Learning how to become a professional web designer can change your life for the better ... photo by CC user Elly Köpf on wikimedia

If you’re thinking of a career change and you’re looking at getting a technical education instead of a general college degree that may or may not lead to a career, then you may want to consider web design.

This would be a good choice for you if you like to work on projects undisturbed for long periods of time while still being part of a team. This career is also ideal for if you’re more introverted than extroverted, if you prefer art and focused, detail work to more outgoing business work, and enjoy creating beautiful, intricate things.

However, even if you think that becoming a web designer is right for your personality type and aptitude, you still have to do your due diligence before you jump into it. You should know what you’re getting into before you start enrolling in education and begin looking for a job in the field.

For instance, you need to look into how much it pays, the number of working hours, and what is expected of you.

Briefly, it can pay from $25 k to $75 k, depending on where you work. However, there are many levels to this career path, and once you have the basic web design skills down, you can go on to become a web developer and earn six figures a year. So think of web design as starting on the path of digital work rather than an end goal.

Here is a brief description of what it is like to be a web designer from salary.com:

“Produces graphic sketches, designs, and copy layouts for online content. Determines size and arrangement of illustrative material and copy, selects style and size of type, and arranges layout based upon available space, knowledge of layout principles, and aesthetic design concepts. May require an associate’s degree or its equivalent and 2 years of experience in the field or in a related area. Has knowledge of commonly-used concepts, practices, and procedures within a particular field. Relies on instructions and pre-established guidelines to perform the functions of the job. Works under immediate supervision. Primary job functions do not typically require exercising independent judgment. Typically reports to a manager.”

The Path to Becoming a Web Designer

While it is possible to study on your own, it may be better to go to a school. There are several advantages to this choice: first, you’ll follow a curriculum instead of inventing one for yourself and missing out on essential skill development steps; second, you’ll have proof of your level of skills through a certification; third, you’ll develop a network of people who will be able to help you make good career choices. What can you expect from a formal education? A web design degree at Platt and other media arts schools will walk you through everything you need to know to go from a beginner to an advanced designer, ranging from coming up with creative ideas to learning HTML and CSS on special editors and applying the latest trends in web design. While many techniques taught here are similar to what you can learn from other technical education schools, it’s often difficult to find a place that offers such a comprehensive education.

The Journey from Beginner to Professional

There are numerous skills that you will have to progressively learn, and while it may all seem like studying Greek in the beginning, as your skills improve it will actually become progressively less confusing and more interesting. Eventually, it will be fun as you begin to see visual representations of your creative ideas.

Generally speaking, you’ll start with learning Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This is a way of creating text files that will determine your choice of color, font, graphics, and hyperlinks for websites on the World Wide Web (WWW).

Beginning HTML will teach you how build your first web page, and besides learning the language, you’ll learn more about the software you need to use to create Web pages. After this, you’ll learn advanced HTML, where you’ll go over (Dynamic HTML) DHTML, tables and frames, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Along the way, you’ll be exposed to a lot of advanced scripting tools where you’ll learn all about cookies and get exposure to multimedia options.

Beyond Web Design

While you can get a well-paying job as a web designer, you can also continue to learn more about how to build professional websites. Since you will have been exposed to many scripting languages, you can go beyond developing the look-and-feel of web pages to programming. So you can evolve from a web designer to a web programmer.

Admittedly, web design is more glamorous than web programming because as a web designer your work will be visible to everyone. As a web programmer you’ll be working behind the scenes–focusing on thing like CGI and scripts that make websites work.

If you like the programming route, you will manage web site security, work on content management systems, and design e-commerce portals. You can even become an advance programmer by studying XML and becoming an XML designer. Now you’ll work more with multimedia, as well as with wireless devices.

It’s also important to recognize that you can still do web design when you become a web programmer.

Conclusion

Think of web design as the first step in your career choice. There are many levels of professional growth. Additionally, once you have a plethora of technical skills, you have two choices: you can either work for a corporation or you can freelance. If you do decide to go into business for yourself, you’ll have to and handle clients and finances.