Should I Be a Content Developer?
Content developers, also called web developers, use their knowledge and skills in programming and software as well as web-based technology to create and update websites. Jobs may emphasize creative work, like copywriting or graphics, or technical work. Employment qualifications can vary widely; continuing technology education can be essential for ongoing success. Content developers may be self-employed, in which case it is necessary to attract and maintain a strong client base to be successful. Career growth can be affected by the potential for this kind of work to be outsourced to foreign companies or workers.
|Degree Level||An associate's degree may be sufficient, though a bachelor's degree may be preferred by some employers|
|Degree Field||Computer science or related field|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Professional certifications are available; some employers prefer certified developers|
|Experience||Requirements vary by employer; some employers look for copywriting and graphics experience, while others are more interested in programming and specific software experience|
|Salary||$64,970 (2015 median for web developers)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CompTIA, Job postings (August 2015)
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Steps to Become a Content Developer
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
Individuals with a high school diploma might find employment with this level of education, but only if they can demonstrate their abilities through years of experience. The education requirements may vary depending on the position and company. Positions that require a lot of coding will normally demand additional education beyond high school. While in high school, students may benefit from studying mathematics and acquiring a solid background in the discipline. An individual should also take advantage of computer science and graphic design courses, if they're available.
Step 2: Complete Postsecondary Education
High school graduates can choose from associate's and bachelor's degree programs, as well as certificate programs in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Certificate programs can be finished within a year and cover topics in web design and content management. In two years, a student can earn an associate's degree. Such programs offer basic and intermediate courses in webpage programming, graphic design, and technical writing. Students in design programs typically also acquire skills with specific software, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and InDesign. A bachelor's degree program often includes advanced courses in website development, computer programming, networks, and information systems. Some associate's or bachelor's degree programs may have a portfolio or a capstone project requirement for graduation.
A portfolio is a powerful marketing tool used to help employers make hiring decisions. Some web design programs offer development courses that may help in the preparation and presentation of a professional portfolio. Even if one is enrolled in a degree program without a portfolio requirement, it is a good idea to assemble one.
Aspiring content developers should get work experience through an internship. An internship in web design or development will provide experience and help build one's portfolio. It also offers additional hands-on training and an opportunity to network with professionals in the field.
Step 3: Obtain Voluntary Certifications
Many postsecondary programs in IT, web design, or development prepare students to take certification exams, which can increase employment opportunities for new graduates. The Computing Technology Industry Association, a non-profit trade organization, offers several certifications in computer and Internet networking, security, and troubleshooting. Certification must be renewed every three years.
Computer software or hardware vendors, such as Oracle or Microsoft, may also certify content developers. Oracle offers several Java programming language certifications. Additionally, Microsoft offers a series of computer, operating system, and developer certifications. All certifications can be earned by passing exams.
Content developers generally need at least an associate's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field, though a bachelor's degree is often preferred, and certifications can help with career advancement.