How Long Does it Take to Become a Web Developer

Far from static, the internet is an evolving, changing technology that is constantly being redesigned to meet our needs. Mobile technologies, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence reshape the ways we develop and interact with the digital world. Web developers work on the leading edge of this evolution.

Web developers challenge themselves daily to create and iterate the next generation of websites and applications. They use new technologies to build faster platforms that are more visually appealing and secure; drive our expanding digital economies through online banking, investment, and e-commerce transactions; and help build new virtual worlds (e.g.,the Metaverse) which will require a reimagining of the internet once again.

Sounds fascinating, right? A career in web development will take you places, personally and professionally, but it may be difficult to get started. This guide can help you take that first step.

This article will address some of the common questions regarding web development:

What does a web developer do?

How do you become a web developer?

How long does it take to become a web developer?

What kind of web developer jobs are available?

We’ll also provide a web developer career roadmap to guide your path into this rewarding field. We’ll explore educational options, such as coding boot camps, which offer a curriculum covering the leading technologies of full stack development.

Unsure what a full stack developer is? Read on as we detail how to become a web developer.

What Is a Web Developer?

The basic job description of most web developers is that they build and maintain websites. To do so, web developers must acquire a host of technical and soft skills — and continually update them — to remain at the forefront of their field.

Web developers employ programming languages and techniques to turn ideas and designs into functioning sites and applications. They can work in conjunction with design, marketing, and advertising team members to ensure that website content is clear and accessible, the site is inviting and works properly, and the whole operation is secure. Speed, security, and a seamless experience are key traits of a successful website. That’s where web developers train their focus.

How hard is it to become a web developer? With the right skills and plenty of motivation, web development is a very viable career option.

You’ll need a passion for tech (particularly coding) and an eye for emerging technologies. Web developers are fluent in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, database frameworks, and the languages of client-side and server-side programming (more on those soon). They also are critical thinkers, troubleshooters, collaborators, and communicators.

Soon, the internet will contain more than 2 billion websites. These sites require constant updates, optimization, and security. Web developers will perform that work, keeping the internet in a state of perpetual evolution.

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Web Developer Roadmap

You can pursue a variety of options to become a web developer. Traditional degree programs, boot camps, and even independent study offer paths to a new career in web development. How long the process takes depends on your educational pathway, schedule, and commitment.

You can learn web development in as little as three months through a coding boot camp. Or, you might choose to pursue a traditional degree — still a popular option among developers. Or, you can set your own pace through independent learning.

Whichever path you choose, be prepared to work at it. Coding demands a commitment to understanding its concepts and syntax, and requires comfort with the trial-by-error process. It also rewards curiosity and determination; two essential qualities for following your roadmap.

Learn Web Development

Let’s explore the paths you can take to learn web development. Each has its benefits, and this guide can help you choose the path that’s right for you.

A traditional degree remains the primary entry point to a career in web development. According to CareerOneStop, a combined 69 percent of web developers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Traditional degree programs include computer programming, computer science, and information science — all of which lend themselves to web development. Some schools offer associate programs that focus specifically on the tools of web development. You also can take classes in web development and design as part of another degree program.

With a traditional degree, you can pursue various technical careers, including programming, software development, systems analysis, information technology, and more. A computer programming degree will delve into theory and history, in addition to the functional aspects of programming. For a well-rounded start to a technical career, traditional degrees are a strong option for those with the time and financial resources needed.

Coding boot camps offer a practical solution for those at different stages in their lives. Perhaps you’re looking to upgrade your skills or change careers. Maybe you want to learn while working and need a flexible class schedule, or you might want to concentrate on web development and aren’t interested in spending time and money on other areas of study.

If that sounds familiar, consider a coding boot camp. Boot camps are short-term, immersive, and focused; providing essential, in-demand skills and real-world experience. You’ll study full stack development, complete projects in a professional work environment, and develop a portfolio to show prospective employers.

In addition, boot camps deliver results. HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report (PDF, 2.4 MB) indicates that 32 percent of hiring managers have hired boot camp students and 72 percent consider those students as qualified, or more qualified for their jobs, than other hires. The report also shows that 16 percent of learners from Generation Z are gaining new skills through boot camps.

Many new programmers, especially those in younger demographics, learn to code online. Nearly 60 percent of respondents to Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer Survey said they began learning through online resources. In addition, nearly 70 percent wrote their first line of code by the time they were 18.

Resources for new developers are abundant. Want to create a web page from scratch, build a dynamic app using JavaScript, or query a database? You’ll find plenty of video tutorials and online courses covering those topics. However, it’s important to note that you may need to acquire additional credentials in order to validate your skill set for some employers.

Build Web Developer Skills

Web developer tools evolve constantly, but some core technologies remain the foundation for every web developer. Where you start depends on your experience level.

Perhaps you have used software such as WordPress to create and manage a website. The next step is learning a programming language to build that website from scratch. Doing so provides the best practical experience in becoming a web developer. It also helps you assemble a web developer portfolio, a must-have for job-seekers.

