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What are the usual degree requirements of a Web Designer and Developer

I am starting school at a local community college this fall, and after long deliberation, have decided that I want to do web design/development, since I have taken both AP Art and AP Computer Science Principles, and they both ended up being two of my favorite classes, and have given me enough design and code experience to make me feel comfortable enough to want to pursue it as a career. I've decided I want to first off, start with an associates degree, as my college offers an AAAS in Graphics/Web Development. It offers two tracks for the degree, and I have actually decided to take both tracks and some extra Java classes since I have all of my general education requirements completed from AP courses.

All around, the program itself along with the extra classes I plan to take I feel will be great in preparing me for a job with just an associates degree.

BUT- I've done a lot of "job research" (I've googled web designer and web developer jobs) and I feel as if a lot of them require a bachelors degree in either computer science or graphic design. I don't really know if I want to go for a full-blown bachelors, considering I want to go into as little student debt as possible, and being financially independent of my parents is a really big goal for me

Will an associates degree prepare me fully for a web design/development job? Will there be jobs for me, if I only pursue an associates? Also, any other career advice that is related would be super helpful.

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Blaise’s Answer

I know quite a few web developers without bachelor's degrees in computer science, but they're the exception to the norm. You may be happy with an associate's degree and less debt, that's up to you. One option is to complete your associate's degree and then dive into the job market. It may be useful for you to get some job experience before continuing on to complete a bachelor's. That experience may help you figure out which parts of design and development most appeal to you. Regardless, I would definitely double-check with your college advisor about the rules for transferring your credits / associate's degree towards a 4-year program down the road. For example, how does the web design/dev track line up with the computer science major requirements at other schools?

Ok, lastly, there will always be more demand for engineers than graphic designers. I have dabbled in both and wish I had chosen one or the other. You may want to look into engineering programs that include courses on design thinking, ux design, interaction design, etc. Those are more focused on the function and experience of using an application as opposed to the aesthetics. Having a solid foundation in both programming (code) and user experience is in my opinion more valuable than mastering both graphic design and programming.

Blaise recommends the following next steps:

Check with your advisor about options for transfer of your associate's towards a bachelor's
Look into user experience and interaction design, so that you're aware of how broad the software design field is
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Sandy’s Answer

Good question. To be ahead of your class yes get a degree. Yes, most companies do require a degree. You can get started without one but to get noticed and get a good job a degree will be needed. The degree symbolizes a lot to a company. It tells the company that you can make a plan and stick to it, it says that you can work hard to accomplish a goal till completion regardless of the sacrifices and you are willing to do the what it takes to get that degree.

You might be able to get a job from a start up or smaller company and eventually use that experience over time to land a great job. Getting your degree can help you get an internship and eventually the idea job. If you work for as an intern for a company while pursuing your degree perhaps they will hire you . Going to a four year college can offer you the possibility of an internship to help you pay for your degree.

Sandy recommends the following next steps:

Look into local college programs to see about taking additional classes to complete your degree.
Check into scholarships to help pay for the degree.
Look into internships.
Get a full time job and while working on your degree .
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David’s Answer

My experience is a bit different as I'm a foreigner and I didn't go to college in the US. I have a graphic design degree, and it wasn't that relevant until I started to work in Tech. I worked at Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, and having a diploma from a "good" college matters, especially if you don't have a strong portfolio. But, if your portfolio is impressive, you can go anywhere you want, it doesn't matter your degree or where you come from.

If I were a student today, knowing what I know, I would probably focus on development. Places like Google love to hire someone that can design and also code. They prefer a developer with an "okay" design skills than an excellent designer that can't code. I think that's where the industry is going, but development is not that easy to learn, and if you don't work hard, you won't get anywhere.

That said, what do you want to do? I work in the industry for 15+ years, and I know just a few people that can do both really well (you will learn that soon). If you love to design, focus on that, and design studios or places like Apple would love to have you. The industry changes fast too, when I went to college I never thought that I would work for a tech company (most people I know went to advertising when I graduated) and now the industry is completely different. Good luck!