Web developer certifications can be costly and time-consuming. But if you’re reading this, you probably find them tempting. You might even be wondering if you should prioritize one 🤔.

For most, a web development certificate is a worthwhile investment that will benefit your long-term career. Read on to take a closer look at whether a web developer certification might be right for you.

What is a web developer certification?

While they sound similar, there are differences between a certificate and a certification in the world of web development.

Web developer certifications take anywhere from 4 weeks to 1 year to complete. The depth and goals of certificates vary.

What’s included in a certification course varies and may teach:

  • One technology or skill
  • All of the skills you need for a specific career path
  • How to pass a particular test

Are some certifications better than others?

Not all certifications are created equal. Before choosing a certificate program, you should take stock of your learning needs. Do you prefer to learn through videos, live instruction, or hands-on tasks? What are you hoping to get out of the certification program? Do you like to learn with a community?

The certification program’s curriculum can make or break your likelihood of completing the program. Some teach through interactive online platforms, others only offer a video curriculum or text-based lessons, and some provide portfolio project lessons. Still, others combine all three mediums. Some also offer social support from peers or instructors through platforms like Discord and Slack.

Why should I get a web developer certification?

Certifications help you build the web development skills employers are looking for. They open up more opportunities to advance your career and potentially even raise your salary. Coders who hold a certification may be able to double their salaries in some specializations.

Through a certification program, you’ll efficiently learn relevant skills that employers are looking for. They also help you solidify what you’ve learned through projects and tests. Plus, they give you practice at learning new skills, which you’ll need to do on the job frequently.

ℹ️ If you have a gap in your resume or are lacking some standard qualifications, a web developer certification can work to fill those holes. A well-known certificate will make your resume more scannable and search engine-friendly for employers who are looking for specific skills.

Who should get a web developer certification?

Web developer certifications are the most beneficial for those who have never had a web development job, either because they’re switching from another career field or have yet to start any career. They’re advantageous for anyone who took more than a few months away from coding and wants to land a job.

If you’ve been out of the industry for a while, a web developer certification will keep you updated with the latest coding languages, frameworks, and tools. Often, this is all the courage you need to apply for a job that gave you imposter syndrome.

What do employers think of web developer certifications?

Many employers use web development certifications and coding bootcamps as a tech talent pipeline to find qualified new developers. Adam Barker, hiring manager and startup co-founder, says, “As a hiring manager, I believe in [certifications] a lot. I'm not a believer in the college system, so I value these certifications as a mechanism that indicates you learned something on your own time.”

Razorfish’s Talent Acquisition Manager, Nick Easlick, has similar feelings about developer certifications. He says, “A coding bootcamp or certification program can turn over their curriculum quickly as the tech landscape changes. They teach more applicable, emerging, and innovative things than a four-year university.”

If you don’t have web development experience yet or if you were self-taught, a certificate or certification program can help make your application stand out. Certificates from notable test centers such as Amazon (AWS) & Google certifications especially hold more weight.

What do critics say?

A certification will not guarantee you a job or prove your ability. Most employers agree that proof of your knowledge and relevant experience will almost always outweigh a certification. A robust Github account, substantial portfolio projects, and well-executed coding challenges are the best way for employers to see that you have the skills they are looking for.

Critics also point out that the main goal of a certification is not to display your knowledge. Certifications are designed to generate profit for the certifying body. Career path certifications, of course, profit off of you taking their course. Amazon, Google, and other tech giants want as many people as possible to learn their tech because it ensures you’ll prioritize their software in your projects – therefore driving their profits.

Just because certifications are profit-generating, it doesn’t mean they’re not valuable. However, like any other investment, it’s essential to do your research before committing to one.

Can certifications actually hurt?

Some top software companies, like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, view certifications negatively. A few career advisors recommend that you don't list your certificates on your resume if you're applying to those companies.

Certifications simply are not what those specific companies are looking for. But that doesn’t mean other companies don’t value them. Other companies actually appreciate and occasionally require certifications because it makes the hiring process more efficient for them. If you lack a degree or experience or have taken more than a year off, a certification can be the key to getting your first developer job.

ℹ️ No matter where they work, software engineers must be quick learners and strong problem-solvers. Top-tier software companies expect you to be capable of learning any knowledge that you are missing on the job. They’re looking for evidence that you care more about improving your practical technical skills than your theoretical knowledge. A certification can suggest the opposite.

Most prestigious tech companies are looking for coders who choose to self-learn and then build multiple projects with the skills they’ve learned. They’re not looking for coders who can summarize something they’ve memorized for a certificate. They’re seeking tangible skills that you can apply in multiple environments.

Is a web developer certification worth it?

If you have zero experience in web development, a web developer certification is worth it. If you already have some experience, a certificate would likely be better and may only be valuable to you if your employer pays for or requires it.

If you consider the alternative paths of university or learning entirely alone, a certification is worth it for beginners. Most university computer science programs are four years long and have high tuition costs. The average certification program takes anywhere from four weeks up to a year and can cost as little as the price of a gym membership.

A certification is a great place to start if you want to switch careers to becoming a web developer. But it’s also important to remember that great software engineers will not only work with one language or technology for their entire careers. Great web developers learn how to learn to pick up new skills, technologies, and programming languages as the industry evolves – which it constantly does rapidly.

Still not sure if a web developer certification is right for you? Tune in to these episodes of The Scrimba Podcast to hear how a certificate helped with the career change.