Do I Need a Degree? How to Become a Web Developer

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How to Become a Web Developer

Introduction

In the digital age, web developers stand at the forefront of technological innovation, crafting the online experiences that define our connected world. These skilled professionals play a pivotal role in building and maintaining websites, applications, and digital platforms that power businesses and enhance user interactions.

If you’ve ever wondered how to become a web developer, this article could be your guide. It will discuss questions such as: What is a web developer? What does a web developer do? What skills are required? It also provides salary and job growth data.

How to Become a Web Developer

Becoming a web developer typically involves a combination of education, skills development, and practical experience.

In this section, we discuss the ins and outs of pursuing a career as a web developer.

Do you need a degree to be a web developer?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational requirements for web developers range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. However, the BLS also mentions that some employers prefer to hire web developer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a specific field, such as computer science or programming. And if you are one of several candidates being considered for a job and the others don’t have a degree, you could have an edge!

If you might aspire to someday move up to a management position, you will typically need a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. For example, many computer and information systems managers hold a master’s degree . Web developers who want to manage their own businesses may benefit from earning an MBA.

There are also web development bootcamps, which are intensive, focused programs designed to quickly teach specific skills or knowledge within a relatively short period.

Courses for a degree in web development

Web developers might pursue one of several degrees, including computer science and web development. Either way, you’ll likely take courses in areas such as:

  • Programming languages, such as Python, Java, and SQL
  • Fundamentals of Web Development, including HTML and CSS
  • Computer Organization and architecture
  • Algebra and Calculus
  • Physics
  • Fundamentals of Networking
  • Databases
  • Ethics (explores the legal, ethical, and societal aspects of information technology)

How long does it take to become a web developer?

The time required to become a web developer may vary based on several factors, including your prior education, existing skills, and schedule. Bachelor’s degree programs typically take 4 years to complete, while master’s degree programs take 1 to 2 years.

Bootcamp and certificate programs vary more widely in length. Bootcamps might last anywhere from about 3 to 6 months . Certificate programs could take a few weeks to 2 years to complete. And if you are following a self-study route, the amount of time you need depends on your current skills and how much time you have to commit to your studies.

How to Become a Web Developer

What Is a Web Developer?

A web developer is a professional responsible for designing, creating, and maintaining websites and web applications. Their role encompasses a variety of tasks related to both the visual presentation and the technical functionality of a website.

What does a web developer do on the job?

Creating and maintaining a website involves a range of tasks. There are four basic types of web developers: front-end developers, back-end developers, full-stack developers, and webmasters.

Front-end developer

The front-end portion of websites and applications refers to everything users see and interact with. Front-end development involves creating the visual and interactive components of a website, implementing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), ensuring that the website is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and responsive across various devices and screen sizes.

These developers create the visual part of websites using HTML for structure, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for interactivity.

Back-end developer

Back-end development refers to the server-side of web development, focusing on the logic, databases, and functionality that power the front end of a website or web application. While front-end developers work on the user interface and user experience that users interact with directly, back-end developers handle the behind-the-scenes operations that make these interactions possible.

These developers work on the back end to implement server-side logic, handle databases, and manage application functionality. They use programming languages like Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, or Node.js for back-end development. They might also design and maintain databases, ensuring efficient storage and retrieval of data.

Full-stack developer

Full-stack developers work on both the front- and back-end development of websites. They have the skills to build a complete website.

Webmaster

Webmasters are responsible for maintaining a website. This might entail making updates, testing for broken links, and generally ensuring that the website is functional.

What skills do web developers need?

Web developers need a combination of technical, analytical, and communication skills to excel in their roles. Following are some key skills that may be essential for data analysts.

Technical skills

Programming languages—Frontend developers should be familiar with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Programming languages used by back-end developers, or codes, include PHP, Java, Ruby, C#, and Python.

GIT—Git is a distributed version control system (VCS) that is widely used for tracking changes in source code during web development. It allows users to track changes in their coding over time, creating a version history that enables users to revert to previous states, compare changes, and collaborate effectively.