To get started, here’s a short list of fundamental technologies used in web development.

The primary languages for constructing web pages are HTML/CSS. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the essential scripting language of page design. Developers use HTML to structure a page, define how text elements will appear, and create the links that make the internet a “web.”

Developers use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to define the look of their pages through formatting, fonts, colors, and other characteristics. CSS also creates a consistent appearance across web and mobile presentations.

JavaScript brings dynamic features and interactivity to the web, making it one of the most important languages for developers. Developers have voted JavaScript as their most-used programming language for nine years running, according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey.

JavaScript is a high-level scripting language that developers use to deploy various dynamic features: interactive graphics, maps, animation, video, menu buttons, and so on. When you interact with a website, you’re likely interacting with a component built with JavaScript.

According to the HackerRank Skills Report, hiring managers cite JavaScript as the language they seek most in candidates. It’s also a popular first language for programmers because of its easy-to-learn syntax.

If you’re working with websites, you’ll likely work with databases, since data fuels websites. Having some experience with database management is a must for developers, and includes basic tools such as SQL, MySQL, NoSQL, and MongoDB. WordPress, the largest website-building brand, provides developers with the necessary conduits to store, retrieve, edit, and analyze data.

Programming languages, notably JavaScript, feature a large collection of libraries that simplify and accelerate programming language use. These libraries condense tasks, otherwise requiring pages of code, into portable tools embeddable within programs. Why write code when it isn’t necessary?

Bootstrap is one of the most popular front end frameworks used with HTML/CSS and JavaScript to build forms, buttons, navigation menus, and so much more. Some of the leading JavaScript libraries include Node.js, Express.js, React.js, and jQuery.

HTML and CSS are front end languages used to create what we see on a webpage. Back end technologies are just as important because they regulate a site’s security and functionality.

JavaScript delivers on its developer popularity as both a front end and back end language. Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a back end scripting language that enables sites to collect data and display dynamic content. PHP helps to power WordPress, the largest website-building brand on the internet.

An image showing ways to build web development skills.

Explore Web Developer Jobs

Job prospects for web developers continue to hold promise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects careers in web development will grow by 13 percent through 2030; a rate faster than the average for all other occupations.

E-commerce and the expanding use of mobile devices will drive this growth. Ericsson projects that mobile data traffic will be nearly six times higher in 2027 than it is today. Because of this increase, as the BLS reports, “a rise in the use of mobile devices to search the web will lead to increased demand for web developers and digital designers.”

With that said, what kinds of web developer jobs are available? Read on to learn about entry-level web developer jobs that may be a good fit for you.

Front End Developer

Front end developers work on the user-facing side of a website, also known as the client side. They develop the look and feel of a website and work primarily with HTML/CSS and JavaScript to convert designs into clear, visually appealing websites. Front end developers also write code that makes sites responsive on mobile platforms.

Back end web developers work on the architecture of a website, controlling its functionality and security. This is known as the server side and is not user-facing. The code that back end developers write facilitates communication between the server and website, providing the functional support and data exchange required to fuel front end user interaction. Back end developers are also critical to e-commerce sites that require secure transactions, using tools such as PHP, database languages, and Python.

Back End Developer

Full Stack Developer

Full stack developers work on both sides of web development — in other words, they have both front end and back end developer skills. Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer Survey indicates that nearly 50 percent of developers perform full stack roles.

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers determine how we interact with websites and apps. UX designers define the user experience, which refers to how we connect functionally and emotionally with platforms and devices. UI designers develop a digital product’s user interface, making it easy and fun to use. These are unique elements to web development, requiring creativity and design expertise, in addition to coding skills.

UX/UI Designers

Freelance Web Developer

Ready to go solo? A freelance web developer can contract to work with companies, nonprofits, and other organizations that need to improve their web presence. Freelance developers can choose their clients, projects, schedules, and locations. In a remote-working world, freelance web developers can basically work for anyone from anywhere.

An image that highlights a few of the job opportunities for web developers.

Become a Web Developer Today

Of course, many people want to learn how to become web developers. The role is challenging and changing, and its job prospects are expanding. But where should you begin?

By enrolling in a coding boot camp, you can master the skills required to become a full stack developer in as little as 12 weeks. Further, a coding boot camp curriculum includes continuing education opportunities covering in-demand technologies such as Python and Java.

A career in web development might not be as distant as you think. If you’re looking for a new opportunity or a career change, get started at Northwestern Coding Boot Camp.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Web Developer FAQ

A web developer uses programming languages and other technologies to build and maintain websites. They ensure that websites function properly, look appealing, work securely, and reflect proper mobile optimization. The primary web developer roles are front end, back end, and full stack.

A web designer creates the visual layout and composition of a website. The role requires creativity and emphasizes design over technical skills. Web developers convert that design into a functioning website through code.

Becoming a web developer isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you are interested in programming, have problem-solving skills, and pay attention to details, you can become a web developer. A coding boot camp can help you take the first step.

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