How To Become a Web Developer

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The Internet plays a big role in our lives today. We use different websites for almost everything from searching for information, buying stuff, connecting with friends and family or staying updated with the latest happenings worldwide. Web developers build and implement all these different types of websites. This has made web development a lucrative career option. In this article, we explore the importance of knowing how to become a web developer, what a web developer does and how to become one, including what education is required.

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Importance Of Knowing How To Become A Web Developer

It is important for you to know how to become a web developer because this career option is unlike other traditional engineering and technology-related career options. Web development provides more options in terms of pathways to reach your goal. To make a good career in other technology-related areas, you require at least a bachelor's degree. To become a successful web developer, based on whether you want to work for a big organisation or you prefer to go solo as a freelancer, you may or may not be required to earn a degree at all.

You may need a degree if you want to work for an organisation with established practices and minimum qualifying criteria regarding educational qualification. But, if you choose to sell your services as a freelancer, for instance, then you just require to be able to demonstrate and prove your skills through a portfolio. A degree, or any other educational qualification for that matter, is not necessary in this case.

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What Is Web Development?

Web development refers to the building of websites and various applications for the internet. Web development focuses on all aspects of website creation, from designing the website to programming the website's backend functionality. From some of the simplest web pages to complex platforms and applications, all the web pages and tools we regularly access through the internet have been created by web developers.

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What Does A Web Developer Do?

A web developer is primarily responsible for building and maintaining websites. Web developers may choose to work as a freelancer or may work in-house. The responsibilities differ based on whether you work as a frontend, as a backend or as a full-stack developer. Full-stack developers are the ones who specialise in both frontend and backend web development.

Web developers ensure that the product they build is as per the needs of the customer or the end-user. Web developers work in close coordination with the stakeholders and clients to understand their vision. Another major area of focus for web developers is identifying and fixing issues to improve a website or an application.

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Education For Web Developers

There are many educational paths you can take to pursue a career in web development. Some involve completing a degree, which may take a few years, or completing a professional training course that only lasts a few months. Here are some common education options for web developers:

Self-paced study

You can choose to teach yourself the skills, processes and software used in web development. This study may include a unique combination of the following elements:

  • Reading web development books

  • Completing short, guided training modules online

  • Getting guidance from online coding and web development communities

  • Taking web development, programming, graphic design and other relevant classes

  • Completing online coding challenges

This education path often helps prepare you for pursuing formal education, a certification course or "boot camp" that has pre-requisites.

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Professional "boot camp"

There are various streamlined training programs, often referred to as "boot camps," that prepare aspiring web developers for employment. In these programs, you learn the basics of coding, including writing, reviewing, testing and revising code in languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C# and others. You also learn how to translate user needs into well-structured and attractive designs. Other practical experiences include using coding languages to build wireframes, construct websites and internet applications, complete various web development projects and create a portfolio of work to demonstrate your qualifications to prospective employers and clients.

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General certification

Some organisations offer professional certificate programs that provide a general knowledge base and skill set in web development. Also, some universities, colleges and other higher learning institutions may offer a web development certificate that you can earn on its own or in conjunction with a degree.

Bachelor's degree

Web developers who pursue a bachelor's degree through a four-year program at a college or university earn a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Students usually spend four years taking courses in computer programming, coding, design and math in this type of program.

Some employers may prefer web developer candidates to have a bachelor's degree, especially for roles in back-end development and other more specialised disciplines. Also, bachelor's degree programs may require you to complete internships and create final projects that may help in improving your resume.

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Master's degree

You can choose to pursue a master's degree after a bachelor's degree if you wish to specialise in a particular area of web development. A master's degree is useful mostly in cases where the employers have this as the minimum qualification criteria for certain positions. It is also a good idea to go for a master's degree in cases where the bachelor's degree is from a slightly lesser established college or university. You may want to have a good brand in terms of educational institutions attended on your resume.

How To Become A Web Developer?

Here are the steps you can take to become a web developer:

1. Establish basic development skills

Before pursuing education, consider learning basic coding and design skills to create a strong foundation when beginning coursework. You can also take this time to complete self-paced modules and challenges.

2. Consider a training-focused program

If you prefer the shorter timeline and streamlined coursework, you can apply to a professional boot camp or certification program to quickly master the necessary skills and create a strong portfolio.

3. Pursue formal education

If you are looking for a career in traditional large-sized companies, opt for a bachelor's degree in computer science, web development, design or another relevant discipline. You can also choose to go for a master's degree if required for your chosen career path.

It is important to understand that formal education is not a necessary requirement for becoming a web developer. It is certainly possible to learn to code independently; but, you are required to understand that web development is not only about coding. If you can use your coding skills to suit a bigger picture of the entire web development life cycle, you may have an advantage when it comes to getting hired. This is where formal education can help you develop a thorough understanding of the various web development practices and principles.

4. Earn a professional certification

With a professional certification in a specific software or project management strategy, you can further test your knowledge and demonstrate your qualifications.

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5. Develop your technical skills

Formal education has its own benefits, but web development is an area where actual skills can easily prove to be a more important factor than your degree when it comes to getting hired. Especially in the new-age result-oriented organisations, your ability to deliver results is always more important than the source of your learning these skills. The same applies to any freelance opportunities you may want to target.

As a web developer, you are required to be an expert in three core areas: CSS, HTML and JavaScript. You are also required to learn about CSS and the different CSS frameworks. You would also require to be good in various back-end languages like Java, Ruby and PHP. If you possess these technical skills and are good at them, you might be more likely to encounter opportunities as a web developer. Hence, focus on developing your technical skills.

6. Practice your coding skills

Web developers learn by doing. So you can work on independent projects, small freelance projects or even work on projects with your friends. Practicing coding and getting familiar with web development like this prepares you for bigger challenges that you may be required to face in the later stages of your career.

7. Create a portfolio of work

You can choose to complete personal projects, take freelance opportunities or create work during an internship or job to build a portfolio that showcases your experience and expertise as a web developer.

Employers want results; examples could be successful sites or applications you have built. Through a portfolio, you can showcase your talent and capabilities effectively.

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