How to become a web developer

So you want to be a web developer? Great choice! Our guide will show you what it takes to get started and what skills you will need to succeed.

  •  Do you understand coding and how web pages work?
  •  Do you have a strong interest in computers, the internet and the web?
  •  Are you a methodical, inquisitive, yet patient person?

… and you understand the basics above? Excellent – this sounds like a promising career for you! The great news is that many employers need Web Developers to match the most recent advances in technology, ensuring that their website is functional and works quickly and efficiently for its users. Let’s take a look at what this job actually entails in more detail…

What does a Web Developer actually do?

The role of a web developer, or otherwise known as a web programmer, is to design, build, maintain and fix websites to ensure they have excellent working functionality, interactivity and user experience.

Literally everything you see and do on the Internet has had a Web Developer involved at some point in the process. This is why there is a great demand for Web Developers around the world and across all industries.

As a Web Developer, you need to be creative and a good problem solver; clients will come to you with problems. Your job is going to be to figure out exactly what they require and find a solution. Whether this is layout or technical based.

To do this, you’ll need to work closely with the account managers or marketing teams to understand exactly what they’re trying to achieve and then bring this to life alongside a designer.

What do Web Developers typically earn?

As a web developer, you can expect to earn in between £20,000 – £50,000 depending on location and experience. The more experience you have and the better you are at keeping up with the newest advances in technologies, the more opportunities you’ll have to increase your salary. Typically, as an entry-level Web Developer, you could be looking at £20,000 – £25,000 per year.

How do I get started as a Web Developer?

To be a web developer, there aren’t any specific qualifications required. However, it is beneficial to gain some industry qualifications to stand out in interviews, and you’ll need to build a portfolio to prove your skills.

The starting point for you will be to ensure you have a detailed knowledge of programming languages such as JavaScript, Java, C# PHP, HTML, XML, ActionScript or Perl; understand how to use the various databases like SQL or MySQL and application frameworks like ASP.NET. You should also have an excellent understanding of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards to website accessibility.

To learn more about programming and ensure you can stand out at interviews, you could consider studying towards an IT-related degree, foundation degree or a higher national diploma (HND). For example, subjects you could look at studying include:

  • Web Development
  • Digital Media Development
  • Web Content Management
  • Computer Programming

These sorts of subjects would allow you to gain vital skills to show you understand common operating systems and servers, databases and web programming, networking and security and how design and development work together.

It is important to note that this profession requires continuous learning; as the Internet and web technology is constantly advancing, it will be crucial for you to continue training throughout your career as a Web Developer, to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to online technology advancements.

What are the key skills I should have to go into Web Development?

As a web developer, you’ll likely be pulled into many scenarios where you will be positioned as the solution provider. At times this can be quite a pressurised environment to work in, so you’re going to need some key skills to ensure you can cope with this:

  • Excellent programming and database skills
  • Ability to solve problems quickly, efficiently and to brief
  • Ability to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to learning about the new technology advancements and web development standards
  • Good understanding of website functionality, usability, customer experience, interaction and design
  • Ability to work alone and within a team
  • Creative flair to bring your client’s ideas to life
  • Ability to work to deadlines, in a fast-paced, often pressurised environment
  • Proactive in recommending additional solutions to websites or online systems

What do Web Developers do day-to-day?

As a Web Developer, you’re likely to work around a 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. If you need to meet deadlines, you may on occasion need to work evenings or weekends to ensure the job is completed or to fix any urgent technical issues.

Some of the day-to-day tasks may include:

  • Briefing with a client about a new project; you’ll work to understand the brief, identifying all the issues and problems that the client faces with the website
  • Creating wireframes or the architecture of a website alongside the designer, to understand how the site will function and look visually
  • Create test sites for a client so they can see how a website will look and work before it goes live
  • Smoothly migrate the new solutions to a client’s website onto their existing website
  • Ensure client’s websites are secure
  • Fix any problems with websites in a quick and efficient manner

So once I’m a Web Developer, what are the likely career progressions available?

If you work hard to gain the relevant experience and start to specialise in certain areas to become a real guru in the industry, you’ll progress to senior roles such as a Project Leader, Lead Programmer or Head of Development.

Alternatively, you could look to change fields, which suit your developed interests and skill set. Some of the sorts of careers Web Developers tend to move into include IT Project Management, Systems Analyst or IT Consultant.

What are the best bits of being a Web Developer?

You really do rule the World Wide Web! There are very few people with programming skills, meaning you will always be in demand. The work can be very rewarding as you are finding solutions on a daily basis to your client’s problems. It also allows for you to be methodical and creative – not many careers give you the best of both worlds!

What are the challenges of being a Web Developer?

Often the pressure to find the solution can be tricky. To assist with this, you need to be on top of your game, always knowing and understanding the latest technologies and reading up on other people’s programming solutions to allow you to maintain your creativity and problem-solving skills on a longer-term basis.

The perfect Web Developer is…

The perfect Web Developer is a person who pays close attention to the details, but also has the capacity to see projects on a wider scale. Programming is very technical; you need to be organised and methodical in your approaches. You need to be calm and patient and not fall under pressure. If this sounds like you, then Web Development could be the career path for you!