Greetings, Tech Fanatics! Did you know there are more than 4 billion live websites on the internet today? Well, there are! And they all have to be designed, built and maintained. Web development has become one of the fastest-growing industries of all time and it won’t be slowing down any time soon. In this guide, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about learning how to become a web developer.
I’ll be showing you how to be a web developer using online courses. So, if you want to become a self-taught programmer, you’re on the right path and this is the guide for you.
After I’ve covered the basics, I’ll help you choose a specialist area and show you the skills you’ll need to learn. I’ll also give you some tips on getting your first web development job!
First, I want to answer a very common question – what does a web developer do?
Table of Contents
The Role of a Web Developer
The very first step in learning how to become a web developer is understanding that web developers are responsible for everything you see and use on every website you visit. They also handle the way data is stored and develop security features to ensure user safety.
There are three web developer types:
- Front-end developers are sometimes called client-side developers and are responsible for creating the layout, features, and appearance of a site or application. Anything that a user interacts with directly is built by front-end developers.
- Back-end developers build the systems which allow the designs of front-end developers to operate. If this site was a car, front-end developers would design the seats, the steering wheel, and the pedals. Back-end developers would build the engine.
- Full-stack developers can do both. They are equally skilled as back and front-end developers. Full-stack developers are highly-respected (and highly paid!) members of the development community. Having skills in client-side design and back-end operations makes them very popular with employers, as you could probably guess!
Now that you know which types of web developers there are, you can also answer the question; “what does a web developer do?” for yourself. Next step in going to be how to become a web developer.
Learning Web Development Online
There is more than one way to learn web development. Traditionally, web developers have degrees in computer science or software engineering. However, the university isn’t for everyone.
Recently, more and more newbie developers have been choosing to learn web development online. I think the best place to learn how to develop the web, is on the web! It makes sense, right?
Online courses allow newbies to work at their own pace and have more control over what and how they learn. There are lots of well-respected online courses available to newbies who want to learn how to be a web developer. BitDegree offers a wide range of courses!
BitDegree courses can teach you how to become a developer at a pace you decide. It offers interactive tutorials and gamified learning on a huge range of coding subjects. This style of learning will show you how to become a web developer and it’s ideal for beginners who want to record their progress as they train.
Note: Gamified learning makes training interactive and fun. It’s a system that uses challenges and puzzles to teach core skills!
To proceed with learning web development you need to make a difficult decision. Before you can learn how to be a web developer, you need to decide what kind of developer you want to be.
To help you with your choice, I’d like to ask you a few simple questions.
Find Your Passion, Choose Your Speciality
When you choose the area that’s right for you, you won’t feel like you’re working at all. So, how do you decide? Answering these questions will make it easier how to become a web developer and choosing the right type of specialty:
- What are you good at and what do you enjoy? Web development isn’t easy, so work out what you’re good at and use it. Once you know what you’re good at, ask yourself if you enjoy it. If the answer is yes, then that’s a great start! If you’re creative, then front-end development may be the specialism for you. If you’re keen on maths, perhaps working with back-end databases would be more suitable.
- What’s your favorite website and why? Think about a site you love using. What do you love about it? The way it looks? Maybe you just love how it handles user traffic? The areas of web development that you admire and respect are the same areas you should consider working in.
- What would you do differently? Think about the features of websites that bug you! Do you hate YouTube pop-ups? Is the layout of Twitter too bland? Choosing the things that you’d most like to change about the sites and apps you use regularly is a great way to find a specialization.
- What is the market missing? Every industry has areas that don’t have enough skilled staff. Find a gap in the market and fill it! Keep up to date with which skills the industry needs by checking out job listings on sites like Indeed or Monster. You can also talk directly with the development community on forums like Reddit and WebDeveloper.com.
When you’ve thought about these questions thoroughly, you’ll have a good idea about whether you want to be a front or back-end developer or even both! And remember this; when you’re learning how to become a web developer, use your strengths to follow your passion.
Learn Must-Have Skills
Finding the right place to learn is just as important as knowing what skills you need. Here is a list of skills that are must-have while pursuing a career in web development:
Front-End Development Skills
- HTML and CSS: Hypertext Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets are the most basic tools you’ll need to design a webpage. They are both markup languages which means they are sets of codes that guide the way text is presented on a webpage. You can find the introductory HTML and CSS courses here.
- Content Management: All sites have content. All content needs to be arranged and managed so it can be easily accessed by users. As a front-end developer, being able to use content management systems (CMS) is essential. Nearly two-thirds of the Internet uses WordPress as its CMS (that includes BitDegree Tutorials!). So, if you only learn one CMS, learn WordPress. BitDegree has two free courses on WordPress, so you can start as soon as you’re ready!
- Testing and Bug Removal: One of the most important things to understand on your path how to become a web developer is that you will be dealing with a lot of issues. The real work starts when the coding ends. Front-end developers spend a lot of time testing code and searching for bugs. No one will care how beautiful your application is if it doesn’t work properly!
If you hunt bugs like Elmer Fudd, then you might need to sign up for PluralSight’s debugging tutorials.