Responsive design— Responsive design is an approach to web design and development that aims to ensure a website’s optimal viewing and interaction experience across a wide range of devices and screen sizes. The goal of responsive design is to create a flexible and adaptive layout that could seamlessly adjust to different devices, from desktop monitors and laptops to tablets and smartphones.

UX and UI design—UX (User Experience) design and UI (User Interface) design are two closely related but distinct disciplines that focus on creating positive interactions between users and digital products, such as websites, mobile apps, and software. While they share a common goal of enhancing the overall user experience, they involve different aspects of the design process.

  • UX design is concerned with the overall experience a user has with a product. It encompasses the user’s emotions, perceptions, and responses throughout their interaction with the product.
  • UI design is concerned with the visual elements and interactive features that users directly engage with. It focuses on creating an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly interface.

SEO —SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is a set of practices aimed at improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results. The primary goal of SEO is to increase the likelihood of a website appearing on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries, thereby driving more organic (non-paid) traffic to the site. SEO techniques that developers should be aware of include:

  • Coding efficiently to ensure faster loading times
  • Using backlinks
  • Creating quality content that includes keywords
  • Refreshing old content to keep it relevant

Testing and debugging—Testing and debugging are crucial phases in the development process to ensure that a website functions correctly, meets user expectations, and is free of errors. These processes involve a systematic approach to identifying and fixing issues, ranging from functional problems to performance optimization.

Soft skills

Analytical skills—Clearly conveying findings, both written and oral, to non-technical stakeholders could be an important skill for web developers to have. This includes creating reports and presentations that provide insights about the data.

Problem-solving skills—Web developers need to be able to identify problems and develop solutions that might solve the problem.

Interpersonal and communication skills: Web development typically entails collaborating with team members and reporting to project managers. Being able to interact with team members and communicate effectively are thus important aspects of being a web developer.

Soft skills

Analytical skills—Clearly conveying findings, both written and oral, to non-technical stakeholders could be an important skill for web developers to have. This includes creating reports and presentations that provide insights about the data.

Problem-solving skills—Web developers need to be able to identify problems and develop solutions that might solve the problem.

Interpersonal and communication skills: Web development typically entails collaborating with team members and reporting to project managers. Being able to interact with team members and communicate effectively are thus important aspects of being a web developer.

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Are web developers in demand?

As more and more businesses realize the benefits of having a website , the need for people to create and maintain websites increases—and as such, web developer jobs are projected to increase dramatically. According to the BLS, between 2022 and 2032, the projected growth for this occupation is 16%, which is much faster than average. Projected employment in 2032 is 115,500.1

States with the highest employment level in web developers:2

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
California8,950$ 104,370
New York8,070$ 81,200
Washington5,890$ 135,490
Texas5,690$ 86,730
Florida4,920$ 81,120

Web developer salary

Web developers earn significantly more than the average U.S. worker. The median annual salary for a web developer in May 2022 was $78,580.3 Salaries may vary, however, based on industry and location.

The industry that paid the highest was software publishers, with a median annual wage of $138,010.3

The top-paying states for web developers in 2022 were:2

StateAnnual Mean Wage
Washington$135,490
Delaware$109,720
District of Columbia$109,350
California$104,370
Maryland$104,370

The top-paying metropolitan areas for web developers in 2022 were:2

Metropolitan AreaAnnual Mean Wage
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA$142,200
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$127,220
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$121,980
Panama City, FL$115,470
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$108,290
Lynchburg, VA$108,100
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL$107,770
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD$103,880
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT$102,060
Anchorage, AK$102,020

Conclusion

If you’re inspired to create visually stunning websites, optimize user interactions, or contribute to the innovation of digital platforms, embarking on a journey to becoming a web developer could be a beneficial endeavor. So, welcome to the exciting world of web development—where innovation knows no bounds!

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Sources:
1https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#tab-6
2https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151254.htm#st
3https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#tab-5

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