What is a web developer?
A web developer is a special type of programmer who creates applications that run on a web browser or server. Some web developers design entire websites while others write code in programming languages such as CSS and HTML.
The key to being an effective web developer is to understand how webpages can and should effectively communicate with users. In some cases, this work means being aware of cultural nuances that can affect users’ experiences in other countries.
Being a web developer requires you to be familiar with various web applications, software programs, programming languages, and design principles, but the scope of the position may vary depending on your employer.
You may be focused on writing code to target a market audience, or you could be responsible for fitting various design elements of a website together, a technique that requires skill with graphics, colors, and special effects.
The work environment for web developers also varies. Many work for large corporations or government entities while others work for small businesses or serve as part-time consultants. Many developers work as freelancers on a contract basis. As such, a web developer may work regular business hours, or the individual may work a split shift from a home office.
Education and Experience Needed
Many employers prefer their web developers to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field such as information technology or computer science. An associate degree may be enough education if the web developer has enough experience and additional certifications.
Beneficial certifications include Advanced Web Developer, Certified Internet Webmaster, Certified Web Developer, and Mobile Application Development. Each of these areas displays an extra level of expertise that can stand out on a resume.
While education can provide a solid foundation for a career in web development, employers often prefer to see a prospective employee’s previous work instead of a college transcript. Focus on building your portfolio before applying for jobs, even if you’re applying for an entry-level position and you created the portfolio during your college career.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, web developers earned a median salary of $66,130 in 2016. The lowest-paid developers earned less than $35,000 while the highest-paid earners took home more than $119,000.
The top-paying industries for web developers are in non-internet publishing, computer systems design, and advertising and related services.
Geographic location also has much to do with your earnings as a web developer. The highest-paid developers are located in Silicon Valley, California, in San Jose, San Rafael, and San Francisco. Developers can also earn higher-paying salaries in places such as Seattle, Washington, and Framingham, Massachusetts.
Average Duties and Tasks
Web developers work in an office environment performing technical work, but they may start the day checking emails, contacting clients, and planning future projects. A typical day’s duties may require them to update a program, perform maintenance works, make programming changes, or start developing a program from scratch.
Many web developers work in computer systems design and related services, but many are self-employed. They create their own schedules and manage their own clients. Other industries in which a web developer may work include publishing, management, consulting, advertising, marketing, and public relations.
Web developers typically meet with management or clients to discuss a website’s details and design, create test applications, write codes for a website, work with colleagues to decide what type of information needs to appear on the site, and work with graphic designers to determine the website’s layout. They may integrate audio, video, and graphics into a website and monitor the website’s traffic once the site launches.
At the end of the day, web developers make their clients’ visions a reality. They may develop websites for the media, e-commerce, gaming, or other applications, so they must be aware of which applications and designs best suit each type of website.
While some web developers handle every aspect of a website’s design, some focus only on a specialty. Special types of web developers include back-end web developers, who are responsible for a site’s overall technical construction; front-end web developers, who are charged with how a site looks; and webmasters, who must maintain websites and keep them updated.
Employment opportunities for web developers are expected to grow faster than average through the year 2026. The main drive behind this growth lies in e-commerce and mobile devices, so any developer interested in getting on board with newer technologies will have plenty of chances to advance.
Those who are familiar with digital multimedia tools such as Photoshop, in addition to multiple programming languages, will have the best opportunities for career growth.