Back-End Development Skills
The back-end of a website is made up of an application, a server, and a database. A back-end developer’s job is to get all three to communicate with each other as smoothly as possible. Here are a few of the main skills that will help you on how to become a web developer:
- Python and Ruby: These are two of the most popular programming languages for building applications. Ruby is rated as 10th in the IEEE’s Top Ten languages list. Python is rated as number 1. A strong understanding of one, or both, of these languages, is the first step towards a career in back-end development.
Note: IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
- PHP and PHP Frameworks: PHP is another popular programming language and employers often look for developers with experience using it. PHP has lots of different frameworks that developers can use to make coding with PHP faster and simpler. Mastering the basics of PHP is crucial while considering how to become a web developer because it allows proceeding using other frameworks like Zend, CakePHP, and Laravel.
Note: Frameworks are libraries of readymade sets of code which are used instead of writing out commonly used lines of code, in-full, each time they are needed.
- CVS: The Concurrent Versions System (CVS) is a program that allows back-end developers to work on different versions of the same code. It allows programmers to experiment with code – by themselves or as part of a larger team — until a final version is decided on.
Learning key skills is the most difficult stage in the training of any self-taught programmer. The basics like HTML and CSS may only take weeks to learn, but the more complex tools can take months to learn and years to master.
As you learn how to become a web developer, you’ll need to put in as much time and effort as possible. You’ll only get out what you put in! Key skills are just the beginning. In the next step, I want to tell you about the additional skills you’ll need to reach the top of the industry.
Develop Your Soft Skills
Training never ends for upcoming web developers. You can learn development relatively quickly but coding isn’t the only thing you’ll need to know. The industry changes fast so one of the most important skills a programmer can have is flexibility.
So, what does a web developer do when they’re not coding? Clients, especially smaller ones, are beginning to expect the web developers they hire to have a range of soft skills. Soft skills are non-technical skills that will help how to become a web developer, and to understand the businesses and organizations they work for better.
Soft skills include advertising, marketing, accounts and many more. The soft skills you’ll need to learn will depend largely on what kinds of clients you work for. For example, if a developer takes a job at a company like Amazon, then soft skills in logistics and customer experience would be hugely desirable.
There are many ways to learn soft skills. If you had a job before you decided to learn how to become a developer, then you probably already have some. If you’re just starting, then don’t worry. A lot of companies offer on-the-job training in areas that are related to their business.
Now you know almost everything there is to know about how to become a web developer. You know what skills you need and where to get them. Next, I want to talk to you about getting your first job as a self-taught programmer.
Get Your First Job
Web development is a tough business. It’s all about results, so get coding! As soon as you’ve learned the basics, start showing employers what you can do.
Some of the developers you compete against in the market will have degrees in computer science or software engineering. You may even have these qualifications yourself. However, a portfolio is a huge part of how to become a web developer that is recognizable and successful. A portfolio that consists of well-designed apps and web pages is far more important than any degree or certificate so it’s important to start building your profile as a developer. Most people know who Mark Zuckerberg is because he created Facebook, not because he went to Harvard!
Start by designing sites for your friends and family. Then set up social media accounts to promote your work. Don’t be afraid to approach established developers for tips and advice. They might even offer you a job!
As a self-taught programmer, you need to have confidence in the skills you’ve learned. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals. You’ve put in the time and effort, now you can start enjoying yourself! Be prepared to become a superstar of self-promotion. You’ve got skills, right? So, let the world see them!
There’s one more step you need to consider as you learn how to become a web developer. Your training doesn’t end when you get your first job and neither does this guide!
Training, Practice and More Training!
Few professions in the world change as fast as web development. If you ever stop learning skills and practicing old ones, you’ll get left behind. So, celebrate the completion of each step and then start the next one!
If you’re just starting to learn web development, then this step might not be for you just yet. However, keep reading because it won’t be long until you get here. If you’ve been training for a while and you think you’ve mastered the basics then listen carefully because I’m talking to you!
My point here is; don’t relax too much, there’s always something new to learn. Here’s a couple of extras that will keep you busy whether you’re a complete beginner or a more advanced student;
For the front-end.
And for the back-end:
Linux: This open-source operating system (OS) is used a lot by back-end programmers to test and develop their code. Experience with Linux will give you the flexibility you need to work with other OS like Windows or Mac.
Linux has its free training courses at the Linux Foundation. I would recommend the Linux Foundation course to any beginners who want to learn Linux from the community that created it.
So, there you have it. My step-by-step guide to how to become a web developer! Before you go, there are a couple more things I should probably tell you…
It takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to be a web developer. There’s no easy way to do it. Feel free to forget everything you’ve read today but remember these three words;
LEARN, PRACTICE, REPEAT
Write them down in big black letters and pin them to your wall! Learning web development is a huge task but if you remember these simple words, you’ll be fine. And there’s never been a better time to learn how to become a developer.
Every business, government, and charity in the world uses some form of the web platform. Finding people with the skills required to build and maintain those platforms is still quite difficult. You only need to look at the salaries earned by web developers to realize how high the demand for their services is.
Yearly salaries for web developers can be anywhere from 76,000 USD to 100,000 USD and there’s always a place for new talent like you. It’s predicted that the web development job market will have grown by 27% by 2024 (taking 2014 as a starting point). This is more growth than any other industry.
You now know how to become a web developer. The rest is your decision. If you want to learn web development, then the only person stopping you… is you!
Are you ready to take the next step? Yes? Then check out some of the awesome courses we have right here at BitDegree and let me know what you think!