Demand for web design and development technicians continues to grow, making it a smart education choice for those seeking useful, transferrable skills and long-term job prospects. The opportunities are flexible and varied; for instance, you might focus on user experience, project management, system administration, app development, front-end coding or server-side programming.
When it comes to working in web design and development, there are five main employment arrangements to choose from. You can split those down further into a binary choice: self-employment vs. traditional employment.
Traditional employment tends to come with a more defined growth trajectory, a more predictable income, and established benefits and expectations, but generally offers less flexibility around lifestyle choices and following your interests.
Self-employment gives you complete control of your career, workload, scheduling, and income, but also puts the administrative burden of running all operations onto your shoulders. However, there are ways around that frustration. The services of an umbrella company can help with paperwork and administrative chores like managing contracts, dealing with invoices (and avoiding non-payment), insurance and benefit management, and tax requirements. If you need it, you can get guidance and help with IR35 and other time-consuming, compliance and paperwork demands.
Here are your five employment options with a sampling of types of roles and responsibilities:
Agency: Web design and development professionals often find a home at agencies that focus on websites, apps, and other client solutions. Those roles allow for a high degree of specialization, so you can focus on a niche skill or pick from multiple growth paths. Demand for specific types of coding, programming, and design expertise is high, as are client-facing skills including project management. If you’re good at working in a team and communicating with clients, are ready to work on big projects with set deadlines, and have strong skills in a specific area, an agency role could be a good fit.
In-House: In-house roles often require a broader base of knowledge and experience. A company will hire a web design or development professional to focus on their web properties, and may have a small in-house team or an arrangement with outside contractors or agencies for specialist services. Your experience will vary based on your reporting structure and responsibilities. An in-house role tends to offer little opportunity for advancement and recognition, but you get to work fairly independently and do a lot of different things. Depending on the company leadership, this can be a relaxing, low-stress job, or a frustrating exercise in trying to manage expectations.
Contracting: Contract design and development work offers a lot of flexibility, however, it comes with the most responsibility. You’ll need to invest in a lot of the overhead expenses and investments of running a business, like building and maintaining your portfolio, marketing your services, and keeping track of compliance and paperwork chores. But you can also work whatever hours suit you, from almost anywhere around the world, and you have total say over what work you’re willing to take on. Balance the frustration and the freedom by looking critically at your activities and outsourcing areas you’re weak in so you have more time to do what you enjoy.
Contract: Contract jobs are a blend of in-house and contract work that some professionals really enjoy. You’re working on a set project for a defined rate of pay and duration, so it takes away some of the uncertainty of freelancing.
Startup: Finally, sometimes freelancing or working contract gigs isn’t enough. If you’re facing more work than you can handle, or have something special to offer, you may choose to start your own agency. That is a good path for someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, strong organizational and leadership skills, and very little need to sleep.
Put those valuable website design or development skills to work in the right environment for you by considering the pros and cons of each job type. You may appreciate the security of traditional roles or craft the freedom and excitement of going it on your own; both paths allow for a wide variety of skills and interests.