careers

Why You Should Pursue a Web Developer Career

Kaitlynn Martin January 8, 2019
Laptop on a desk with coding on the screen

With a few clicks of a mouse, you can order dinner, get real-time answers to questions about your education via virtual chat, and even find a new house or apartment—without ever leaving your chair. These once time-consuming tasks are now simple and nearly instantaneous thanks to the skill and creativity of web developers.

As a web developer, you can shape the future as internet of things (IoT) and other internet-fueled advancements become marketable. With countless possibilities in this field, it is wise to take action now and consider how an applied computing degree from the University of Wisconsin can prepare you for an exciting career.

Aside from being a first-hand innovator of web design, technology, and e-commerce, a web developer career path comes with monetary perks as well. According to Emsi data, U.S. web developers make a salary range from $26.63 to $51.74 per hour (approximately $53,000 to $101,000 annually). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that web developers in the U.S. have a job outlook of 13 percent growth from 2020 to 2030. This means around 25,500 web developers are anticipated to be hired nationwide within the coming decade. Whether you want to work for a corporation or you prefer the flexibility of freelancing, web development job positions are increasingly available.

A chart showing the median compensation for web developers and digital interface designers in the U.S.
Source: Emsi 2022.6 Data Set | www.economicmodeling.com

Further, web development is a career that effectively combines technical skill and art/design. This provides various entry points for newcomers and a number of paths to pursue.

What Do Web Developers Do?

It can be confusing to know how to get up to speed when employers expect web developer candidates to have hands-on experience and diverse work portfolios. First, it’s important to understand the responsibilities of web developers based on specific roles.

Front-end developer

A front-end developer is concerned with the client-facing aspects of a website and how specific modules function and affect users’ needs. This individual needs to be skilled in design and have the ability to code HTML, CSS, and Javascript. He or she is also responsible for testing the design integrity across browsers and should be well-versed in responsive and mobile design. From this position, individuals can grow into back-end developers or full-stack developers—a combination of front-end and back-end roles.

Back-end developer

A back-end developer needs to know how to build a website from the ground up and should be skilled in HTML as well as programming languages such as Javascript, SQL, PHP, and more. He or she focuses on developing the server-side framework of a website and is responsible for database integrations via an application programming interface (API). Additionally, a back-end developer may build pages within a content management system (CMS) so that additional web pages can be added and managed by non-technical users.

Webmaster

A webmaster is in charge of updating websites and keeping tabs on overall operation. Testing for errors, bugs, and broken links help him or her pinpoint conflicts in order to find quick solutions. This role also has the ability to be client or customer facing by replying to user comments.

“One of the rewarding things about being a web developer is that I can sit down and code something real quick,” Yer Ly, a web developer at University of Wisconsin Extended Campus for 18 years, said. “Then, I can look at it right away and see the visual interface that people will interact with. I enjoy the artistic and technical sides that web developing brings together.”

If you are interested in making a career change to web development, Ly has some advice. To find success (and enjoyment) as a web developer, being a persevering self-starter is key. Failures and hiccups should not derail you. In fact, the act of breaking something just to figure out how to fix it should sound exciting.

“It’s a lot of learning by doing,” Ly said. “My big thing that I say to people is to go and break it. Technology is always changing, so you have to be in a learner’s mindset with the goal to figure out a solution or find a new way to approach a project.”

Overall, Ly is excited to be in the web development field because it is ever-evolving and keeps him on his toes.

What Makes a Valuable Web Developer?

Now that you understand the typical career avenues of a web developer, it’s important to know what employers are looking for: well-rounded individuals who can skillfully combine technical and creative aspects of website development.

Discipline in project management, analytical thinking, and strategic planning are key, along with completed coursework or demonstrated competence in database management, mathematics, programming, web design, and networking

According to a report from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work, “Human skills like communication, leadership, and problem solving are among the most common skills employers list in job postings.” Being willing and able to quickly “skill up” as the web development world continues to change is also necessary to succeed. A flexible and motivated mindset to be a lifelong learner is highly valued among hiring employers.

While teaching yourself new computer languages and theories on your own time might sound appealing, pursuing an academic path can provide more support. The profile for Web Developers by the National Center for O*NET Development reports that well over half of web developers have college degrees: 46 percent hold bachelor’s degrees and another 17 percent have graduate degrees. An online web development-focused degree program that best suits your needs and schedule can smooth out the learning process and connect you with internships, expert faculty, potential future employers, and peers in the field.

Choosing a degree program that highlights technical, business, communication, and web development skills is crucial. The UW Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing is an example of such a program. Some computer science and web development programs focus solely on theoretical aspects. However, in an ever-evolving technical and virtual world housed online, a degree that centers around an applied approach allows room for growth in related areas such as project management and professional communication.

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Get the Skills and Experience You Need to Become a Strategic Web Developer

By completing the UW Applied Computing program, you could be well on your way to becoming a valuable web developer who employers are looking to hire. With a 21-course curriculum designed and taught by UW faculty, the program’s courses focus on technical skills such as programming and database management, as well as communication, strategic thinking, project management, and other sought-after soft skills.

A final capstone course provides opportunities to explore and strengthen your web development acumen. Completing the capstone in a real-world workspace and collaborating with colleagues connects your studies with actionable, on-the-job experience that gives you a competitive edge. Upon graduation, you’ll receive an applied computing degree from one of five respected UW campuses and will be prepared to be on the back-end side of web development.

What’s Next?

Interested in learning more about how the University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing program can help you pursue a web developer career? Reach out to an enrollment advisor by emailing learn@uwex.wisconsin.edu or calling 608-262-2011.

Programs: Applied Computing