Web Master Field Hits New Heights Demand Grows for Changing Internet Career
Culloton, Dan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Dan Culloton Daily Herald Business Writer
Web master has a cool ring to it.
It sounds like the name of a comic book superhero or of some omniscient and omnipotent enchanter - a mysterious and royal figure who might bellow "Bow down before me knaves, I am the Web master!"
Of course, Web master is really the title of a job - one that, even considering the explosive growth and hype of the Internet, has its share of tedium like other careers.
Still jobs that fall under the broad title of Web master or Web developer remain among the fastest growing diversifying professions in our economy.
Earlier in the decade, when the Internet was still the province of technology-savvy hobbyists, Web masters were the reclusive rumpled souls who put up the first Web pages and managed their content like graphic designers and newsletter editors in cyberspace.
Today Web site manager and Web developer occupy two of the top 10 spots - number one and 10 respectively - on MSNBC's list of fastest growing jobs, said Ray Trygstad, assistant director of Information Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Wheaton campus and the teacher of its Internet Technology/Web master program.
The job also has morphed and accumulated definitions in recent years as the Internet gold rush has accelerated. In the last two years Web master has gone from one job category to more than 33 separate categories, according to the American Electronics Association.
"It's extremely huge," said Jeff Liggett, owner of Naperville-based Internet service provider ANET Internet Solutions Inc.
The range of compensation is just as wide. It goes from a $40,000 per year Web editor who is responsible for page content and performance to an Internet strategist who makes more than $150,000 a year and oversees all of an organization's Internet and Intranet activities, Trygstad said.
Between the extremes are Internet traffic managers and Internet research associates.
Programs like IIT's still train people to be generalists, but the field is growing and changing so rapidly it has become all but impossible for one person to serve all Web management and development functions.
More and more, you see Web development teams of two to five people, each focusing on a different specialty. Some large organizations have Internet staffs that number in the hundreds.
"E-commerce has a lot to do with it," Trygstad said. "It's really hard for any one person to master all of the knowledge necessary to do e-commerce."
Still there are some basic skills all would be Web masters need to master, Trygstad said.
- Web masters should know how to create or at least find content for their pages and keep it current.
"They have to make sure it meets the strategic needs of the companies they are working for," Trygstad said. "If it doesn't, it's going to fail. If it is not part of the company's overall strategy then its just going to be an appendage."
- They should be familiar with current Web page building tools.
- They should know how to write code and something about design and page architecture.
This requires knowledge of Internet programming languages such as HTML, Java, Perl, Cold Fusion or other popular languages. …