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Best Web Certifications

best web certifications
Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

If you had asked us 10 years ago which certifications were best for aspiring webmasters or web developers, we would have given you a much different range of answers. Be prepared for some unlikely or even unexpected recommendations that relate to building and designing websites, some light-duty programming to go with that effort, website analytics and search engine optimization (SEO). 

If you want to understand how to build and design great websites, or improve a site's ranking using analytics, keep reading. We feature certifications from Adobe, Google, Microsoft and Zend. Though you may not expect everything that will turn up here, you won't be disappointed in the offerings we recommend, particularly when a certification sponsor also offers more advanced credentials in the same general track, as nearly all of them do.

Before you peruse the details of our favorite web certifications for 2018, look at the results from our informal job board survey. The data indicates the number of job posts across the U.S. in which the indicated certification was mentioned on a given day. This data should give you an idea of the relative popularity of each certification with employers. Keep in mind that many employers require a bachelor's degree in addition to some type of web-related certification.

Certifications

SimplyHired

Indeed

LinkedIn Jobs

Linkup

Total

ACE Web Specialist (Adobe)

12

18

17

8

47

Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ)

110

110

84

35

339

Google AdWords

122

142

156

129

549

MCSD (Microsoft)

265

320

276

145

1,006

MTA: HTML5 App Development (Microsoft)

47

56

17

9

129

Zend Certified PHP Engineer

24

33

0

10

67

General salary information for web-related positions in the U.S. offers an interesting perspective on this career path. According to SimplyHired, a webmaster or web designer pulls in an average of $62,000 per year, and a web developer can expect to make about $79,000. For comparison, Glassdoor reports the webmaster average salary at $62,700, the web designer at $60,000 and the web developer at $87,700. Web jobs, and the salaries that go with them, are all over the place, not just in terms of location, but in level of responsibility and rates of pay as well.

Adobe is a leading purveyor of graphics, design, publishing, video and interactive web development tools. In support of its software platforms and tool suites, the company offers the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) credential, which covers a broad range of interactive and online content areas. Candidates can certify on a single Adobe Creative Cloud product (Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) or Adobe Digital Marketing Suite product (Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Campaign, etc.) to achieve ACE certification.

Adobe certification exams are reasonably priced at $180. The company frequently runs a BOGO (buy one get one free) offer for certification exams – either two exams for the price of one, or one exam and a retake. Adobe also offers numerous prep resources for its exams, and the more popular elements of its exam portfolio are supported reasonably well with aftermarket books, practice exams and other ancillary materials.

Creative Cloud product-related certifications don't expire, but Adobe updates its exams as new products and major releases are available. Certifications on Adobe Digital Marketing Suite products are good for one year.

There's a high demand for Adobe-savvy professionals. If you're ready and willing to keep your skills up to date, it's a great area in which to pursue certification and stay current and competitive in this field.

Certification Name

Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

No prerequisites (typically), although Adobe expects candidates to have extensive experience with exam topics; see individual exam guides for details

Training recommended (prices range from $900 to $3,600 for virtual and classroom training)

Number of Exams

One per product

Cost per Exam

$180

Exams administered by Pearson VUE. Purchase individual exam vouchers through Adobe Certification Marketplace.

URL

training.adobe.com/certification.html

Self-Study Materials

A free exam guide, with exam topics, number of questions, sample questions and prepartion tips available on each exam's webpage.

Learning tools, including books, eBooks, eLearning, preparation bundles, video-based learning, practice exams and more: Adobe Certification Marketplace

Adobe training: training.adobe.com/resources.html

Digital marketing – using search, social media, websites and email to connect with customers and prospects – is bursting with job opportunities these days. And new certifications are cropping up regularly for the platforms, products and services that support digital marketing efforts.

Google AdWords is one such certification, which appears prolifically as a desired or required qualification in web and marketing job descriptions. To achieve the AdWords certification, candidates must pass two exams -- the AdWords Fundamentals exam plus one more on search, display, mobile, video or shopping advertising.

The AdWords Fundamentals exam covers general online advertising concepts, the benefits of online advertising and AdWords, setting up an AdWords campaign, and best practices for managing and optimizing those campaigns. The other AdWords exams focus on creating, managing, measuring and optimizing specific types of campaigns.

