
This table compares some of the major differences between web development certificates and associate degrees. Our guide to associate degrees can tell you more about these traditional programs.
Comparing Certificate and Associate Programs
|Web Development Certificate||Web Development Associate Degree|
|Length||A few months to under two years.||Two years full time.|
|Course Load||Usually 4-10 courses or 12-30 credits.||An average of 60 credits.|
|Types of Classes||Limited to select fundamental courses. Typically a fixed curriculum (no electives).||Balances fundamentals with theories and other topics for a well-rounded education. Almost always offers electives.|
|Focus||Introduces students to core topics or supplements former education and experience. Prepares enrollees for an entry-level position.||Prepares students for an entry-level position or transfer to a baccalaureate program.|
|Admission Requirements||High school diploma or its equivalent.||High school diploma or its equivalent.|
Web Development Certificates Versus Bootcamps
As an alternative to a degree, bootcamps and certificates offer a shorter program length and a focus on workplace skills.
A bootcamp is an intensive program that teaches technical skills within several months. Bootcamps usually focus on select programming languages and software. Students can enroll in bootcamps through independent providers or traditional accredited colleges.
While a certificate may work well as a supplement, a good bootcamp can form a solid foundation for a career in web development. To learn more about bootcamps, check out our coding bootcamp guide.
Comparing Certificate Programs and Bootcamps
|Web Development Certificate||Web Development Bootcamp|
|Length||A few months to under two years.||Usually from nine weeks to seven months depending on part- or full-time status.|
|Course Load||Multiple courses taught at a more traditional classroom pace.||Multiple courses taught at an accelerated pace. May require a significant time commitment.|
|Types of Classes||Limited to select fundamental courses. Typically a fixed curriculum (no electives).||Select courses arranged in a specific order. Usually no electives.|
|Focus||Establishes a broad foundation for web development.||Focuses on specific skills and practical knowledge needed in the workplace.|
|Admission Requirements||High school diploma or its equivalent.||Proof of technical proficiency and coding skill. May need to pass a coding test or a short prerequisite course.|
Selecting the Right Web Development Certificate Program
Selecting the right web development program involves many considerations. Students considering a certificate should verify that their prospective school holds proper accreditation. Accreditation provides confidence that an institution satisfies rigorous standards of quality.
Students considering a certificate should verify that their prospective school holds proper accreditation.
Regional accreditation marks the desired standard for most institutions, while national accreditation remains limited to vocational and trade schools. The third major type, industry-specific accreditation, holds the most value to employers. ABET is the main accrediting body for tech fields. ABET accreditation can make your resume stand out, since the organization follows standards aligned with the tech industry.
Prospective students should also consider these other factors when choosing a web development program:
- Program reputation
- Credit transferability
- Class sizes
- Staff credentials
- Program diversity
- Program specializations
- College resources and labs
- Career service networks and program alumni
- Academic clubs and organizations
- Ease of admission
Should You Get Your Certificate in Web Development Online?
Even before the boom in distance learning due to COVID-19, learners recognized the value of taking online courses. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that over 7.3 million students enrolled in some form of remote learning at the postsecondary level in fall 2019.
Taking online courses can provide greater flexibility and potentially save money compared to in-person programs. Remote learning makes sense for web development in particular, since the focus of the work is online.
However, remote learning is not for everyone. Distance learning requires strong time management skills and self-motivation. Check out our guide to learn more about the difference between in-person and online certificate programs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, schools and other providers offer certificates in web development. Students can choose among many certificate programs. They can compare programs' cost, length, and other attributes to find the right one.
A web development certificate can be worth it depending on your career goals and current experience. A certificate alone might not suffice for an entry-level job. Certificates work best when supplementing prior experience or education.
You do not need a certificate to become a web developer, but a certificate may help you find a job. However, prior experience and a strong portfolio are critical to finding employment in the web development field
Cost varies depending on program length, provider, and other factors. Certificate programs may cost $3,000-$11,000. Some schools charge by credit or course, while others list a single cost for the entire program.
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