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How to Become a Web Developer

CAREER GUIDE

How to Become a Web Developer

How do you think the website you’re on right now was created? Every feature you see on this site, and all the systems that make it work, were created by web developers. These professionals are responsible for the way the internet looks today. Front end, backend, and full stack web developers constantly experiment with new layouts and systems to make sites more user-friendly, attractive, and secure. Here on Computer Science Hero, we’ll go over everything you need to know if you want to learn web development. 

Here are a few reasons why you should consider choosing a career in web development:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the market for web developers will grow upwards of 13% in the next decade.

The B.L.S. states that the average salary for web developers is $69,430 per year, but it’s possible to make six figures in the field.

Web developers can land a salaried position or start their own freelancing business from home.

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Web development is a growing career field for programmers, designers, and anyone interested in building websites. Web developers use coding languages such as HTML, Ruby, JavaScript, and CSS to create websites and online applications. Businesses hire web developers to design, improve, and repair sites. These professionals are responsible for site design (front end), server connectivity (backend) and, occasionally, both (full stack). Web developers also help businesses turn their visions and product ideas into reality.

Simply put, web developers create websites for individuals and businesses. A lot goes into building a site; coding, design, search engine optimization, and collaboration are all necessary. Many people consider web development to be a subcategory of software engineering and development, as the professions share many similarities. These professionals also use their skills to create interactive site applications and streamline server communications to increase speeds. A web developer’s primary responsibility is to ensure websites are modern, secure, and helpful to users.

Web Development Job Description

Web developers share a core set of job responsibilities with most computer science careers. Chief among the job duties of web developers is coding, as these professionals spend much of their time using programming languages to build websites. Web developers also work on teams to create new online applications for users and businesses. The job also includes quite a bit of planning and collaboration, as businesses hire developers to help create products and services that meet their vision. Web developers are attentive and skilled professionals who understand trends in website design and possess the skills to stay on top of the game.

Designing site layouts using wireframing techniques

Building websites using programming languages and web development tools

Site security

Site updates and debugging

Search engine optimization (SEO) to increase site traffic

Staying informed and up-to-date on the latest developments in the web development world

Coding is a primary responsibility of web developers, but it’s not the only job responsibility they deal with. Additionally, you need to learn web development hard skills (like wireframing) and soft skills (especially communication) to be effective in the field.

Web developers need a variety of skills (and plenty of practice) to compete in the modern tech job market. It’s not 2002 anymore, and modern sites take a lot more than some HTML color codes to serve users effectively. Here are some of the most important hard skills and soft skills for web developers. 

Design skills

Design skills are especially important for front end developers, as these professionals need to understand how to create a modern site that’s helpful to users. Design skills help developers maximize page attractiveness and simplify designs without sacrificing quality.

Programming knowledge

The primary duty of web developers is to create and maintain websites using programming languages. The primary web development languages HTML, JavaScript, and CSS for front end work. Backend developers rely on Ruby-on-Rails, Python, and other languages.

Site design and development

Web developers are responsible for designing and developing sites and web applications. This process includes everything from wireframing the layout to creating functional and interactive features.

Debugging and Updating

Every site programmer deals with errors from time to time, so debugging skills are necessary to keep your sites running properly. Also, regularly updating layout and code is required to stay up-to-date and keep users (and employers) happy with site functionality and design.

Wireframing

Wireframing is the process of ‘laying out’ the design of a website before building it. This process involves choosing a layout, mapping out features, and deciding what to focus on during the process. Wireframing is essential for efficient site building.

Teamwork

Building a website is no trivial task, and unless you work as a freelancer, chances are you’ll be working on a team. Effective communication and collaboration are key to a successful web project, so it’s essential to be a team player.

Web developers enjoy unusually high salaries for entry-level careers. Today, the average web developer earns $69,430 annually, not including additional income from bonuses and stock options. Web development salaries vary between companies and locations, but experience levels also play a big part in salary. Experienced web developers can earn upwards of $111,000 annually, and business owners can earn as much as they can generate through effective marketing. Here are the average web development salaries for several major American cities with data from Glassdoor.

CityAverage Salary
Atlanta, GA$68,148
Boston, MA$73,921
Chicago, IL$68,490
Cleveland, OH$59,748
Dallas, TX$66,841
Los Angeles, CA$72,309
Miami, FL$63,038
Milwaukee, WI$61,346
Minneapolis, MN$66,358
New York, NY$75,672
Philadelphia, PA$65,585
Phoenix, AZ$64,776
Portland, OR$68,610
San Francisco, CA$92,548
Seattle, WA$77,325

The biggest contributing factors to your salary are location, experience, company, and specialization. Here are some common related fields.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $107,287
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 24%
  • Number of People Employed: 1,256,200
  • Mean Annual Salary: $69,430
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 13%
  • Number of People Employed: 160,000

Web developers use coding languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to create sites and web applications.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $88,280
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): -7%
  • Number of People Employed: 273,600

Programmers write and test code to ensure that computer applications and software programs function as they should. They work with plans formulated by software developers and engineers and turn them into instructions for computers.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $98,350
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 28%
  • Number of People Employed: 100,000

Information security analysts create plans to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are the first line of defense against cyberattacks.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $90,070
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 11%
  • Number of People Employed: 119,500

DBAs work with special software to store and organize a company’s important data. They ensure the data is organized, accessible by authorized individuals, and safe from unauthorized access.

PositionSalary
Entry Level (0-4 Years)$75,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years)$125,000
Experienced (10-20 Years)$150,000
Late-Career (20+ Years)$200,000

Web developers are responsible for turning code into functioning websites. These professionals also perform tasks like ‘wireframing’ to plan site layouts and features ahead of time. Web development jobs are abundant, and the field will likely continue to grow faster than most careers.

The Types of Web Developers

Web development is a broad term that encompasses several dedicated career paths. The most common subtypes include front end, backend, and full stack developers. Some people also include web designers under the term, though web designers focus primarily on site layout and appearance.

Front End / Backend developers

Front end developers focus on client-side programming, which encompasses the visual and interactive features of a site. Essentially, what we consider ‘the site itself’ is the domain of front end developers. Backend developers work on the server-side, programming systems that connect the site with the internet.

Full stack developers

Full stack developers are all-in-one web development professionals who master the skills of front end and backend programmers. Full stack developers are responsible for entire sites, and sometimes lead teams of other specialized web programming professionals.

Web development is a skill that takes time to learn, and an education program can help you grasp the concepts necessary to succeed. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to find study resources to learn common programming languages. Nonetheless, the structure of a dedicated education program can increase your odds of success. Here are the most common ways to become a web developer in the 2020s. 

Education Pathways for Web Developers

Web developers come from all educational backgrounds. There’s no universal requirement to become a web developer, though the majority of professionals in the field earned a bachelor’s degree at some point. Today, you can become a web developer through self-instruction, coding bootcamp, or college.

Traditional Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities are the most common education pathway for web developers. Students attend community colleges, universities, and graduate schools for tech degrees. The most popular degrees for web developers are computer science, software engineering, graphic design (usually with additional coding education), and web development. However, you don’t necessarily need any college degree to work in the field. The tech industry (as a whole) is concerned primarily with your ability to do the work. If you can learn to code, you can build a website. A college degree, however, increases your chances of landing higher-paying jobs and advancing in your career. But at the end of the day, your career prospects are largely based on your skills and motivation.

MOST COMMON

Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are a recent arrival to the higher education system. These programs arose due to an increased demand for web developers and a woefully inadequate supply. Bootcamps, unlike colleges, only focus on in-demand skills (instead of general education and electives). Coding bootcamps are strictly career-training programs. Students who attend bootcamps pay an average of $13,000 for the course. Bootcamps last between three months and one year, though the average is about six months. Over the last decade, bootcamps proved themselves as viable education programs for tech job seekers. Now, many bootcamps offer income-based deferred tuition programs and job guarantees, with placement rates exceeding 90%. A bootcamp program can show you how to learn web development with virtually no coding experience.

  • Duration: 1 to 5 years
  • Cost: $0 (or minimal)
  • Average Base Salary: Unknown
  • Duration: 3 to 12 months
  • Cost: Avg. $13,600
  • Average Base Salary: $70,700
  • Duration: 4 to 6 years
  • Cost: Avg. $34,740 (4 years)
  • Average Base Salary: $65,900
  • Duration: 1.5 to 2 years (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Cost: Avg. $30,000 to $100,000 (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Average Base Salary: $114,000
  • Duration: 4 to 8 years (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Cost: Avg. $50,000+ (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Average Base Salary: $124,000

Coding Bootcamp

Coding bootcamps are designed to train beginners how to become web developers. These programs are intensive and short term, and focus strictly on in-demand tech skills. Many bootcamps offer job guarantees, and programs often last around three to six months.

College/University

Colleges and universities are a popular choice for web developers. Students with degrees in computer science, graphic design, and software engineering often choose a web development career path. A degree isn’t always required, but it’s certainly beneficial in the job market.

Self-Study

Many web developers are self-taught, thanks to the enormous amount of free coding resources available online. Developers also use books, how-to videos, and other tools to teach themselves programming languages like JavaScript.

FAQ

How long does it take to learn web development?

It depends on the education path you choose. Bachelor’s degree programs take four years, but coding bootcamps take less than a year to complete.

Do you need a degree to become a web developer?

No! People without any college education can become web developers. Many developers hold degrees nonetheless.

Is web development a good job?

Web development is a good job for many people. Surveys find that web developers enjoy high job satisfaction and relatively low stress.

Can web developers work from home?

Yes! Web developers can work from home as freelancers or remote employees.

How much do web developers make?

The average salary for web developers is $69,430 per year. Salaries range from $44,000 to $111,000 per year. 

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