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How To Get a Job as a Web Developer

12 minute read | December 9, 2023
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta & reviewed by Akita Emmanuel

Sakshi Gupta

Reviewed by:
Akita Emmanuel

Ready to launch your career?

As businesses increasingly prioritize creating a dynamic online presence, the demand for web developers is similarly increasing. It’s a job that, in many ways, offers the best of both worlds: it’s a creative position that requires technical aptitude, but it’s also a position that offers flexibility (either working freelance or full-time) while also providing stability, as skilled web developers are always (and will likely always be) in demand. 

Not without its challenges, the field comes with a vast array of specializations to choose from, skills to learn, and paths to take to land your first job. We’ve created this guide to help you do just that. Through insights from industry veterans, real-life examples, and an in-depth look at what it takes to land your first web development job, you’ll get a holistic understanding of what your next steps should be. Let’s dive right in!

What Does a Web Developer Do?

A web developer designs, builds, and maintains websites and web apps. Their role can range from creating simple static websites to complex dynamic apps with user-generated content and databases. They work closely with clients to translate ideas and requirements into a functional and aesthetically pleasing website. Collaborating with designers and content creators, they also need to make sure the final product is technically sound and user-friendly.

Web developers can specialize in various aspects of the process, such as front-end development (focusing on a site’s visual and interactive parts) or backend development (which is concerned with server-side logic, databases, and infrastructure). 

How To Land a Job as a Web Developer

While there are numerous pathways into the profession, there are some foundational steps every aspiring developer should consider. Let’s dive into the essentials that can guide you on your journey to becoming a web developer.

  1. Get Educated

  2. Build Your Skills

  3. Determine Your Specialization

  4. Practice Makes Perfect

  5. Build a Strong Portfolio and GitHub Profile

  6. Pursue an Internship

  7. Join the Development Community

  8. Find a Mentor

  9. Work Toward a Web Developer Position

Get Educated

While having a college degree can be beneficial, it’s no longer a strict requirement. Many successful developers are self-taught, making use of online resources and courses to craft their skills. Bootcamps and specialized courses, such as Springboard’s Software Engineering Bootcamp, provide structured learning, mentorship, and real-world projects.

If you’re going to enroll in a bootcamp, pick a course that aligns with your goals and learning style. Make sure to:

  1. Determine your end goal. Choose a course tailored to a specialization, whether you’re aiming for front-end, back-end, or full-stack development.
  2. Consider the curriculum. Make sure the course content is up-to-date.
  3. Seek reviews and feedback. Previous students’ experiences can give you a clear idea of the course quality and potential outcomes.
  4. Check for post-course support. Some programs offer job placement assistance, alumni networks, or continued learning opportunities that are invaluable.
  5. Budget and duration. While some intensive web development bootcamps can be pricier, there are numerous affordable (or even free) quality courses available. Align your choice with both your financial situation and the time you can dedicate to learning.

Build Your Skills

As you sharpen your web development skills, remain adaptable. The tech industry is dynamic, with tools and methodologies evolving constantly. Make sure to master both soft and technical skills.

Technical Skills

Mastering specific technical skills is imperative for a professional web developer. Here are some key skills to consider:

  • HTML/CSS: The foundational building blocks of web development that are used to structure content and define its look.
  • JavaScript: A versatile scripting language that enables interactivity and dynamic content on websites.
  • Responsive design: Techniques that ensure websites adapt and look good on various devices and screen sizes.
  • Back-end languages (i.e., PHP, Ruby, Python): These handle the behind-the-scenes functionalities of web applications.
  • Database management: Knowledge of systems like MySQL or MongoDB is essential for storing and retrieving user data.
  • Version control/Git. Tools that track changes to the codebase, facilitating collaboration and error rectification.

Soft Skills

Beyond technical qualities, certain soft skills are needed for a web developer’s success:

  • Problem-solving: The ability to analyze issues and devise practical solutions is critical in development projects.
  • Communication: Clearly conveying ideas and updates to clients, designers, and other developers is essential.
  • Attention to detail: Even minor errors can disrupt a site’s functionality, so you always need to be precise or ready for changes.
  • Time management: Efficiently handling multiple projects or tasks guarantees timely deliveries and satisfied clients.
  • Teamwork: Collaboration with other professionals brings out the best in a web project.

Determine Your Specialization

Although not compulsory, determining your specialization helps you target your learning more effectively, apply to specific developer jobs, and carve a unique niche for yourself in the competitive market.

This specialization could be within front-end development, where you’ll focus on creating the visible elements of a website, or on the back-end, where you’ll deal with server-side operations and databases. Another option is becoming a database administrator, which involves managing and optimizing databases.

If you’re not sure yet, you might want to choose to excel in a specific programming language or framework at first and see where you go from there.

Practice Makes Perfect

Theoretical knowledge is fundamental, but its practical application is what reinforces understanding and helps you discover nuances you wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Here’s how to gain those practical skills.

