I have a college diploma in Graphic Design (I guess Canada is the only place where the call it Graphic Design??).
I had one "web design" course where we learned that photoshop can slice up your images and create image rollovers complete with HTML made of TABLES!!!! (I feel I may have just dated myself). I continued to play around with HTML + CSS and dabbled in some other technologies along the way. Currently I'm working on the creative side of things. Designing and developing emails just came out of necessity. No one else at my agency knew HTML.
I'm with Brian on this one. I've moved to the html5 doctype as well and had great results. Brian, is there a reason you're using
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" /> instead of