How do I become a Web Developer?

How do I Become a Web Develop?

Over the last 20 years, web development has grown from being a crucial part of only the largest corporations and particularly geeky subcultures, to something that a whole new generation of creative and scientific workers is expected to some degree, to understand. In 2014 there were over 1 billion websites online, and while many of these sites are flotsam of previous projects and years, there are hundreds of millions of active sites today. For each, you’ve better bet there’s a developer (or a budding one). And for the hundreds of thousands of new sites that are created yearly, they have developers too. While demand for web developers has never been higher, the barrier to entry has never been lower. And vibrant ecosystems of open source platforms, advice forums, and opportunities for self education have expanded what even a single developer can output to astounding degrees. You’ve better bet it’s a good time to be a web developer.

Salary Expectations of Web Developers:
The salary of web developers in the United States varies greatly, and depends on the quality of a web developer’s work, the nature of their employment, and the extent to which their particular skillset is in demand. That said, the average salary for web developers in the US is quite good — particularly for a field that does not necessarily require higher education — coming in at $57,758. From current job openings on Payscale, the lowest current listing on the site records a salary of $37,699, while the highest current recorded salary $85,017. Further complicating the picture, however, is that the term web developer can be used colloquially to encompass a wide variety of skill sets and job types. The more in vogue and descriptive terminologies of front end, back end, and full stack developer all yield substantially higher average salaries:

  • Average Front End Developer Salary: $67,591
  • Average Back End Developer Salary: $71,598
  • Average Full Stack Developer Salary: $73,837

Job Description Web Developer:
The term web developer is generally associated with the skillset of Front End Developers, who are tasked with developing and maintaining the front end (or client side) of websites and applications. In layman’s terms, a web developer is generally responsible for implementing the visual and interactive elements on a site, rather than the server-side application logic. Common responsibilities of web/front end developers include developing new user-facing features, building new and reusable code libraries for the future, building sites with an eye towards maintainability, speed, and scalability, collaborating with all stakeholders and team members, and often times interfacing with clients to ensure pages are performant and have the overall look desired by site owners.

Common hard skills of web developers

  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Javascript
  • Knowledge of server side CSS preprocessors like SASS or LESS
  • Knowledge of design principles
  • Knowledge of — at least jQuery, but more likely an entire javascript application framework
  • Oftentimes some knowledge of a scripting language
  • Knowledge of common CMS such as Wordpress, Drupal, or Joomla

What Education do I need to Become a Web Developer:
Web development is, like many web-technology based fields, often more about results than your academic pedigree. Many web developers are self taught, or learn through bootcamps, books, and online resources. For many web development positions, there is often a noted lack of practical know how even from recent computer science graduates with the more common technologies online. For that reason, many web developers find themselves in positions largely by building their own portfolios or even working on side projects. That said, a bachelors degree in computer science, information technology, or information systems will likely inform future web developers of many of the underlying concepts and principles that can elevate their code to new levels, be that through quality design patterns, or the ability to talk about potential online creations in a more nuanced way to other team members. Being properly qualified for a given position often requires web developers to have experience in a given “stack” or grouping of frameworks, languages, and technologies that a given employer works with. Some of the more popular front end developer stacks are as follows:

  • LAMP: Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP
  • MEAN: MongoDB/Express.js/AngularJS/Node.js
  • Ruby Stack: Ruby/Ruby on Rails/RVM (Ruby Virtual Machine)/MySQL/Apache/PHP
  • Django Stack: Python/Django/Apache/MySQL
  • Bitnami DevPack: PHP/Django/Ruby on Rails/Java/MySQL, PostgreSQL/Apache Tomcat

Web Developer Resources
Check out our ranking of the best online information technology bachelors degree programs.
Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.
Check out our guide on getting a computer science education for free with these 20 MOOCs.

How do I become an Information Security Analyst?

How do I Become an Information Security Analyst?

More than ever, information is valuable. With everyone’s digital footprint growing daily, that’s more and more of a liability for any organization that holds personal information for their stakeholders. Cue the burgeoning industry of cybersecurity, and more specifically, information security analysts. Information security analysts are responsible for keeping up to date with the latest tactics of hackers, planning and implementing security measures, and creating and instituting proper cybersecurity policies in their workplace. Information Security Analysts may end up specializing in one particular part of digital infrastructure, or work in a more generalist setting where they are responsible for protecting computer systems, networks, and data. Demand in information security roles is only on the rise, and with a shortage of highly trained cybersecurity professionals, students looking to move into this sector of the economy can command admirable salaries.

