How to become a web developer (With roles and salary)
Updated 8 August 2023
A web developer is a programmer that specialises in website applications. Their work relies on the use and understanding of programming languages and specialised training that allows them to build and maintain websites and their corresponding applications. There are a few different paths to becoming a web developer, such as higher education and work experience. In this article, we outline the roles of a web developer and general salary expectations.
Related: 10 essential web developer skills
How to become a web developer
Due to the complex nature of web development, there are multiple paths you can follow when considering how to become a web developer. There are traditional career paths that follow a degree course that lasts a few years and vocational training programmes that last a few months. To help you make the best decision, here are the most popular steps of how to become a web developer:
1. Complete self-guided study
Web development is entrenched in a world of technology, so many people looking to get started on their journey of becoming web developers use the internet for self-guided study. This approach lets upcoming developers study the skills needed and the software used for web development. Some guided study methods include:
reading and studying online and offline resources on web development
working on web development training modules
getting involved in online web development communities, forums and message boards
taking part in various online classes for web development, programming and other related courses
participating in online coding and programming events
Over time, people who use guided study are able to compile a portfolio that covers most of their work up until that point. This can often be enough to get accepted into a boot camp for web development. The reality is that self-guided students need to show promising work if they lack the experience or formal education of their peers before making it to a boot camp.
2. Consider web development boot camps
The boot camps help students gain a better understanding of the procedures in place for web development, such as building wireframes and making applications for websites. Ultimately, this can help students obtain a solid portfolio to show to potential employers. The big advantage to these boot camps is time, as they run for weeks or months, either in person or online. These courses are an excellent foundation for web developers to engage with, as it gives them all the core principles and skills required to be a web developer in a short amount of time.
3. Finish a general certification in web development
There are many companies and some higher learning institutions that offer professional certification programmes to help individuals become web developers. In some cases, you can obtain a general certification while studying for a related degree. General certification programmes offer a comprehensive education around web development, including programming, debugging and maintenance. This empowers individuals to go into any field of web development that they like, as the certification covers all areas of development. Like boot camps, many of these courses run for a month or two which can streamline your point of entry for web development.
4. Obtain a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) in web development
If you don't have relevant experience or education to become a web developer, there are many HNC and HND courses available. These typically run for two to three years and provide an in-depth education that covers programming, web design, software development and many other facets of web development. They might also cover soft skills that are relevant to the role, such as communication and problem-solving. These courses are an excellent gateway into a bachelor's degree course, often allowing you to skip one or two years at university if you hold an HNC or HND.
5. Consider an undergraduate degree in web development
This is the longest path to take to become a web developer, but it offers a lot of advantages. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in web development takes three to four years and covers an extensive range of topics related to web development, including programming, mathematics and web design. Job opportunities are often available for graduates, particularly if they are looking to specialise right out of university. Many employers that are looking for back end developers or more niche positions prefer a freshly graduated web developer who knows their speciality well.
What is the role of a web developer?
A web developer is a programming specialist that uses web designs to create useful applications and websites. Their duties in this role vary quite a lot, but there are some general traits that you would expect to find in web development, such as:
Communicating with clients to understand what web applications are necessary, alongside style and design guidance.
Collaboration with other individuals working on websites, such as copywriters and web designers, to create targeted web pages that meet the requirements of the client.
The ability to troubleshoot problems found in website coding and knowledge of the tools used to optimise a website.
Related: 12 essential web designer skills
The fields of web development
There are a handful of different specialisations that a web developer can progress towards. Depending on their skill set and preferences, web developers might find themselves working in one of the following roles:
Back-end web development
Back-end web development mainly focuses on server architecture. This entails all of the background operations and tasks found on a website. They tend to work closely with front-end developers to ensure that the back-end and front-end of a website work in harmony.
Front-end web development
Front-end web development works to implement the frameworks and applications that users use on a website. They are responsible for coding the layout, design and aesthetics of a website. Front-end web development works alongside back-end developers and UI developers to ensure a website is fully operational.
User interface designer
User interface (UI) designers work on the overall design of a website, including things like branding and colour schemes. They ensure that the website is fully accessible and they are responsible for constructing a well-constructed user experience. While working with back- and front-end developers, user interface designers often work in tandem with user experience designers.
User experience designer
User experience (UX) designers create the blueprints that shape the overall design of a website. They use wireframes to organise and collate content across multiple pages on a website, making sure that it flows logically and is easy to navigate for users. User experience designers then test websites to ensure all aspects are functional.
Webmasters are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a website. This includes checking for bugs, implementing new content and updating web pages with any new content. There is also a lot of troubleshooting that goes into a webmaster's job to make sure that no new problems are developing on the website.
What salary can a web developer earn?
Due to the nature of the job, a web developer's salary can vary depending on their experience, job and location. Other additional factors, such as certifications, training or knowledge around a specific programming language, can result in a higher salary. An entry-level web developer earns around £22,000 per year, moving up to £30,000 per year with two years of experience in the industry.
More experience yields a higher wage packet, with veteran web developers that hold more than 10 years of experience earning up to £55,000 per year on average. Your salary also depends on your field of web development. Below, we have included the average salaries for different types of web development in the UK:
Back end developer: £55,000 per year
Front end developer: £49,000 per year
User interface designer: £43,000 per year
User experience designer: £43,000 per year
Webmaster: £26,000 per year
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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