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Training Web technologists has evolved from the training buffet to a more practical training approach closely tied to company revenue.

Contrary to the hype of the dot-com crash, the Internet has created tens of thousands of new jobs that are here to stay and still growing: Almost every company has a Web site, right? I have to admit, however, the technology recession did weed out most of the waste the bubble created. Training these Web technologists has also evolved–from the “all you can learn as fast as you can learn” training buffet to a more practical training approach closely tied to company revenue (e.g., technical sales, technical consulting, customer support, e-commerce, or online marketing).

Most people see the company’s webmaster and his or her co-workers as a group of young, spiked-haired Trekkies with bold glasses and a quick wit, but much has changed as budgets get cut and companies grow much leaner. What you see now are office managers, administrative assistants or marketing/advertising personnel changing and updating the company Web site. For more complex Web changes like shopping cart additions, they do use Internet programmers or Web developers.

At our training center, we often see scenarios where non-technical employees are now working on the company Web site, thus needing some basic Web training. We also see technical Web developers taking on more roles, thus needing to add more skills to perform their jobs properly. Therefore, training for Internet-related jobs is still in much demand as a practical business skill, versus the near-novelty status it had a few years ago. So which training is right for you if you are interested in upgrading or searching for a career in Web design or Web development? Let’s examine the different training classes for your particular career interest.

The skills demanded in the workplace determine the type of training that is offered by training firms. We can say there are two main categories of Internet training: Web design and Web development/programming.

Web design training

Web design training is the visual and design aspect of Web careers. Sample job titles include: Web designer, GUI (graphical user interface) designer, multimedia specialist, Web graphics specialist, etc. There are many jobs out there that just specialize in one skill, such as HTML or Flash, but most use a combination of skills. There are people from several types of backgrounds who would be interested in Web design training, from career newbies to artists turned technical to the person running a hobby site for fun or for profit. Here’s a list of the more common classes that fall under the Web Design Training category:

Graphics/multimedia:

— Fireworks (Web graphics tool)

— After Effects

— Photoshop (image manipulator)

— Flash (Web graphics tool)

— Director

Fundamental Web design:

— HTML

— Dreamweaver (HTML editor)

— GoLive (HTML editor)

— Frontpage (HTML editor)

Some other graphics courses that will help you design or publish information on the Web include Acrobat PDF, Acrobat InDesign, Illustrator, DVD Studio, or QuarkXPress.

Web development/programming training

Web programming is the more technically oriented side of the Internet industry. Job titles include Web developer, programmer or E-commerce programmer. Depending on which type of Web server (Microsoft, Unix or Linux) your company uses, the programming language can change. Therefore, learning two or three languages makes the most sense. Even though database programmers can be classified in another subcategory, many programming duties include connecting a Web site to a database, so to be fair we’ll include some database courses:

Web programming:

— Active Server Pages (ASP)

— Javascript

— Java Server Pages (JSP)

— Perl CGI

— PHP (open-source; see below)

— XML

— ColdFusion

Database:

— SQL (Microsoft’s MS SQL, Oracle’s PLSQL)

— MySQL (open-source SQL)

— Microsoft Access

— FilemakerPro

Web programming courses and careers extend into more complex subjects that we won’t focus on. But since Internet and Intranet technology is so pervasive in the business world, almost every company department has a Web component. Some examples include: customer tracking, accounting information, marketing (online demos), and purchasing. Each major player creates its own exclusive technology that thousands of programmers and Web programmers need to learn (IBM’s Websphere, Microsoft’s .NET, and so on). Finally, there is systems administration training for the back-end of Web technology (i.e., the sys admins who administer and host Web or e-mail servers), and each vendor has their own training certification.

Open source and Web training

Open source is software that is generally free to use, which makes it quite popular around the world. Most of the open source Web-related software is used more by programmers instead of designers. Also, most Web hosting firms charge very little for PHP sites running on Linux servers. If you’re thinking about becoming a Web programmer, then having a few open-source skills is important to consider and a great way to diversify your skillset in case your company does change the site to a PHP site.

Internet-related certification training

During the late ’90s, technical certifications became all the rage. Remember MCSE, CCNA, A+, CNE, and so on? So the Internet world tried to ride this certification gravy train, but nothing really stuck as the webmaster certification. There are certifications for product specific software, like Macromedia’s Dreamweaver or Flash, or Sun’s Java certifications, but these are mostly niche certifications. CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) may be the closest certification for the general webmaster, with more than 45,000 certifications given out in nine levels from the fundamentals to administrator to applications developer. As the market stands, few potential employers know what CIW is, and even fewer are impressed by it. For more information, visit www.ciwcertify.com. Your best bet for getting hired as a Web designer/developer is to have a good portfolio, and be able to demonstrate a range of skills.

Your training return on investment

Training, like many technology services, was hit with a reality check during the recent high-tech recession, and the fallout is a trend toward more results-oriented training. “Paper certifications,” obtained by rote memory Q&As, are less valuable in today’s economy, so therefore you must plan your training program very carefully. Work backward when planning your future training. This means you should figure out which skills you need to end up with at a higher-level job or new career, and start with the foundations of each skill. For example, if your goal is to become a webmaster, then learning HTML inside-out is the first route to go, versus taking a complex programming course like Javascript or XML.

Mix up your training

Finally, to make your training dollars stretch further, look at mixing up your type of training delivery. ILT, or instructor-led training, is the most expensive, but consequently it’s the best learning method for absorbing a new and complex topic. In addition, studies show that the retention level from classroom style training (versus online or CD-ROM training) is significantly higher. However, once you understand the fundamental concepts in a new area, then follow-up courses can be taken with interactive CBT (computer-based training) via CD-ROMs. Another less expensive option is to purchase online training. Online classes will give some structure and help motivate you to complete the assignments and some online courses have live interactive TV-like sessions, closely matching a classroom. Of course, the least expensive training delivery is text, so if you are a disciplined student, book learning can be effective as well.

Martin Thisner is the Admissions Director for AcademyX, a San Francisco-based training company specializing in Web design and development classroom training since 1998. Contact information: [email protected]

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