It’s one thing to train to become a professional web developer. It’s another to do it quickly.
People spend well over four years within the walls of a university and close to $100,000 to graduate with a computer science degree. But, if you read this post till the end, we promise you can eat your cake and have it. That is, become a web developer — at a fraction of the time and one-hundredth of the cost of a college degree.
In this guide, we will flesh out a realistic plan to teach you how to become a web developer in less than a year, and the career paths you can get started with when you’re ready. Let’s dive in!
How to Become a Web Developer (Full-Stack): 6 Steps
- Step 1: Enroll in a boot-camp and further your education
- Step 3: Learn front-end frameworks like Vue, Angular, and React
- Step 4: Learn back-end development languages like PHP or Ruby
- Step 5: Develop a personal portfolio website to demonstrate capabilities
- Step 6: Network, apply for jobs and practice interviewing
Step 1: Enroll in a Bootcamp and Further Your Education
The first step to becoming a web developer is to get the proper education. That is, enrolling in a coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps are a cheaper and faster alternative to a Computer Science degree. They make it possible to become a certified developer without a college degree. These bootcamp programs offer more flexibility to help you become a professional in web development within a short period.
At Treehouse, we have coding bootcamps designed to train and certify you in web development — called Techdegrees. These programs are interactive and self-paced with curated curriculums of video courses on different areas of website development.
Treehouse Techdegrees that will help you become adept at web development include:
- Front-End Development: This Treehouse online bootcamp program comprises eight projects to teach you how to create responsive user interfaces for websites and software applications with sleek, responsive user interfaces (UI).
- UX Design: This Treehouse Techdegree teaches UX Design and how to design websites and apps with seamless user experiences. It contains nine projects to teach and certify you in user research and site design.
For these programs, if you dedicate three hours every day to study, you’ll complete the:
- Front-End Web Development Techdegree in four months
- UX Design Techdegree in three months
And there’s more! In addition to getting the relevant web development skills you want, you’ll also:
- Have access to an exclusive Slack group with fellow developers and Treehouse staff
- Engage in code assessments, quizzes, and peer-to-peer reviews
- Build a portfolio with real-world projects
- Be able to download courses for offline viewing
- Get access to real-time support.
Try a Treehouse Techdegree for free >>>
Step 2: Learn and Apply the Basics
Focus more on understanding the basics of web development. Acquaint yourself with developer tools and the programming languages — HTML and CSS.
These programming languages are essential for front-end web development — and they are easy to learn and apply as well. By learning HTML and CSS, you’ll get a soft landing before taking up more complex language.
Step 3: Learn Front-End Frameworks Like Vue, Angular, and React
It’s important to learn how to use frameworks and libraries early in your web development learning. Front-end frameworks like Vue and Angular and libraries like React are vital tools to build websites and applications faster.
A framework refers to reusable code that provides a structure to solve a problem or perform a function such as building an app or collecting data. A library by contrast is a collection of interrelated functions and modules that are intended to solve a particular problem.
There are various frameworks and libraries for different purposes such as machine learning, web development, and statistics. These development tools tell you how to structure your site or application, how to start it, and how the components should interact with themselves.
To simply put it, frameworks and libraries are like templates with tested code available for use (and reuse). They increase productivity by cutting the time spent during website development processes.
Vue, Angular, and React are widely known for building web application front-ends. So when we use these development tools, you can quickly build websites with seamless, interactive user interfaces.
Step 4: Learn Backend Development Languages Like Python, PHP, or Ruby
Website development is complete when the back-end of the site is tightly done. As an aspiring full-stack website developer, you need to learn back-end programming languages.
Back-end programming languages are used for the development of the server-side. The back-end of a website, also called server-side, is the part that’s not visible to users. It collects and organizes user data and ensures that the front-end works properly.
Also, learn back-end frameworks and libraries such as Django, Express.js, Flask, Ruby on Rails, and ASP.NET core. This will make your work easier.
Ultimately, you can choose to learn and use any major back-end programming language depending on the project you’re working on.
Step 5: Develop a Personal Portfolio Website to Demonstrate Capabilities
Every web developer needs a portfolio website. A portfolio website showcases the projects you’ve done in the past and a breakdown of your process. Having a personal portfolio website allows clients to see, review, and grade your skill as a web developer. It gives them an idea of what to expect when they work with you.
With a portfolio, you can impress recruiters and gain the trust of potential clients because they can peruse the quality of your work at no risk to them. Therefore, build a portfolio site that demonstrates your capabilities.
Because Treehouse knows the importance of having a portfolio, our Techdegree programs are packed with real-world projects to work on, so you can build an impressive portfolio. We believe that simply learning isn’t enough.
There’s a crucial need to practice as you learn. Thus, Treehouse designed several projects for students to develop, such as:
- Mobile-first web forms
- The browser version of Wheel of Success, a word-guessing game
- Browser-based word guessing game, Phrase Hunter
- App for storing inventory
- Chatbot with Watson APIs
- Searchable website photo galleries
- Console-based statistics tool for analyzing Olympic data
- Quote generator
Here’s a list of more ways to increase the collection of projects in your portfolio:
- Volunteer your skills by working on projects for non-profit organizations or schools
- Contribute to relevant open-source projects
- Source for internship positions that offer hands-on experience
- Network with others for web development opportunity
- Engage in a hackathon
These tips will help you develop an impressive portfolio website that showcases your expertise, creativity, and methods as a website developer to potential clients.
