There is CIW as a certificate - but it is just something to put on your wall. People want to see a portfolio. Also, there is a big difference between a designer and a developer. Mostly, a designer designs web layout and content and graphics. A developer is mostly interested in coding, databases, php, perl. At a professional level both can be challenging and both take a while to master. Computer science degrees are expected from developers. Learn HTML, XHTML, Javacript, XML (and all of its friends like xslt), JAVA, PHP, MySQL.
Don't know what you mean by non-traditional career paths. If you are trying to avoid school, then it might be tough at this time.
Check out my current portfolio at www.davidvesely.com