How do I Become a Web Developer?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2015
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With the Internet taking a larger role in the lives of people and companies every year, the incentives to become a web developer become even larger. Web developers usually make a good salary, get to work in relatively dynamic situations, sometimes are able to telecommute, and are part of a cutting-edge movement in technology. There are many different tools available for the aspiring web developer, and the route you take depends on your personal inclination and what path you want to pursue.

There are two main tracks of web development, although some people pursue both. One type of developer focuses on client-end programming, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The other type focuses on server-side programming, such as PHP, Ruby, Perl, and Python. This second sort of web developer is often referred to as a web programmer. Generally, web developers need an understanding of all levels of the technical process, so those who focus on HTML and CSS they will still have an understanding of PHP, and visa versa.


The most obvious route to take to become a web developer is to attend a traditional four-year university and get a major in computer science, with a focus on web development. Although many people choose this route, the fast-paced nature of the Internet can sometimes mean that the technologies you study will shift during the time you're in school, so your learning needs to continue even after graduation. Attending college for web development is often best for those who are pursuing a job with a large company that places an emphasis on formal education.

A secondary route to a web development career is to attend a vocational school that focuses on this field. Although often not as prestigious as attending a four-year university, vocational schools often allow students to focus exclusively on development, without having to fulfill any other requirements. This means that the number of hours you'll spend studying web development relative to the program length is much higher than at a university.

One of the most common routes to become a web developer is self-directed study. There are many resources available for those who want to study any aspect of web development, and large communities have grown up around supporting and tutoring those who want to join. While some of these online classrooms charge a fee for their services, the vast majority are free, supported exclusively by advertising or run by people who simply want to share their knowledge.

You can go online and find an introductory class to HTML and CSS to start learning web development. Learning the basic building blocks of web pages is important to understanding how the more complex interactions happen later. Once you have a decent grasp of HTML and CSS, then you'll probably have to choose to either focus on something like JavaScript, or to focus on server-side solutions like PHP and SQL. Whatever track you choose, you're likely to find many resources online for every language and ideology of design and implementation.


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Discuss this Article

Post 16

@KaBoom - This is a good idea, but not everyone is successful in an online class. If you're going to take classes online, you need to be very motivated and keep yourself on a schedule. No one is going to be looking over your should making you listen to the lecture and do your homework.

I think some people do a lot better actually attending class on a campus.

Post 15

I think one compromise between self-directed study and attending a university full-time is to go to a school that has a lot of online classes. Computer related topics like web development and design lend themselves pretty well to online classes. In fact, I can think of one school in my area that has an online degree in this field. So I'm sure a lot of other schools do to!

Post 14

@starrynight - That's a good point. The same thing can happen in a lot of other computer related fields too. Technology changes so fast, it can be hard for schools to keep up. So the best thing to do is do your own research to make sure you have the skills you need when you graduate.

Post 13

It's interesting to me that if you go to school with the intention of becoming a web developer, technology might change while you're in school. So if you choose the wrong program, you might end up graduating with outdated skills.

This is kind of scary, but you could probably avoid this by doing a lot of research on the web development program you decide to take. Also, try subscribing to some trade magazines while you're in school so you can keep up, even if your classes are a bit outdated.

Post 12

Great information, although currently I have found that a lot of computer science programs do not offer web development courses. Instead, they offer them as a part of the Computer Information Systems program.

Post 6

what are some of these forums and communities that you mention that teach the basics?

Post 5

This article is very, very helpful and gives a lot of great information!

Post 3

Thank you!

Post 2

Even if you don't decide to pursue web development as a full time job, it is generally considered a plus on most applications for employment. For example, a company I recently worked seasonally for hired me on as an Information Systems Technician. During my spare time throughout the season (of which there was a good deal of) they had me create a personal intranet for the company, something that they had wanted done for a while.

Post 1

Great info here! Gives us the idea on what to learn first then to the most complex level.

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