This is a guest article by Stephen Ward. He writes for DailyBits.com, a blog focused on web development, software and online marketing.

So you're interested in a career in web development. You already know a thing or two about HTML and CSS. Maybe you've created a few static websites. You're interested in learning more, but there are so many different directions you could take. What's the next step to really get your web development career off the ground?

If this sounds like you, or if you're just interested in improving your existing job prospects, here are 10 web development skills that you can learn to boost your marketability. They apply both to corporate environments and web startups. Update: a note that these skills are listed in alphabetical order.

ASP & VBScript

What are they? ASP is a server-side script processor developed by Microsoft. VBScript is the programming language most often used to power it.

Why are they important? When it comes to server-side programming, ASP enjoys popularity comparable to PHP due to Microsoft's heavy market share. VBScript, in addition to its use with ASP, can also be used client-side in much the same way as JavaScript, although support for this is spotty outside of Internet Explorer. Additionally, VBScript can be used to create desktop applications for Windows. Because of these varied uses on Microsoft products, VBScript is very handy for developers who work in Microsoft-centric environments and large corporations.

Where can I learn more?

C# or VB.Net

What are they? C# and VB.Net are general-purpose programming languages. Both were developed by Microsoft as part of its .Net initiative.

Why are they important? As part of the .Net framework, C# and VB.Net are often used for code-intensive projects that simpler runtime languages aren't well-equipped to handle. In usage and syntax, C# is very similar to Java, whereas VB.Net strongly resembles Visual Basic. Learning either is a good path to heavy back-end development and software houses that focus on web development.

Where can I learn more?

Flash & ActionScript

What are they? Adobe Flash is a development environment that allows you to create dynamic visual presentations for the web. ActionScript is a scripting language used to add interactivity to those presentations.

Why are they important? With the ability to make truly beautiful web applications that are deeply and uniquely interactive, Flash enjoys heavy market demand. Nowadays, entire websites are built as stand-alone Flash applications, while other websites make use of simpler Flash animations to add the same cutting-edge feel to an otherwise static page. Knowing Flash is enough to build the latter, but you'll need to pick up some ActionScript to accomplish the former. Especially when combined with other design skills ( i.e., CSS, PhotoShop, etc.), knowing Flash and ActionScript is a great way to find work in the front-end development arena and on design studios.

Where can I learn more?

Java

What is it? Java is a widely portable programming language that can be used for both client-side and server-side web applications.

Why is it important? Unlike more specialized languages, Java is versatile enough to be used in many different development contexts. For example, Java applets allow a programmer to create client-side applications, while Java Server Pages (JSP) produce dynamic, server-side content in much the same way as PHP or ASP. Because you can take it with you into different environments, learning Java is particularly worthwhile if you anticipate changing to another programming career in the future.

Where can I learn more?

JavaScript & AJAX

What is it? JavaScript is a popular client-side scripting language. AJAX is a web development technique that combines Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It became popular in 2005 thanks to Google's support.

Why is it important? Between JavaScript, JScript, VBScript, and the like, JavaScript is arguably the most popular. It enjoys wide browser support and is integral to prevailing web methodologies like DHTML and AJAX. Along with HTML and CSS, it is considered a standard of web development that few professionals in the industry can do without. AJAX, on the other hand, enables web developers to create better, faster and more interactive web pages and applications. Basically it makes possible for the Javascript to communicate directly with the server, so specific data can be exchanged without reloading the page.

Where can I learn more?

Perl

What is it? Perl is a general programming language that is often used for CGI applications and server-based scripting. It is used by Google on many applications, which makes it very marketable.

Why is it important? Perl can be described as the Swiss army knife of web programming languages; with the right modules, it can do pretty much anything. Although not strictly built for web development, it is a favorite for server scripting tasks and can be used to pass information to and from external applications. Mastering Perl is especially useful for those looking to get into server administration.

Where can I learn more?

PHP

What is it? PHP is a popular server-side programming language. Considering it is an open source language, many web startups use as a backbone for applications and server-side scripting.

Why is it important? PHP is one of the most popular and widely-used server-side programming languages. It forms the backbone for popular web frameworks like WordPress, PHPbb, osCommerce, and MediaWiki and has a large community of open source developers behind it. PHP is an excellent path to general web development work, particularly in Linux and other non-Windows server environments.

Where can I learn more?

Python

What is it? Python is a high-level general programming language.

Why is it important? Python is often praised for its simplicity. It is described as easy to learn, easy to read, and easy to implement, making it ideal for rapid web development. Mastering it is a good way to find work in a web design studio or indie web development.

Where can I learn more?

Ruby & Ruby on Rails

What is it? Ruby is an open source programming language. Ruby on Rails is a web development framework that utilizes Ruby.

Why is it important? Although Ruby doesn't enjoy as much widespread popularity as some other programming languages, it forms the backbone for Ruby on Rails, a web development framework that has gained momentum in recent years. This combination is particularly well-known for rapid, intuitive web programming in much the same way as Python, and is often used for the same sort of projects.

Where can I learn more?

Structured Query Language (SQL)

What is it? SQL is a language used to interact with relational databases.

Why is it important? Most dynamic websites make at least some use of databases, and many do so extensively. Although it's not technically a programming language, SQL is nonetheless vital to any serious web programmer's skill set. Popular database management systems that use SQL include MySQL and MSSQL.

Where can I learn more?