How to Get Into Web Development
Web development is the focus of the third post in this series, which looks at how to get into particular careers. This one’s for web-savvy problem solvers with the ability to shape an idea into an elegantly designed product. Does that sound like you? If so, read on…
What is web development?
Web development is the building of websites and web applications. The first thing you’ll need to know as a web developer is what a website actually is. Once you’re aware of that, you’ll understand that web developers are broadly similar to architects or engineers – that is, they create and assemble different parts to create a product that fulfils a particular function.
Web developers fall into two general categories: those who specialise in back-end work (the underlying elements of a website/app) or front-end work (the elements that the user sees and interacts with). According to the National Careers Service, starting salaries for web developers tend to be around £20,000 per annum, while experienced web developers could earn over £50,000 per annum.
Where could you work?
Web development lends itself to freelance work – you only really need a computer to do the job, after all. Still, many web developers do not work for themselves, choosing salaried employment in a web development agency instead. Whether you want to go down the freelance route depends on a number of factors.
An important one is how much effort you’re willing to put into searching for clients. You won’t be responsible for sourcing clients at an agency, which will give you more time to do what you got into web development to do: web development!
On the other hand, you probably won’t get much say in what work you are assigned – but chances are you’re not going to have the luxury of cherry-picking your jobs as a freelancer either, especially when you’re just starting out. As with most self-employed versus salaried debates, it’s swings and roundabouts. It really comes down to a trade off: stability and security for flexibility and freedom, or the other way around.
What skills will you need?
An appreciation of clarity and precision will help you when you start coding. Code may look pretty baroque to people who aren’t coders, but good web developers will strive to make their code easy to read, test and modify. Web developers can’t afford to be slapdash – they need to be good at spotting errors, and prepared to spend time checking and re-checking their code.
You’re probably not going to be very happy as a web developer if you don’t have a deep desire to create something that really works.
How do you gain experience?
Web development is something that you can gain a lot of experience in without an internship. You just need the relevant software, and the ability to use it. There are plenty of online resources to help you with this.
While you don’t need a specific qualification to become a web developer, employers will probably want to see some form of certification. Plenty of providers across the UK offer BScs or HNDs in Web Design and Development or related subjects.
Where should you look for jobs?
If you want to be a freelance web developer, it might be an idea to look at online freelancing platforms such as peopleperhour or upwork. Salaried web development roles are advertised on pretty much all of the main jobsites, and there are dozens of digital recruitment agencies that are looking to help prospective web developers find employment.
Want to know what is web design? See our blog.