So you’re contemplating a career change to web development. That’s excellent! However, it’s totally normal to be have fears, chiefly wondering “Is this the right path for me?”
There are lots of reasons why you might want to become a web developer, but what does it actually take to make it in this industry? And how do you know if you’re a good fit for a career in web development?
Nowadays programmers come from all different kinds of backgrounds, so there is no one “right” profile. This is a huge positive for those looking to switch.
Our aim is not just to help you to become a web developer, but to remind you why you’re making the right choice in the first place, and to dispel any fears. We’ll do this by first looking at the role itself and what it can involve, and then by getting you to ask yourself some key questions before you commit.
In this article, we’ll consider:
- What does a web developer do?
- Are you a good fit for a career as a web developer?
- Do you have the right background to become a web developer?
- Is web development a good career move?
- Next steps
By the end of the article, you should be a lot more prepared to answer the crucial question: Am I a good fit for a career as a web developer? So, let’s get to it.
1. What does a web developer do?
Before you set out to become a web developer, it’s crucial to understand what the role actually entails. We’ll give you a refresher now, but you can find a thorough explanation of what a web developer actually does in this guide.
So, quite simply, web developers build websites and applications for the internet, as well as for private networks (intranet). The actual design of those websites is typically part of what UX designers do—developers are more concerned with coding and programming them.
As a web developer, you can expect to do the following:
- Code new web pages
- Find and fix bugs
- Meet with stakeholders on projects
- Add new functionality to existing products
- Keep up-to-date with the latest trends
The role can vary a lot based on what kind of developer you are, and what sort of company or setting you work in. If you want to see what your day-to-day life might look like, check out this day-in-the-life account from a web developer.
2. Are you a good fit for a career as a web developer?
If you’re wondering “Am I a good fit for a career as a web developer?” then it’s worth reflecting on what motivates you deep down. Will working as a programmer tap into your intrinsic qualities and help you thrive? Will it align with your career goals? Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you enjoy seeing the results of your work quickly?
This happens more rarely than we’d like in the working world—sometimes it can feel like we’re all waiting on quarterly results to tell us whether we’re doing a good job. This is often not the case with coding. If you become a frontend web developer, for example, once you run the code, you can view the results instantly, in terms of how the web page looks or functions.
Do you enjoy problem-solving?
Much of a web developer’s role is about figuring out all of the different possible approaches to a situation and then deciding on which is best. You’ll find yourself using this not only when deciding how to code a project, but also frequently when it comes to fixing bugs in your code. Often, these tasks require you to come up with a creative solution.
Another quality you will need for this is tenacity—you will need to keep trying different potential solutions, and have the patience to stick with it and not become disillusioned.
Are you creative?
A common misconception about web development is that it’s a purely technical exercise. However, that’s actually not the case. Frontend developers in particular are creative in terms of how the results of their work appear visually, but all programmers need some degree of creativity. As mentioned earlier, technical problems often require creative solutions. On top of this, code is not just for computers to read—coding expressively is a talent as well.
Would you like flexibility in your work?
If there’s one thing you’ll get from becoming a web developer, it’s flexibility. Within a company, you will have the flexibility to work collaboratively with a wider team, or on your own. You can work in an office, from home, or even further afield as a remote web developer.
This flexibility doesn’t just extend to where you’ll be working, but also to what you work on. As you become more experienced, you’ll gain the flexibility to decide which kinds of projects you focus on. If you choose to work as a freelance web developer, you’ll have complete freedom to pick which clients and which projects to carry out, even subcontracting others to do the parts you don’t want to do yourself.
Do you enjoy learning and keeping up with trends?
Any good web developer worth their salt is constantly learning. The speed at which the industry progresses means that there are always new tools, frameworks, and technologies coming on stream that will allow you to achieve more functionality or to work more efficiently. The 2020 Stack Overflow survey showed that almost 75% of developers learn a new technology at least every year. If you have a love of learning and keeping on top of trends, then you’re an excellent fit for web development.
Do you want to make an area your own?
As well as constantly learning, gradually you’ll begin to find your own niche as a web developer. This could be working with a particular API, or a certain style of coding for WordPress blogs, or using a framework for data integration, for example. If specializing in one area and potentially getting a steady stream of clients out of it appeals to you, you’ll find that web development is a great field to do so.
3. Do you have the right background to become a web developer?
We’ve already talked about how there’s no must-have qualification, degree, or certification to become a web developer. But let’s look again at why you should stop worrying about not having the “right” background.
The simple truth here is that there is so much demand for web developers, your background is immaterial to most employers. Overall, there is a skills shortage for web developers, in North America and elsewhere. The Covid-19 pandemic has not only increased the demand due to the increased digitization of many sectors, but also the amount of people switching careers. This means that now more than ever, your professional or educational background prior to web development will not affect your ability to break into the field and get hired.
In other words, you don’t need to have been coding from day one; as long as you learn the necessary skills, and can demonstrate them to employers, you’ll be considered a qualified candidate.
There is no one ideal background—people come from everywhere to learn to code. Prospective employers will be looking more at your portfolio projects and coding tests. Still don’t believe it? Just take a look at some of CareerFoundry’s graduates, some of whom transitioned from being a professional dancer and an Uber driver to becoming web developers.
4. Is a career in web development a good move?
There are many standout benefits of a career in web development. Chief among them are job satisfaction, salary level, and remote working possibilities.
No matter which career you want to switch to, you want to know that you’ll be happy there. According to the 2020 Stack Overflow Survey, there’s a strong likelihood of that happening. Over 60% of developers surveyed reported that they were satisfied with their jobs, with the majority very satisfied. So, if you’re looking for an occupation that you are more than likely to be very happy in, web development is a good move.
In terms of what can make you happy, money isn’t everything in life, but it can certainly help. Those considering a career move to web development will definitely find the relatively high average salaries encouraging. Our research has shown that you should be able to command a good salary, typically much above the national average, that only increases with experience.
Wages aside, becoming a programmer is like being given a passport to the world. This is because coding languages are universal, and developers are in demand across the globe. Just looking at our map of how average web developer salaries compare globally. With web development skills in your repertoire, it’s entirely possible to move elsewhere and get hired easily. And, no matter where in the world you end up, you’ll find that English is the most common language used in the field, so you won’t necessarily need to be fluent in the local language to get hired as a developer.
Learning to code doesn’t have to just be about a momentous career change, either. Adding web development to your skillset is an excellent career move if you want to stay within your current industry, company, or even team.
You’ll find that it opens a lot of doors for you—maybe you can help redesign the frontend of the company website, or work closer with the technical teams on certain projects. It can give you an edge and make you an (even more) invaluable employee.
5. Next steps
As you’ve seen here, working as a web developer requires creativity, tenacity, patience, and a passion for learning.
You’ll quickly find that soon you’ll start feeling the benefits of coding. In return for your hard work, you can expect a whole lot of flexibility, choice, and a seriously competitive salary.
If, by now, you’ve made up your mind that web development is the career for you, check out our step-by-step guide to becoming a web developer.
If you’d like to do some further research, have a look at the following articles: