How to Become a Web Developer

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by Sharon Wilfong

Published on April 6, 2022

Reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for web developers and digital designers to grow as e-commerce continues to expand. The projected growth for web developers — 13% from 2020-2030 — is faster than the average projected growth for all occupations. This growth would amount to around 25,000 new web developer and digital designer positions over that time frame.

If you're wondering how to become a web developer, there's more than one route to get you there.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Web Developer?

Anyone can become a web developer with the proper training. Many students begin by completing an associate in web development. An associate of science is a foundational degree that can also prepare learners to pursue a bachelor's. In contrast, an associate of applied science typically involves more career training and readies students to enter the workforce upon graduation.

Some graduates who earn an associate degree choose to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor's degree in web development. Students enrolled in these bachelor's programs study popular coding languages, cybersecurity methods, and mobile programming. However, a bachelor's degree isn't always a requirement for employment as a web developer.

To find success, developers must be comfortable with front-end languages like HTML, HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. Web developers who want to work on the server-side need to learn back-end programming languages, such as Python, Java, and SQL. Students can develop these essential skills by earning a degree or attending online coding bootcamps.

Coding is how people communicate with computers. The most important coding languages enable web developers to create and design programs, websites, mobile applications, and operating systems. Coding bootcamps provide intensive training and typically feature a much faster graduation timeline than a traditional degree program.

Types of Web Developers

So, what exactly does a web developer do? Some career paths focus on back-end development, while others target front-end development. And many web developers do both.

Front-End Developer

Front-end developers work on the client-facing side of an application, building a website or app's layout and designing how users interact with them. Majoring in computer science is the traditional way to start this career. However, front-end development bootcamps are another pathway that may offer a quicker entrance into web development.

Back-End Developer

Back-end web developers focus on website architecture, scripting, and writing code that communicates between the website's database and the user's browser. Professionals should keep up with changes in technology, which they can do by obtaining certificates or completing coding bootcamps. For example, a Python coding bootcamp can expand a web developer's back-end skills working with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Full-Stack Developer

Full-stack web developers have the knowledge and experience to offer front-end and back-end website development. They're often responsible for identifying technologies and programming languages to strengthen a websites' business capabilities. Full-stack web development bootcamps help learners build the in-demand technical skills needed to design web frameworks and understand user experience principles.

What Does Web Developer Training Look Like?

Computer literacy, a strong interest in technology, creativity, and excellent problem-solving skills are essential to success in this field. Additionally, there are specific steps you can follow to get the necessary training you need, regardless of your educational pathway. Here's how to get started.

Step 1: Learn the Basics

Learn the fundamentals of website creation, master terminology, and gain fluency in one or more programming languages. Platforms such as Udemy and Coursera offer various inexpensive (or free!) bootcamps in coding, making learning the basics accessible. These affordable courses help learners build a technical vocabulary, explore coding languages, and learn the basics of web development.

Step 2: Develop Programming Skills

Coding languages differ for front-end and back-end web development, and some are more complex than others. It often makes sense to concentrate on primary front-end languages, such as HTML and CSS, when you're starting. Many students choose to attend a trade school program that provides hands-on learning experiences in computer programming and graphic design.

Step 3: Choose a Specialization

If you want to become a full-stack web developer, consider mastering front-end development first. After gaining some experience, you can build upon your knowledge with additional education in back-end languages and processes. Web developers often pursue specialized certifications from Adobe, Microsoft, or Amazon Web Services (AWS) to advance their careers.

Step 4: Build Projects to Develop Your Expertise

Whether you choose a certificate program, a degree, or a coding bootcamp, it's vital to build projects that will help develop and showcase your skills. Bootcamps typically aim for a completed project as part of the course outcome. Consider pursuing additional coding projects, such as redesigning an existing website template or creating an app.

Step 5: Create a Portfolio

Finally, you'll want to build a coding portfolio with project examples as part of your online resume. You can create a personal website that demonstrates your coding ability or house your portfolio on a site such as GitHub, which also provides access to a built-in employer network.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Web Developer?

The length of time it takes to become a web developer depends on your educational path and previous experience. Typically, an associate of science degree takes two years to complete, while earning a bachelor's degree in web development takes four years of full-time study. However, many colleges and trade schools offer web development certificate programs that take 6-9 months to complete.

How long are coding bootcamps? It depends! Some may last just 1-2 weeks, while others stretch to over six months. Some bootcamps are immersive, full-time programs, while others follow a part-time schedule. There are also self-paced certification options that learners can complete at their convenience.

For example, Coursera offers a self-paced AWS specialization certificate and a plethora of other self-paced coding courses. The AWS specialization is a four-course certificate that learners can complete in around four months by investing just three hours per week. It's also important to remember that continuing education is essential to keep up to date in this expanding industry.

Frequently Asked Questions About Web Development Careers

Do web developers have good salaries? true

According to the BLS, in May 2020, the median annual wage for web developers and digital designers was $77,200. While the lowest 10% of salaries were less than $40,750, the top 10% were over $146,430. Full-stack developers' earnings can exceed $100,000 per year, with job opportunities in software development and information systems management.

A web developer's industry and location can also affect their wages. According to the BLS, the five highest-paying states for web developers in 2020 were Washington, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Additionally, web developers in metropolitan areas like Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose earned particularly high average wages.

Is web development a good career? true

Web development can be an excellent career for people who enjoy technology, creativity, and learning new things. As e-commerce continues to expand, so will the need for skilled web developers. What's more, the expanding popularity of online applications continues to increase the demand for web developers and digital designers.

Not only is the outlook for employment bright, but web developers can efficiently operate as freelancers and work remotely. The BLS reports that 18% of web developers and designers were self-employed in 2020. The field also boasts ample potential for career advancement, especially if workers are interested in continuing their education.

What do web developers do daily? true

Web developers work with organizations of various sizes to build prototypes and mockups of websites and applications, which are subsequently handed off to web and UX/UI designers. They usually attend meetings with clients, management, and/or other team members. Front-end developers typically work with designers and user experience specialists on the user-side of an application to develop appealing visuals.

Back-end developers create, test, debug, and maintain the server-side of websites and applications. Full-stack developers are well-versed in all aspects of web development and often work as freelancers, consultants, and contractors. Senior developers have experience with multiple coding languages and processes, and they may oversee entire design teams and train team members.

Feature Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Are you interested in learning more about careers in web development? Click for information about opportunities at all levels of education. Start planning today. Find out how to become a web developer via a coding bootcamp and learn more about the job outlook for web developers. Do you know web developer jargon? Test your knowledge with this glossary of web development terms.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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