Step 6: Network, Apply for Jobs and Practice Interviewing
The next thing to do after you’ve acquired the necessary skills and built a well-rounded portfolio is to find jobs.
In the process of searching for your dream web development job, networking should be an important part of your strategy. That’s because networking can lead to many good outcomes like referrals and direct job opportunities.
More so, companies value referrals as one of the most reliable ways to find experienced professionals.
There are several opportunities to network with people. These include:
- Leveraging social media: Lean into social networking platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. On these channels, establish yourself as a web developer by sharing valuable content, projects, and testimonials. Also, take time to connect with fellow developers and potential clients on the platform
- Interacting in online dev communities: There are various developer-focused Discord servers, Slack groups, Facebook groups, and subreddits online. Interact with members of these communities and grow your visibility
- Reaching out to successful freelancers: The easiest and fastest way to grow is to take cues from someone who has done it – successfully. Find freelance developers in your field, follow, learn and reach out to them for more clarity
- Messaging professionals at your target companies: Dedicate time and effort to connect with employees of your dream company. This will allow you to research and know more about the company.
Carrying out thorough research about your target company gives you an edge in your application process. You can talk about the company values and goals and how your service will align with them.
Next up, create your resume. Your resume and portfolio are what your potential employer sees before deciding whether they want to interview you. It’s a document that summarizes your skills, qualities, projects, and experience.
Also, there are tech and non-tech sites you can find web development jobs to apply to online such as:
After applying to jobs, prepare for interviews. The interview process involves stages such as screening, technical interviews, and behavioral interviews.
The companies you applied to can call you for a coding interview to test your skill, so be ready by practicing common questions and taking mock tests on sites like Interview.io and LeetCode.
Note that, you need to invest commitment and passion into this if you intend to see results. Several Treehouse students have moved from aspiring and self-taught developers to professionals working in their dream roles and companies. But, you need to stay true to the process.
Here’s a story on how Jim went from a self-taught developer to a web development director >>>
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Career Paths For Web Developers
There are different career paths you can follow as a web developer. They include:
Junior developer refers to an entry-level role in the fields of website and software development. They are responsible for assisting the development team with the creation and maintenance of websites and web applications.
They assist senior developers and development managers with processes such as coding, testing, fixing bugs, updating, and design modifications.
Key responsibilities of a junior developer
- Writing basic code for website development
- Identifying and fixing simple bugs from source code evaluations
- Assisting the development manager and senior developers with website projects
- Maintaining the performance of the back-ends and front-ends of websites
- Collecting data from users and implementing the feedback on a website according to clients’ specifications
- Reviewing website design schemes and layout
- Performing website tests and writing observations down as reports
- Developing and managing database systems using SQL and other languages
- Converting media files such as videos, audio, and graphics into web-compatible formats
- Building wireframes and mockups for website design and layout visualization
- Staying up-to-date with the latest web development trends and technology.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a junior web developer is $73,528 per year with the base annual salary being $69,129 and additional bonuses — such as cash bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions — of up to $4,449 per year.
Senior web developers are professionals who are responsible for designing, building, and testing websites and web apps.
They have a good grasp of various programming languages, UI/UX, and tech SEO best practices. Also, they supervise junior web developers and lead the development team in all areas of web development.
A senior developer might be involved with many if not all of the following responsibilities based on the team size and experience level:
- Developing and implementing web development plans
- Keeping up-to-date with technology and web development trends
- Creating user interfaces and navigation menus
- Following clients’ requirements and development standards for websites and apps
- Assigning web development tasks to junior web developers
- Building wireframes for website layout
- Writing, reviewing, testing, and debugging code for websites and web apps
- Running website functionality and performance tests
- Supervising and evaluating the actions and performance of junior web developers
- Cooperating with designers and mobile developers to develop responsive, mobile-first websites with seamless UI/UX experience
- Working with the development manager to complete development tasks on time
- Ensuring proper and updated documentation
A salary report by Glassdoor revealed that the average salary for a senior developer is $139,928 per year. This amount is an accumulation of a base salary pay of $108,678 and additional pay — profits, cash bonuses, and commissions of $31,250 on average.
Development managers lead and manage a team to design, build, and optimize websites and web apps.
They oversee the operations of the web developers in their teams — junior, standard, and senior developers — to quicken the workflow and timeline of a project. They plan strategies, monitor processes, and resolve issues during the process of website development.
Key job responsibilities of a development manager
- Managing a team of developers in building and testing web development projects
- Monitoring the progress of development workflow for a timely delivery
- Setting standards, priorities, and goals for development projects
- Giving directions to team members on how to handle clients’ projects
- Training and supporting new developers
- Ensuring appropriate documentation and development procedures
- Representing the website development department in meetings
- Reviewing and implementing design plans
- Managing multiple web development projects
According to Glassdoor, a developer manager earns an average of $139,478 per year. This pay includes a base salary pay of $112,028 and additional pay — commissions, cash bonuses, and profits of $27,450 on average.
Note that the pay for these career paths may be higher or lower depending on various factors such as location, certifications, company, experience, additional skills, and negotiation power.
You can become a web developer with ease if you follow the right steps. As shown in our guide above, education is the first step and you can acquire this through a coding bootcamp.
Learn the necessary skills, but don’t wait till the end of your bootcamp before you start building your project portfolio. After becoming proficient in the required web development skills, head on to land your dream job.
Treehouse has coding bootcamps designed to train and certify you as a professional web developer in less than six months. Get started with Treehouse for free today.