Web consultants, also known as web developers or web designers, provide web design and maintenance services to companies and individuals. They create customized websites that convey their clients’ message in an effective and eye-catching way, and once the site is up and running, web consultants are often responsible for ensuring that it does not have any technical issues. In addition to computer skills and knowledge, web consultants often have a background in graphic design and possess strong visual and verbal communication skills as well.
Web consultants perform a variety of duties. They may be responsible for planning a website from inception, and meet with clients to discuss the desired look and feel of the site before planning the overall layout and organization. In other cases, they are presented with an established concept and use it as a guideline to design a site that matches the idea. After a basic outline has been established, web consultants take any text or images that will appear on the site and convert them into viewable forms, using hypertext markup language (HTML). They may also add animation or interactive features to the site as well. Web consultants may also be responsible for adding downloadable files or clickable email information, which requires the use of file transfer protocol (FTP). After a website is built, web consultants may also perform technical maintenance duties, such as improving the site’s performance or approving additional content for the site as it becomes available.
Many web consultants hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science. Others have no formal computer training and instead learn the necessary coding and software programs for a career in web design on their own. Those interested in a career in web consulting often have a background in graphic design or fine arts, which helps with the design aspect of the job. All web consultants must have knowledge of computer graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator, Paint Shop Pro and Dreamweaver. They must also be familiar with HTML programming, XML-based web applications, Flash and other web programming languages and programs. Web consultants must also be comfortable working with various operating systems, like Windows and Macintosh. They must also be aware of technology developments in the field and new software and programming that may make their job easier or their work more sophisticated.
Some web consultants are self-employed and work on a freelance basis. Others serve as contract employees for a company or work for a business that provides consulting services to a wide range of clients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees in the computer systems design field, including web consultants, worked an average of 38.8 hours per week, while employees in all other industries averaged 33.6 per week. Overtime hours are not uncommon, and web consultants who are self-employed may also put in night and weekend hours as well. Most web consultants work in offices, though many are able to work from home as well. Because they work in front of computers all day, web consultants may be subject to eyestrain, back and neck pain and wrist and hand injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
According to PayScale, a salary information website, the median annual wages for web consultants with less than a year of experience ranged from $30,519 and $45,667 as of June 2010. Those with one to four years of experience earned between $37,903 and $55,450, while those with five to nine years of experience earned between $48,817 and $68,435. Web consultants with 10 to 19 years of experience earned between $52,360 and $75,494, and those with over 20 years of experience earned as much as $92,402.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for computer systems design workers, including web consultants, will increase by 45 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is approximately four times faster than the average for all occupations. The expansion of Internet products and services should create a demand for consultants who are able to design and maintain websites, as businesses and organizations seek a greater Internet presence. Candidates with advanced degrees should enjoy the best prospects.