Imagine knowing how to build a website from A to Z. Tidewater Community College’s Career Studies Certificate in Web Development Specialist provides students with the skills to design, develop and code websites and web pages.

The three-semester program of either 23 or 24 credits depending on elective choice, includes Web Page Design II (ITD 210), which takes students from the design to development and production phases of creating a website for an actual client. Program coordinator Debbie Benham keeps a list of businesses in the community that have called the college seeking website design and development help. Each semester, students choose businesses or organizations from that list and present proposals on worthy projects. A class vote determines which project the class will devote the remainder of the semester to.

“Once they determine the project, the course mirrors what they would do to design and code a website for an actual client” Benham said. “They work in teams and play roles based on their background – project manager, graphic designers and web developers.”

Midway through the cooperative learning class, the client sees mockup website designs and provides further input. At the end of the semester, each team presents its idea to the client, who chooses among them. TCC students have designed websites for the Railroad Museum of Virginia, Precious GEMS, Inc., and multiple Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events. This spring, the students are building a site for a self-owned exterminating service.

“I never know what they’re going to choose; I let it be their project from the beginning,” Benham said. “It’s a way for the college to give back to the beautiful Hampton Roads community and provide hands-on design and development opportunities to students.”

Students Kyle Williams, Tracy Hoffman, Chris Siska and Charles Kehn learn to code a website
Students Kyle Williams, Tracy Hoffman, Chris
Siska and Charles Kehn learn to code a website

All classes for the Web Development Specialist Career Studies Certificate are held in the evening, with some classes offered online. The Virginia Beach Campus is home to the full program, though some classes are offered on the Chesapeake and Norfolk campuses. Students can opt to pursue electives in interactive design or more advanced programming using client and server-side scripting, Java and server-side programming.

A wide range of students apply to the program from recent high school graduates to employees in need of a promotion to entrepreneurs needing a website for their start-up business. Graphic designers seeking to add interactive design skills also routinely sign up for the program.

The certificate also incorporates fundamentals of responsive web design for mobile devices. Graduates are proficient in Adobe products, Creative Cloud, Dreamweaver, hand coding, HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets and Apache HTTP Server.

An added bonus: TCC’s partnership with Certified Internet Web Professionals allows graduates to earn industry certification in web foundation, Internet business, site development, network technology and web design. Practice exams are integrated into the curriculum.

“They can take the certification exams at the end of the semester in the classroom where they learned,” Benham said. “That’s a huge plus for our program.”

While some students find immediate employment in a field that is expected to grow 28 percent faster than the average according to the Department of Labor and boasts an annual median salary of $64,000 according to simplyhired.com, others move into the full Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology.

Prospective students need not be worried if they don’t have a computer science background. This is a grassroots program, said Bill Clement, interim dean of the Division of Information Technology and Business on the Virginia Beach Campus.

“If you want to learn how to code and build websites, we’ll fill in the gaps,” he said. “Once you’re done with the first two classes, you’re on your way to building a website.”