IndustryWhat Types of Developers Are There?

Faye Bridge
writes on June 24, 2016

If you’re interested in making a career change and joining the tech industry, adding programming to your skill set or are just curious about the job opportunities for web developers, here’s a high-level overview to get you started. This isn’t a comprehensive list of roles and programming languages, but will give you an understanding of the following:

Who does what in the tech world?

How do these developer roles fit together?

What do you need to learn to start a career as a developer?

The answers to these questions are easiest to understand based on what you can build as a developer: websites, web apps, and mobile apps. Depending on which of these products you’re interested in, you’ll then need to understand more about the different types of developers and the programming languages they use.

Front end developers build websites

If you’re interested in building a website for yourself, a client, or pursuing a career designing and building basic websites, then front end web development is the place to start. Using a text editor you’ll initially learn to code websites using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. A front end developer uses these languages to translate a design into a website, but the functionality and interactivity of a website are built by a back end developer. As a Front end web developer, you can expect a starting salary of around $51k per year. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a beginners guide to responsive web design to get you started.  

Back end developers build web apps

If you want to build interactive websites that allow your users to carry out actions – like logging in, creating an account, connecting with friends or liking things – you’ll focus on back end development and use more powerful languages to build web apps. Facebook, Twitter, and Google Maps are all examples of web apps. Depending on what type of interactivity you want your web app to have, you’ll learn different languages, like Ruby, PHP, Java and Python. If you want to read more about the difference between back end and front end development, here’s a great overview.

If you do decide you’re interested in a career in back end development, you have the opportunity to further specialise. Full stack JavaScript is one of the most popular full stack languages, and comes with a starting salary of $65k per year. Another option is Python web development (what’s great about Python is it’s a beginner-friendly and versatile programming language). Another of the most in-demand programming languages is Java, which allows you to build scalable applications. Due to the demand for both Python and Java developers, starting salaries are around $70k per year.

iOS and Android developers build mobile apps

This year, the number of smartphone users in the US is estimated to reach 207.2 million, while globally the total number of smartphone users is expected to reach 2 billion. That creates a huge amount of opportunity and demand for mobile developers.

Instagram, Snapchat and Shazam are all examples of mobile apps. If you have your own great app idea, or are interested in a career developing apps, the first step is to decide where you want your app to be accessible. In other words are you interested in your app being used on iOS or Android products?

If you want to build apps for iPhones, iPads, Apple watch and Apple TV and release them to the App Store so anyone can use your app, you’ll need to learn iOS development. Beyond that, you’ll have to make another choice: you can learn how to build iOS apps using a free development tool called Xcode and a language called Objective-C, or use Xcode and Apple’s new programming language, Swift.

Androids are now the most common smartphones around the world, with a 52% market share in the US alone. So if you’re more interested in developing apps for phones and tablets that use Google’s Android operating system, then it’s the perfect time to learn Android development. You’ll learn to use a tool called Android Studio and a programming language called Java.

If you’re interested in a career in iOS development or Android development, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a growing demand for mobile developers, so you’re looking at a starting salary of around $70k per year.

We hope this was a useful overview of who does what in the tech industry and has helped you to better understand the awesome and diverse opportunities that are out there. With over 500k jobs waiting to be filled in the US alone, there’s no better time than now to start learning to code and to become a developer.  


Ready to pursue a career as a developer? Check out the Techdegree program and explore the 6 certifications we offer.

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