Careers

Learn About Being a Web Developer

What does a web developer do?

Web developers are responsible for writing code to create a website, both at the front end and the back end. The front end includes the website users see and the back end is the side that delivers information to the front end. In smaller firms, a web developer is also responsible for some level of web design. Web developer duties can include:

  • Understanding the company requirements or team requesting the website
  • Writing front and back end code to set up the parameters of the website
  • Working with designers on the website appearance
  • Creating a method to collect user feedback
  • Analyzing user feedback to fix errors and improve user experience (UX)
  • Implementing testing tools to continuously monitor the website
  • Keeping all software current and updated
  • Ensuring websites and related applications are secure 

Average salary

Web developers can be full-time employees, but many work on a part-time, freelance or contract basis. Their salaries depend on their education and experience level. The size and type of the company in which they work can also affect a web developer’s salary.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $70,766 per year
  • Some salaries range from $18,000 to $156,000 per year.

Web developer requirements

Web developers often have a combination of education, training and certifications that help them excel in their roles. They also possess a mix of hard and soft skills to be successful. 

Education

Many employers prefer a candidate has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field, though it is possible to gain employment with an associate degree. Those who have earned an associate degree can transfer their credits to a four-year college or university and complete their bachelor’s degree in two additional years. Some universities offer online Bachelor’s Degrees in Web Development and Design. Other colleges offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Interactive Media Design, which offers courses that can prepare students for a web development career.

Training

Much of a web developer’s training takes place while obtaining their education through interactive classes and assignments or during internships. During internships, students gain hands-on experience in web development while making valuable connections with professionals who could help them find positions after graduation.

Aspiring web developers can also complete coding boot camps. Coding boot camps are intensive training programs that typically last anywhere from one to nine months. During a boot camp, an individual learns a variety of programming languages and how to use them to build websites and applications. Depending on the boot camp, a web developer could also receive instruction on data analytics, UX design, and marketing.

When a web developer starts a new job, their employer trains them in the specific systems and company requirements. They learn about how to apply their programming knowledge to develop the needed websites for clients. Managers may also train them on company policies and procedures, such as completing proper documentation and logging the hours they worked on each project.

As programming languages and frameworks continually change and release new updates, web developers need to continually train themselves to maintain current knowledge. They can read online blogs or articles, attend conferences or complete training courses to ensure they understand the latest languages and updates.

Certifications

Though not required, web developers can acquire several certifications that demonstrate their expertise in different coding languages, skills and tools, such as: 

Programming language certifications

Successful web developer job candidates show proficiency by certifying in languages such as JavaScript, jQuery, Python, PHP and Ruby. Offered by various sources, these certifications have different examination requirements and standards.

Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)

This certification demonstrates expertise in a range of products, depending on whether the web developer chooses to certify with a specific Adobe Creative Cloud product (such as Dreamweaver) or with a group of products (such as the Adobe Experience Manager). 

Microsoft certifications

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) HTML5 App Development Fundamentals is an entry-level certificate for the web markup language. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate demonstrates expertise with Microsoft solutions such as Azure, SQL 2016 and Universal Windows Platform, and is a prerequisite for Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). MCSD candidates must then pass development and programming exams that enhance a developer’s abilities in application development. 

Google Analytics Individual Qualification

This offers certification in basic and advanced Google Analytics concepts, including implementation and data collection, configuration and administration, and reports and dimensions.

Professional Scrum Developer

This is a certification offered by scrum.org that shows you understand how to work within the Scrum framework, a popular project management method in software and web development. A Professional Scrum Developer certification is active throughout your career, meaning you never need to apply for renewal. 

Skills

Web developers need several technical and soft skills to function in the workplace, including:

Technical skills

Web developers must be able to show competency in coding languages such as HTML5, PHP and JavaScript. Familiarization with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), ASP.NET and AngularJS will also help make an aspiring web developer more desirable as a job candidate, as will familiarity with tools such as Oracle and SQL Server. 

Communication

Web developers should be able to interact with and understand client and team needs. As clients often don’t have a technical background, developers often need to explain complex subjects in a simple, easy-to-understand manner. 

Detail-orientation

These professionals often write and review thousands of lines of code to create a website. They should have excellent attention to detail to identify and fix small errors that could cause improper functions in the end product. 

Time management

Particularly if they work on a freelance or multiple contract basis, web developers often simultaneously create several websites. They must prioritize tasks, make and adhere to deadlines and create timelines for work completion.

Self-motivated learning

Because they are in a field that evolves continuously, web developers should teach themselves new tools and techniques as companies release updates. They should also apply any new techniques to current websites to improve the UX. 

Web developer work environment

Though web developers can work in various industries, their work environments often share the same characteristics:

  • Sitting for extended periods at a desk while working on a computer
  • Attending and participating in in-person, telephone and video meetings
  • Learning and troubleshooting errors and applications online
  • Working in an office setting at a company or from a remote location

Web developers can work in different capacities, such as front-end developers, back-end developers or full-stack developers if they perform work on both sides. They can work in many different industries, such as: 

  • Software development
  • Government
  • Entertainment
  • Finance
  • Healthcare 
  • Education
  • Publishing
  • Technology
  • Marketing

How to become a web developer

Here are some steps you can follow to become a web developer:

1. Pursue an education

Some companies may hire a web developer with an associate degree and some experience, but it’s typically best to have a bachelor’s degree. If you earned a degree in an unrelated field and want to pursue a web developer career, you can complete a coding boot camp. It can be helpful to review web developer job descriptions to determine the education level you need to attain to earn a job in your desired field. 

2. Accumulate a portfolio

A web designer needs to assemble a body of work to show prospective employers. Your portfolio can include any websites or applications you created, including the code you wrote to develop them. There are many online platforms for posting your portfolio that allows hiring managers to review all of your work. 

3. Earn certifications

You can choose to earn an array of certifications that demonstrate your knowledge in a programming language, database, framework or project management method. Obtaining certifications can show your dedication to your field and possibly increase your earning potential. 

4. Search for positions

Once you have found open positions that match your level of education and experience, carefully read the instructions for applying. Considering tailoring your application materials for each job so you stand out from other candidates. Review the job description for certain keywords you can include in your resume, allowing you to gain and maintain the hiring manager’s attention. 

Web developer job description sample

Exciting marketing company for the cruise industry seeks a talented web developer to join our team. This person will support online marketing campaigns with the use of banner ads, landing pages, emailing campaigns and websites, and will be responsible for several websites. A successful candidate will have at least three years of experience designing web pages and must be proficient with HTML5, CSS and PHP. JavaScript knowledge a plus. Bachelor’s degree preferred, but an associate will be accepted with at least five years of experience.

Related careers

If you are interested in becoming a web developer, consider the following related careers: