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Careers in Internet Technologies and Web Design

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Of all the career paths available to you in the IT arena, Internet Technology is probably the broadest in scope. In order to understand how the Internet came to be what it is today, a bit of history is helpful.

The Internet was originally a government project that was started in the 1960s. The idea was to create a means of data communication between various computer systems that were separated by great geographical distances. The popularity of the Internet exploded in the early 1990s when Tim Berners-Lee of the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (MIT) created a language that allowed documents on the Internet to be linked to each other by means of hyperlinks. This language, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), allowed authors of documents on the Internet to embed hyperlinks in these documents, which readers could follow for related information. The linking of these documents, now known as Web pages, soon created entire networks ofWeb pages that were linked both internally to other documents as well as externally to other Web sites. This cross-linking ofWeb sites came to be known as the World Wide Web (WWW).

The next significant advancement was the addition of graphics capabilities to Web pages. This advancement allowed HTML authors to broaden the scope of individuals to whom they were delivering content. Since its inception, the World Wide Web has seen amazing growth in the number of users as well as technological advancements. In comparing its history to what it has grown to be today, you can more fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of growth that has taken shape on the Internet, which directly coincides with the number of IT jobs it has created and continues to create.

The focus of this article is on three specific job roles in Internet Technology, which are in high demand in today's job market: Web developer, site designer, and Webmaster. In previous chapters, one major job role was discussed, which was then further divided into separate areas of expertise. For example, in Chr 5 the job role of a network administrator was segmented into working with various network operating systems. However, in the field of Internet Technc job roles are segmented by their various scopes of work and not necessarily different competing technologies.

Lets begin by describing these roles on a very basic level.Web de ers write the actual code that makes Web pages work. Site designers, on the other hand, formulate how the site is structured. This includes the organizational fit navigational design, and usability features. Finally, Webmasters perform many administrative duties of maintaining the site including upgrading the Web server hardware, adding newly created Web pages, and troubleshooting hardware related challenges. Quite often, usually in smaller "dot com" companies, these three job roles are combined into one. Although such a multifaceted position can offer you varied experiences, the division of focus and attention that you might encounter on a daily basis may be difficult to manage and may host other challenges at times. Usually, however, these three job roles come with their own individual set of responsibilities.

Each of these three job roles is discussed separately in this chapter. Information addressed includes daily tasks, qualifications and requirements, job market, and training for each job role. Prior to moving on to the specifics of each role, the job outlook for the general area of IT is discussed. As each role is described and relevant terms are used, you might want to refer to the "Jargon Buster" sections included in each job role section of this chapter.

Job Outlook

For the most part, the job outlook for Internet professionals is phenomenal.This is due in part to the fact that so many companies are taking their businesses to the Internet. In order to accomplish this venture, a group of savvy developers is needed to create a site that serves the company's needs and is accessible to most Internet users.

Most companies that are based in Internet Technology are seeking individuals who are well rounded in all areas of IT. This is not to say that you need to be an expert at internetworking with Linux in order to be a Web developer, but you do need a general understanding of the underlying technology.

A quick search of a job board on the Web will give you a good understanding of the "wish lists" that many employers have. Understand that the phrase "wish list" is key. Many of these employers are willing to hire someone who doesn't have all of the qualifications listed. However, at a minimum, you should be familiar with the various qualifications listed, so that you can interface with other team members in the company during the development process.

Specialization vs. Generalization

When it comes to the topic of specialization versus generalization and deciding on the best path to take, the answer lies in the size and type of organization for which you work. If the company's primary revenue stream is from online sales transactions, you will find that quite often there is an extensive team of developers, content writers, graphic artists, and programmers collaborating on creating the various parts and pieces that make up a large e-commerce Web site.

In such situations, a Web developer could specialize in one or more of the areas that comprise Web development. For example, you may be required to code Active Server Pages (ASP) for the purposes of integrating a database into the Web site. You could then find yourself interfacing with database architects to create your code, and then handing the code off to another Web developer to write the HTML code around the ASP code for presentation to the end user o the Internet.

However, in order to truly master an area such as creating ASPs, you must alsc somewhat proficient at HTML coding, database technologies, and perhaps po knowledge of some programming language, such as Visual Basic. Because thes technologies are so interrelated, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the various areas that relate to your specialty in order to truly master that field.

If you work for a smaller organization or one that uses a Web site as a sales to bring customers to a retail location, you will quickly find yourself handling of these tasks or working with a group of developers with similar skill sets.T reason for this is that the Web site may not necessarily be generating a high volume of income for the company and therefore is not given a substantial t to enable the hiring of staff who specialize in one area or another. The upsid that the site itself will not be required to perform very sophisticated tasks that require experienced specialists.
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