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How to Become a Web Developer
How to Become a Web Developer

There are millions of websites out there. The one thing each of them has in common is a web developer.  

Web developers build websites from the ground up. But they usually don’t do it alone. Before they start writing code, web developers may meet with a product manager or project manager to learn about the project’s goals and the intended users’ needs. Then, to make sure they build something that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes, they often work with user experience designers, visual designers and content strategists.  

FRONT-END, BACK-END AND FULL-STACK 

Typically, web developers specialize in front- or back-end development. Front-end developers focus on the parts of a site that you see when you land on a page. They use 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. 

Back-end developers focus on creating and connecting applications from what you see to a database on the back end. They use programming languages such as JavaScript, PHP, Python and .NET to build and secure the inner workings of the website. Those who do both front- and back-end development are known as full-stack developers.  

But even for full-stack developers, the learning curve is constant. “The field is so broad and no one knows or understands all of it,” says Kayla Newlon, one of the instructors for the UW Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript. “It’s humbling, but that's the gateway to becoming a good web developer.” 

While you obviously need good technical skills to succeed, there’s another skill that can set you apart as a web developer — communication. 

“The ability to ask good questions is what makes a really great web developer,” Newlon says. “Whether you’re asking the client, a co-worker or Google, the number one skill is learning how to ask good questions.” 

JOBS ARE PLENTIFUL, BUT GETTING A GOOD ONE CAN TAKE TIME 

Projected Growth

U.S. (2020-30): 13%

Median Annual salary

U.S. (2020): $77,200

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET

The career outlook for web developers is bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for web developers will grow by 13% nationally through 2030, which is faster than average growth.  

With its strong tech sector, the Seattle area has many opportunities for web developers. But Newlon cautions new developers not to expect that they’ll immediately land a position at a large tech company.  

“It’s building blocks to get to those kind of jobs,” Newlon says. She notes that many developers start out in smaller companies, where they have good opportunities to hone their skills while building up their portfolios.  

BECOMING A WEB DEVELOPER

There are many different routes to becoming a web developer. Some people teach themselves using books and the internet. Others pursue formal education, such as a computer science degree, coding boot camps or a certificate program.  

One great option is the UW Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript. This online, self-paced program gives students a solid grounding in HTML, CSS, Javascript, advanced design and more.  

“The certificate is a great stepping stone,” Newlon says. “It’s much more affordable than many other boot camps, and because it’s self-paced, students work remotely as their schedules permit. This gives them a lot of flexibility and control.” 

For those looking to take their skills to the next level, Newlon recommends the Certificate in Full-Stack Development With JavaScript. This three-quarter, online program focuses on both the front- and back-end features of JavaScript. 

GET STARTED

Ready to get started or advance your career in web development? Check out these relevant programs:  

 


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