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The actual specification for HTML has changed little since its initial development in 1993, but the philosophy and best-practices have changed immensely. Perhaps the biggest shift was the separation of HTML programming into a structural component and a design component, with HTML handling the content and body structure of a web page, and CSS handling the layout and appearance. This semantic-based approach to web design has become the most common form, and any new HTML programmer will likely learn to code with this philosophy.
Although many programmers feared that as WYSIWYG software became more functional and affordable, the demand for their services would decline, in recent years there has actually been an increase in demand for programmers. This is likely due to the fact that although more people are building their own sites with software or online tool-kits, even more people are bringing their businesses online, and wish to have a professional build their site from the ground up. At the same time, there are many more programmers available today than there were even five years ago, making competition for clients somewhat fierce.
Many people who look at becoming an HTML programmer therefore decide to merge it with other relevant skill sets. For example, someone looking at studying HTML may also choose to study PHP and SQL, so that they can build dynamic websites based on databases. Someone else might choose to study graphic design, and become skilled with graphic design tools, so that they can offer a full web design package. Still others might learn a proprietary software model, such as Flash, to supplement the building of more basic HTML sites.
Many larger companies may also retain a number of HTML programmers on their staff, to make updates and build new sites as needed. These programmers are generally salaried, although, in some cases, they may be paid a flat per-job rate in addition to a retainer. For those considering a career path, however, it is good to remember that although an HTML programmer can make a good living, on average, they make less than a PHP programmer, and significantly less than an actual software developer.
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