Are you looking for a career as a web administrator in Chicago? From maintaining a website to ensuring visitors can find the information they need, web administrators keep an organization’s web presence consistent while offering a user-friendly experience for visitors to the website.

To get an inside look at the importance of education for a web administrator, we spoke with Merove Heifetz, director of online communications at John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. Opened in 1930, Shedd Aquarium has more than 32,000 animals under its roof and gets more than two million visitors annually.

Merove Heifetz (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

Merove Heifetz (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

Heifetz, who joined Shedd Aquarium’s staff last fall, has an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s in business administration, and has a webmaster’s certification through a part-time program from a university.

In her role as web administrator of Shedd Aquarium’s website, Heifetz helps manage strategies behind the organization’s online presence through its website, social media accounts and any mobile applications the aquarium wants to implement.

The value of education

What kind of experience is necessary to become a web administrator? “As a web administrator, it’s important to have hands-on experience, but it doesn’t hurt to have the certification to say you have the expertise,” Heifetz said. “It’s not mandatory to have the certification, but it is helpful.”

Previously, Heifetz worked for a nonprofit organization and became a techie, in her words, “by accident.” In that job, she learned how to keep the organization’s website running, managed the online membership program and managed anything related to the web.

Heifetz also noted that she stays on top of current trends in websites. “Things change so much [with websites], so there is a lot of on-the-job learning,” she explained. To stay current with the latest trends, Heifetz will talk to other professionals in the industry, read related articles online and participate in webinars.

A day in the life of web admin

According to Heifetz, a typical day may include meeting with other departments at Shedd Aquarium to discuss upcoming projects. “I have to work with other departments to see what everyone wants on the website. I also need to ensure the website is cohesive and meets the aquarium’s goals,” she explained.

As part of her role as web administrator, Heifetz must focus on the strategy side of the website. “On the social media side, Facebook can help your message be seen by more people. There are different strategies to get that message out on the Facebook page, which means we can choose to include links, videos or pictures with a status update. This means that the Facebook messages must be crafted so they can be seen by the most number of people,” she explained. In addition to Facebook, Shedd Aquarium is on social media sites Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Heifetz must also focus on the content and navigation of Shedd Aquarium’s website. “I need to think about what people want to do when they come to the website. They need to be able to find what they need to know,” she said. For example, someone coming to the website might want to find ticket prices or read information about an animal currently at the aquarium. The website must provide the information in a way that is intuitive to the visitor.

Heifetz also had advice for people who are contemplating a job as a web administrator. “Make sure you’re comfortable playing around with tools that are already out there to create a website or blog, then take a formal course in website design through a university,” she suggested.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at