How to Become a Web Developer

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

You can become a web developer by teaching yourself, taking courses, getting certifications, or earning a degree. Learn more about becoming a web developer and how to take the next steps.

[Featured Image] A man works on a desktop computer.

To pursue a career as a web developer, start by learning the skills necessary to create and maintain websites. Some web developers opt to earn a degree in computer science or a related field, while others may take courses to learn specific skills like programming or digital design. In some cases, you can learn the necessary skills through hands-on experience.

Regardless of their path, web developers need the ability to turn someone's vision into a functioning website. To accomplish this, they require a combination of technical training and workplace skills.

Keep reading to learn more about web development, skills you'll need, credentials you can earn, and how to get started.

What does a web developer do?

Web developers create and manage websites for a variety of organizations. Some developers specialize in the technical side of the website (also called the back end). Back-end developers work with databases, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to support the function of the website. Other developers specialize in the front end. Front-end web developers work with the creative side of the website, using graphic design and code editing tools to make the website functional and enjoyable for users. 

Full-stack developers work with both front-end and back-end tasks. Web and digital interface designers develop websites that look appealing through carefully selected fonts, colors, and graphics.

The work of web developers extends beyond the actual creation of the site. During a workday, developers may perform any of the following tasks:

  • Meet with clients to discuss the needs, design, and functionality of a website

  • Create and test applications, interfaces, and navigation menus

  • Write code

  • Work with a team to determine what information a site will contain

  • Determine layout with graphics and other designers

  • Integrate graphics, audio, and video

  • Monitor website traffic

  • Create prototypes and mockups

  • Design and develop graphics

Career outlook for web developers

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), organizations need web developers, and demand for them should grow by 16 percent by 2032 [1]. As e-commerce expands, so should job opportunities for web developers. The median pay for web developers is just over $78,000 per year, with most developers working full-time [2].


Technical and workplace skills to develop

Web developers must develop a set of technical skills to create websites. They include the markup language HTML, programming languages like JavaScript and SQL, and multimedia publishing tools like Flash. You must also develop specific workplace skills to become a web developer.

Workplace skills

Being a successful web developer requires more than knowledge of programming languages and web design. These character traits and interpersonal skills also are essential:

  • Communication skills: Web developers must communicate effectively with their co-workers and clients, including asking questions and explaining ideas. Although web developers spend a considerable amount of time working alone, they need to communicate with the people whose vision they are implementing.

  • Creativity: Websites should look good and be easy for users to navigate.

  • Customer service: Web developers should respond politely to questions and requests from their supervisors and clients, since they are creating websites for others.

  • Detail-oriented: Web developers need the ability to focus for long periods and write code precisely. A single symbol in the wrong space can affect a website’s layout and function.

  • Problem-solving: When a website does not work correctly, developers must locate errors in the code and correct them.

Technical skills

To be a web developer, learning at least one of the most commonly used tools can help you land a job. Front-end web developer tools include React, Vue.js, AngularJS, Bootstrap, and Tailwind CSS. Back-end developer tools include PHP, Python, JavaScript, Node.js, Django, SQL, and Java.

Being fluent in the most popular programming languages is helpful, but knowing how to work with less commonly used languages may help you land a job. Here are additional programming languages to consider:

  • TypeScript

  • C#

  • Bash/Shell

  • C++

  • C

Quick tip from an expert

Dez Udezue, a software engineering manager at Meta and a 16-year industry veteran, suggests early-career developers direct their attention to their immediate job tasks. "Hyper focus on the direct manager over the technology stack. They influence growth a lot, especially in the early part of their career," he says. Several engineers also emphasize that you'll continue to expand your knowledge of frameworks and coding languages naturally over time as you complete new projects, participate in bootcamps, or continue your education.


Do you need a degree to be a web developer?

A web development degree or degree in a related field can come in handy when applying for jobs. According to Zippia, 71 percent of web developers have a bachelor's degree, 14 percent have a master's, and 11 percent have an associate degree. The most common major is computer science (43 percent), followed by information technology (8 percent), computer engineering (8 percent), and computer information systems (8 percent) [3].

You may be able to pursue web development, particularly front-end development, with a degree in web design, digital design, or graphic arts. Coursework can typically include computer programming, coding, graphic design, and math classes. Keep in mind that some employers may not require a degree and instead look more closely at your experience and skills in this field.

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Read more: How to Get a Bachelor's Degree

Certification programs for web developers

You might consider a credential, such as a professional certificate or certification, in lieu of or in addition to a degree. You can learn the necessary skills through certification programs and hands-on experience. In an online certification program, you take courses similar to those in a degree program, such as creating content with HTML and elements of design. You may also choose to take individual courses to learn a specific programming language and develop your skills independently.

Read more: What Are Certificate Programs?

How to become a web developer: steps to follow

If you're ready to begin your career in web development, follow these steps to streamline your process:

1. Get an education.

Using the sections above, explore degree programs, certifications, or courses you can take to build foundational knowledge in front-end, back-end, or full-stack web development. When choosing an educational program, consider the cost, time it takes to complete, the outcomes and takeaways, and what employers are looking for.

2. Gain skills and experience.

Once you have foundational knowledge of web development, hone your skills in areas most relevant to your career goals. You can do this by taking additional courses on specific skills, finding entry-level work, or completing freelance web development projects or contract work. In addition, experiment with different programming languages and other tools and stay up-to-date on trends in this field.

3. Apply for jobs.

When you're ready to apply for jobs, scour career sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor to discover job openings, who's hiring, and what employees are looking for. Begin building a portfolio that showcases your experience and abilities. Enhance your resume and tailor your cover letter to each job application. Attend job fairs and build a strong professional network. Prepare for each job interview.

Explore web development with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to launch your career as a web developer. Explore Coursera's selection of web development courses offered by industry leaders and top educational institutions. Here are some options to get you started:

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Web Developers and Digital Designers-Job Outlook,” Accessed February 19, 2024.

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