Hey, everyone. I usually spend my time on Flashkit in the actionscript or games forum, but I'm posting this today because I need advice on where I should be focusing my career.

A little background on me: I graduated from college in 2000 with degrees in East Asian Studies and Japanese language. I went to work as the webmaster for a national non-profit (I'm in DC, and there are a lot of these). The office dealt with US-Japan relations, so the work fit with my background, but the office was small; just myself, the president and the program officer. I was responsible for the homepages for our 40+ members as well as our main site, and was the primary tech contact for everyone in the association (from HTML to LAN issues ) The pay wasn't bad, but I had no benefits and no room for advancement. I did, however, have a large amount of time I spent researching and studying new tools (like Flash )

I quickly grew tired of this environment and left in 12/01. I had difficulty finding a new position, and eventually took a support position at a friend's office (another non-profit) to cover rent. I spent my time there in a clerical capacity, but I did manage to do some web site work for them. Eventually, a temp-job came through supporting a webmaster that offered more money, and eventually panned out to a full-time position I am now in (another non-profit); the pay isn't as good as the first place, the benefits are great, but I work under a webmaster that I don't feel is very good at her job (my first day there she asked me if I knew why a link she wrote wouldn't function; turns out she was calling a javascript function that the programmers who originally developed the site used on other pages, but she didn't copy the function to the new page) The rest of the people in the office are great, but the webmaster sucks. I don't much like the organization either, as they are a lobbying group for an industry I don't care much for.

So this is where I find myself now. I enjoy doing web development, have some practical experience in it and currently have a position that lets me do some web work. I would love a position that was exclusively web development (or interactive media), and not have it be at a non-profit (well, not necessary, but I'm tired of the NP world).

The problems I face in finding a job like this? I have no computer training beyond a Pascal class I took back in high school. All I know I learned on my own. I try to learn whatever I can, but I can't seem to find a position that will really let me explore the techniques of web development in any depth (one of the reasons I took this position was the fact I would be working with another, presumably more experienced and schooled webmaster from whom I could learn, but I have since discovered that this is in fact most definitely not the case) I am feeling very frustrated and trapped.

After all of that, my question is simply this: is it worth it for me to continue seeking a position in the web development field, or is my lack of schooling always going to second-seat me to positions where I cannot further my knowledge? Has anyone else come at the industry from a similar position? I have had one freelance client while I was unemployed and have considered doing that for a living; is this a viable solution for my situation?

Any suggestions/comments/sympathy is appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but I really needed to vent...

japangreg