To take the Google AdWords certification exams (which are free), candidates must sign up for the Google Partners program, which provides access to the exam as well as events, industry research, the Google Partners Community and more. A passing score on the exams results in a certificate and a Google Partners public profile page.

Don't be confused by the partner angle with this certification. You can create an individual profile through Google Partners and earn the certification completely on your own. However, you can also create a Partners profile for your organization and help it qualify for Partner status by earning the certification.

The Google AdWords certification is good for 12 months. There are no recertification exams, so to maintain the credential, you need to essentially re-earn this certification yearly.

Certification Name

Google AdWords certification

Prerequisites & Required Courses:

Candidates must register at Google Partners and create a profile.

No training courses available through Google

Number of Exams

Two (63 to 100 questions per exam, 90 to 120 minutes each, 80 percent passing score)

The AdWords Fundamentals exam is required. Choose one more exam from:

  • Search Advertising
  • Display Advertising
  • Mobile Advertising
  • Video Advertising
  • Shopping Advertising

Cost per Exam

Free

URL

https://support.google.com/partners/answer/3153810?hl=en&ref_topic=3203989

Self-Study Materials

The About AdWords certification exams webpage includes links to study guides for each exam. Additional study materials may be available in the Partners portal. Google AdWords Help includes documentation and how-tos on AdWords. Training available through third parties, such as Lynda.com and Udemy.

Oodles of employers need SEO content analysts and web strategists who are experts with website analytics tools, and one of the most popular tools around is Google Analytics. The company encourages marketers, analysts and developers to get the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ), a certification that recognizes proficiency in "digital analytics best practices and the Google Analytics platform." Although it's highly tied to the Google Partners program, anyone can take the Google Analytics IQ exam and earn a certificate.

To help people get up to speed, Google offers free online training courses through the Analytics Academy. Each course has several video lessons, each of which is about two to six minutes long and includes learning activities. Your work is not graded, but you don't have access to instructors either.

The single Google Analytics IQ exam is also free. Just like the Google AdWords certification (covered elsewhere in this article), candidates for Google Analytics IQ must sign up for the Google Partners program, which provides access to the exam as well as events, industry research, the Google Partners Community and more. A passing score on the exam results in a certificate and a Google Partners public profile page.

The Google Analytics IQ certification is good for 18 months; individuals must take the current exam to maintain this credential.

Certification Name

Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

Candidates must register at Google Partners and create a profile.

Recommended training (through Google Analytics Academy):

Number of Exams

One (90 minutes, 80 percent passing score)

Cost per exam

Free

URL

 

Before the HTML5 specification reached official status as a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation in 2014, Microsoft had already grabbed the HTML5 bit between its teeth and devoted an entry-level credential to the subject  ̶  the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): HTML5 App Development Fundamentals.

MTA: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals was the first professional certification to devote itself to this latest incarnation of the markup language. The HTML 5.2 specification was released in August 2017, so you can expect changes to future versions of the certification to incorporate version 5.2.

Moving up the difficulty scale, you may want to dig into the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): App Builder credential, which imposes a related Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential as a prerequisite. The MCSD: App Builder credential represents the latest and greatest of Microsoft's development certifications, and includes exams with a focus on web tools and technologies.

To earn the MCSD: App Builder, candidates must earn the MCSA: Web Applications certification or the MCSA: Universal Windows Platform certification, and then take one of several elective exams.

The MCSD: App Builder doesn't expire, but Microsoft encourages candidates to take another elective exam each calendar year to build their Microsoft transcripts and add skills, while keeping up with current and emerging web technologies.

Certification Name

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): HTML5 App Development Fundamentals

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): App Builder

Prerequisites & Required Courses

MTA HTML5:
Recommended skills: Knowledge of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript; some hands-on experience with related technologies, including Microsoft Visual Studio

Required: None

MCSD: App Builder:
Recommended skills: 2 to 3 years of experience developing solutions using Microsoft development technologies for mobile or web

Required: MCSA: Web Applications or MCSA: Universal Windows Platform certification

Number of Exams

MTA HTML5: One; Exam 98-375: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals

MCSD: App Builder: One elective exam (choose from the following):

  • 70-538: Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions (under development as of November 2017)
  • 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (retirement on 12/31/2017)
  • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
  • 70-488: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions
  • 70-489: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions
  • 70-496: Administering Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
  • 70-497: Software Testing with Visual Studio
  • 70-498: Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management

Cost per Exam

MTA HTML5: $127*
MCSD: App Builder: $165 per exam

*MTA exams for academia administered by Certiport; MTA exams for professionals administered by Pearson VUE

URL

MTA HTML5: microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-98-375.aspx



MCSD: microsoft.com/learning/en-us/mcsd-certification.aspx

Self-Study Materials

Exam reference materials, including practice tests, instructor-led training, self-paced training kits, Microsoft Press books, and Microsoft online resources: microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam.aspx#tab2

Links to additional resources, such as case studies and official practice exams, located on the individual certification page in the Resources section.

