Web wayfarer

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Web development takes a bit of mastery of all the other fields. I am learning more on my own than in class. Why don’t more schools take this specialization seriously?

Your question can be generalized to much of your college education. You are learning the basics and can apply it to your chosen field. College should teach you how to make money is the catchphrase for many disenchanted graduates. The web industry has a fluid and fast-changing skillset, which makes teaching it more difficult.

Most web developers with a degree will have one in computer science or information technology. These generally pool a number of subjects under one umbrella and are non-specific qualifications. To learn a specialist trade such as a web language or specific web application software you have to look in the mirror.

Traditional roles such as engineer, accountant, or nurse require specific degrees, this does not apply to many technology skills based careers such as web designing or mobile app development. There are plenty of arguments why this is the case and why it can be futile spending tens of thousands, and four years of your life, on a college degree.

Self-taught skills can be garnered through some of the thousands of online resources and courses available. YouTube is awash with video lectures and guides for beginner through to advanced-level coding and techniques. The internet is your personal academy for learning web development and most of it is free.

Those seeking to enter the corporate world will need the appropriate degree and background. This is not the case for tech and web software. Many startups simply do not care whether you have a degree or not, they want to see whether you can reliably deliver high-quality work on time. Education is rarely a requirement on any of the online job and freelance developer portals, they are looking for your portfolio and experience, which college cannot provide.

Own-paced learning can be far more productive that the rigid and often inefficient standardized teaching and testing methods at college. However, the structured system of guidance on campus is not there, so you are on your own and motivation is a key factor. Web technology is a fast-paced field, by the time you have learned something there will probably be a new version of it. College curriculums cannot keep up with this rate of change and obsolescence will be a hindrance, so you will get left behind quickly.

Unlike the corporate world where a degree automatically qualifies you for a better pay package, web development does not depend on your qualifications. Your earnings will depend on the quality of your work and how many clients you can find.

There is a huge industry for search engine optimization, an ever-shifting skillset requiring no formal qualification. Do you know anyone with a degree in SEO? The entire field can be self-learned from a plethora of online resources. Of course, it takes time and dedication, but so does attending college for four years. To work on the web, you need to be a power user of it and an expert in how things operate there. This goes way beyond just checking your Facebook feed and watching a few videos. Web developers live the web.

Any fool can know. The point is to understand… Albert Einstein.

Written by Nadeem Ghori, President of Webplex, a digital analytics agency.