Salary of Information Security Analysts:

Depending on location, skillset, and experience, salaries for Information Security Analysts can vary quite a bit. According to, the lowest salary for a current job listing in the field is $49,478, while the highest is $102,185, making the mean salary for current information security analyst openings $70,400. Of Information Security Analyst positions, those with manager, officer, or architect in their title tend to have salaries on the higher end or above this range. Those listing the skills of project management and security risk management, salaries averaged 10% higher than other openings. Salaries were highest for these positions in Seattle and New York.

Common skillsets necessary for Information Security Analyst Positions:

  • Penetration and vulnarability testing knowledge
  • Anti-virus and anti-malware knowledge
  • Computer networking, routing and switching security knowledge
  • Knowledge of establishing and maintaining firewalls and detection protocols
  • OS and terminal knowledge of Windows, Linux, and Unix
  • At least one scripting language such as C, C++, C#, Java, PHP, or Python
  • Knowledge of best practices and implementation for cloud computing
  • Security information and event management

Information Security Analyst Job Description:
Information security analysts often work in research roles, compiling information and implementing changes to meet best practices for security depending on the technologies of their employer. At other times, information security analysts may try to infiltrate their own technologies to expose risks, and will frequently monitor usage metrics as well as risk factors for cyber attacks. Top-level goals of information security analyst positions are to minimize downtime of digital services and to protect digital assets. Information Security Analysts are tasked with staying up-to-date on their hard skills in many subdisciplines of information technology, as well as effectively interacting with and informing broader organizations through proper judgement and communication.

What education and experience does an Information Security Analyst postition require?
Academic requirements for information security analyst positions vary widely from organization to organization. That said, applicants are commonly required to posses a technical bachelors degree such as a bachelors in computer science, information technology, or information systems. There are also some specialized bachelors-level degrees in cyber security. A wider range of information assurance and security degrees are available at a masters level. A wide range of certification are also available for those looking to switch from another technical discipline to cybersecurity, or to advance up the career latter.

Common Information Security Analyst Certifications:

  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
  • ECSA: EC-Council Certified Security Analyst
  • GSEC / GCIH / GCIA: GIAC Security Certifications
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Resources for becoming an Information Security Analyst:

Check out our ranking of the best online information technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online Information Assurance and Srcurity masters degree programs.

The InfoSec Institute has a wide variety of resources for aspiring or current information security analysts.

How do I become a Database Administrator?

How do I become a Database Administration

Database Administrators (DBA) — or those who work in database administration — are often jacks of all trades, jumping into the creation, implementation, securing, and optimization of database technologies. DBA opportunities abound, and are found in almost every organization of a certain scale, whether public, private, or non-profit. As digital record keeping has accelerated — and become an industry unto itself — organizations as far ranging as your local doctor’s office, an entire hospital, online media corporations, and every hard industry have massive needs in the field of establishing, maintaining, and optimizing databases.

Salary of Database Administrators:
The avarage salary of Database Administrator positions can vary pretty widely, in accordance with location, experience level, and exact job descriptions. The lowest salary reported on PayScale was $43,900, while the highest was $104,758, leading to an average salary of $71,370. This variance is largely due to seniority and skillset, with those with a job description of database administrator III or IV garnering between $100-$120,000. Those with Oracle Database Administrator or Database Administrator Manager in their titles also made well over $100,000 a year on average.

Common Skills Needed of a Junior DBA

  • Advanced knowledge of SQL
  • Scripting Knowledge, such as Powershell, Linux Terminal, or BASH
  • Relationship between third parties and databases, in particular stored responses and triggers
  • A certification in database technologies that match the stack of the employing organization
  • Object Oriented Programming Experience
  • Knowledge of the operating system in which databases are integrated
  • Knowledge of access, permissions, and basic security concepts

Database Administrator Job Description:
Database administrators often work with a variety of teams and individually to design, develop, test, and improve databases in whatever technology their employing organization works. DBAs will often lead software updates, implement secure access procedures for developers and other team members, implement improvements and security audits at the server level. DBA positions often require the ability to troubleshoot and come up with solutions to complex technical issues alone, as well as the ability to communicate and collaborate with business analysts and project managers on issues within their purview. While many DBAs are generalists tasked with learning more in-depth knowledge in areas their organization needs aid in, many larger organizations will have a variety of DBAs on staff fulfilling the following roles and others:

  • DBAs tasked with designing logical databases
  • DBAs tasked with maintaining and fine tuning existing databases
  • DBAs focused on physical design problems related to databases
  • DBAs focused on building systems from scratch
  • DBAs tasked with security matters

What Education and Experience does a Database Administrator Need?

