Wondering how to become a web developer in 2023? Look no further📍
Despite the current economic climate, the field of web development continues to flourish. Now that the ‘post-covid chaos’ dust has settled, a growing number of tech-hopefuls are looking to future-proof their careers — and setting their sights on becoming web developers in the new year 🎉
The good news? Web development has a low barrier to entry for beginners, and a tonne of different ways you can get started.
The even better news? We’ve compiled all the best tips, tricks, and practical advice for kickstarting your web development career into one all-encompassing beginner's guide.
Here’s what we’ll cover today (feel free to scroll through to a section that’s most relevant to you!)
- What does a web developer do?
- Why should you become a web developer?
- Is now a good time to become a web developer?
- How easy is it to become a web developer?
- What skills do you need to become a web developer?
- How to become a web developer without a degree
- How long does it take to become a web developer?
- Becoming a web developer: Next steps
If you prefer to listen along than read, we also made a video on how to become a hireable web developer in just 6 months 👇
So grab a coffee, get comfy, and let’s get started! ☕️
1. What does a web developer do? 🧑💻
Before we dive into how to become a web developer, let’s first get on the same page about what a web developer actually does.
In simple terms, web developers build (and maintain) websites and web applications. They take the static prototypes and mockups created by UX/UI designers and code the graphical UI elements (like buttons, menus, and text) to create functional, responsive websites that users can interact with.
Think about the web as a collection of layers, which fall into five main categories:
As the backbone of the web, web developers are responsible for ensuring these layers work seamlessly together to effectively meet user needs.
💡 Read next: What do web developers do on a daily basis?.
There are three kinds of web development:
- Frontend development
- Backend development
- Full-stack development
Let’s look at these three disciplines at a glance:
What does a frontend developer do?
Let’s consider the ‘layers of the internet’ again. Frontend developers are responsible for the layers that users see and interact with:
- Content, and
What does a backend developer do?
While the frontend of a website is what visitors see and interact with, the backend is where information gets processed. These are the layers users don’t see, i.e.
- Data storage
- Structure, and
Backend developers (aka server-side developers) are primarily focused on how things work, rather than how they look. They use complex programming languages like Python, Ruby-on-rails, and PHP to build systems that can process data, and provide vital information to help users perform tasks like logging in to a personal account, or making a payment.
What does a full-stack developer do?
A full-stack developer works on both the front end and back end of an application. This means they often have a broad range of skills that make them valuable employees in any industry.
Their responsibilities might include:
- Writing clean code for the front-end and back-end of an application
- Troubleshooting ad debugging software
- Designing user interactions with the application
- Developing APIs
- Creating servers and databases for the backend of an application
We expand on these definitions in our blog post on the difference between frontend, backend, and full-stack development. Give it a read to learn more!
2. Why should you become a web developer? 🤔
Many of today’s most talented web developers were drawn to the field for different reasons.
Some wanted a more flexible, remote-friendly career path. Others loved the idea of building innovative digital experiences that genuinely enriched users’ lives.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already have your own motivators in mind. But in case you’re still not convinced, let’s look at three of the most compelling reasons to become a web developer.
Rewarding salaries 💰
It’s only fair that you’ll want to embark on your career change confident that you’ll be able to comfortably support yourself in your new role — especially in the current economic climate. Luckily, one of the biggest perks of becoming a web developer is the lucrative salaries (and long-term earning potential).
Wondering how much you could make as a web developer in 2023? We’ve pulled some current salary data from Glassdoor for a quick look at average web developer salaries across the world, from junior to senior:
- Average web developer salary in The USA 🇺🇸: $53,628-$107,028
- Average web developer salary in The UK 🇬🇧: £25,690-£49,434
- Average web developer salary in Canada 🇨🇦: C$50,843-C$90,176
- Average web developer salary in Germany 🇩🇪: €39,800-€63,819
- Average web developer salary in France 🇫🇷: €35,910-€48,934
- Average web developer salary in Ireland 🇮🇪: €31,828-€66,833
- Average web developer salary in Australia 🇦🇺: A$57,500-A$100,000
Bear in mind that these are national averages, which don’t factor in specific locations or seniority levels.
Keen to understand web development salaries even better? We wrote a blog post to answer the question “Why are web developers paid so much?”
Opportunities for growth 🌱
You can start your career off in web development — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay there. If you’re worried about the possibility of stagnating in your career, rest assured: The opportunities for growth in web development are boundless.
A career in web development will expose you to a range of web languages, technologies, and approaches that could see you branch off into more specialist roles — which usually means more money and higher demand.
Popular specialist web developer roles include:
- Technical product manager
- Customer success engineer, and
Some web developers also go from frontend to backend, and then full-stack. Many web developers stick to climbing the frontend ladder, which might look something like this:
Junior Developer 👉🏽 Mid-weight Developer 👉🏽 Senior Developer 👉🏽 Web Development Lead 👉🏽 Technical Director.
Point is, a web development career will see you grow, evolve, and learn the universal skills (like programming) that’ll make for a smoother transition into more technical roles down the line.
Flexible working 🏡
These days, there are very few digital career paths that don’t allow for flexible, hybrid working — and web development is no exception.
The digital-first nature of web development means there actually isn’t any need to be in a physical office space at all. This flexibility makes web development one of the best careers for
- 👩💻 Neurodivergent folk who prefer focused, distraction-free work settings
- 👪 Parents or carers who want a better work-life balance
- 👓 Freelancers who want complete autonomy over their working hours
It’s also never been so easy to find remote work all over the world as a web developer. With a growing number of tech companies opting for remote and hybrid working models, there’s an abundance of remote web development jobs currently on the market. All you need to do is keep an eye on remote-first tech job boards like We Work Remotely or Jobspresso.
That being said, there are a lot of benefits from working as an in-office dev — especially while you’re learning the ropes of the role. We explore this topic in our YouTube video titled “Junior web developers can work from home. But should they?” 📽
3. Is now a good time to become a web developer? (2023 outlook)
While there’s no shortage of reasons to become a web developer, it’s also important to think about your career change within the context of today’s economy.
The last thing you want is to invest time, money, and energy into becoming a web developer only to find yourself struggling to land a job. A career change might seem like a sizeable risk, so if you’re asking questions like:
- “Is now a good time to make the switch?”
- “What’s the job market outlook for 2023?”
- “Are web developers even in demand right now?” 😓
The short answer is yes, now is a great time to become a web developer. And we’ve got the stats to back it up.
💡 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that there’ll be 19,000 more web developer jobs in just the USA alone by 2029 (an 8% growth), and there’s no doubt that other countries around the world will see a similar rise in demand.
💡 Popular job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn currently show between 4,000 and 8,000 active web developer jobs per country.
💡 According to Google trends, the term ‘frontend developer’ has risen by almost 300% in the last ten years.
Statistics aside, the internet has evolved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. It’s not just tech companies who hire devs:
- 🎗 Nonprofits
- 🛍 E-commerce startups
- 🏦 Financial institutions
- 🪴 Sustainability
- 🏥 Healthcare
…and even local governments rely on web developers to help them create user-centric digital experiences that serve their communities.
With an increasing number of brick-and-mortar businesses moving their operations online, you can rest assured that there’ll always be room for new talent in the field 🤝.
4. How easy is it to become a web developer?
As web development is so commonly associated with high-stakes technical work, a common misconception is that it’s impossible to break into web development without a technical background.
It also doesn’t help that there are so many conflicting testimonials about how easy (or hard) becoming a web developer actually is. Some claim they made the switch in a mere few months, while others seem to be actively trying to put you off with a ‘reality check.’
Let’s set the record straight: If you’re embarking on your journey to becoming a web developer, you should expect to work hard. After all, web developers wouldn’t be paid so well if it was a low-skilled position.
To land a job, web developers need demonstrable evidence that they have a solid grasp of the skills we explored earlier in the post — and learning these skills takes time, patience, and commitment (check out our blog post on the 9 of the most common FAQs about web development requirements to learn more).
But hard work shouldn’t put you off! And the low barrier to entry (plus the ever-growing demand for talent) makes web development one of the most accessible career paths in tech.
Contrary to popular belief, you also don’t have to drop everything to commit yourself to learning to code full-time. Many of today’s most successful web developers made the switch while juggling a full-time job, as well as other commitments.
Meet Michael Richards, who transitioned from customer service professional to full-time web developer at Coca-Cola (at the age of 51, we might add). How? Enrolling in a part-time, self-paced frontend development course allowed him to fit his learning around his full-time job, while being kept on track by industry professionals who had been in his shoes
Sometimes, the most challenging part of learning something new is overcoming impostor syndrome. Many budding web developers never push past the inevitable “I’m so dumb” phase to experience the pure joy of mastering a skill that once felt like the most confusing thing in the world. Embrace a learner’s mindset: If you don’t fail, you won’t learn!
5. What skills do you need to become a web developer?
A pretty significant part of becoming a web developer means learning web development skills (no surprises there).
The emphasis here is usually on the technical skills you need to perform the role in its most basic sense — but on the web development job market, it’s the soft skills that’ll make you ✨stand out✨ from the crowd.
Let’s look at the hard and soft skills every web developer should have:
Soft skills 🎙
- Problem-solving: As a web developer, you’ll be using your critical thinking and analytical skills every day. Being able to spot, diagnose, and effectively find solutions to ongoing problems will take you far in the field.
- Adaptability: Like cabin crew, web developers need to remain flexible, proactive, and positive in the face of turbulence — whether that’s clients changing their minds, deadlines being brought forward, or changes happening within the company.
- Communication: Web developers usually sit as one cog in the product development process; and will need to communicate effectively and often with UX/UI designers, product managers, and other stakeholders in clear and digestible terms.
- Learner’s mindset: Working with technology means there’s always something new to learn; whether it’s a new codebase, a newly-released feature, or something you haven’t encountered in the vast world of programming yet.
- Empathy: Everyone has a different role to play in the creation and deployment of a digital product. Not only will empathy help you collaborate better with other members of the product design team; it’ll also help you put yourself in the shoes of the user you’re building the website or application for.
Hard skills 🛠
- HTML and CSS: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) go hand-in-hand as the ‘peanut butter & jelly’ of web languages. HTML tells your browser how to display graphic UI elements like links, fonts, and colors — and CSS styles them to make them actually look good.
- Git and Github: Git is a version control system, and Github is a hosting service. Developers use as Git and Github tools to keep store, manage, and track changes to their code. In other words, you’ll need these to stay organized.
- Libraries and frameworks: Libraries (like React) are smaller chunks of code that make up individual parts of a website or app. Frameworks (like Angular) are templates for reusable code that make the web development process much faster.
- APIs: Application Programming Interface (API) allows two applications to talk to eachother to provide an elevated user experience. APIs include payment processors, weather reports, and third-party log-ins.
💡 To learn more, check out our blog post on the top 12 skills every web developer should know in 2023
6. How to become a web developer (without a degree): Step-by-step
Phew — that was a lot to take in. Stick with us!
So far, we’ve talked about the what and the why of becoming a web developer. Now, it’s time to talk about the how.
To make things easier, we’ve broken the process down into six actionable steps.
Step 1: Set a timeline and clear goals 📆
Before you take the first step in your journey to becoming a web developer, it’s important to understand exactly what you want that journey to look like.
Use the following questions as a jumping-off point:
- Will you learn web development part-time or full-time?
- What’s your budget for learning web development?
- What kind of sector do you want to work in as a web developer?
- When do you want to be able to call yourself a developer?
- How much time can you realistically set aside each week?
- What additional things will you do each week to accelerate your learning?
Figure out exactly what you’re working towards (make sure you write it all down), put milestones in your calendar, and share it with someone who can hold you accountable!
Step 2: Learn the fundamentals of web development
In the previous section, we laid out the skills you need to learn. Now, you just have to figure out how (and where) to learn them.
A good place to start here is by getting a sense of how you learn best.
- Structured learning, or free-form? 💻
- Self-paced, or live classes? 🧑🏫
- Written tutorials, or video? 📹
This will be your guiding criteria as you wade through the seemingly endless pages of web development courses to find the right one for you.
It is possible to go down the self-taught route, by relying on YouTube tutorials, blogs, and other resources. But it’s a lot less straightforward — and without the motivation and structure of a curriculum, many self-taught developers end up burning out.
Ultimately, you want to make sure you’re not missing anything as you learn web development. Nothing worse than interviewing for web development jobs, only for them to ask a technical question that you simply can’t answer. That’s why opting for a web development course is generally considered the best path — especially in the eyes of employers, who want to know you’ve consolidated your skills at a credible learning institution 🎓.
Many web development courses and bootcamps were created to transform complete beginners into job-ready developers — with career support and industry guidance built into the curriculum, along with both the hard and soft skills you’ll need to succeed in your first role. You’ll also get access to a network of learners, mentors, and industry experts who’ll support you along your learning journey.
Step 3: Join a web developer community
Remember step 1, when we mentioned holding yourself accountable? Well, there are no better accountability partners than other beginner web developers who are on a similar journey themselves — and you’ll find them in spades in one of the hundreds of web developer communities that exist online and across the globe.
These communities will act as a source of
- 💪 Motivation, when you’re you feel like programming is getting the better of you
- 🤩 Inspiration, when you need to be reminded of all the cool things you can create with frontend development skills
- 🤝 Networking — after all, you never know where your first job might come from!
Above all, web development communities are the gateway to immersing yourself in the field. An important step to becoming a web developer is to start acting like one. That means taking time out of every day to engage with the discipline; whether it’s chatting to other web developers about their experiences, or reading articles written by industry experts.
Among the most popular web development communities are Scrimba, Hashnode, and Code Newbies. For the full list, read our roundup of the 9 best web developer communities you should join in 2023.
Step 4: Find a mentor
Embarking on a career change can be an isolating and overwhelming endeavor. With so many things to learn, sometimes you wish you had a guiding force — perhaps in the form of some kind of web development fairy godmother — to help you figure it all out 🧚.
That’s what a mentor does.
Behind every successful developer is someone who really believed in them — and helped them believe in themselves. Mentorship is a powerful career-change tool, especially for more technical fields like web development.
Ok, mentors don’t quite have wings or magic powers 🪄. But what they do have is:
- 🧑🏫 Years of industry experience
- 🌍 Access to a flourishing network of senior developers and recruiters, and
- 📈 A solid grasp of what it takes to succeed in the field.
A mentor will support and guide you as you navigate the world of web development. They’ll offer tailored feedback on your programming skills, and hold you accountable on your journey. They’ll also help you find your first job, and work with you to
- Brush up your interviewing skills
- Emphasize the right skills on your portfolio
- Market yourself to recruiters in a way that makes you stand out
It’s also important to remember that mentors have been in your shoes. They’ve made all the classic mistakes a junior developer can make, learned from them, and made a name for themselves in the field.
Sometimes, a mentor can spell the difference between giving up at the first hurdle, and getting hired straight out of a web development course.
Step 5: Start building your portfolio
In the absence of a computer science degree, it’s not enough to just ‘say’ you’re really good at programming (we wish it were that easy). Hiring managers want demonstrable evidence that you’ve mastered the web development skills they’re looking for. Here’s where your web development portfolio comes in.
Alongside your resume, and interviewing skills, your web development portfolio will be what gets you the job. A portfolio is ultimately a collection of the real-world projects you’ve worked on. These could be projects you’ve taken on of your own accord (like building a landing page for a friend), or projects you’ve worked on as part of a web development course.
There’s no limit to how many projects you feature in your portfolio — it can be continually added to as you gain more experience. Overall, it should be a showcase of your best work.
In terms of where you host your portfolio, you can:
b) 👷 Build a portfolio website yourself. What better way to showcase your frontend development skills in action than by building your own website? This way, you’ll kill two birds with one stone — particularly if you’ve given a nod to design.
As you build out your portfolio, bear in mind that hiring managers want to get a sense of your thought process — and how you would approach the work in a professional setting.
Specifically, they want to know:
- Why you’ve approached a project a certain way
- Who you worked with, and how you collaborated with them
- The exact steps you took with each project
- How you interpreted the brief
- Where you failed, and what you learned from your mistakes
- How you explain your work (i.e., your writing skills)
- Which skills (both hard and soft) you leveraged with each project
- What technology stack you used for each project (frameworks, programming languages, libraries etc.)
- How you documented the process
- How you would do things differently in future
Remember: Hiring managers have hundreds of portfolios to wade through at any given time, so it’s important you get your portfolio right. Don’t rush it!
To learn more, check out our YouTube video on how to build a web development portfolio that gets you hired.
Step 6: Take stock of your transferable skills
As a new web developer, it’s easy to feel like you’re starting again from scratch — especially if you’ve switched from a non-tech or ‘unrelated’ background. But don’t wipe your previous experience off as completely redundant just yet: It could help you get hired.
Whatever your background, you’ve developed valuable soft skills that you can take forward into your first role as a web developer. These could be
- 🤔 Problem-solving
- 🧑💻 Project management
- 👉🏽 People management
- ✍️ Writing
- 🧑🎨 Creative skills
These skills might seem irrelevant to web development, but they demonstrate the value you could bring to a company. These days, many tech companies hire for ‘culture fit’ which means they’re usually willing to look over the lack of technical skills in favor of the attitude and energy you bring to the team.
It’s important to get a sense of which transferable skills might set you apart from the competition, and make them part of your personal brand. This means emphasizing them in your resumé, portfolio, and interviews.
Step 7: Apply for jobs
Armed with your shiny new skills, a kick-ass portfolio, and a mentor cheering you on — you’ll have everything you need to start getting your name out there on the job market!
At this stage, it’s tempting to blindly fire job applications out without any real strategy. But that’s not always the best way forward. Quality over quantity!
As you embark on your job hunt, make sure you’re thinking carefully about what kind of company you want to work for — and what you bring to the table.
Take time in putting effort into your job applications, following up and asking for feedback when you get rejected (which, unfortunately, is part and parcel of applying for tech jobs). You might have to build up your confidence in job interviews, which will only make your answers sharper and your USP more clear.
Before too long, you’ll get that “you’re hired” phone call you’ve been dreaming of!
7. How long does it take to become a web developer ⏰
Well done for sticking with us so far. We’re almost there!
Now we’ve explored the different steps involved in actually becoming a web developer, you might be wondering: How long will this all take? 🤔
It’s very difficult to attach a specific number to the process of becoming a web developer. Everyone learns at a different pace, and the timeline you’re on will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Whether you’re learning part-time or full-time
- Your previous experience
- How committed you are to making the switch
In our blog post ‘How long does it take to learn to code,’ we suggest that you can become a hireable junior coder in 6-9 months, if you spend 2-3 hours a day learning coding concepts and practicing them with real-world projects. You can dedicate less time and still be successful — for example, spending 1 hour would see you learn to code at a hireable level in 12-18 months instead.
But, as we laid out in the previous section, there’s a lot more to becoming a web developer than just learning to code, like:
- 📄 Building out your portfolio
- 🤝 Professional networking
- ✍️ Sharpening your soft skills
You’ll need to build time for these additional activities (trust us, it’ll pay off in the long run).
💡 Overall, you can become a web developer in under a year — especially if you’ve enrolled in a web development course that provides career support (allowing you to get a job upon completion). If you’re learning web development full-time, you might even be able to get hired as an entry-level frontend developer within six months or less.
8. Becoming a web developer: Next steps
And that’s a wrap on our complete guide to becoming a web developer in 2023. Well done for making it to the end! 🎉
It’s easy to understand why web development is a dream career for so many.
- 🌍 Web developers can work anywhere in the world
- 💼 Every industry needs web developers
- 🧑💻 Web developers can work remotely, either freelance or in-house
That level of elasticity is pretty hard to beat.
So, what now?
Quite often, the hardest part of forging a new career is taking the first step. Luckily, there are courses tailored specifically for early-stage devs to be who are stuck in career-change paralysis — like Scrimba’s Frontend Development Learning Path.
Created by industry-leading developers for total beginners, our frontend learning path is set to transform you into a hireable frontend developer — from the basics of HTML and CSS, right through to nailing the job interview. And all for a fraction of the cost of a traditional web development bootcamp.