Looking to become a web developer? Learn everything you need to know about a web developer degree here!
So you want to get a web developer degree? Great choice! Web developers are in high demand, and that demand is expected to grow by 24% between 2016 – 2026.
Web developers are creative, detail-oriented, and have high customer-service and concentration skills. You may be wondering if a web developer degree is the right choice for you, and what it’s like to study web development. Look no further, here we’ve gathered all the information you need to pursue a web developer degree!
What exactly does a web developer do?
- Design and develop websites and website applications
- Developers use various programming languages to manage site functionality, implement desired features, and make the site secure
Web developer skills:
- Project management and planning skills
- Design skills, including UX design
- Application and website programming languages
- Constantly changing industry standards
- Communication with others
- Love for learning
There are 2 specializations in web development: front end and back end. Before you start your search for the best education path to become a web developer, figure out which interests you the most.
Use languages such as Python and Ruby to integrate what happens on the front-end of the website into what needs to happen on the back-end in order to make the site function (create web applications).
Combine both front- and back-end knowledge to offer full services to clients.
Still unclear on the difference? Check out this video for a detailed explanation!
How to become a web developer
First: is a degree really necessary? Technically, no, you do not need a degree to become a web developer. While most employed developers do have a degree — 77.8% according to the Stack Overflow 2018 Report — 13% of respondents were exclusively self-taught, meaning it is possible! If you choose to study without a degree, you must be extremely focused, self-disciplined, and self-motivated.
Getting a web developer degree isn’t an essential requirement, however, it can help you quite a bit in the long term by making senior roles more accessible, helping you stand out in the job market, networking opportunities within your program, and by offering additional job-relevant skills such as project management, teamwork, and business courses. Remember, web development is much more than just coding. It also requires ability to work well on teams, communicate with others, and a high level of design skill, among other things.
You will also receive a much more structured, supported, and easier to follow education than trying to hash things out yourself. There is also a wide range of different degrees you can get, from traditional universities, to online degrees. So don’t knock getting a degree just yet! Some computer science degrees such as from University of the People are flexible and allow you to study from anywhere in the world — and offer tuition-free programs!
Let’s talk coding bootcamps
Chances are if you are searching the web for how to become a web developer, you’ve come across a host of short-term, intensive programs called coding bootcamps. These have amazing claims — most offer you to become a full stack developer in as little as 2-3 months! While these sound tempting and they can certainly give you a huge career boost, it’s important to be well informed about what you’re getting into.
Coding bootcamps are best used to complement a degree, or for a career change, not as a degree substitute. Most coding bootcamp graduates who report finding a job within 6 months of graduation and a salary increase already completed a bachelor’s degree prior to the bootcamp. (More on that here). That isn’t to say it’s impossible to become a developer after one of these bootcamps, but employers are often looking for a degree as well.
Advantages of bootcamps:
- Cheaper than a degree
- Less time commitment
Disadvantages of bootcamps:
- Still expensive
- Intensity can cause burn out
- Less quality than formal education
With that in mind, how can you become a web developer without a degree or bootcamp? You can start with by taking online courses in web development or coding with popular sites such as Udemy, Khan Academy, or Codecademy. The key here is to practice, practice, practice! Web development is a job based on skills, so the more you do, the better you get!
Useful tools to get you started on your self-taught journey:
- Google Web Development Tools
- Web Field Manual
- Front End Developer Handbook
- Visual Studio Code
- Sublime Text
- Brackets by Adobe
How to find the right web developer degree that suits you
1. What skills do you have and what do you need to reach your end goal?
You won’t want to have to repeat lessons of basic programming if you’re already a pro, and you certainly won’t want to start out higher than you are and feel like you’re drowning in the material. Think about what you want to do with your degree, take stock of what you already know, and what you need to learn. Then make sure your degree helps you get there!
Programs to know by profession:
- Mobile Development: Swift, Java, C#
- Game Development: C++, C#
- Computer Applications: Java, C++, Python
- Systems Programming: C, Rust
2. Types of degrees you can choose
Associate’s Degree (AS) in Computer Science, Information Science:
An associate’s degree in CS, IS, or other related fields is a good starting point for a web developer career. Most jobs require a minimum of an associate’s degree. Most will take about 2 years to complete and require 60 credits for graduation. UoPeople’s associate’s degree is flexible enough that you can complete it in less than 2 years.
Bachelor’s degree (BS) in Computer Science, Information Science, Web Programming:
Like all 4-year degrees, you will have general ed requirements followed by more specific courses. Most bachelor’s degrees that prepare you for a career in web development should include courses in programming, graphic design, software, and information architecture. A bachelor’s degree usually takes 4 years and requires 120 credits. Bachelor’s degrees can come in a huge range of price tags, from private schools that cost upwards of $200,000 to tuition-free degrees, such as UoPeople’s BS in Computer Science.
Master’s Degrees (MsC):
Master’s degrees will always require a completed bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, but many accept undergraduate degrees in a variety of fields so don’t stress if you didn’t graduate with a Computer Science degree. However, do prepare to show your programming skills during the application process if you don’t have programming courses on your transcripts. Master’s degrees’ costs depends on study programs, and can vary from affordable to very expensive, so do your research to find a program within your budget. Some programs can take as little as 15 months but most run about 18-24 months. You will likely get specialized knowledge in the field of web development, and perhaps will get to choose a track that focuses on your interests.
3. Find courses you are interested, and make sure your program offers them. Common courses include:
- Website Construction
- Human Computer Interaction
- Web or Mobile Programming
- Digital Media, Graphic Design, Interface Design
- Information Security
- Application Design
- Game Development
- Social Media
- Web Analytics, SEO
- Database Design
Possible Jobs for Web Developers
Most require a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree in web development can make senior roles more accessible, increase salary expectations, and provide a competitive edge in the job market. An entry-level web developer salary can range from $63,000 to $124,000.
Here’s some median salaries of relevant jobs you can obtain with a web developer degree, found on Glassdoor.com:
- Front & Back End Developer, Full-Stack Developer: $93,000
- Information Systems Manager: $106,000
- Computer Systems Analyst: $77,000
- Multimedia Artists and Designers: $57,000
- Software Developer: $92,000
- Software Engineer: $115,000
- Database Administrator: $93,000
- Computer Programmer: $75,000
For more on salaries for a web developer, check out Everything you need to know about front-end developer salary.
So there you have it — everything you need to know about a web developer degree, all in one, comprehensive post. Remember, there are several ways to become a web developer including degrees, self-study, and bootcamps. Find the right path for you and start studying!