Web development is a fast-growing and highly desirable profession.
It is natural, then, to be curious about what it takes to enter this field. This article outlines the most common steps in this process and explains how long they take.
Why Would I Want to Become a Web Developer?
There are many benefits to working as a web developer. It starts with the money—positions in this field typically pay very well, with a median salary of over $73,000 per year. In addition, job growth is strong in this field, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics projecting 8% growth over the next ten years (which is well above average).
In addition, web development is a very flexible career, offering individuals the chance to work in a wide variety of fields (after all, almost every company needs a website!). Many web developers are self-employed, and there is a wealth of both part-time and full-time positions.
Finally, it is possible to become a web developer fairly quickly and with relatively little training—provided that you are dedicated to learning.
Is It Hard to Become a Web Developer?
Being a web developer requires the ability to solve complex problems in a creative and visually pleasing way; it is also often necessary to learn a wide variety of skills, both front-end (design, illustration, usability, etc.) and back-end (database management, organization, etc.). As such, becoming a web developer can be difficult.
However, one benefit to a career in web development is that it does not always require an advanced degree—or even any degree at all. What does it take to become a web developer, then? You will need a wide array of skills, focus, creativity, and lots and lots of practice.
What Education Do I Need to Become a Web Developer?
The level of education that web developers need is based on the type of work they’re doing.
Basic Web Developers
If you are programming simple websites, you may only need to have a strong grasp of front-end concepts. This will undoubtedly include expertise in HTML and CSS. It may also include graphic design and illustration, and you will likely also want to learn the basics of coding.
None of these skills require formal education; you can pick them all up on your own or through an online “boot camp.” Programs focused on HTML, CSS, and basic scripting are inexpensive and range from a few weeks to a few months in length.
Advanced Web Developers
If you would like to design more advanced websites—and make more money—then you will need to learn how to use back-end tools such as Bootstrap, Backbone, and Handlebars. This takes significantly more effort, but it can still be done independently. Learning these skills will likely take between six months and two years of dedicated study.
Specialized Web Developers
Finally, if your chosen field is very competitive or has little margin for error (such as public safety), you will need a formal education to ensure that you have all the necessary skills for the chosen field, as well as top-notch web-development skills. This could involve a four-year degree (or more!), but a two-year associate degree is also common.
How Can I Learn Web Development Fast?
The simplest way to speed up the process of learning web development is to make sure that you devote yourself to the task. You must devote time every day to learning, and this time should include not only passive learning, such as watching videos and reading articles, but also active learning, such as creating your own projects and seeking out critiques from established experts.
How Long Does It Take to Master Web Development?
Say that you have already established yourself as a web developer; perhaps you have taken some courses, completed a few projects, and even started making a name for yourself. How long does it take to then learn web development at an expert level and advance from a novice to a full-time developer?
The answer is that it varies depending on the amount of time that you can devote to studying. Moving beyond basic front-end skills to mastering advanced back-end tools requires at least a few hours of dedicated effort each day. Even still, you may not feel as if you have true mastery until you have been working in the field for five years or more.
Advanced developers have high job satisfaction and lucrative compensation, so the extra effort is often worthwhile.
One of the most attractive aspects of a career in web development is that the amount of time you need to get started is very flexible. You can get started with just a few months of dedicated study, or you can get an advanced degree and become an expert in a specialized area—the choice is yours!