Web development involves the creation of websites and web applications requiring skills in areas such, as web design, programming, managing databases setting up servers and ensuring network security.
Some common job titles in web development include:
- Front-end developer – Works on the visual elements and UI of a website
- Back-end developer – Works on the server, database, and application logic
- Full-stack developer – Works on both the front-end and back-end
- Web designer – Focuses on the aesthetics like layout, images, colors, etc.
Why Switch Careers to Web Development?
Here are some of the top reasons to consider switching careers to web development:
- High demand – The demand, for web developers is increasing significantly as more businesses transition to platforms. Based on data, from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics there is expected to be a 13% increase in the need for web developers from 2020 to 2030. This growth rate is actually faster compared to the rate of growth, in professions.
- Well-paying jobs – The median salary for web developers in the US is over $77,000 per year according to Glassdoor. Senior roles and specialists can earn $100k+ salaries.
- Remote work potential – Many web dev jobs offer remote work options which allows for flexible schedules and location freedom. This appeals to many career switchers.
- Continuous learning – The field is constantly evolving with new technologies and trends, so you’ll never get bored. There are always new skills to learn if you like intellectual challenges.
- Varied work – Web projects can range from small business websites to complex enterprise applications, so you get to work on different types of products and problems.
- Fast pace – The speed of development and deployment in the web dev world far exceeds traditional software development timelines. You’ll get to see your work go live quickly.
- Creative outlet – Web development allows you to merge technical skills with creative skills for building visually appealing sites. This speaks to those with both left-brained and right-brained strengths.
Skills Needed to Become a Web Developer
Here are some of the most important skills needed for a career in web development:
- HTML – The basic building block of web pages
- CSS – For styling and layout of web pages
- A backend language like PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, or C#
- Framework knowledge like React, Angular, .NET or Django
- Familiarity with web content management systems like WordPress
- Understanding of web protocols like HTTP, DNS, and HTTPS
- Knowledge of web design principles, UI/UX design, and accessibility standards
- Communication – For collaborating with colleagues, stakeholders, and clients
- Problem-solving – Web development requires logical thinking to diagnose issues
- Attention to detail – For writing code and reviewing work
- Time management and organization – To deliver projects according to schedule
- Ability to learn continuously – For keeping up with the latest technologies
- Version control with Git
- Web performance optimization
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Cybersecurity awareness
- Agile software development methodologies
So although it’s not necessary to become an expert, in all of these skills before switching careers having some familiarity with a few of them will aid in your preparation for transitioning into web development. The great thing is that you can teach yourself many of these skills online or acquire them through, on the job learning!
How to Learn Web Development
Here are some recommendations on how to start learning web development skills:
- Coding tutorials – Sites like freeCodeCamp, Codecademy, Udacity and Khan Academy have free coding tutorials interactive exercises. Some even offer certificates upon completion.
- Books – For learning fundamentals, classic books like HTML & CSS by Jon Duckett are very beginner-friendly.
- YouTube channels – Channels like Traversy Media, The Net Ninja, and Kevin Powell offer free web dev tutorial videos.
- Blogs/Podcasts – Sites like CSS-Tricks and MDN Web Dev have regular blogs and podcasts on the latest in web development.
- Bootcamps – Full-time (2-6 months) intensive training programs to learn web development skills. Often includes career coaching.
- University/Community College – Enroll part-time in computer science or web development focused associate or bachelor degree programs.
- Coding workshops – Some local code schools offer part-time classes and workshops, like weekend code camps.
The combination of self-study and guided instruction is ideal for fully ramping up your skills.
Making a Career Change Timeline
Here is a sample timeline for transitioning careers into web development:
6-12 Months Before Making The Switch
- Research web developer roles, skills needed, and growth projections
- Experiment with building personal projects like landing pages
- Set up a GitHub account and build an online portfolio
- Revamp your resume and LinkedIn profile to highlight relevant skills/projects
- Start applying to entry-level web developer jobs to get interview experience
2-4 Months Before The Switch
- Complete a full online web development course certificate
- Consider enrolling in a part-time coding bootcamp or community college program
- Ramp up your portfolio with 3-5 solid projects showcasing your skills
- Continue applying to jobs and focus interview prep on portfolio discussion
- Live frugally to build up savings as a cushion for career transition
After Making The Switch
- Congrats, you’re now a web developer!
