10 Steps to Becoming a Great Web Developer
This can range from your own personal blog to broader websites where you may sell products (think eBay or Craigslist) to advanced social networking sites, like Facebook or Twitter.
Companies and individuals are becoming more and more dependent on the internet. It's expected that more than three-quarters of companies worldwide will eventually become fully dependent on the web.
Learning how to develop websites for a living is a smart career choice.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 21% growth in web developers between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also states that the median salary for the job is $77,000, with the highest 10% earning more than $124,000 a year.
If you're looking to work for a company, you may need a Bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or a related field.
Experience is also a must. If you don't have a degree, consider getting certified in web development. Types of certifications include a Certified Web Developer, Certified Internet Webmaster or a Mobile Application Development certificate.
Web developers can also choose to work for themselves. Since you're your own boss, you don't necessarily need a degree or certifications, but you do need to know how to network and, of course, know how to build a website from the ground up.
Other advantages of freelancing your skills are the ability to work from home and the option to work as often or as little as you'd like. You can take time off when you please, set your own hours and determine your pay, based on how much you want to work.
Among the factors to keep in mind:
Learn The Trade
Developing a website requires an advanced understanding of computer programming (which is best learned in a classroom, but can also be self-taught) and coding. Take classes, read books, learn from others, learn from your own mistakes and continue learning. The more you know and the better your expertise, the easier it'll be to begin a career in web development.
Build Your Own Website
Practice makes perfect, right? Develop your own website as a test subject to play around with. Make mistakes and learn from them. Building your own website is all about trial and error. Figure out what works, what you like, what you don't like and perfect your skill.
Build Websites For Others
Contact family members, friends and small businesses in your area and offer to build them a website. You can do this free of charge (since you're still learning) or charge a small fee, assuming your clients are willing to pay. Building websites for others helps you fine-tune your skills and teaches you the importance of communication.
Tip: In web development, plan on dedicating the first year to learning (reading books and manuals, taking classes, getting certified, etc.), the second year to getting real, hands-on experience (building websites for others), the third year to charging others for your service and the fourth year to growing your business.
Know Who You're Building For
In other words, know your clients. What you like may not necessarily be what they like. Set up a few meetings to discuss their goals - what they're looking to get out of the website, color schemes and overall appearance of the site.
Stay Up-to-date On Technology Changes
Technology is constantly changing, and if you plan on working in the industry, you must stay up-to-date with all the changes taking place. This includes everything from technical changes to changes in social media.
Network, Network, Network
They say it's not what you know, it's who know. While this is true for a significant amount of careers, web development isn't necessarily one of them. You must know how to build a website, and how to build one well in order to be successful. That being said, the next step is who you know. The more individuals and companies that you can associate with, the more work you're going to have.
Make Short And Long-term Goals
Do you want to work for a company for a few years? Or immediately start freelancing from home? Is this something you're going to do full-time? Or will you start out part-time until you grow your business? The most successful individuals have a plan and know where they want to go professionally.
Starting out, it's easy to think that it's best to take on as much business as possible and to always say 'yes.' Great web developers know that they need to start off slow and take time for themselves, too. It's a field that's easy to get burnt out in, and by overworking yourself from the get-go, you're more likely to not stick with it long-term.
Tip: Sometimes it's best to step away from the computer for a bit. Take a walk, go grab your favorite coffee, or even call a friend. Small breaks throughout the day allow your mind to refresh and give you the ability to re-focus once your break is over.
Learn Graphic Design
Website development is different from website design. Web designers design and maintain websites. If you can do both development and design, you're setting yourself above the pack. Being able to both develop and design a website makes you more marketable than if you just know one or the other.
Create A Portfolio
With any creative-type job, it's best to have a portfolio showcasing your best work to show to potential clients. Whether you're a writer, an architect, a graphic designer or a web developer, having a portfolio is vital. For web development, it can be something as simple as showcasing the home pages of the websites you created.
If you really feel a career in web development is for you, learn all that you can in the next few years. Whether you wish to freelance or work for a company, know that it is hard work, but that the rewards are worth it.
Flexibility is high; stress levels are low. If you think you have what it takes, start now.