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What is a Web Developer?

A web developer is responsible for enhancing the appearance and functionality of a website. Most web developers choose one of three careers in the profession. You might become a front-end developer, a back-end developer, or a full-stack developer. The type of developer a person becomes greatly influences the necessary education and skills required to be successful. It is also possible a web developer will have web design responsibilities to some extent.

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Steps to Becoming a Web Developer

A web developer is one of several IT careers that can be self-taught starting at a young age from the comfort of your home. While this self-education is a good start, most employers require that you complete at least some formal education to ensure that you possess universal skills that all properly trained web developers possess across the globe. It is these skills that are required for web developer sites and projects to be successful, particularly if several people are working on a project at the same time.

It is also important to note that most employers will not hire web developers without verifiable proof of their previous experience. It is a good idea to start working as a freelance web developer as soon as possible. Once you complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in web development, you will be required to gain more reputable work experience to advance your career. You will also be expected to pursue continued education throughout your web developer career to remain current on the latest technology trends and web development tools.

  • Step 1: Choose a Specialization

  • Step 2: Complete a Degree

  • Step 3: Work Experience

  • Step 4: Continued Education and Career Advancement


Step 1: Choose a Specialization

Before you can begin to pursue a degree as a web developer, you must consider which type of web developer you would like to become. This will influence the type of degree and the languages and tools you will be required to learn. You can choose to become a front-end developer, back-end developer, or a full-stack developer. Each developer type will dictate the areas on which you will work on projects and websites. More and more people are choosing to become a full-stack developer as it typically makes them more employable. Full-stack developers are able to complete both front-end and back-end work.

The full-stack skill set makes someone far more valuable and indispensable to employers. By having an understanding of both functionalities, it will also make you more valuable to team projects and help you work better with others. This is also a highly desirable trait for potential employers, as you can essentially create a complete a website yourself without the outside assistance of others by learning front-end and back-end skills.

Step 2: Complete a Degree

Degrees are often considered a formality in web development. A large number of people are self-taught in these skills before they graduate high school. However, most employers prefer their web developers to have completed at least some formal higher learning in the computer science field. Many entry-level jobs will only require an associate’s degree. If you can demonstrate your exceptional web development skills, an employer may be satisfied with a certificate. While this is certainly the fastest way to enter into the field, many of the top-paying jobs and most reputable companies expect their entry-level applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

Keep in mind that today, more and more web development employers are placing greater emphasis on work experience over degrees. On the other hand, without formal education, you may not learn the details and jargon used in real-world situations. In the classroom, you will fine tune your skills with courses in areas such as website graphics, e-commerce, web-page multimedia, database management, website usability, social media and collaboration, optimizing websites, and advanced web design.

And if you really want to jump start your web developer career early on, start by taking classes at your high school. If they do not offer these classes, ask if your school has a partnership with a local college or university to take college courses for free as a high school student.

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Step 3: Work Experience

You can begin work experience the day you learn the skills required to develop websites. Many small businesses are looking for web developers who can deliver remarkable websites at an affordable price. This is a great way to start your career in high school or while you complete a degree program. The amount of web development experience you require to become employed will depend entirely on the employer.

It is highly likely that if you wish to work for the biggest and best brands, you will have to work for other companies and possess at least a bachelor’s degree. The best jobs demand the most well-rounded people. If you do work for a company as a full-time employee, do not accept any freelance work until you determine whether or not this is a firable offense by your employer. Some employers do not permit their employees to freelance while working for them. You should also consider pursuing an internship during your degree program to gain valuable work experience before you graduate.

Step 4: Continued Education and Professional Development

A web developer will not remain employed for long without continued education and professional development. Technology changes daily and you will be required to keep up with the latest trends. One way to verify your web developer skills is to complete various professional certifications. These will often be offered by major tech companies, such as Microsoft and Oracle. Any additional professional credential will also increase your prospective pay and make you more valuable to your employer.

