If you’re considering changing careers to become a Web Developer, then you’ve made an excellent choice; the field of web development has seen significant growth in the past few years and only continues to expand. Web development is also a very lucrative field, which makes it an even more attractive career option.
But how exactly do you start a new web development career in 2022? In this guide, you’ll learn the six essential steps you need to take to transition from your old career path and become a Web Developer.
1. Research the Field
The first step you need to take is to learn more about the field of web development—you don’t want to jump into a new career without researching it first, right? The amount of research you do is up to you, but the better informed and prepared you are before embarking on your new career, the higher your chances of success.
To help you along in your research, here’s some of the fundamental information you need to know about web development:
What is Web Development?
Web development is all the work that goes into building and maintaining a website. Web Developers use a wide variety of programming languages and tools to create websites that are attractive to the eye, user-friendly, and error-free. These websites can be used for practically any purpose and range in size from a simple, one-page website to a multi-faceted social networking or ecommerce site.
What’s the Difference Between Front End, Back End, and Full Stack Development?
Web development is typically separated into three different types: front end, back end, and full stack development. The primary difference between the three types is what part of the website is being worked on. Front end web development focuses on the client-side of the website—everything that the user can see and interact with. Back end development deals with everything that goes on behind the scenes that supports the front end such as servers, databases, and applications. Full stack development is a combination of both front end and back end development, incorporating elements of each one.
Essential Web Development Skills
In some ways, the skills you’ll need depend upon whether you choose to focus your career on front end, back end, or full stack development. But there are some basic skills that apply to all potential Web Developers, including:
- Computer literacy
- Attention to detail
When you look at the different specialties within web development, the skills required do vary a bit. Those interested in working as Front End Web Developers should have (or learn) the following skills:
- An understanding of user experience (UX) principles
- An interest in creating websites that are beautiful and functional
- The ability to test code, find bugs, resolve issues, and track changes to the code
- Familiarity with front end tools such as libraries, frameworks, and content management systems (CMS)
Anyone who’s considering a career as a Back End Web Developer should have or acquire these necessary skills:
- The ability to create and manage web applications
- Knowledge of database, hosting environment, and server management
- The ability to analyze problems, find solutions, and make corrections to the code
- An understanding of accessibility and security compliance
Web Development Job Outlook
Web development is a promising career with great potential. Every company needs a website to reach their customers but few business owners have the ability to create one, which means those with web development skills are in high demand. In fact, career opportunities in web development are expected to grow in the U.S. by at least 13% each year between now and 2030—that’s significantly higher than the average job growth rate of 8% for all occupations. Believe it or not, that 13% growth rate equals roughly 17,900 jobs opening up every year, making 2022 a great time to become a Web Developer!
2. Decide On A Specialty
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to choose which specialty you’d like to pursue: front end, back end, or full stack development. You might think that coding is just coding, but there are a few key differences between the three varieties of web development; to be successful, it’s important to choose the one that best aligns with your personality and interests.
For example, the best specialization for those who tend to be creative, visual type of people is probably front end web development. If you’re more analytical and love digging into complex problems to produce workable solutions, then you should lean toward back end web development. A Full Stack Web Developer will work on both the front and back ends of a website, making this an excellent option for someone who’s a jack-of-all-trades.
Of course, these are generalized descriptions of the three concentrations; you should conduct further research to find out which is the best fit for you. You might even try talking to professionals currently working in web development or taking a couple of online classes to see which one aligns with your talents, interests, and career goals.
3. Choose An Educational Path
After you decide which track to follow, the next step is to choose a learning pathway. Do you want to take classes in person or online? If you choose to learn online, do you have the discipline to follow through on a self-guided course or would you prefer to enroll in a class led by a live instructor so you can ask questions and get immediate feedback?
You should also consider how much time, money, and effort you’re willing to invest in learning web development. Since you’re transitioning from another career, it’s likely you have limitations that need to be taken into consideration. For example, you might prefer to take an intensive bootcamp, but with your full-time work schedule, you can only commit to part-time learning. You’ll also need to consider your finances—do you need a school that offers flexible payment options to help cover costs or do you have money saved up to invest in coding classes?
Don’t forget to also check about additional benefits like mentorship and job placement assistance; many schools can help you find employment after you complete your web development education plus match you with an industry expert to guide your learning. Investigate the various learning options before settling on one that best suits your needs.
4. Practice Your Skills
While you’ll get plenty of opportunities to develop your skills during a class, it’s important to continue applying your newly acquired skills after learning the essential principles and languages of web development. If you don’t continue to use your skills, you’ll quickly forget all that you learned. Even if you’re still working full-time in your current career, you can take on small projects on the side to continue developing your skills. There’s no need to dive into the deep end and try a complex project just yet if you don’t feel ready. Start with the skills you have then continue building them through practice. Eventually, you’ll be ready to take on bigger and more complicated projects.
5. Create a Portfolio
A strong portfolio is the best tool you can possibly have as you search for a web development job. Once you’ve learned the basics and had a chance to develop your skills, pull together all your best work into a portfolio. Make sure that the portfolio showcases a diverse range of the work you’ve done. You might also consider highlighting the process you use by presenting each portfolio piece as a case study; that will give potential employers an even better understanding of how your skills can benefit their company.
6. Search for Jobs
Once you have a strong portfolio ready to show off to potential employers, it’s time to start your job search and become a professional Web Developer. There are countless places to start looking for a new job, but the best option is to check with the school where you learned web development—they’re likely to have some excellent leads.
Beyond that, you can also search for web development jobs on sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea to talk to your friends, family members, former co-workers, and acquaintances to see if they have any good job leads. If you don’t feel quite ready to give up your current career, you could always start by working a part-time web development job or doing some freelance projects in your spare time.
The Fastest Way to Start A Web Development Career
The fastest and most efficient way to become a Web Developer is to complete a bootcamp. Bootcamps offer intensive training on an abbreviated schedule which means you’ll be ready to start your new career in just a few short months. And with their focus on skills acquisition and career readiness, bootcamps are often viewed as a viable alternative to a university education.
Depending upon where you’re located, you may be able to find a web development bootcamp in your area. Options offered locally may be lacking, however, so you might be better off enrolling in an online web development bootcamp. With online training, you get the same hands-on experience and immediate feedback as face-to-face classes with the added convenience of learning from home. Online bootcamps also offer more flexible scheduling options compared to in-person instruction, which will help you fit training around your full-time job.
If you want to start learning web development basics but you can’t make time for a comprehensive bootcamp, you might consider enrolling in an individual class or two. There is a wide range of web development classes available online and in person. By taking beginning web development classes, you can start learning fundamental concepts and programming languages while maintaining your current career.