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Part of Western Governors University

December 17, 2019

Information Technology

How to land your first web developer job.

Little illustrated people work together to build a website.

There are over 1.7 billion websites in existence today and over 4.4 billion internet users cruising the web across the globe, according to Internet Live Stats—and those numbers are steadily rising every day. What's more, internet transactions counted for more than 6.5 percent of the U.S. economy in 2016, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration reports. We have web developers to thank for all of this web activity.

Web developers are the architects of the internet. They combine creativity and IT savvy to design and create websites that are functional and visually appealing, drawing people to the site and helping them easily find information or complete their desired tasks. If you've ever come across a website that sparked your creativity and inspired you to create one of your own, a web developer job might be perfect for you.

Further Reading: Cybersecurity jobs are your ticket to the Big Apple!

Web development in action.

Web developers meet with clients to discuss what they're looking for in a website, then they design a site that will meet the client’s goals and write the code that brings the site to life. Once a site is up and running, web developers test and optimize it to make sure it works as intended on all web browsers.

The IT side of web development involves three different types of work:

Front-end development.

In client-side scripting (also called front-end development), developers write the code that determines what people see when they visit a website. Medium notes that front-end developers should be well-versed in HTML, JavaScript, C#, and CSS, as these are essential languages for creating text, images, and other visual elements on a webpage. A bachelor's degree in software development would help you learn the coding languages and programming techniques needed to be a front-end developer.

Back-end development.

In server-side scripting (also called back-end development), developers write the code that controls the behind-the-scenes workings of how a website functions. Web developers also use database skills to write apps that seamlessly interact with various databases to connect site visitors with the information they need to complete various tasks, such as online shopping. Back-end developers should have more advanced knowledge of languages such as Ruby, Python, and JavaScript, Medium states. These high-level languages allow developers to accomplish more with fewer lines of code.

Back-end developers typically hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology, though having a degree in cloud and systems administration on your résumé can show employers you're well-versed in foundational development techniques and up to date on emerging technologies.

Full-stack development.

Full-stack developers combine these two areas of web development to focus on how the operating system of a webpage influences the user interface. They're keyed into customer and business needs, and they have a functional knowledge of nearly all aspects of website development, Codeup says.

In large-scale web development projects, these different tasks are typically divided among multiple web developers who specialize in one area or another. On smaller-scale projects, you might be responsible for carrying out all of them.

Job prospects for web developers.

Nearly every organization needs a website to disseminate information and connect with visitors, so web developers can find jobs in every industry. You might work for a marketing agency or for a web development firm that designs websites for multiple clients. Or you might work for a large company that employs web developers to build and maintain its websites. You might even work for yourself, designing sites for clients you recruit.

The market for web developers looks good: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13 percent growth in web developer jobs by 2028 and notes that the average annual salary of web developers was around $69,000 in 2018.

Becoming a web developer.

To be successful, web developers must be able to collaborate with team members and understand clients' needs, so they need strong communication and interpersonal skills. Website development projects often go through several rounds of revision; strong project management skills can help developers stay on top of these tasks. Creativity and an aptitude for design are essential skills that help successful web developers turn ideas into reality.

In terms of hard skills, all web developers should understand how computers and web servers operate. Prospective developers can further differentiate themselves and increase their earning power by obtaining certifications in database technologies. A bachelor's degree in computer science, software development, or cloud and systems administration can impart the technology skills you'll need for success as a web developer, such as programming, scripting, and database management skills.

With some degrees, you'll also be able to put your skills to work as an app developer, a professional who creates, tests, and manages applications and the software behind them. While web developers are responsible for building websites, app developers tend to specialize in areas such as mobile phone applications, productivity tools, graphics software, or other applications.

Further Reading: 3 tips for asking for a raise.

Enrolling in an IT degree program could put you on a fast track to landing a web developer job—and soon you'll be designing and building professional websites for paying clients, applying technology skills that are in high demand while also flexing your creative muscles.

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