Create a Website for Yourself

A personal website acts as a canvas where you can showcase your skills, host your portfolio, and experiment with design and functionality. Learn the ins and outs of building a website. Start by selecting and registering a domain name and look for web hosting. While there are many platforms available, WordPress is a popular choice for its flexibility and extensive customization options. Wix or Squarespace are solid options if you prefer a drag-and-drop interface, though they might offer less control than WordPress.

If you’ve already built a personal website, consider taking on more complex projects, such as redesigning a website for a brand or company you admire. Don’t be afraid to explore other related fields, such as implementing basic SEO practices and playing with various design elements.

Work on Open-Source Projects

Open-source projects are available for public use, modification, and distribution. There are many platforms, such as GitHub and CodeTriage, where you can practice and apply your skills and collaborate with a community of experienced developers.

Explore Sample or Volunteer Work

Volunteering for web development can be a win-win situation. Startups, non-profits, or local businesses often seek web developers to help enhance their online presence without the budget for a full-time hire. It’s similar to an internship where you gain real-world experience, network with professionals, and contribute to a cause or business you believe in.

While you might not receive monetary compensation, the hands-on experience is invaluable. 

Collaborate With Other Developers

Many developers hang out on platforms like Indie Hackers or Hacker News, where they look to collaborate with like-minded developers and take on projects together. Joint ventures are great as they provide motivation and diverse perspectives.

When seeking a partner for a project, be clear about your strengths, what you’re looking to learn, and what you can bring to the table. Remember, it’s essential to communicate openly with potential partners about expectations and responsibilities. Both parties need to have a shared vision for the project to reduce potential misunderstandings down the road. 

Build a Strong Portfolio and GitHub Profile 

In the tech world, showing is often more impactful than telling. A well-curated portfolio lets your clients or potential employers see your capabilities and past work firsthand. Make sure to include various projects highlighting your skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

You can also add a link to your GitHub profile, where you can host and share your code, collaborate on projects with other devs, and contribute to open-source initiatives. For many employers, a GitHub profile is a transparent window into one’s coding practices and the depth and breadth of one’s work.

Pursue an Internship

Internships are a tried-and-true method of getting hands-on experience, and platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn are full of opportunities. Tons of companies—including startups and enterprise-level companies—are keen on bringing aboard interns to teach the ins and outs of web development. What’s in it for you? Exposure to a diverse range of projects and programming languages and a lot of opportunities to connect with others in the industry. To make the most of your experience, try to make as many connections as possible. And if you can find a mentor, even better! 

Join the Development Community

Engaging with the web development community early on can open doors to knowledge sharing and meaningful connections. Contributing to open-sourced projects is a great way to both build a portfolio and collaborate with more experienced developers. Here are three ways to get involved.

LinkedIn

Start by joining LinkedIn groups dedicated to web development, where discussions, resources, and opportunities are shared. Begin posting content related to your development journey, and engage actively in comments under relatable posts. This proactive approach boosts your engagement and helps you make industry connections.

Online Communities

Platforms like Stack Overflow, Reddit’s r/webdev, and Dev.to are bustling with developers sharing insights, seeking solutions, and discussing the latest trends. Make sure to join them and engage in conversations.

Asking questions, answering queries of others, or sharing your own coding experiences can position you as a helpful and knowledgeable member. Over time, this participation can lead to meaningful connections, potential job offers, or even invitations to collaborate on projects. What’s even more interesting is that these platforms often host challenges or hackathons, providing an excellent opportunity to test your skills, get feedback, and learn from other developers’ approaches. 

Industry Events 

For those just starting out, industry events offer unparalleled opportunities for networking, learning, and exposure to the latest in technology. While live events allow for in-person interactions and hands-on workshops, virtual events and meet-ups are also super valuable and more convenient as you can join multiple ones without any barrier to entry.

Find a Mentor 

A mentor can provide guidance, helping you navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and select projects that align with your career goals. For example, platforms like Springboard recognize the value of mentoring and offer tailored mentorship programs that pair developers with seasoned professionals. The mentors can guide you through the curriculum, assist in understanding the industry-standard tools, and provide an inside look into the day-to-day of your chosen web development career.

Work Toward a Web Developer Position

Securing that first web developer position can be challenging. Here’s a roadmap to help you navigate this phase.

Build a Strong Resume

An impressive resume goes beyond listing skills. It demonstrates how you’ve applied them to drive results. Quantify your achievements wherever possible, showcasing the difference you’ve made. For instance, instead of saying “Redesigned a website,” specify “Redesigned a website, which resulted in a 30% increase in user engagement.” Remember to focus on data and prioritize relevance.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

To maximize your visibility on LinkedIn, use the “open to work” badge, signaling recruiters about your availability. Regularly update your profile, share industry-relevant content, and engage with others in the web development field. On top of that, take the initiative to connect with recruiters and hiring managers, as this proactive approach can open doors.

Prepare for the Interview

A successful interview requires a combination of technical proficiency and strong interpersonal skills. Here’s what you should do:

  • Research the company. Understand its values, products, and culture.
  • Practice technical questions. Use platforms like LeetCode and HackerRank.
  • Anticipate behavioral questions. Prepare using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique.
  • Ask insightful questions. This showcases your enthusiasm and research.
  • Follow up post-interview. A thank-you note can leave a lasting impression.

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How Much Can You Earn as a Web Developer?

how to get a job as a web developer, average salary

In the United States, the average salary of a web developer varies, mainly depending on their experience and specialization. Entry-level developers might start with salaries in the $50,000 to $70,000 range, but those with more experience and a proven track record can easily reach six-figure salaries.

What Does the Career Path of a Web Developer Look Like?

The career journey of a web developer depends on their skills and the niches they follow within web development. As you get more experience as a junior developer, you can advance to mid-level and senior developer roles, specializing in areas like front-end or back-end development. Over time, you can transition to lead or manager roles or even aspire for positions such as Team Lead or CTO.

Landing a Job as a Web Developer: Real-Life Examples To Inspire You

Let’s explore some insights from web developers who’ve successfully navigated this path. 

Tim Kim

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Tim Kim’s video paints a vivid picture of his journey marked by determination and transformation. As a sales representative, Tim always craved a career that promised growth and innovation and thus pursued a career in web development. Through resources like FreeCodeCamp, Tim dived deep into the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Learning to code and develop functional applications was challenging, but what kept him going was a strong passion for problem-solving.

Tim took on front-end projects to improve his skills even further, frequently turning to YouTube tutorials for guidance. A game-changing moment in his journey was the mentor-assisted creation of a Pinterest clone, a full-stack project that added immense value to his portfolio. He attracted multiple job offers and secured a remote position.

Tim gives us a vital lesson through his story: it’s less about the degrees and more about the sheer grit and relentless persistence.

Dylan Cole

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Furloughed from his job during the pandemic, Dylan Cole started pursuing his career in the tech industry. Opting out of traditional routes like a computer science degree or coding bootcamps, he ventured into self-learning, leveraging free tools like FreeCodeCamp and Udemy to fuel his passion.

He set up a disciplined daily routine and followed structured coding sessions. He began taking up freelance web development projects and faced the inevitable challenges. Despite this, Dylan persisted and secured a remote job just a year and a half into his tech journey. Within two years, he became a software engineer and joined a software startup.

How To Land a Job as a Web Developer FAQs

We answer your most frequently asked questions.

Is Web Development a Stressful Job?

Web development can be stressful at times, much like any other profession. The pressure can arise from tight deadlines, complex projects, client demands, or the need to constantly update your skills in a rapidly evolving field. 
Nonetheless, the stress level often depends on factors such as the work environment, team dynamics, client relationships, and individual time management and problem-solving skills. Many web developers find the process of building websites and problem-solving to be quite fulfilling, and with the right balance, strategies, and support, the stress can be manageable.

How Long Does It Take To Land Your First Job as a Web Developer?

The time it takes to land your first job as a web developer varies widely based on several factors. This includes the depth of your skills, your networking effectiveness, your portfolio’s strength, and the job market’s current demand.

Some people secure a position within a few months of starting their job search, especially if they’ve undergone formal training or have a strong portfolio. Others, particularly self-taught developers, might take longer—sometimes up to a year or more—as they work to establish their credibility and network in the industry.

Can I Become a Full-Stack Web Developer Without a Degree?

Yes. A degree is not the only pathway to becoming a full-stack developer. Many successful developers have paved their way without formal degrees by leveraging online courses, bootcamps, self-study, and real-world projects. What’s key is the depth of your knowledge, your ability to demonstrate your skills through a compelling portfolio, and your commitment to continuous learning.

How Hard Is It To Get a Job as a Self-Taught Web Developer?

Getting a job as a self-taught web developer can be challenging but is entirely achievable. The main challenge revolves around establishing credibility and competing with formally trained candidates. Despite that, a strong portfolio showcasing a range of projects can speak volumes about your skills and dedication. Networking is also vital. Attending industry events, participating in online communities, and connecting with professionals in the field can open doors to opportunities.

Will AI Replace Web Developers?

Artificial Intelligence is unlikely to replace web developers entirely. AI tools are helpful in working on repetitive tasks or assisting in basic design elements, but web development also requires creativity, problem-solving, and understanding nuanced human experiences—all areas where AI has its limitations. Web developers must also interact with clients, understand their unique requirements, and translate those into functional websites. So, instead of replacing web developers, AI is more likely to be a tool developers use to enhance their work.

Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in software engineering? Join our mentor-led Software Engineering Bootcamp or our foundational Software Engineering Course if you’re just starting out. We help people make the switch every day (just peep our reviews). You can do it, too!

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.