Hot Jobs: Web Developer
Hot Jobs: Web Developer

When you’re a web developer, the world is your oyster. The virtual world, that is. In this role, you write the code that takes websites and apps from idea to reality. You help build a world that people interact with every day for business and pleasure.

“Pretty much all organizations have a website, and a lot do their business primarily on the web — so web developers play an incredibly important role,” said Beth Robson, a software developer, author and advisory board member for the Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS and JavaScript.


Web developers bring ideas to life, building websites from the ground up. To do this, they need to fully understand the idea first. So before they get started writing code, web developers meet with their clients to learn about the goals of the project and the needs of the intended users. Then, to make sure they build something easy to use and easy on the eyes, they may work with user experience designers and graphic designers. Web developers may also integrate audio and video elements so they perform correctly on a site and code applications that will execute different functions, though the role of software app developer can be a full-time job in itself.

While there are lots of people working behind the scenes, as a web developer, you get the satisfying job of putting it all together to make something tangible. “It’s rewarding to create something out of nothing,” said Ivan Storck, a web programmer and advisory board member for the Certificate in JavaScript and the Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript.


Because of the complexity of websites, web developers often specialize as front-end or back-end developers. Front-end developers, also known as client-side developers, develop what you usually think of when you imagine a website — the part you see and use. These developers use client-side scripting languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build a site that meets the project’s goals and that you can easily navigate as the user.

   projected growth (2016–2026)

Nationally: 15%
Washington state: +50%

   Median Annual salary

Nationally: $67,990
Washington state: $87,190

*Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics; O*NET

Back-end developers focus on creating and connecting applications from the front-end of the website to a database on the back end. They use programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python and .NET to build the inner workings of the website. Key concerns for back-end developers are security and functionality. There are also those very knowledgeable people, known as full-stack developers, who do both front- and back-end development.


The career outlook for web developers is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth for this role to be 15 percent nationally over the next decade, which is more than twice the rate of average job growth.

In Washington state, with its thriving tech industry, projected job growth is even higher — more than 50 percent — according to the O*NET occupational resource website. A recent search on listed thousands of web developer positions, including openings at Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Zillow.

Robson sees a bright future for web developers locally. “Seattle is growing by leaps and bounds. Technology companies are moving in, and all kinds of companies need web development — even if they're not a technology company,” she said. “There are going to be lots more opportunities for web developers.”


Websites and apps are built with code, so to begin a career as a web developer, you need proficiency in HTML and CSS as a start. But different jobs call for different technologies and tools, so you might also need to know JavaScript, PHP, web protocols, web standards, Node.js, jQuery or GitHub. And if you’re interested in front-end development, visual design skills and a grasp of user experience are a plus.

Being able and willing to keep learning is incredibly useful in this constantly evolving field. “You can't learn everything,” Robson said, “So having exposure to many technologies and tools and expertise in a few, plus really solid computational thinking skills, is the best way to approach the field.”

In the past, many web developers were self-taught. But with the complexity of today’s technology, it’s more common to have formal training, whether that’s through a computer science related degree, a certificate program or one-off classes. Building a portfolio is also useful once you start job searching. “A lot of employers are looking for applicants who can show a side project with open source code,” Storck shared. “That way the employer can actually see the code and see whether they like your code style.”


Ready to keep learning? If you want to start or continue your education in web development, UW Professional & Continuing Education can help. Explore our full list of computing and IT programs to find one that's right for you.

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