While, a couple of years ago, Web designers could find plenty of work among startups, small businesses, and bricks-and-mortar companies going online, today the story’s changed significantly. Startups have been going out of business by the bushel. Meanwhile, bigger corporations have responded to plummeting earnings (and stock prices) by cutting costs via layoffs. Together, these things mean that there are a lot of skilled Web workers pounding the pavement, competing for a scarcity of jobs. This is no longer the anyone-can-get-a-Web-job career it was just a couple of years ago.
Long term, the outlook for Web work is very promising. The Internet is here to stay; more businesses are going online seemingly every day. And advances in technology will make Web skills an ongoing corporate need.
Two industries worth singling out for opportunities are Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet consulting firms. In addition, there exist many small Web-design shops, each specializing in a different industry. Traditional advertising, marketing, and PR companies are also heavily involved in Internet work. In addition, graphic design studios have combined website design with their traditional creative services offerings.
Many large companies keep their website activities in-house. The advent of intranets, or company-specific HTML-based networks, means that Web-savvy individuals are needed in every department to create and maintain each division’s information site within the overall corporate ‘Net. Most relatively large companies, and certainly all companies involved in high-tech or the media, have full-blown teams to handle their websites, both internally and externally. Determining where you might fit into such a team will help focus your career preparation work and narrow your job search.
Finally, many Web designers work as independent contractors, serving smaller companies that don’t want to hire a full-time Web staff, but still want to have ongoing control of their sites’ content, and sometimes providing consulting services to larger companies. Independent Web designers generally telecommute from home, where all they need is a computer, a scanner, and a good connection to the Internet. Like everyone else in this career, though, they’re finding the market for work much, much tougher than it was a few years back.