Database administrators can come from a variety of technical academic backgrounds, or in some cases be self taught. Common requirements include bachelors-level work in Database Administration, Computer Information Systems, Management Information Systems, or Computer Science. As with many technical skills, a portfolio of projects, or on-the-job experience can often be substituted for many openings. A common alternative prerequisite for junior to mid-level database administrators is that experience may be taken instead of schooling at the rate of one year of experience per year of schooling not received. There are also specific database administration degrees, such as this listed in our ranking of the best masters in database administration. On top of schooling or experience, many employers will prefer certification in a given technology set. The most in-demand DBA certifications of 2017 include the following:

  • OCP: Oracle Certified Professional
  • SAP HANA: SAP Certified Technology Associate – SAP HANA (Edition 2016)
  • Microsoft SQL Server Database Certifications
  • IBM Certified Database Administrator for DB2
  • Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Database Administrator

Resources for Becoming a Database Administrator:

Check out our ranking of the best onlineinformation technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Check ou our ranking of the best online Database Administration masters degree programs.

How do I become a Cloud Architect?

How do I become a Cloud Architect?

Cloud Architects are IT professionals who specifically help businesses seeking high-level advice and implementation of cloud-based technologies for their organization. These individuals may perform in consulting or in-house roles depending on an organization’s cloud-related needs. These needs include the surveying and implementation of available cloud technologies, as well as help migrating to the cloud. For organizations already utilizing cloud-based technologies, Cloud Architects will often integrate and improve upon existing components of cloud technology, including app or service usage analytics, as well as performance metrics including service uptime, latency, and efficiency at handling current or expanding usage levels.

To understand what cloud architects are involved in in a more tangible way, one must ask: what exactly is the “cloud?” Most internet users utilize cloud-based services daily, yet it can be hard to pin down without practical examples. First off, the cloud is a set of servers, often utilized en masse, and each performing their own function. Some servers will host an application or “deliver a service” while others will host information. Examples of consumer cloud-based technology are common, and include Google Drive, Evernote, SkyDrive, and iCloud. If you’re using a service that lets you utilize your files, information, or other assets and yet doesn’t use your computers drive to store anything, you’re using the cloud. In a business setting this frees organizations from having to buy their own hardware equipment, and enables them to scale up or down very quickly without wasting resources. In a consumer setting, the cloud often enables one to access their files from any device, rather than having to physically transfer files from one of their devices to another.

A number of programming languages and frameworks are necessary for many cloud architects:

  • Java
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • Node.js

As well as experience in one of the major cloud platform technologoies:

  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google
  • VMWare
  • OpenStack

Salary of a Cloud Architect:
Commensurate with the importance of a talented cloud architect, as well as the range of mastery of a quality cloud architect, salaries can be high. Average salaries for cloud architects can range from $120,000-$172,000. This puts the middle of the pack cloud architect salary at $142,141 in the United States.

Cloud Architect Job Description:
Cloud architects are often expected to be thought leaders among other developer in an organization. Common job descriptions of cloud architecture positions include establishing definitions for cloud implementation, the identification and implementation of industry best practices for cloud automation and architecture, the development of hands-on prototypes, designs, and implementations of cloud solutions, as well as the evaluation and continued improvement of cloud tools. Cloud architects will be expected to recognize and help to solve broader-business problems through cloud automation and infrastructure.

What Education and Experience does a Cloud Architect Need?
Cloud architects often have extended experience in other IT or CS disciplines, as well as 5-7+ years in cloud technologies. Many positions require aptitude in one specific cloud platform technology (see the list of major cloud platform technologies above) as well as experience with other technologies/design patterns/and portions of a potential employers stack, such as CHEF, Puppet, Ansible, Dockers, Kubernetes, REST APIs. Additional, more general experience is often specified, including experience with object oriented programming, particular of-choice scripting languages, experience with a particular OS (Windows, Linux, MacOS), as well as knowledge of common protocols among other things. Most cloud architects are expected to have at least an undergraduate degree in information technology computer science, or information systems. Some particularly demanding employers may also require a masters in one of these disciplines, though many interview processes look at the breadth of applicant experience.

Resources for becoming a cloud architect:

Check out our ranking of the best online information technology bachelors degree programs.

Check out our ranking of the best online information systems bachelors degree programs.

Microsoft Cloud Architecture applications are one of the most common. Here’s their documentation hub.

Amazon Web Services is another leading provider of cloud solutions. Check out their documentation hub to get started learning.

Cloud Patterns is an educational site offering free tutorials on many of the most common design patterns for cloud-based automation and computing.

How do I become a Health IT Specialist?

