Becoming a Web Developer

Web developers create websites for their companies or clients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% increase in web developer jobs between 2019 and 2029. These positions pay a median wage of $77,200 per year.

The steps to become a web developer can vary. Some aspiring professionals enroll in a short, intense bootcamp. Others self-teach. Many web developers earn degrees in computer science or a related field.

While the path to becoming a web developer is challenging, this career offers high flexibility and better-than-average opportunities for upward mobility. The page below offers an in-depth look at how to become a web developer.

What Is a Web Developer?

A web developer uses programming languages to design and develop websites and applications. These professionals may emphasize front-end development, which focuses on creating a site, or back-end development, which enables what happens on the front end. Some web developers work in a full stack, combining both front-end and back-end development.

A web developer uses programming languages to design and develop websites and applications.

Computer systems design, publishing, and digital marketing agencies all employ web developers. In their professional roles, developers interact with writers, graphic designers, animators, and computer managers. A developer integrates the audio, graphic, and visual content these professionals make into the sites they build.

Learn more about being a web developer at the link below.

Read More About Web Developers

Education Requirements for Web Developers

Web developers need skills and knowledge in HTML and other programming languages and tools. Aspiring professionals can gain those skills and information through self-directed study, a bootcamp, a certificate program, and/or a degree in web development.

Educational requirements for this role vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the role, some employers may require a degree or other formal education in a specific field. To advance into management positions, web developers often need a bachelor’s degree or higher. Postsecondary teaching or research positions typically require a doctorate.

Experienced developers may not want to repeat the basic skills taught in a bootcamp or associate degree and might choose a certificate or bootcamp. Similarly, aspiring professionals who already hold a bachelor’s degree may elect to earn a certificate or master’s degree.

Throughout their careers, web developers need to stay abreast of new tools and technologies, computer languages, and frameworks. To stay sharp, some web development professionals take advantage of continuing education opportunities. Others pursue a higher degree at a college or university. Still others complete a certificate at a school or earn a new certification through a vendor or professional association.

Experience Requirements for Web Developers

Strictly speaking, web developer career requirements do not include experience. However, many certifications require at least two years of experience to qualify for the exam. Employers may also expect applicants to possess experience with certain products. Top-paying senior developer jobs may demand more experience than entry-level positions regardless of education.

According to PayScale, web developers with 20 or more years of experience earn 35% more than the average. Promotion to a management role may require five years of experience and a bachelor’s degree.

Skillsets determine a web developer’s professional success, and developing marketable skills in complex areas such as JavaScript, CSS, SQL, and jQuery takes time. Aspiring web developers can put in that time at a bootcamp, a college, and/or an on-the-job training environment such as an internship.

Internship Opportunities

Computer science majors may need to complete an internship to graduate from a college or university. Optional or required web development internships can help students network, gain hands-on skills, and apply their knowledge in a real-world environment.

Interns often work in Fortune 100 companies, at political think tanks, in digital marketing agencies, and at scientific research facilities. Some internships pay a stipend, while others simply offer college credit. Most web development interns assist in writing code, developing web layouts, and integrating data from a variety of sources.

Interns often work from a few weeks to a few months before completing their program.

Required Certifications for Web Developers

Unlike physicians or accountants, web developers do not need to hold licensure with the state government. Many web developers, however, find that earning certifications helps validate their proficiency in the field.

Web development certifications come in two major types: vendor-specific and non-vendor-specific. Computer technology companies offer vendor-specific certifications to train people to use their products. Professional organizations provide non-vendor-specific certifications, which demonstrate skills in a certain area. Both kinds of certifications can add value to a web develeloper’s resume.

Common certifications include the following:

  • Certified Web Professional – Web Developer: Offered by the International Web Association, this certificate helps developers learn to create and maintain applications. Applicants need two years of related full-time work experience.
  • Certified Software Development Professional: Applicants with two years of education and two years of experience can take a 160-question three-hour certification exam from the IEEE Computer Society.
  • Adobe Certified Expert: Adobe Certified Experts go through formal training and take an exam to demonstrate their skill with Adobe products.
  • PCPP1 – Certified Professional in Python Programming 1: Web development professionals can assess and document their Python programming skills with this certificate, which requires advanced facility with Text File Processing, Advanced OOP, and GUI Programming.

Learn More About Certifications for Computer Science Professionals Top IT Certifications to Boost Your Career

How to Become a Web Developer

A broad and dynamic field, web development relies on professional skills and experience more than on theories or academic degrees. Consequently, a three-month bootcamp may be all some aspiring web developers need before landing their first job in the industry. Older students with more experience may benefit from such a short-term, hands-on approach to learning.

High school graduates interested in a web development career may benefit more from an academic degree. A two- or-four-year program can give students both cutting-edge technical skills and the theoretical and conceptual knowledge that underpin computer science as a discipline.

Becoming a web developer can take from three months to four years. It may cost as little as a few books and courses, or as much as full college education.

