What Does a Web Developer Do (and How Do I Become One)?

The work of web developers is essential in sustaining the digital fabric of our society. These experts create visually appealing websites and ensure seamless application performance behind the scenes. Their responsibilities range from providing platform stability to integrating data housing platforms. 

While the job scope may seem daunting, the process of becoming a web developer is straightforward. This guide provides individuals interested in pursuing this field with insights into the education requirements necessary to embark on a successful career in web development.

What Is Web Development?

web development

The core responsibility of a web developer revolves around the creation of websites. Beyond designing user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces, web developers often shoulder the additional responsibility of optimizing the website’s performance and capacity. Their expertise ensures that the website not only looks good but also functions seamlessly to provide an optimal user experience.

Types Of Web Developers

Web developers typically fall into one of three main categories: full-stack developers, front-end developers, and back-end developers. In some cases, web developers may also take on the role of webmasters. Let’s delve deeper into each of these roles.

  • Back-end web developers are responsible for building the structural foundation of a website. They write code, ensure its functionality, and manage access points for content management by others.
  • Front-end web developers, focus on the visual aspects of a website—the user interface that visitors see and interact with. They skillfully design page layouts, integrate graphics, and utilize JavaScript and HTML to enhance the overall site experience.
  • Full-stack developers are proficient in both back-end and front-end web development. They possess the knowledge and expertise necessary to build entire websites, which makes them an ideal choice for organizations that cannot afford to hire large website teams.
  • Webmasters are responsible for managing websites, acting as the primary point of contact for website-related issues. They ensure the website remains updated, with all links and applications functioning correctly to provide an optimal user experience.

Web Developer Responsibilities And Tasks

coding programming

As a web developer, you have the flexibility to work in various settings such as a company, freelancer, or as an agency serving individual clients. Your specific tasks may vary depending on your work, but your day-to-day responsibilities typically encompass:

  • Creating visually appealing user interfaces and intuitive navigation menus.
  • Writing and meticulously reviewing code for websites, predominantly utilizing XML, HTML, or JavaScript.
  • Seamlessly integrating multimedia content onto websites to enhance the overall user experience.
  • Conducting comprehensive testing of web applications to ensure functionality and identify any potential issues.
  • Skillfully troubleshooting user experience problems, or performance, implementing necessary optimizations.
  • Engaging in effective collaboration with designers, stakeholders, and developers to align objectives and deliver outstanding results.

Web Developer Career Path

At the onset of their careers, many web developers specialize in either back-end or front-end development. Over time, they may expand their skills and become full-stack developers, or pursue other careers in related fields such as computer programming, project management, or graphic design.

How Much Do Web Developers Make?

money making website

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for web developers in the US is approximately $78,300. However, they also have the potential to earn as much as $249,297, as indicated by Glassdoor salary insights. Factors that can impact earnings include the individual’s location, industry, and level of experience.

According to BLS projections, the web development industry is expected to experience 23% growth between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than the average rate for other occupations. This growth is driven, in part, by the expanding e-commerce sector. Companies increasingly rely on well-functioning websites that are optimized for multiple devices in order to conduct business.

How To Become A Web Developer

It is not always imperative to have formal education in order to become an entry-level web developer. While some web developers possess a degree in computer science or website design, others opt for self-education and learning how to code and design websites. Even though having a degree can provide a competitive edge, having a strong portfolio can substantially validate your skills and impress potential employers.

If you have a keen interest in becoming a web developer, there are certain steps that you can take to put yourself in the right direction.

Build Web Developer Skills

When pursuing a career, it is crucial to acquire specific skills that showcase your ability to meet website requirements. Employers and clients typically expect web developers to possess these skills, which serve as a foundation for success in the field.

Technical Skills:

  • Coding: Familiarize yourself with widely used programming languages like cascading style sheets, PHP, JavaScript, and HTML for front-end design. If you intend to pursue back-end development, consider learning Java, Python, or Ruby.
  • Responsive design: As websites are accessed through various devices, developers should be proficient in creating sites that display seamlessly on smartphones, tablets, and computer screens alike.
  • Technical SEO: Understanding how website design impacts search engine rankings is invaluable knowledge for developers, as multiple aspects of the design can influence a site’s visibility.
  • Version control: Mastering version control allows you to effectively track and manage changes to the source code, eliminating the need to start from scratch when encountering issues.
  • Visual design: Enhancing your marketability can be achieved by grasping fundamental design principles such as utilizing white space, selecting fonts, and incorporating images.

Workplace Skills:

  • Communication: Regular discussions with team members and clients are necessary throughout the project, and web developers must be proficient in communicating design ideas effectively.
  • Customer service: As web developers create websites for clients, staying focused on their requirements is crucial to achieving satisfactory results.
  • Detail-oriented: It’s essential to pay attention to the smallest details, as even minor changes in code can significantly impact the site’s performance.
  • Organization: Maintaining accurate records of deadlines, workflow, project tasks, and budgets is instrumental in successfully completing website designs on time.
  • Problem-solving: Designing websites often entails troubleshooting various issues. As such, web developers should have the expertise and patience to identify problems in the coding or design and resolve them systematically.

Obtaining A Degree

While formal education is not always a requirement for web development, obtaining a degree can be beneficial. If you are currently in school or planning to pursue higher education, choosing a major that aligns with your career objectives is important. 

For those interested in back-end development, a degree in computer science may be a suitable choice. On the other hand, those more inclined towards front-end development may prefer a degree in user experience or web design.

Consider Taking A Web Development Course.

Formal training is not always required to become a web developer. You can learn the necessary skills on your own. For instance, you can enroll in a course to acquire programming language knowledge, such as CSS, JavaScript, or HTML. Then, you can apply your learning by building your own website.

By taking an online web development course like the University of Michigan’s “Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding,” you can enhance your skills and work on development projects that you can include in your portfolio.

Develop A Comprehensive Portfolio Of Web Development Projects.

In the realm of web development, your portfolio carries significant weight and serves as a crucial component of your resume. This curated compilation of projects allows potential employers to gauge your capabilities and expertise.

It’s essential to include projects that align with your desired work scope. If you choose to showcase code, be sure to provide annotations that offer insights into your thought process.

Obtain Relevant Certifications.

Obtaining certifications can add credibility to your skill set and demonstrate your expertise to prospective employers. There are various certification options available, both general and vendor-specific, including:

  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
  • Zend Certified PHP Engineer
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSD)


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