What is a Health IT Specialist?

Health information technology specialists, often referred to as Health Information Administrators, are individuals who manage information as it pertains to health and health care. This individual analyzes, protects, and interprets health records to ensure quality patient care. Paper-based records are quickly being replaced, and as health informatics, and health information technology continues to evolve and improve, there has been an increase in job opportunities for qualified individuals.

Where do Health Information Administrators work?

  • Physician’s Offices
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Professional and Technical Service Settings
  • Public Health Agencies

Salary of a Health Information Administrator:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians is $37,110. Registered Health Information Administrators is $46,270.

Health Information Administrator Job Description:

Qualified individuals are competent professionals who hold at least an associate degree in Health Information Management, and are capable of working within specific computer networks, databases, and administrative systems. Those with more expertise will be able to analyze data, IT audit, and make data available and clear to patients. Perhaps one of the most important facets of Health IT specialists is that in protecting and assuring patient confidentiality particularly as it pertains to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). HIPPA ensures the enactment of something referred to as the “privacy rule” which is a set of national standards that protects certain health information as is mandated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This ensures that health information is properly protected while also allowing for the flow of health information needed to provide the best possible quality of health care to each individual.

The range of responsibilities and, along with those responsibilities the range of pay-grade will swing with education, position, years of experience, and specialization. Information Technology auditing for example requires the individual to evaluate an organizations’s technology infrastructure as well as that organization’s policies and operations to determine and ensure data integrity. Those with the ability to interpret data are able to analyze all forms of health care data and translate that information so that information is readable, accessible, and useful to the patient all while adhering to the law governed through HIPPA.

What education and experience do I need to be a Health Technology Administrator?

With such diversity in the healthcare field and imminent job growth, a job as a Health IT Specialist is a great option for those seeking job security. The path to employment is also straightforward and does not require too many difficult hoops to crawl through to access employment.

The first place to start is with an associate degree in Health Information Management (HIM). This is recommended for most entry-level positions in today’s job market. Your associate degree must be approved through the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Following completion of your degree you must take and pass the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) certification examination which leads certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). Not all states require this, but most do. Most associate in health information technology degree programs focus on computer technology, electronic health records, healthcare insurance, coding diseases and operations, and administration.

Those looking to advance further in this rapidly growing field may seek out a position as a Registered Health Information Administrator . This career pathway is similar to that of the RHIT though an administrator requires a CAHIIM-accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree in HIM. Once you have successfully completed the academic requirements at the baccalaureate or master’s level, you may then take the examination that leads to the certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Those who qualify to sit for the RHIA and are following a master’s degree pathway must submit a paper application which may be found here. All candidates who are qualified to sit for the RHIA or RHIT may select the “early testing” route to expedite certification. Those candidate will have: enrolled in their final term of study, completed all course work but not yet graduate, and those waiting for their official transcripts. Candidates seeking certification must request and schedule their exam appointment within what is known as an “eligibility period” which is typically within four months of course completion. Recertification is required after two-years.

Resources For Becoming a Health IT Administrator:

Check out our rankings for the best online associates in IT programs here

Check out our rankings for the best online masters in IT programs here

For information on CAHIIM-accredited programs head here

For more information on sitting for exams, exam prep and pricing head here

If you are already certified and are seeking information on recertification, or continuing education units (CEUs) look here

Computer Science Degrees: What Are They? And What’s the Difference?


In the age of technology that we live in pursuing an education in computer science is simply a sure bet, or at least as sure as they come in higher education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost every job in the industry of computer science is showing growth well above the national average, an exciting prospect for anyone interested in obtaining a computer science degree. Obtaining the degree that best suits your interests and leads to your ideal career, however, is another story. There are a staggering number of computer science degrees and specializations, sub-specialties, and degree combinations. The differences between them can be both very subtle and highly consequential, having an enormous impact on learning paths and career outcomes down the road. So below you can find our exploration of the three main degrees in the field computer science: Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Information Technology.


Computer Science simply put is the scientific study of computers, their processes, and why they work. This study of computers delves into computer software, information systems, artificial intelligence, programming languages, information technology, machine programming, and cyber defense. A degree in computer science can lead to any number of lucrative and in high demand occupations including: web developers, data scientists, IT technicians, programmers, computer scientists, and more. All of which can excel in a wide array of industries, meaning that students with a computer science degree have an enormous amount of freedom to choose how, when, and where they work while maintaining impressive financial freedom as well. Seem too good to be true? Well for once it’s not. The only trouble though is deciphering which of the many, many paths you will take–for there are countless options and many of which can appear identical on the surface.

As a degree defined by technology, it should be no surprise that many top computer science degree programs can be earned entirely online. While many students require the platform of traditional schooling to best meet their education goals, many of the tech-minded students see enormous opportunity in online degree options. The freedom to learn when, where, and how you want is something that empowers many prospective students and busy professionals to earn their degree when they otherwise would not have been able to–whether due to busy work schedules, demanding personal lives, or other factors. You can find our article exploring the best of the undergraduate options for obtaining such an online computer science degree here.


Computer Information Systems is the branch of study wherein students explore the vast number of practical applications of technology, and how these applications might best support other business/organizations, applications, or research. Computer Information Systems is often confused with Information Technology. They are indeed similar, however, the CIS degree empowers students to explore areas and subject matter that are often peripheral to IT degrees. Essentially, the IT degree is for the most part designed to prepare students to take on roles in tech support or in IT services where they employ existing technology to tackle current problems, while the CIS focuses on teaching students how to develop new technology to tackle future problems. The degree will deliver an education wherein students tackle a variety of areas such as business systems, programming, social networking, software design, and intensive mathematics. This effectively grants students more freedom to choose their own career paths and choose in which niche market they will attempt to develop new technology–an impressive amount of personal choice.

It is important to note here that computer information systems as an area of study often presents itself in many different names. CIS degrees can be called Information Systems, Business Information Systems, or Management Information Systems. And these alternative names conveniently illuminate what makes the CIS degree unique: it focuses on the bridge between information system technology development and the business world, meaning that students necessarily keep up with both of these worlds and determine how new information systems might best bridge the gap between them. This makes the CIS degree an absolutely incredible tool for any up and coming entrepreneurs in the tech world, as it prepares them to stand at the apex where business technology needs and business technology development meet–an excellent place for any entrepreneur to be.

Check out our ranking of the 20 Best Online Masters in CIS

Check out our ranking of the 20 Best Online Bachelors in CIS

Information Technology is the field of study that is defined by a clear dedication to the practical applications of computers in a work environment. While the CIS degree focuses more on developing new technology to meet pressing needs of the business world, the IT degree focuses more on teaching students how to best implement computer and information technology into the current workplace. The most popular careers in IT are software/app development, computer systems analytics, information security analytics, and computer user support specialty. The IT degree offers students a unique opportunity to both work with technology and serve people in tech support, which is also one the highest in-demand markets in IT.

Students may also find it game-changing to note that the IT degree requires significantly less math than the Computer Science degree or CIS degree. In this same vein, the IT degree also offers several routes of study that focus on applied tech such as database management, security, or networking, which are characteristically different in that they don’t require an enormous dedication to writing code–a perk that some students will likely love. Essentially, there are two main learning options that are uniquely tied to the IT degree. This is is all the more noteworthy because the three degrees explored in this article are similar to begin with, and become near indistinguishable when adding degree specializations and sub specializations to the mix, but despite this characteristic homogeneity the IT degree distinguishes itself through offering these exclusive perks.

Check out our Ranking of the 20 Best Online Bachelors in Information Technology
Check out our Ranking of the 20 Best Online Masters in Information Technology

So What’s the Difference? As mentioned above there are numerous distinctive characteristics between the Computer Science degree, the CIT degree, and the IT degree. But these characteristics are for the most part only apparent at a very micro level. So for students, who are looking for a more basic understanding of the differences between these three degrees, we can distinguish between them at the macro level. Each of the degrees at its core seeks to answer a fundamental philosophical question:

CS: how might we develop, test, and hone computing systems that mechanize repetitive tasks?
CIS: how might computing solutions be used to answer an organizational or research problem?
IT: how might we ensure uptime or repair existing hardware systems?

The 10 Highest Paying IT Certifications For 2015

As certifications become outdated, new ones should be pursued!

As certifications become outdated, new ones should be pursued!

Skip to Our 10 Most Lucrative IT Certifications for 2018>>

Whether it’s checking e-mail or being responsible for a room full of servers, computers are part of everyday life—and they’re getting more complicated by the day. Of course, this also means plenty of jobs for qualified people, if they’re appropriately certified.

Featured Online IT Programs

But what is an IT certification? An IT certification in its most basic form is someone (usually from a vendor like Microsoft or Cisco) saying that a person has enough skills and education to be certified as a professional in that area. It can be accomplished by a skills test, education, or whatever the vendor’s requirements are. Getting the right certifications can mean a nice bump in salary and increased responsibility.

The 2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge and Penton came up with what they think are the ten highest-paying certifications for 2014. Keep in mind that this was a nationwide survey; salaries vary by area and experience.
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