Steps to Becoming a Web Developer

Bootcamp Path

  1. Graduate From a Web Development Bootcamp. Bootcamps last 3-12 months and equip graduates with job-ready skills in the technology industry. According to a 2017 survey, 72% of employers think bootcamp grads are just as prepared as computer science degree-holders.
  2. Maximize Your Knowledge of Coding Languages and Frameworks. In addition to what they learn at bootcamp, graduates may need additional skills in a coding language such as CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Python, or Ruby on Rails.
  3. Build an Online Portfolio. Web developers create an online portfolio to showcase their skills, creativity, and style. Portfolios can demonstrate personal or professional projects.
  4. Earn Relevant Certifications or Licenses. Professionals may need certification from a web development professional organization such as the International Web Association and the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals.
  5. Get Your First Web Development Job.

Degree Path

  1. Graduate From an Accredited College or University. Web developers can get started with an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in computer science or a related field. An associate degree takes about two years, a bachelor’s degree requires four years, and a master’s degree takes two years. A neophyte web developer typically pursues a bachelor’s or associate degree — or even a certificate — while an experienced professional may opt for a master’s program.
  2. Earn Relevant Certifications or Licenses.
  3. Get Your First Web Development Job.
  4. Take Advantage of Continuing Education Opportunities. Web developers may pursue a graduate degree, an academic certificate at a higher education institution, or continuing education units from a relevant professional organization.

Should I Become a Web Developer?

Web development is a well-paying career filled with intriguing professional challenges. Getting started in web development can take just a few months of bootcamp training and does not always require lengthy formal education. Even better, the field offers many opportunities for flexible, remote work. But web development is not for everyone.

Who makes a great web developer?

The best web developers are keen problem-solvers who possess a determined attitude, attention to detail, and a keen interest in lifelong learning. They also love to code and can spend hours doing uninterrupted computer work.

Web developers must stay on top of the new languages, trends, and tools that are constantly emerging in their industry. These professionals need to enroll in online courses, attend conferences, and read relevant journals to keep their skills current.

Web developers who maintain their technical competence can become lead developers who mentor junior employees and architect scalable systems.

A Day in the Life of a Web Developer Salary and Job Outlook for Web Developers

The Job Hunt

Cold calls and resumes rarely get results, especially for professionals seeking technical positions. Successful web developers often launch their careers by doing freelance projects and showcasing the best of these on a portfolio site. This site can serve as an inbound marketing tool to draw attention from prospective employers, or as an addendum to a traditional resume.

Like other careers, web development also relies on personal networks and professional organizations. Web developers can meet hiring managers at computer conferences, in professional organizations, through mentors, or in online professional groups. Top networking organizations include the International Web Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

  • Stack Overflow: One of the 50 most popular websites in the world, Stack Overflow provides a wealth of resources for coders and developers, including a job board.
  • Indeed: Featuring 250 million unique visitors each month, Indeed is one of the largest job seeker sites on the web. The platform includes career advice and resources, along with open job listings.
  • Y Combinator: This website features jobs at startups backed by Y Combinator. Web developers can connect with founders, attend virtual events, and search job posts.
  • Krop: Build a creative portfolio, find a job, or search through the resume database on Krop, a job board and portfolio hosting site for creators.
  • Authentic Jobs: Web developers and other computer professionals can search for internships, part-time jobs, full-time positions, and remote work on this established employment service site.

Resources for Future Web Developers

What Is a Web Developer?

What Is a Web Developer?

Find out what a web developer does, the skills needed for the job, how to enter this field, and what salary to expect as you earn credentials and gain experience.

Salary and Career Outlook for Web Developers

Salary and Career Outlook for Web Developers

Explore expert projections for the future of web development as a field. This page also provides up-to-date salary and job outlook data.

Day in the Life of a Web Developer

Day in the Life of a Web Developer

Discover more about what it’s like to work on the web all day. Learn what web developers do, where they work, and why you might want to become a web developer.

Web Developer Degree Programs

Web Developer Degree Programs

Learn about all levels of degrees in web development, including what makes this field unique, how to select a program, and ways to launch your career.

Web Developer Certificate Programs

Web Developer Certificate Programs

Find out more about short academic programs that can lead to a career in web development or kick off an undergraduate degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to become a web developer?

    Some web developers begin their careers after just three months of hands-on learning in a computer science bootcamp. Other new professionals pursue an undergraduate education in the field before launching into their careers.

  • Is it hard to become a web developer?

    Aspiring web developers need time, patience, and perseverance as they acquire the skills required for their careers. Web developers never stop learning because they work in a highly dynamic field that’s always expanding.

  • What education do I need to become a web developer?

    Web developers need to know coding languages and understand the fundamentals of UX and UI. Some professionals teach themselves these qualifications, while others rely on a bootcamp or academic degree in computer science or a related field.

  • What are the easiest steps to become a web developer?

    Becoming a web developer is never easy, but practicing programming skills on small projects can help simplify complicated tasks. Learning from forums, classes, websites, and other developers can be fun, too.


Featured Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitaVision / Getty Images

Recommended Reading

Guide to Coding Bootcamp Programs

Guide to Coding Bootcamp Programs

September 16, 2021   |   Victoria Hudgeons

Explore coding bootcamp programs to prepare for a job in front-end or back-end development

15 Best Computer Science Bachelor’s Programs of 2021

15 Best Computer Science Bachelor’s Programs of 2021

May 7, 2021   |   Staff Writers

A bachelor's in computer science can lead to careers in a variety of fields. Check out our list of 2021's top computer science programs.

View hand-picked degree programs

Tell us what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a degree program that can help you make an impact on the world.