How to Get a Job in Web Design
So, you want to get a job in web design? What is it you like to do best when building websites? Programming code? Design graphics, architecting layouts? All the above?
Web design has changed a lot over the past 20 years. You used to be able to jump right in, learn HTML, and you're good. But now that websites are such important assets to companies, web design has grown into a huge career field. You don't see one-man-shops very often in the professional web world. The process of building a website is broken out into a team-based process. A single person is usually responsible for a single aspect of a particular website. There are multiple job roles and some job roles require knowledge of the other job roles to successfully work on a web building team.
So, back to my original questions. Where do you fit in? What area of web design you strongest? What area you most passionate about?
What are some example web design jobs?
In modern web design, the process of building a website is broken out into multiple job roles. They usually fall into three main categories, creative, technical, and management. Depending on the company, shop, or agency you work for, the job titles and duties can vary.
Creative Job Roles
- Art Director
- UI Designer
- UX Designer
- Information Architect
- Graphic Designer
- Writer, Copywriter, or Editor
- SEO Specialist
Technical Job Roles
- Front End Developer
- Web Developer
- IT Tech
- Project Manager
- Customer Service Rep
- Sales Rep
What does a web designer job involve?
Within a company or agency environment, website projects are broken down into specialties, so no one person is the "web designer". If you're a graphic design in a web shop, you may be making website mockups all day. Or if you're a web programmer, you may have your nose in code all day. So the term "web designer" is really a collective of all the people contributing a certain skillset to a web design project.
However, you can find jack-of-all-trade web people who commonly do freelance work. You can call them web designers if they handle the bulk of the web design process. Freelancers can either find their own clients to work for, or they are sometimes hired by larger web design shops to fill in on a per-project basis.
How to get entry level web design job
It's kind of funny (but not for you J), that most web design job postings require an expert or an experienced professional that knows 14 different web programming languages, 20 software packages, 8 CMSs, a 4-year degree in computer science, and has excellent communication skills. This is like every web design job posting and most of the time the HR person who wrote this copied it from somewhere else has no clue what any of it means or if any of it is even truly required.
Anyway, so how do you get an entry level web design job? Well, I've been hiring web design people for over a decade now, and I can tell you that the most import thing I look for is INITIATIVE and PASSION. Education, software packages, etc, can all be taught. But what I value more is the kid who spends his nights and weekends doing web design related activities because they actually enjoy doing it. Playing around with design, experimenting code, reading up on what's new and cutting edge in the industry. I like to see people who are totally geeked out on making websites.
If you come in for an interview and say you like computers and had a basic programming class, so you think you'd make a good web designer – I'm not going to hire you. But if you come in and you're like "check out the cool site I built" or if we can converse about current trends and events in the web industry, then I'm going to be like, "Hey, this guy (or girl) is really into it, and someone I want to hire".
What if I don't have a Degree or Education in Web Design?
I would hire a kid in high school who is truly passionate about building websites before I would ever hire a self-entitled college grad who thinks I should give him a web job just because he spent 4 years learning out-dated material.
And I'm serious about it being outdated. There is no college that teaches current web design practices. Web design changes too fast and schools can't keep up. By the time you graduate, it's already changed. Sure what you learn has value - basic HTML, CSS, graphic design, is always good to know, but you can only get the current cutting edge material on your own initiative.
The beauty of the web design industry is that 75% of web "professionals" are self-taught. There are thousands of free online resources for learning web design. You don't need expensive tools or software, just an average computer or laptop with an internet connection.
So go out there and learn PHP, or CSS, or Wordpress. Just start learning something on your own. You will learn better by making your own experiences, rather than listening to a professor in a classroom.
As Quentin Tarantino once said, "To this day I actually think that…rather than go to film school, just get a camera and try to start making a movie". Same as in web design, you don't have to waste money on an expensive education, just start trying to make websites. Study how other sites are built. Read and do tutorials. Everything you need to know is out there for free on the web. You can make yourself an expert.
There are also great online learning courses that can give you a jump start on learning and they aren't very expensive.
And some free web design learning resources:
A quick disclaimer, I'm not saying don't go to college or you don't need college. There are valuable life lessons, friendships, and other skills you will acquire there. Even though you don't need college to succeed in web design, a lot of jobs will require a 4-year degree regardless.
See Also: Top 5 Schools For Learning Web Design
Where is the best place to get an entry level web design job?
When it comes to getting an entry level website design job, I would advise looking around for jobs with small design shops. Shops with 4-12 people. You'll be able to get to know the web professionals who work there on a personal basis, they'll show you the ins and outs, the tricks of the trade. You'll gain role models, industry contacts, and friends with a common interest. You will get a great hands-on paid-education by working with a small team.
After that experience, you won't be entry level anymore. You can probably go anywhere, an agency, a college, an in-house corporate job, or go freelance.
How to apply for a web design job?
Sure you can submit a resume and cross your fingers. But everyone else does that same thing. You want to stand out, do something cool. Make a YouTube video explaining why you should get the job. Build a website about yourself, or a sample website for the employers existing client.
This is a creative field and we love seeing creative ideas. Again it shows your passion and initiative for the job. If you really want to work in web design, you'll do whatever it takes.
Job seeker tip: If a company you want to work for is not hiring - offer to work freelance or part-time. Maybe even offer to intern for free. Express that you really like the company and you just want to get your foot in the door. It's risk-free for the company and they will be able to see how you actually perform on the job before they make a commitment to hire you full-time.
How much do web design jobs pay?
Web design compensation is all over the board, depending on who you work for and where in the country you work. An entry level web design salary ranges from $30,000 to $40,000. On an hourly basis, an entry level web design rate is $15-$25 per hour. Seasoned web design salaries average between $50,000 to $80,000, but they can certainly be higher depending on skill level and demand. Professional web design hourly rates for freelancer average $50-$90 per hour, but really good freelancers can bill out for $150+ per hour.
How is the current web design job market?
The web design job market has never been hotter. There are millions of website launched every day. To be a competitive business in today's market requires it to have an online presence. That said, we're always looking for new, talented people to help build great websites. Web design companies are launching every day, so they are always in need of help. Unless the internet blows up or electricity goes away, there will always be web design jobs.
Where to find web design jobs?
To find an available web design job is actually pretty easy (getting it might be hard). Google "Web Design" + "Your city" and you should get back a list of all your local web design companies. Go to each of their websites. See if you like them - are they someone you want to work for? If so, look for any mention of employment opportunities and contact info. Then apply or reach out in a creative way.
What's great about web design is you don't always have to be local to the company you work for. It's a great job you can often do from home and telecommute. All you need a computer in most cases.
To get a web design job online, there are a number of popular job boards you can check out. To apply for any of the given jobs you just have to follow the instructions per the job posting.
Here are some of the popular web design-related job boards:
- And if all else fails, there's always craigslist.org and monster.com J
If you want to try your hand at freelance work first, check out:
I hope these tips help you take your first step into web design. Just remember to be passionate about what you want to do and go do it.