While web design has been around for a couple of decades now, the job has changed dramatically since the early days. Web designers have evolved and had to move with the times.

Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress have made the process of building professional-looking sites simpler. But a CMS comes with its own set of restrictions and skilled designers continue to be in high demand.

When the client asks for a feature that isn’t available as a plug-in, when the template develops a bug, or when a completely new brand identity is required, talented web designers must step in and take the reins.

The typical career path of a web designer is also very different now. If you’re considering a career in web design and interested in what the future holds, here's a glimpse into your potential job titles and responsibilities.

Which Tech Career is Right for You?

Ready to change your career and join the world’s next workforce? At Thinkful, we’ve got your back with various tech programs to get you equipped with in-demand skills.

Before making any decisions on your future career, it’s important to  understand the subtle differences between web design roles. Here are the key distinctions between some of the most popular job titles in the web design space:

Web Designer vs. Web Developer

A web designer is primarily responsible for the visual aspects, layout, and structure of a site. They’re creative artists that understand UX/UI (user experience and user interface) design. Their goal is to create an on-brand, aesthetically pleasing site that is intuitive and easy-to-use. Web designers are experts in design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Web developers take care of the technical aspect of a site. They're responsible for the functionality and less interested in how the site is presented to the user. Developers generally have a more technical background and are masters of several programming languages. They use PHP, Python, and SQL to ensure the site works as intended. For example, they may be tasked with developing a secure shopping cart system on an e-commerce site.

Web Designer vs. UX Designer

A UX designer is responsible for ensuring the user has a positive experience when using a product. UX design is a key component of the web design process. But the UX role exists outside of web design too. UX design can be applied to both physical and digital products.  

This means that all web designers must learn elements of UX design, but not all UX designers must understand web design.

The most important distinction is that a web designer is client-oriented and works to satisfy the needs of the client. A UX designer is user-oriented and focuses on keeping the user happy when they use the product or website.

Career Paths in Web Design

Let’s look at a typical career trajectory of a web designer.

Start your career as an intern or in a junior designer position. You’ll have very limited responsibility and may shadow a more experienced designer for the first few months. This will give you a great opportunity to  learn new skills, understand your objectives, and have a clear idea of where you fit in the organization.

After six to twelve months you’ll be slowly given more tasks and start to work independently. You’ll be promoted to a web designer. Your designs will need to be approved by senior members, but you’ll become more involved in client meetings. You’ll continually be learning new technical skills along with developing your communication, presentation, and organization skills.

After gaining a few years of experience as a web designer, you'll become a senior web designer where you’ll be given more design freedom. You’ll be responsible for several different clients, and lead client meetings to gather requirements. Your job may now involve presenting to company stakeholders and updating managers on project progress.

You then have the option of entering into a managerial role where you’ll lead a design team, recruit new designers, and make key decisions on the project. You could also transition into the role of a UX designer or back-end developer.

After gaining more experience you can climb the career ladder and eventually become a creative director or senior manager.

Web Designers Have Lasting Job Security

It’s rare to find an organization that doesn’t invest in its digital presence. Companies understand the value of a website. It allows them to connect to customers and sell products globally. A big part of the process is the front-end design. It represents the brand, so must be polished and professional. For this reason, top designers are highly sought-after in the tech industry. And it’s hard to imagine the demand slowing any time soon.

Besides excellent job security, there are other benefits to becoming a web designer. You’ll have the freedom to work remotely and you can expect flexible working hours.

It comes as no surprise that web designers also attract above-average salaries. You can earn anywhere between $40,000 to $125,000 depending on your experience and skills. Plus, you’ll have plenty of options in terms of career progression.

How to Become a Web Designer

No matter where you are in your career, you can transition into web design. And you don’t even need a four-year degree.


How do I become a Web Designer?

You can become a web designer by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer programming or graphic design. You will also need to know how to use Photoshop to create graphics for websites. In addition to this, a knowledge of programming languages such as HTML, CSS, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript, and Flash is recommended, along with a basic understanding of SEO techniques.

How Much does a Web Designer make?

The salary of a web designer can vary from $42,000 to $120,000. The variance is vastly dependent on years of experience as well as proficiency in the field. The salary is also affected by factors such as geographical location and level of exposure and expertise.

What's the job outlook for a Web Designer?

Web design as a career path provides excellent job security. Every organization needs a digital presence to foster their business growth. Web designers can design suitable websites for various companies, customizing them to suit their needs. They also have flexible working hours and can work remotely.

Launch Your Web Design Career

Learn how to design smarter websites from industry professionals, 100% online, with the security of a career guarantee when you graduate.

Share this article