How to Become a Web Developer Without a Degree

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about how to become a web developer without a degree, including the different types of web development jobs, skill requirements, and steps to follow to reach your career goals.

[Featured Image] A young web developer sitting in front of a computer and discussing their coding with a coworker.

If a career designing and building websites interests you, look no further than web development, a field with multiple avenues for you to gain entrance. Working in web development can be a great career choice and one you can pursue even without a web development degree. If you work to acquire the necessary skills and obtain relevant experience, maybe through certifications, then you can qualify for a career as a web developer.

With websites being a relevant component for virtually any industry, including finance, health care, real estate, automotive, construction, and many more, working as a web developer can present you with opportunities in various fields. Whether it’s contractual freelance work, employment with small or large businesses, or even government organizations, you have several directions you can choose from as a web developer.

Read further to discover how to become a web developer without a degree, including the various types of web development jobs, the skills you need, entry-level positions in web development, and the steps to take to achieve your career goals.

What does a web developer do?

Web developers design and build the functioning websites we regularly use. Within web development, you can classify positions in one of three ways: front-end developer, back-end developer, and full-stack developer. Each position contributes differently to the programming process, with some variance in the specificity of different skills and responsibilities.

*All annual base salary data in this article is sourced from Glassdoor as of February 2024 and does not include additional pay, such as commission and benefits.

Front-end web developer

As a front-end web developer, you will most likely use JavaScript, CSS, and HTML languages to build the components of a website that the user interacts with. Everything the user can see—fonts, animations, and menus—is your responsibility. This means you play an important role in creating a visually pleasing product and the various components that make a website easy to navigate. Some of the standard responsibilities you will have as a front-end web developer include ensuring websites are accessible on various browsers and mobile devices, debugging any errors, and designing and developing the user interface.

Front-end developer: $83,239 (average annual salary)

Back-end web developers

Working as a back-end web developer, you will be responsible for handling the unseen components of a website, such as the software and applications that allow the webpage to function properly. This includes all the elements that are critical to maintaining the website's operations as communication flows from the user's commands in the web browser to the database, server, and applications that enable its functionality. Your typical duties as a back-end web developer will likely include debugging code, optimizing websites' operational efficiency and speed, implementing security measures, and developing data storage solutions.

Back-end developer: $92,866 (average annual salary)

Full-stack web developers

Rather than separating the front-end and back-end sides of web development, full-stack web developers perform the duties of each. In this position, you will need to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to perform the tasks of each, which means working knowledge of user interface design, customer experience design, and database management, among others. While working as a full-stack developer, you can still collaborate with other front-end and back-end developers since having a team member with knowledge of the entire process is beneficial.

Full-stack developer: $91,326 (average annual salary)

Salary and job outlook

According to Lightcast™, the yearly salary for a web developer in the United States is $77,304 [1]. Additionally, this career has a strong outlook to accompany that figure, as opportunities in this field project to grow 16 percent from 2022 to 2032 [2]. You can find work on either coast and throughout the country as well, with California, New York, Washington, Texas, and Florida amongst the states that employ the most web developers.

How to become a web developer without a degree

You don’t have to have a degree to qualify to work as a web developer because you can land a position with the right coding skills and experience. This self-learning approach gives you some freedom in preparing for your future by selecting the right financial path while transitioning into this career based on your timeline. Follow these steps to set yourself up for a career as a web developer, even without a degree.

Step 1: Develop essential skills.

Several technical skills, as are workplace skills, are important to your success as a web developer, since you will most likely work as part of a team. Here’s a look at some of the foundational skills to develop that will assist you in starting a career in this industry.

Technical skills

  • Programming ability in several languages, especially HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the front end, and Python, Java, and C# for the back end.

  • Testing and debugging is an important skill for web development to remove any errors that could cause issues.

  • User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are key to creating websites that meet the client's and users' needs.

  • Version control skills, such as Git, Subversion, and Mercurial, are important to web development for managing code changes and working with other team members.

Workplace skills

  • Communication allows you to effectively work with other members of your team, as well as explain your vision for the website to clients.

  • Creativity is especially important for front-end developers since you are trying to create a nice aesthetic while making the application user-friendly rather than simply constructing a functional product.

  • Continuous learning and skill development are critical for you as a web developer to remain current with the latest programming advancements.

  • Problem-solving in web development is a regular skill that will be tested frequently because you are responsible for finding solutions to technical problems.

Step 2: Get experience.

You can still gain valuable web development experience even without working in a web development role. Personal projects, internships, bootcamps, and online courses are all great opportunities for you to gain experience and have material worth displaying in your portfolio, which can help prepare you for a full-time position in this industry.

Step 3: Build a portfolio. 

Having a portfolio is an important part of proving to employers that you have the necessary skills for the job. Typically, your portfolio needs to include projects you’ve worked on, code samples, and any other work or skills you possess that are relevant to web development. Additionally, you can have screenshots of your work in your portfolio to illustrate your knowledge of aesthetics and design.

Step 4: Get certified.

Earning a certification is another way to show employers that you have what it takes while also providing an opportunity to further enhance your skills. Another option you might consider pursuing is a Professional Certificate. You can find several web development Professional Certificates on Coursera, such as the IBM Back-End Development Professional Certificate or Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificate.

Step 5: Network.

Networking is an effective strategy to help you find career opportunities. Whether through social media sites, such as LinkedIn, or in-person events, connecting with others can lead to recommendations and help get your name out to professionals within the industry. If you don’t know where to begin, consider attending a networking event or contacting others, maybe former classmates, to grow your online presence. According to US News, networking is valuable for acquiring a job. It helped over 70 percent of people find their new position [3].

Step 6: Create your resume.

When putting your resume together, keep the following tips in mind. To ensure your resume gets through the applicant tracking system and to the hiring manager, include relevant keywords in the job description. Also, be sure to mention any of your achievements that could be relevant to a web development role, sharing skills you acquired, even non-technical ones such as leadership and communication, that will transfer over to the position, making you a more hireable prospect.

Entry-level positions in web development

When you’re starting out in web development and seeking entry-level web development positions, look for junior web developer opportunities. You will likely stay in this role for approximately five years before qualifying for more senior-level positions. Junior web developers assist with all the typical responsibilities of a web developer, such as testing and designing websites and writing code.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in web development, you can find various jobs that utilize this skill set once you advance in the industry. Here are five career options within this field:

  • Computer programmer: $114,427 (average annual salary)

  • Database administrator: $105,876 (average annual)

  • Graphic designer: $56,677 (average annual)

  • Information security analyst: $113,074 (average annual)

  • Information systems manager: $136,121 (average annual)

*All annual base salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of February 2024 and does not include additional pay, such as commission and benefits.

Get started with Coursera

On Coursera, you can find highly-rated courses to learn more about web development. Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development and Coding Specialization from the University of Michigan is an introductory Specialization to develop skills in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, all while adding to your portfolio.

Introduction to Web Development from UC Davis, also on Coursera, can help you gain foundational web development skills and teach you how to create a webpage that works on mobile and desktop devices.

Article sources


Lightcast™ Analyst. "Occupation Summary for Web Developer." Accessed February 19, 2024.

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