What's essential and relevant? Pursuing Web Dev. in 2013!

So I finally took a leap from my job as a 4th grade teacher and am spending this year (possibly more) going back to school to prepare myself for a career I think that I’ll will involve a much more manageable amount of stress and that better fits how I work and think. I’m looking into becoming a web developer and would love to eventually do that for a small newspaper or magazine. That’s my thinking right now, but I’m also interested in having a good enough skill set to be able to keep my options open.

Here’s what I’m hoping you might be able to help me with. I met with the department chair of the Computer Science department at my local community college, and she told me that if I wanted to be hired as a web designer or developer that I would have to get some basic programming skills, and she advised me to pursue the Web Development Certificate (I already have a BA). Looking over the required courses, I’m wondering which courses are really going to be relevant to get started as a Web Developer, and which ones are either being phased out or might be non-essential.

I’ve been looking at lots of job postings to see what sort of stuff employers are looking for in new hires, and I’m trying to decide if my best course of action right now is to cherry pick classes that I think will create the best resume and make me hirable or to go for the full Web Development Certificate so that I have a wider background, and the piece of paper to wave around in my potential employers’ faces.

So, now that I’ve gotten all the explanation out of the way, here’s what I’m hoping you can advise:

1. What should all prospective web developers be able to do and have a strong foundation in?

2. Which of the courses that my community college is offering (listed below) cover topics and skills that are still relevant and necessary? Which ones are unnecessary and would probably not be useful to me unless I was doing back-end stuff? (For example, I’m not sure that I need to learn C++ or C#. And it seems weird to learn Dreamweaver if I learn HTML and CSS well. I’m also really curious about how much I would need to know about UNIX, Database Design, SQL, and PHP?)

3. Looking at these courses, is there a grouping of them that you think would give me a solid foundation in web development and an ability to create, maintain, and manage web sites? Which courses would YOU take if you had to do it all over again? Also, are there any courses you think would be just as easy to learn on my own? I’ve done some work with books alongside Codecademy to learn basic HTML/CSS, and that seems pretty straightforward, but I still think schooling has its place.

Here are the courses that make up the Web Development Certificate. The top of the list are the “core” requirements, but the professor said that I could substitute almost any of the electives courses for these core courses if, for example, I’m not interested in the C languages and am more interested in learning Ruby and Java instead (which, from everything I’ve been reading, I definitely am).

CWB 110 Complete Web Authoring: HTML
CWB 130 Dreamweaver
CSC 119 Python
CSC 160 C++
CSC 236 C#
CIS 220 Fundamentals of UNIX
CIS 240 Database Design and Development
CIS 243 Introduction to SQL

CSC 237 Advanced C# programming
CSC 240 Java Programming
CSC 241 Advanced Java Programming
CSC 253 MS ASP.NET Web App Development: C#
CWB 208 Web Application Development: PHP
CWB 280 Internship
Special Topics: Wordpress
Special Topics: Drupal
Special Topics: Ruby

Thanks in advance for any time you put into reading this huge multi-question post. I really value any opinions or thoughts you might share, and frankly trust them a lot more than the opinions of folks who are inside of academia, which is often really slow at catching up to the trends and lightning-fast changes that happen with the web and tech worlds.

Cheers everyone!

I think you mean JavaScript instead of Java. They are entirely unrelated different languages.

Oh the other hand, you seem to be including a variety of programming languages, so maybe you DO mean to include Java, but should add JavaScript as a basic essential, too.

Good luck!

Congrats on taking your first step! Web development is certainly an exciting and fast-moving industry to be in, and its great that you are starting right now.

Having taken a look at the list of courses, I would suggest that you choose the CIS and CSC courses only if you are interested in back-end web development. While the choice of which language to learn is up to you (C, Ruby, PHP, Java, etc), it would be a good idea to know the basics of each, before eventually focusing on 1 or 2 that you would love to work in. So don’t be afraid of learning multiple languages for a start. You would certainly need to know SQL/Database related topics too.

If you are not interested in back-end development, you should ignore the CIS / CSC courses, and spend more time on HTML/CSS. However, front-end development would involve more than using the “tools”, you would need to know about design theories and strategies that your course does not seem to provide. This would require you to be doing some reading up on books, websites, etc and getting hands-on into designing websites.

Regardless of which modules you eventually choose, I wish you all the best in your course! :slight_smile: