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Web Developer Career Guide

How to Become a Web Developer

Responsible for programming many web applications, web developers help to create websites that users can interact with and enjoy. They typically receive designs from a web designer or graphic artist and create code that brings those designs to life in website form.

Web developers control nearly all “behind the scenes” aspects of a website, including its code, outbound links, and content, to ensure a quality user experience that leaves consumers satisfied. Individuals with a passion for technology and a love for coding will find a rewarding career in website development.

Male programmer works at a dual monitor desktop.

What Is a Web Developer?

One of many IT career options, web development is often separated into three distinct fields: 

  • Front-end development, where developers write and implement the code that forms the head, style, and body elements of a website.
  • Back-end development, where developers conform a website’s databases, server, and hosting credentials to facilitate fast web speeds and necessary security.
  • Full-stack development, where developers account for both front-end and back-end responsibilities.

The position of a web developer is highly specialized, often requiring certifications in several programming languages, as well as years of higher education. Anyone interested in becoming a web developer will need to pair an in-depth understanding of programming with patience for complex code, to build web platforms specific to client requests.

What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web developers are responsible for a wide array of daily tasks, largely dependent on the clients they manage.

A web developer who services a local or service-based client often enforces regularly updating website content to reflect new client discounts, operating hours, and other details. On the contrary, a web developer with national or e-commerce clients will typically update websites less frequently, and is free to address larger-scale website changes, new page needs, and security enhancements.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a web developer can include:

  • Communication with designers to better understand preferred website layout before coding begins.
  • Coding new pages and website elements for client approval and installation.
  • Testing new website elements across various search engines and devices.
  • Migrating successful website elements to live sites when testing is successful.
  • Troubleshooting any issues with client-facing content or back-end compatibility.
  • Updating website themes, plugins, and security to reflect current website best practices.
  • Monitoring and reporting website traffic, and addressing website elements that can improve user experience.
  • Maintaining necessary software documentation.

These responsibilities represent many of the tasks that a website developer is expected to fulfill daily.

What Education Does a Web Developer Need?

Website development is a highly specialized field, where job applicants need both the education and certifications to prove an in-depth understanding of coding and website programming. A combination of practical experience, professional networking, and possibly even a portfolio of work ready to display to prospective employers can all be important in this dynamic and competitive field.

Individuals looking to take concrete steps toward a career as a web developer will first need an undergraduate degree in software development, cloud computing, or a closely related field like computer science. These degree programs are designed to help you learn the specific programming, coding, and scripting skills you will need in order to be successful in this career.

What Certifications Does a Web Developer Need?

Depending on your preferred web development field, certifications may or may not be necessary. However, certifications almost always strengthen a candidate’s aptitude for hire as a website developer, and can help expedite the learning process once employment begins.

CompTIA, CIW, ITIL, and other top industry certifications can be ideal in helping you get credentials and skills you need in order to thrive as a web developer

Best Degrees for Web Developers:

Cloud Computing – B.S.

A 3-track program designed to arm you with the certifications...

A 3-track program designed to arm you with the...

A 3-track program designed to arm you with the certifications and credentials you need for a career like systems administrator, computer systems analyst, cloud support specialist, AWS support administrator, and more.

  • 3 Tracks: Choose between a multi-cloud, AWS, or Azure focused track to learn specific software specialties.
  • Time: 84% of graduates finish within 18 months..
  • Tuition and fees: $4,085 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster,

Certifications at no extra cost, including:

  • Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • Amazon AWS SysOps Administration–Associate
  • Azure Fundamentals
  • Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure
  • LPI Linux Essentials
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Project+

Earning certs on the path to your degree gives you credentials that will boost your résumé right away, even before you complete your online degree program.

Software Development – B.S.

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities.

  • Time: 67% of graduates finish within 30 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: several CompTIA included in this program.

CompTIA certifications included:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Project +

Software development is the second-highest rated specialty within IT. Secure your future with a degree and additional certifications.

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Top Certifications For Web Developers

Certifications combined with a degree can make you even more qualified for web developer roles. Certifications demonstrate to your employer that you have top-industry skills that will directly be applicable to your daily work. The online degree programs at WGU offers these top industry certifications along with your degree at no extra cost. This helps you boost your résumé before you even graduate. Some of the best certification options for data science professionals include:

Linux LPI
CompTIA Logo
AWS logo

A man and woman examine data on a computer screen.

What Skills Does a Web Developer Need?

Responsible for the creation and launch of website applications, web developers operate with a wide skill set. These specific skills can include:

  • Interpersonal communication: the ability to communicate effectively with clients, fellow web developers, and the design team.
  • Complex programming: the ability to use programming languages like HTML, Java, and Python together, to create websites and web elements whenever necessary.
  • Web testing: the ability to test recently-created web elements, and audit all elements for issues before websites go live.
  • Web troubleshooting: the ability to identify and solve issues with website elements not performing to expectation.
  • Flexible creativity: the ability to code new website elements that clients request, oftentimes on short deadlines.
  • Analytical reporting: the ability to gather and report relevant website metrics to clients for analysis.
  • Search Engine Optimization: the ability to integrate SEO best practices, or otherwise collaborate with an SEO specialist to integrate these strategies.

These skills and others define the career of a web developer. You’ll need to create entire websites on demand, testing each element for functionality before taking it live. Strong web developers can keep tasks organized, even when fielding multiple requests and prioritizing tasks in order of importance.

How Much Does a Web Developer Make?


The exact salary of a web developer will depend on a variety of factors, including years in the field, programming experience and skill set, and employer success. Website developer salaries averaged $77,200 in 2020, where the lowest 10% earned less than $47,800 and the highest 10% earned more than $146,000.

A website developer’s salary also depends on the industry they serve. Website developers who work in the publishing industry earned an average of $123,870 in 2020. By contrast, web developers who serviced advertising and public relations industries earned $71,930 on average.


What Is the Projected Job Growth for a Web Developer?


As the world turns increasingly toward technology, the outlook for web developer careers is a positive one. The field is expected to expand 8% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate that outpaces forecasts for a majority of other industries worldwide.

Driven largely by a focus on e-commerce and web-based retail, global markets continue to demand web developers in greater numbers. Website developers who understand mobile platforms are in especially high demand. Landing your first job as a website developer — in an industry expecting 13,400 new web developer openings every year for the next 10 years — can start today with an online degree and a passion for creative problem-solving.

Where Do Web Developers Work?


The exact location where a website developer works will depend largely on their employer. Many web developers work internally for a single client, and often work onsite in that brand’s IT department. Other website developers are employed by digital agencies, hosting providers, and developer networks, and work in a setting with other developers nearby.

Many web developers also have the freedom to work remotely. Especially for independent web developers, who contract their services on an as-needed basis for clients with varying website needs, remote work proves a viable alternative to a traditional office setting.

Interested in Becoming a Web Developer?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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