Web Designer vs. Web Developer: A Career Guide to Help You Decide [Infographic]

When it comes to your future, there’s one thing you’re sure about: your passion for technology. That’s what makes you a great candidate for a career behind a computer screen! But the next step gets a bit tricky.

If you’re like many others in your shoes, it’s difficult to decide between becoming a web designer versus a web developer.

These two titles look similar at first glance but each has its own distinct responsibilities and deliverables. Knowing the difference between them is critical to making the right career decision.

Put simply, web designers work on the front end of a site, or, the part users can see and interact with. Web developers, on the other hand, work on the back end of a site, writing the code that allows the website to function.

These individuals work hand-in-hand to create beautiful, fully functioning websites, but these jobs require people with very different skillsets. They also require different education and experience levels; and they offer very different opportunities.

Here’s a tool to help clear up any misconceptions you may have regarding these commonly confused careers. In the battle of web designer versus web developer—only YOU can decide who wins!

web designer versus web developer infographic

Introducing the imagery that follows is this paragraph: If you’re looking for a career that caters to your tech-savvy nature, you’ve probably considered working in web design or web development. While these commonly confused careers may look similar on the surface, it’s critical to understand the key differences within the two fields before determining which is the best fit for you. So before choosing between a career in creating versus a career in coding, this side-by-side comparison will help you clear up the confusion.

First comparison: What You Have

This first section shows two columns, each with a line drawing of one hemisphere of a brain.

On the left we see the text “Designer (left brain)” followed by four bullet points: Artistic, Creative, Holistic, Imaginative.

On the right side we see “Developer (right brain)” with its own four bullets: Analytical, Logical, Sequential, Technical.

Second comparison: What You Need

In the left column we have two circle graphs labeled “Experience Needed.” On top is the graph for a Web Designer, which indicates that 58% of Designers have 1 to 4 years of experience, 29% have 4 to 7 years, 7% have less than one year, and 6% have 7 or more years of experience.

Below this, we see the same type of graph for Web Developers, showing us that 52% of Web Developers have 1 to 4 years of experience, 36% have 4 to 7 years, 8% have seven or more years, and only 4% have less than one year of experience.

In the right-hand column, we see that, when it comes to education, 83% of companies prefer Web Designer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree (the most common degree for this is graphic design). At the same time, for a Web Developer, 89% of employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree (most commonly found in computer or web programming).

As for technical skills, Web Designers are expected to have experience in Adobe Photoshop, JavaScript, Adobe Acrobat, jQuery and Adobe Dreamweaver. A Web Developer, on the other hand should have technical skills in JavaScript, jQuery, Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), HTML5 and Java.

As for What You Can Expect, the next category on the page, we find upward arrows in the Job Outlook (2010 through 2020) category for both career paths. Web Designer careers are expected to grow by 13%, while Web Developer jobs are expected to go up by 22% in that time period.

In 2013, according to the next chart, there were 39,063 jobs available for Web Designers, and 87,685 openings for Web Developers.

The salary range, which reflects the 10th to 75th percentiles according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is from $26,250 to $77,490 for Web Designers. For Web Developers, that range is $33,550 to $105,220.

Finally, at the base of the page in a section titled “Where You Can Go,” we see two maps of the United States indicating which states have more or fewer job openings.

In both charts, California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, New York and Massachusetts show up in the “More openings” category. At the low end of the spectrum, we find Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine.

Although there are a few variations between locations for Web Designers and Web Developers, for the most part we find mid-lower job levels in the middle of the country. At the same time,  the Eastern seaboard and Northeast section of the country and the western quarter of the country have higher rates.

At the base of the infographic, beside a logo for Rasmussen College, we find the following information: Created by Collegis Education for Rasmussen College 2014 Rasmussen, Inc.

Listed below that is information on the source material for the infographic: O*Net Online (U.S. Department of Labor, Education & Training Administration), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), BurningGlass.com (analysis of 126,748 web design and web development job postings, January 1 through December 31, 2013)         

About the author

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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