- Keep learning new skills on-the-job and build up your experience
- Stay connected with your web dev community through events, conferences, and networking
- Consider specializing in a certain stack, framework or career path like UX
- Within 2 years, aim for mid-level roles by demonstrating growth in skills and impact
Give yourself 6-12 months to prepare for the transition, but be flexible. The time needed to switch careers varies for each person based on their existing skills, how quickly they learn, and personal circumstances. The key is showing commitment by making steady progress.
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Getting Hired as a Web Developer
Here are some tips for getting hired for your first web developer job after making a career change:
- Highlight projects – Your portfolio of projects is now your resume. Demonstrate skills by pointing to specific examples from your projects during interviews.
- Do freelance or pro-bono work – Get experience by offering to build websites for local charities or small businesses for free. This also builds your portfolio.
- Network and attend events – Connect with the web dev community both locally and virtually via Slack groups, Meetups, and conferences.
- Optimize your online presence – Create a strong LinkedIn profile, GitHub profile, portfolio site, Twitter account, and StackOverflow account. These give employers signals about your brand.
- Show passion – In interviews, convey genuine enthusiasm for programming, problem-solving, and building great user experiences. Technical skills can be learned – passion sets you apart.
- Consider internships or apprenticeships – Entry-level roles may be titled as internships, which is a great way to get initial experience.
- Be flexible – You may need to compromise on role type or compensation at first. Focus on getting your foot in the door at a company where you can demonstrate your abilities and advance.
- Practice interviewing – Prepare for common web dev interview questions around HTML, CSS, JS fundamentals, programming principles, and verbal communication.
With persistence and patience, you can successfully transition into a web developer role!
Alternative Career Options in Tech
If you’re interested in technology but want to explore careers alternatives besides web development, consider these options that utilize overlapping skillsets:
- UX/UI Design – Focus on user experience design, information architecture, interaction design, visual design, and UI prototyping.
- Product Management – Bridge the gap between technology, business, and users to lead product strategy and development processes.
- Technical Writing – Produce documentation, help guides, tutorials, API references, and release notes for developer documentation and tech products.
- QA Engineering – Specialize in software test automation, testing frameworks, defect tracking, and quality assurance processes.
- Data Analytics – Collect, process, analyze, and report on data to uncover insights and metrics that drive business decisions.
- DevOps Engineering -Responsible for code deployments, system administration, infrastructure, CI/CD pipelines, and site reliability.
- Sales Engineering – Work closely with sales teams and clients as a solutions-focused technical expert during sales cycles and implementations.
All these roles work alongside web developers and also offer strong career growth and compensation. Try out some intro courses to see if any of these alternative tech careers spark your interest!
Making a Successful Career Change to Web Development
Transitioning to a career can be quite a challenge. There are numerous individuals who have managed to make a successful switch, to web development. Here are some last minute pointers that can help you pave the way for triumph:
- Fully immerse yourself in the community of web developers. Stay motivated and well informed by following figures, on media reading insightful blogs listening to podcasts and actively participating in forums.
- Set measurable goals with specific timelines for acquiring new skills and completing portfolio projects. Check them off to maintain progress.
- Find a mentor like a senior web developer who can give feedback on your work and guide your learning. Join a local code mentoring non-profit.
- Stay patient yet persistent in your job search. Don’t get discouraged by rejection. Iterate on your portfolio, interviewing skills, and online presence with each application.
- Recognize that the initial learning curve is the steepest part of the transition. Once you land your first developer role and gain experience, things get easier over time.
- Above all, maintain passion! Focus on the aspects of coding that energize you, take breaks to avoid burnout, and remind yourself why you chose this career change in the first place.
You have all the resources you need available to make the shift into web development if you have the drive and determination. Believe in yourself and your ability to acquire new skills and you’ll be prepared for this exciting career change!