Internet/Web Professional

The Job and What's Involved

An internet/web professional may perform one or all of the following roles:

  • A web designer, responsible for the design, layout and coding of web pages.
  • An information architect, who plans how content will be managed and displayed.
  • A webmaster or web developer, dealing with the more sophisticated websites that handle online enquiries, search engine optimisation and web hosting.
  • An account/project manager, coordinating all these aspects over different projects.

In small companies they may have some involvement with delivery and sales procedures.

In designing or re-designing a website, the account/project manager first talks to their client to find out what their needs are. They might discuss:

  • The type of people or organisations the site is targeted at.
  • What kind of computer technology they are likely to use.
  • What information the site should include and how it should be presented.
  • Text style, fonts, colours and page backgrounds.
  • Icons, logos and graphics.
  • Use of technical elements such as html, css, frameworks, lists and hyperlinks.
  • Animation, audio and video sequences.

Once the draft site has been approved by the client, a simple website can be written using codes such as HTML (hypertext markup language) or a scripting language such as javascript. Designers code the links to other sites, and add email links and counters so clients can see how many people visit their website.

Websites can be created using software that takes over much of the routine work. Specialist graphics packages may be used to prepare images and animations. Web professionals can then spend more time on web development and troubleshooting technical problems.

Trial versions may be set up for sample user testing and evaluation. Finally, the site is checked for spelling, punctuation and grammar, and tested using different browsers and settings. The last stage is to upload the site onto a server and register it with different search engines.

The web professional may provide maintenance and updates for sites that have already been established.

A web professional might work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, possibly with some evenings and weekends. They normally work in an office.

Self-employed web professionals work whatever hours are necessary to meet their workload. They could work from home.

Some time is spent in meetings, sometimes at a high level of management. The work can be stressful as deadlines are involved.

Starting salaries are around £17,500 a year. Self-employed professionals or contractors may earn more, according to their ability and reputation.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

This is a career area that is developing at great speed, with even small companies wanting a website. Key development areas are 'e-commerce' (e.g. online shopping), online processing of applications, electronic signatures and web-enabled database and information systems.

Typical employers include:

- Specialist and Internet service producers
- Publishers
- Graphic design companies
- The Press
- Film Companies
- Private Companies with in-house websites
- Public Sector Organisations

Jobs are quite widely available, but most are in the larger cities. Numbers of vacancies have fluctuated considerably in recent years with a significant increase in the number of short-term contract posts. Although there is a shortage of people with the appropriate skills, entry is still fairly competitive.

Vacancies are often advertised in trade magazines that deal with web design and other Internet disciplines.

Recruitment websites and agencies are a major source of vacancies and many companies will prefer online applications.

Education and Training

Most internet/web professionals have a degree, HND or HNC. Computer science, 3D design and graphic design are among the most useful subjects.

It is possible to begin training for this work straight from school ideally with good GCSE's/S grades in English, maths, IT and science. Some employers recruit people with A levels or equivalent qualifications as trainee programmers, who then go on to become internet/web professionals.

It is important to build up a strong portfolio of experience in designing web pages and this may compensate for lack of formal qualifications. A personal website with an online CV or career profile and hyperlinks to other websites produced is useful and can be accessed directly by potential employers.

A degree requires at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), usually including English and maths. Alternative qualifications include BTEC/SQA national awards or AVCE/GSVQ Level III.

For BTEC/SQA higher national awards, applicants need at least one A level/two H grades and three GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in other subjects, sometimes including English and maths, or alternative qualifications.

Web development, web design, multimedia design, and web content management are examples of possible subject choices at degree or HND level.

Other full-time college courses include:

BTEC national diplomas in subjects such as computer studies or information technology. Applicants usually need four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) including art and design, a BTEC first award or an Intermediate GNVQ.

SQA National Certificate modules in Information Technology. Individual colleges may set their own requirements.

AVCE/GSVQ Level III in Information Technology or Art and Design. Check the entry requirements with colleges and schools.

Graduate apprenticeships in IT may be available for young people in England.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

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A Few More Exams You Might Need

The majority of training is done on the job, with short courses (in-house or external) to cover technical training on specialist new systems and new code.

Internet/web professionals may work towards NVQ's/SVQ's at Levels 2 to 4 in the areas of information technology or design. A qualification from a software company such as the Certified Internet Webmaster certification is likely to aid career development.

Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Internet/web professionals need:

  • Creativity and imagination.
  • Strong design ability and ideally experience of using graphics packages.
  • Confidence and calmness under pressure.
  • Good presentation skills.
  • To have an in-depth understanding of how the internet works.
  • To keep up to date with changes in technology.
  • Good verbal and writing skills.
  • To enjoy solving problems.
  • To develop new methods of web-user interactivity.
  • To be able to work to deadlines.
  • To be able to work in a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

In large companies and organisations there may be opportunities for promotion to project manager level. Web professionals may choose to move into related skills areas within IT.

For professionals working on a freelance or contract basis, experience and a good reputation lead to better rewards.

Get Further Information

British Computer Society,
1 Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1HJ
Tel: 01793 417424
Website: www.bcs.org.uk

British Interactive Media Association (BIMA),
Briarlea House, Southend Road,
South Green, Billericay CM11 2PR
Tel: 01277 658107
Website: www.bima.co.uk

e-skills UK, 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920
Website: www.e-skills.com

NCC Education, The Towers, Towers Business Park,
Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester M20 2EZ
Tel: 0161 438 6200
Website: www.nccedu.com

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