Web Development Pay and Projected Growth

By Kathleen Taylor, Bud E. Smith

Are you looking for a job in web development? Before you spend time scouting the classifieds, you should know what you’re looking at for pay and potential growth in the field.

Web development pay

The median annual salary for web developers is $62,500, according to the BLS. This is significantly less than computer and mathematical occupations overall, which have a median annual salary of $76,270 — a 22 percent increase. But it’s far higher than the median for all occupations, which is $34,750.

That’s right — a web developer makes 80 percent more than the typical U.S. worker. And web developers with outstanding overall skills, or even just a reasonable amount of technical skill on top of graphic design ability, can easily move up to the $70,000 range, which is double the median for all occupations.

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Now these salaries vary quite a bit by experience and expertise and geographic location, as well as by how people work — contract or regular employment, full-time or part-time. Across the U.S., the lowest 10 percent of workers earned less than $33,550 — just about the median for all fields — and the highest 10 percent earned more than $105,200, which is almost exactly triple the median for all occupations.

To get a bead on what these figures might mean for you, you have to look at the area in which you live. Glassdoor is a site that has a lot of information about salaries and working conditions for specific companies and in specific regions, as do some job sites such as Monster.com.

The point of looking at the national averages is to understand, in a general way, just how well web developers are paid. Use local and company-specific information to get a feel for your particular market before negotiating a starting salary or a raise.

There are very good cost-of-living comparison tools at both Salary.com and Payscale.com:

Projected growth in web development

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that web development will grow from 141,400 jobs in the U.S. in 2012 to 169,900 in 2022 — a total of 28,500 jobs, making for a 20 percent increase. This is one of the strongest numerical increases in the U.S. economy, and it’s in a professional area that’s among the higher-paying as well.

It’s believed, however, that even this job growth understates the case. While the net growth might indeed turn out to be 20 percent, many web developers move into related positions, whether in technology, non-web or not-strictly-web content development, graphic design, or the arts. It’s easier to get into a web development job than most other jobs because of the growth; it’s easy to get hired into a non-web development job from within the web development field because the skills involved are well-respected and valued.

The BLS provides an interesting description of web developer job prospects: “Job opportunities for web developers are expected to be good. Those with knowledge of multiple programming languages and digital multimedia tools, such as Flash and Photoshop, will have the best opportunities.”

This is a little off in detail — Flash development is, if anything, on its way out — but right on the bigger picture. Combining more technical and programming approaches with graphics, and being up-to-date with the latest and greatest, is the most promising way to build a strong career.