For those not already in the know, PHP is a powerful and immensely popular server-side scripting language designed to produce dynamic web pages and to support web-based interactions of all kinds.

PHP works using embedded instructions within HTML that are interpreted by a pre-processor built into the web server's runtime environment, and includes a command line interface (CLI) as well as a stand-alone graphical user interface (GUI). PHP is available for free for most popular operating systems and web server platforms.

Rogue Wave Software, which acquired Zend Technologies in 2015, offers one of the most popular implementations of PHP, now in its seventh major version. The company also sponsors the Zend Certified PHP Engineer credential, which seeks to identify competent and knowledgeable programmers for Zend (PHP) Engine version 7.

This credential requires passing a single but demanding exam that covers PHP language, syntax and data types, along with support for web-based input/output, web features, various object-oriented programming techniques, security topics and more. The company offers online instructor-led training and a certification study guide; several exam preparation books are available on the aftermarket (check out Amazon).

PHP skills remain in high demand, making this certification worthwhile to acquire and maintain.

Certification Name

Zend Certified PHP Engineer

Prerequisites & Required Courses

None; training recommended (Rogue Wave Zend PHP training courses range from $299 to $1,295)

Number of Exams

One

Cost per Exam

$195. Exam fee may be eligible for reimbursement under the GI bill.

URL

http://www.zend.com/en/services/certification/php-certification

Self-Study Materials

Links to exam topics, exam preparation resources, recorded training and a reasonably priced study guide ($19.95) are available on the certification webpage.

There are many more web-related certifications for IT professionals to choose from. [Read related article on sister site Business.com: Best Resources for Learning Website Design]

We're not usually inclined to recommend certifications that require students to take a course. Such offerings are often straightforward money grabs for courses that produce insufficient return in skills or knowledge to be worth the cost. However, Mark Lassoff's Certified Professional program offers several certifications for mobile and web developers at a relatively modest cost.

W3Schools web certifications – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP and more – have been popular for some time. What we like best about W3Schools' offerings is that the organization's materials are current, well-researched, nicely presented and mostly free. That is, you study for free and pay only $95 per topic to take an associated exam. You can take as much or little time to prep for an exam as you like, and you only have to dig into your pocketbook when you decide you're ready to take an exam.

WebProfessionals.org offers a bevy of certifications at the apprentice, associate and professional levels, and it provides training through its Web Professional Academy program. Learning Tree has specialist and expert certifications in web development, as well as a specialist certification in responsive web design.

Professional web developers who work with Symfony may want to consider the Symfony Certified Expert Developer certification, and developers or implementers who are immersed in the Magento e-commerce platform should check out that company's certifications. If ArcGIS incorporated into web applications is more your thing, browse the requirements for the ESRI Web Application Developer certification.

Back in the day, the Certified Internet Webmaster program was the place to go for web certification. Though this program declined in the mid-2000s until recently, it's showing renewed signs of life and interest from IT professionals. Today, the program is named Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW), and its certs may be worth investigating. But be careful with the time, money and energy you choose to commit to its offerings.

And there are certifications galore on Java, jQuery, ASP, JSP and so forth, but many of these start shading into the programming certifications article we mentioned before. If you're inclined to go above and beyond the items mentioned in this guide – all of which represent not just current, solid information, but also good value for the money involved – knock yourself out, but be cautious about your outlays.

For those interested in free alternatives that don't confer certification, we strongly recommend checking out the offerings available online at Codecademy.com. There you'll find a plethora of free, detailed, hands-on, step-by-step coding modules designed for online learning (and aimed at age levels as low as 9 or 10) that include not just HTML and CSS, but also Python, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript and a whole bunch more. Even for those with certifications in their targets but not a lot of exposure to markup or code, this is a great place to start.

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