If you wish to advance within a company or within your web developer career, you should complete another degree. If you only have an associate’s degree, complete a bachelor’s degree. If you already completed a bachelor’s degree, pursue a master’s degree. You can take courses online from accredited colleges and universities, and it is likely your employer will reimburse at least some of your continued educational expenses.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

The daily responsibilities of a web developer will vary based on the type of developer you become. Web developers will be responsible for either working with the design and functionality of the website, creating streamlining with servers, or both. Everyone will be responsible for some language development and testing. Web developers will also have to attend meetings and create solutions for the ideas of others. Communication is essential in these roles, as is organizing, planning, and implementing solutions in a timely manner.

All web developers must be able to develop solutions across multiple platforms and continue to expand, update, and enhance the web experience once the initial site is complete. Continued education will be critical for all web developers and each developer will have the choice to work for a wide variety of employers, including self-employment, big corporations, startups, and more. Keep in mind that web developers must be able to work under pressure, as projects are often time-sensitive and urgent situations can occur that require the website to be restored as quickly as possible to prevent the loss of possibly millions of dollars.

Web Developer Skills to Acquire

You will require a standard set of skills to become a successful and in-demand web developer. Whether you learn these skills in a classroom or teach yourself, you must have a skillset that allows you to excel at your job and to be able to communicate effectively with other IT and non-IT professionals seamlessly.

  • Be able to code
  • Understand search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Multitask and meet deadlines
  • Stay within budgetary constraints
  • Stay in line with the brand, message, and goals
  • Communicate exceptionally well
  • Work well on a team
  • Have a basic understanding of other IT professions and their responsibilities
  • Monitor the website
  • Test the website regularly
  • Translate an idea into a web-based reality
  • Grasp the concept and importance of e-commerce
  • Know the business of your employer
  • Work well under pressure
  • Pay attention to details

Alternative Paths

Because you can enter web development without any degree, you have countless alternative paths to become a web developer. There is not any one right path to becoming a web developer. Be sure to find a mentor and to begin self-teaching as soon as you know this is the career for you.

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You can also use web development to transition careers. This is an ideal career for someone currently employed in a dying industry or in a career without growth potential due to technology and shifting consumer interest. You can start with a certificate program in web development and work your way up to a bachelor’s degree while keeping your current position. It is also a great career for people who are at-home care providers for their children. You can look after your kids while completing online degrees.

Career and Salary

Where Might You Work?


Nearly all companies require a web developer in some way. You might work independently as a freelance web developer or a consultant. This will allow you a flexible work schedule and the ability to select the type of clients with whom you work and the type of websites you develop. It is possible to work for small or large businesses. Many employers will allow web developers to work remotely today, so you can have a better work-life balance and a better quality of life.

Some people will choose to work for a web developer company. These companies employ dozens or hundreds of web developers. It is even possible to work for the government, politicians, restaurants, and much more. If you do work in an office setting, consider the best environment for you to work efficiently and effectively, such as whether or not you can work in a cubicle, open plan, or an office.

Potential Career Paths

A web developer career path is somewhat limited without additional credentials, certificates, and degrees. However, with web developer training, you could qualify to pursue other similar careers. You might consider a variety of careers, such as computer programming, website design, software engineering, and graphic design.

Front-End Developer
A front-end developer writes code to match the design developed by the client or the website design team. These developers will be required to be able to program in several languages, such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. They might also work with content, presentation, and links.

Back-End Developer
A back-end developer works with the server rather than the client. These web developers will create programs and code to work with databases, applications, and servers hosting and working with the website. These web developers must focus on speed and languages, such as PHP, Java, and Python.

Full-Stack Developer
A full-stack developer typically works with both front-end and back-end tools. These web developers allow people to work independently more easily. They are also often hired to manage projects and earn more money with better job security than those who only specialize in one web development skill set.

Computer and Information Systems Management
These information technology managers are responsible for the management and direction of organizational and project goals. They must plan, coordinate, keep people on track, and ensure deadlines and budgets are met.

Computer Programmer
A computer programmer works to perfect the functionality of software and programs. These individuals might spend the day writing or testing code. They may spend much of their day working alone or they could work on teams.

Web Designer
A web designer is similar to a web developer with several key differences. These tech professionals are responsible for the entire design, concept, and creation of an application or website. They focus on the user experience and appearance.

Software Engineer
A software engineer works with computer programmers and software developers to determine the best methodologies to use during the transition of an idea into a program. These IT professionals work to create efficiency throughout the development and design stages.

Graphic Web Designer
A graphic web designer works primarily to create graphics for websites. They may also be responsible for social media graphics if they work for a smaller company. The designs must stay on point with the company brand and the message, and they must engage the audience.

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Web Developer Salaries

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Web Designer $43,000 $57,000 $66,000
Mobile Web Developer $41,000 $60,000 $90,000
Database Administrator $56,000 $79,000 $99,000
IT Analyst $40,000 $63,000 $94,000
Computer Scientist $67,000 $99,000 $117,000
Software Engineer $76,000 $95,000 $114,000
Programmer $56,000 $70,000 $86,000

**Salary info provided by PayScale

Career Outlook

Employment opportunities for web developers is expected to grow by up 15% by 2026, according to the BLS. This is significantly higher than most occupations. This growth will be, in part, due to the expected growth in e-commerce. The more consumers continue to shift from physical storefronts to online shopping the more in-demand web developers will continue to become.

It is also important to note that web developers must be able to create websites that are mobile friendly, as over 50% of users shop from their smartphones today. This is another growing trend in the profession that is at a critical turning point.

This is a highly competitive field with many companies looking to countries with quality developers who charge less. US-based web developers must be able to sell their services, the quality of their work, charge a fair price, and demonstrate the ease to do business with them in order to win jobs over foreign markets.

Advancing From Here

While there may be many opportunities for web developers, the opportunities for advancement are more limited. It is possible to become a project lead of a project for a new website, new features, or upgrades and updates. This is often a transitional title on the way to becoming a manager. It is important to note that only individuals who have exceptional communication skills of all sorts and those who can work well with others will be considered for such promotions. You must be able to work with non-tech people too. The same is true if you wish to pursue a career as a freelancer or a consultant. It is even possible to become a director of an IT department or a CTO if you are truly ambitious. Your career does not begin and end as a web developer; however, you must put in the work to achieve career advancement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do entry-level web developers do?

Entry-level web developers create, troubleshoot, and maintain websites.

Where do web developers work?

Web developers work all across the country in industries like technical consulting, information services, and advertising. Some web developers work in publishing, management consulting, and computer systems design.

What does a full-stack developer do?

A full-stack developer can work on back and front end development. They are experts at the entire web development process.

What are Programming languages?

Programming languages give instructions to computers. Programming languages are made up of a series of symbols that allow web developers to translate their thoughts into instructions for the computer to follow.

What are some different types of programming languages?

  • Procedural languages
  • Functional languages
  • Machine languages
  • Assembly languages
  • Logic programming languages
  • Data-oriented languages
  • Business-oriented languages
  • Education-oriented languages
  • Object-oriented languages
  • Scripting languages
  • Declarative languages
  • Document formatting languages
  • World Wide Web display languages
  • Front end coding languages
  • Database programming languages
  • Rule-based languages
  • Compiled languages
  • Back end coding languages
  • System languages
  • Algorithmic languages
  • Command-line interface languages
  • Computational languages
  • Visual languages
  • XML-based languages
  • Syntax handling languages
  • Interpreted languages
  • Little languages
  • Metaprogramming languages
  • Esoteric languages
  • Non-English-based languages
  • Curly-bracket languages
  • Off-side rule languages
  • Iterative languages
  • Constraint programming languages
  • Numerical analysis languages
  • Multiparadigm languages
  • Embeddable languages
  • Imperative languages
  • Dataflow languages
  • Authoring languages
  • Concurrent languages
  • Array languages
  • Extension languages
  • Hardware description languages
  • Macro languages
  • Shading languages
  • Reflective languages
  • Fourth-generation languages
  • Decision table languages
  • Interactive mode languages

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