More lucrative jobs emerge in IT by the hour, and you may have wondered already: what does a Web developer do with their skills? Is it something that everyone can learn, or should you have some special knowledge and education before even attempting to start?
There are three (and some would say that there are even more!) very distinct branches of Web development , and each one will have very different expectations and responsibilities sought out from the workers in its field. Let’s try to sort out the demands of Web developer occupation, and see for ourselves what a Web developer's career might look like in the long run.
What skills do you need to become a Web developer?
There are five very basic life skills that any Web developer must ought to improve on. They have almost nothing in common with any practical knowledge of a Web developer by definition. These are basic ‘soft’ human skills that you either have, or you don’t. But if you have doubts regarding some of your capabilities, remember that any soft skill can and should be learned and developed as needed, both for your future job, and for yourself!
These 5 skills that make what is a great Web developer are:
- communication skills;
- understanding some higher mathematics, although not mandatory, is a nice bonus to have in any website development career.
Let’s start breaking this down by pointing out the obvious: the requirements for the job of Web developers are constantly evolving. What was applicable mere 10 years ago can’t possibly hold up to any modern standards. Consequently, any bleeding edge technology of today will most likely be rendered obsolete faster that you might think. The demands are as such that you must not only constantly embrace the change — often enough you must become a change and spearhead it. So, the first and the most important skill here is adaptability.
But simply embracing the change won’t be near enough. You must not only be aware of the latest trends in Web development, but also be able to actually incorporate them into your latest projects. This means that having a knack for practical research, studying the ‘how-to’s, and acting on newfound knowledge is a staple skill both in the daily working routine, and in your long-term training as a master of your craft. Let’s call this one pragmatism.
Do you need math knowledge to confidently fulfill various emerging Web development requirements? Now, that’s a tricky question. Overall consensus here is that while the math background is certainly nice, the science itself, strictly speaking, is used very seldom. It CAN and will help you put your mind in the right place, so to speak. Any programming will be that much easier if you can understand, say, how derivatives and logarithms work overall. And yet still, the most important thing in your line of work is that your final product must do what it was asked to do. No more, no less. If you can apply your math knowledge to achieve that, good for you. If you can’t, no biggie, you will (probably) find some other way.
Which brings us to the next point. Any programming task, Web development included, is, in a sense, just a riddle. Or, you might say, a problem. There is an answer to that problem, which is realized as your final product. Sometimes there can be even more than one answer. Your job in a nutshell is finding a solution to that problem. And to the problems that might inevitably rise along the way. And then to the next one, and so on. Thus one of your most important skills that serves as a foundation for all your knowledge is problem-solving.
And if you have it, it’s really great. You might eventually start to pride yourself (and deservedly so!) as a great problem-solver and a quick thinker. But still, it might not be enough to work productively. To truly grow in your chosen field, you’ll have to learn to interact with other people — both in your line of work, and those who don’t know anything about it. Your colleagues and your clientele, the alpha and omega of Web development. Writing a clean code is not enough, you must also comment on it adequately, so when your work gets passed around, the next person to look at it could start with his additions on it straight away. And when working with your clients, be ready for their desires more often than not to be expressed as something between ‘Just make this as cool as possible’ and ‘I don’t know, figure it out yourself, you are a professional, aren’t you?’ So, your all-around communication skills must be top-notch.
What do Web developers do all day?
So, how a standard working day of a Web developer usually goes? As always, it somewhat depends on if you work from home or in the office. But you can be sure that you’ll have to read and write A LOT. A common practice in any Web or software development is a code review — double-checking any changes to an existing code made by some other team member. So at the most basic level throughout the day you will probably be either reading, writing, re-writing or reviewing some chunks of code. Merging it with the existing working code will also take some time (and probably some swearing) from you and your fellow developers.
This might be a good moment to reflect on the fact that there are at least three very different approaches to Web development, all of them with some perks. Depending on whom you ask what do Web developers do, you might get some very different answers:
- ‘Front-end’ development deals with the UI, looks, and general end user friendliness of your project. Developers like these will usually deal with most of the code, bugs and requests from other team members.
- ‘Back-end’ development deals with the physical architecture behind any project. You will have to envision and build the computer stations to host your projects, and also work with (and sometimes develop from scratch) the programs that bridge your stations with those chunks of code that ultimately form the site that the end user will see.
- ‘Full-stack’ programmers must be all-around professionals that can work both on the front-end and back-end. This is by far the most demanding and grueling of all three described jobs. A full vision of your project from the conceiving of its very idea all the way up to the final release will be mandatory. You’ll have to pitch into both of the other development processes as needed.
What education do you need to be a Web developer?
Web developer education requirements will fully depend on the whims of your employer. Some don’t care about any higher education at all; most will still ask you if you have any as a sort of a precaution. Some will explicitly ask for a diploma in computer sciences because they have a standard to keep. Remember that a healthy work environment constitutes a good half of any success — if the demands of your would-be-employer are unreasonable, and you know that otherwise you are a perfect match for the opening described, be sure to dodge the bullet and move on. Many good programmers are self-taught, and those important life skills that we’ve covered earlier you can only learn by yourself. The best employers won’t care about what education is needed to become a Web developer and will gladly hire you as long as you can deliver consistent results and improve upon them.
How much do Web developers earn?
The salary is what we are all looking for when eyeing a Web developer job description, and it might be worth your time to research the market and learn the actual worth of your skills. Average salary varies by a region. Front-end developers usually earn less, although it’s still a very good paying job.
- In the U.S. West Coast, an average front-end developer receives a bit short of $75,000 annual salary. Other web developers earn around $100K/year, with back-end, a bit surprisingly, tending to earn just a bit more, perhaps because of their deep specialization. The salary will obviously be affected by your level of experience, junior developers earning about 15% less on average.
- In Europe, corresponding salaries are about 20% lower, although the cost of living can be much lower as well. As of 2021, an average middle front-end developer in Germany earns $59K per year.
- Canada might be the stingiest one when it comes to paying its workers, with an average front-end dev yearly earnings in Montreal going as low as $46K.
- If you are looking to make the most out of your career, salaries in Australia are currently the most lucrative, with juniors earning about $55K annually, and seniors scoring very well past $120K/year. Obviously, the competition and the living prospects can also be very challenging out there.