Do you like the idea of working flexibly from anywhere in the world? Are you a keen problem-solver with a passion for using technology to improve people’s lives? Then you might be interested in becoming a remote web developer.
Perhaps you’re already working as a developer and are just trying to figure out the “remote” part of your career. Either way, there are many perks—and some challenges—associated with remote work, and it’s important to get informed before you take that step.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about working as a remote developer. By the end, you’ll have a good overview of the job market and the kind of salary you can expect. You’ll also have some clear action points to follow in order to forge your remote career.
- What does it take to become a remote web developer?
- What is the job market like for remote developers?
- How much do remote developers earn?
- How to become a remote developer
- Where to look for remote developer jobs
- Key takeaways and next steps
So first things first: What does it take to become a remote web developer?
1. What does it take to become a remote web developer?
Before you commit to life as a remote developer, it’s important to consider what it takes to be successful in the field. Not everybody is cut out for remote work, and if you’re used to being in an office environment, you’ll need to adapt certain aspects of how you operate. Aside from the relevant hard skills (which we’ll talk about later), there are certain qualities that will help to ensure a successful career as a remote developer. These include:
Without the structure of office life, it’s up to you to set your own schedule and make sure you get things done. It’s easy to get carried away with the flexibility of remote work, and the lines between work and private life can become blurred. You’ll need to exercise a certain amount of discipline when it comes to structuring your day, setting regular working hours, and resisting the temptation to put certain projects to the side in favor of “life admin”.
Communication is crucial for any job, and it becomes even more important when working remotely. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, you’ll need to make sure that your employer, clients, or colleagues can easily get in touch with you via email, instant messaging, or video call—you can’t just go off the grid for days on end. As a remote worker, it’s important to show that you’re just as reliable as you would be in-house; you need to be contactable, responsive, and communicative about the status of what you’re working on.
One of the major perks of working remotely is the autonomy it affords you—but with autonomy comes responsibility. You’ll need to prioritize your workload, set your own deadlines, and ensure that you’re managing your time effectively. If you’re naturally organized, this won’t be too far removed from how you usually work; you’ll just need to make sure you’re allocating enough focus time within your flexible schedule.
As a remote worker, you won’t be surrounded by your teammates—at least not physically—and that can take its toll on your motivation. Even if you’re working on collective projects, it’s easy to feel isolated and detached from the wider goal, which can make it difficult to get things done. If you want to be a productive and happy remote worker, you’ll need to approach it with a great deal of self-motivation. You’ll find tips on how to stay motivated when working remotely in this guide.
2. What is the job market like for remote developers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of web developers is projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029—much faster than the average for all occupations. At the same time, remote work is on the rise; it’s predicted that, by 2028, 73% of all teams will have remote workers. With strong employment growth in both the remote market and the web development field in general, there has never been a better time to forge a career as a remote web developer.
So how does this translate in terms of actual jobs? To get an idea of the current job market for remote developers, we browsed some of the most popular job sites. At the time of writing, we found over 7,000 remote developer jobs on indeed.com and over 3,000 openings on LinkedIn. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of other job boards to consider, as well as companies advertising remote positions on their own websites.
In short, the job market for remote developers is thriving—a trend we expect to continue in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll show you where to look for remote developer jobs in section five. Next, let’s take a look at how much you could earn.
3. How much do remote developers earn?
The average base salary for a web developer in the United States is $78,223 USD, and remote web developers can make as much as, or even more than, their in-office counterparts. There’s no reason to think that you need to accept a lower salary simply because you’re working remotely.
As a remote developer, how much you earn depends on several factors:
- The specific skills you possess (e.g. what languages you are proficient in, and whether you work on the frontend, backend, or across the full stack);
- How much experience you have in the field, and your level of seniority;
- Whether you’re employed by a company or working on a freelance basis;
- Your location;
- The location of the company (or client) you’re working for;
- How much remote experience you already have.
So: When negotiating your salary, consider your level of experience and your location, and use the average salary for these positions as a benchmark. You’ll find average web developer salaries for various locations around the world and across different job titles in this comprehensive web developer salary guide.
4. How to become a remote developer
As you can see, the prospect of becoming a remote developer is a feasible one—and can be just as financially rewarding as working in-house. So how do you go about becoming a remote developer? Here are some steps you’ll need to take:
1. Learn the necessary skills
2. Prepare your portfolio
Next, you’ll need to create and polish up your web developer portfolio. Your portfolio is essentially a personal website that introduces you to potential employers, summarizes your skills and areas of expertise, showcases projects you’ve worked on, provides your contact details, and shares links to your GitHub projects and relevant social media profiles (e.g. LinkedIn). Some web development courses (like the CareerFoundry Full-Stack Program) will see you building your portfolio as part of the curriculum, so bear that in mind when choosing a course. If you want to see some examples to inspire you, we’ve collected 38 portfolio websites from pro developers in our guide.
3. Gain some remote experience
As with any career path, the more experience you have, the easier it will be to find a job. However, if you’re lacking in experience, don’t feel discouraged. Web developers are in high demand, and employers are always looking for skilled programmers who can learn on the job. If you’ve got your heart set on a remote career, it’s a good idea to gain some remote experience. This way, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you’re capable of managing your own time and projects independently, and that you can be relied upon to work with minimal supervision. The best way to gain remote experience is through freelance gigs (try sites like Fiverr and Upwork) or by volunteering (try Code for Fun or Donate:Code).
4. Consider your options
When it comes to forging a remote career, there are different ways of doing so. Do you want to be employed by a company on a remote basis, or do you want to work for a variety of clients as a freelancer? Do you want to start your own business? How you choose to kick off your remote career will largely depend on how much experience you’ve got. If you’re new to the field, you might want to start with a company where you can learn the ropes and find your feet before progressing onto a freelance career. However, if you’ve been in the business for a while, you may feel ready to branch out on your own and set yourself up as a freelancer. It all depends on your personal career goals.
5. Prepare your remote setup
This may seem obvious, but it’s extremely important. If you’re going to be working remotely on a full-time basis, you absolutely need a dedicated work space with a proper desk, a comfortable chair, good lighting, a reliable internet connection, and a good laptop or desktop computer (or both). Without the proper setup in place, you’ll find it difficult to concentrate and throw yourself into hours of coding or debugging. It’s important to take your remote career as seriously as any in-house position, and that means giving yourself the proper tools and surroundings.
5. Where to look for remote developer jobs
If you’re looking for a remote developer job, it’s a good idea to cover all bases. Browse the usual job boards in addition to those dedicated to remote vacancies. At the same time, be sure to target specific companies; many organizations will choose to advertise roles exclusively on their own website. And finally, if you see a job you like the look of but it’s not specified as remote, apply anyway! In the current climate, more and more employers are open to hiring remote workers, so you may be able to negotiate a more flexible arrangement.
Below are some of our favorite websites for finding remote developer jobs:
6. Key takeaways and next steps
In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about becoming a remote web developer. To recap:
- The remote job market is growing: By 2028, it’s estimated that 73% of all teams will have remote workers.
- The web development job market is thriving: The BLS estimates that employment of web developers will grow 8% from 2019-2029.
- The average web developer salary is around $78,000 USD—and remote developers can expect to earn as much as their in-house counterparts.
- A successful remote career relies on certain qualities: Discipline, communication, self-motivation, and time management, to name just a few.
- The best way to learn the necessary skills of a remote web developer is through a certification program—this will help to structure your learning, to build your portfolio, and to make sure you cover the most relevant languages and tools.
If you’re keen to learn more about forging a career as a web developer, check out the following: