Web development encompasses a wide variety of work—from developing a single, static page to complex web and mobile applications. It’s the art and science behind our favorite social networking sites and e-commerce. Web development encompasses all of the work that goes on behind the scenes and determines a website’s appearance, functionality, accessibility, speed, and user-friendliness.

Needless to say, you’ve got a lot to learn: different kinds of coding languages, depending upon the type of work done and the platforms used, as well as a basic knowledge of agile development techniques and an ability to work with a team. But you’ll be rewarded for your time: to date, web development is one of the most in-demand and well-paid professions around the globe. And the fact that web development doesn’t even require a degree makes it a lucrative option for professionals interested in switching fields.

So let’s explore your options. We set the scene with an intro to the different types of web developers, and the job prospects you can expect. Then, we rounded up some of the best software engineering bootcamps to get you on the path to a new career.

Job Prospects for Web Developers

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates around 13% growth in the web development job market by 2028, which is more than double the 5% average for all American professions. Web developers earn an average salary of about $75,000, though it can range from $40,000 to over $100,000 per year, depending upon location, company, skill sets, and experience.

So regardless of your specialty, you’ll be on track to bring in some pretty high paychecks. To narrow down the programming languages you should learn and the jobs you should eventually apply to, you’ll need to decide on your focus: front end, back end, or full stack.

Types of Web Development

Web development is divided into two main types:

  1. Front-end web development is concerned with the appearance, design, and layout of a website. It deals with the user interface, also referred to as the client side of the website. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the three popular coding languages needed for front-end web development.  
  2. Back-end web development deals with the maintenance of applications and databases that store and transmit the data. Every website is hosted on a server, and back-end development is concerned with managing the server side of the site. Some of the popular server-side languages are Python, Java, Ruby, and PHP. If you want to know more about the differences between the two, you can read our post on front-end vs back-end web development.

A third category called Full-Stack Development has emerged more recently. This includes both front-end and back-end development. A full-stack developer needs to be well-acquainted with a few coding languages of front-end, as well as some back-end coding languages.


Learning Web Development

Before we dive into the different learning modes for web development, it’s a good idea for prospective students to decide between back-end or front-end, based on their interests. Some recommended books for beginners wanting to get an idea of the field are:

  1. HTML5, Teach Yourself Visually, by Mike Wooldridge
  2. Learning Web Design: A beginner’s guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics, by Jennifer Niederst Robbins
  3. HTML and CSS: Design and build websites, by Jon Duckett
  4. JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development, by Jon Duckett
  5. Eloquent JavaScript, by Marijn Haverbeke
  6. Python Crash Course, by Eric Matthes
  7. RUBY In 8 Hours, For Beginners, Learn Coding Fast!, by Ray Yao
  8. The Joy of PHP Programming, by Alan Forbes

You can find many other popular books on Amazon that cater to different levels of experience in web development. Most books will focus on one or two programming languages in detail, and will include practical exercises.

Self-Learning Resources

Apart from conventional textbooks, there’s a wealth of tutorials, video lectures, and technical blogs available online that cover most coding languages and aspects of web development. Most languages like Python, Java, Ruby, and PHP are open-sourced (available for free) so it’s easy for a learner to get hands-on practice without having to purchase any license. Even HTML and CSS do not require more than a text editor and internet access on your computer to get started.

A self-learner is advised to leverage technical discussion, forums on social networking groups, and portals like Reddit, Quora, and Medium. These are a great way to connect with other learners, as well as experts in the field.

Online Courses and Bootcamps

Web development courses and distance-learning programs are offered by universities all over the world. Many online platforms run courses in collaboration with reputable universities, and some offer professional certificates as well.

Popular web development courses in the US are offered by:

  1. Thinkful: We couldn’t write this list without mentioning our own web development bootcamp, now could we? Our program is a fast-tracked, full-time program of online classes, mentorship, and career coaching. It offers all the skills, tools, and the support you need to become a highly paid full-stack web developer. If you’re after a more flexible option, the part-time version could be the one for you. Both offer payment options, including the option to pay nothing until you’re hired and earning over $40,000. Our course is designed for beginners, even if you’ve never worked in tech before.
  2. Nucamp: They organize web development bootcamps across various cities in the US. The courses last for a few weeks and have flexible options like weekend and evening classes to help you adapt it to your schedule. They also have an option to choose from instructor-led classes or online sessions, and offer activities like code troubleshooting, quizzes, and preparing project portfolios.

A beginner-level bootcamp for front-end development is priced at $349 for four weeks. A full front-end web and mobile development course is offered for $1372 and is 17 weeks long. A complete 22-week course in full-stack and mobile development is available at $1765.

  1. edX: edX offers a number of courses on both front-end and back-end web development, some of which focus specifically on languages like Python, JavaScript, or HTML. edX is backed by premier institutions like Harvard and MIT for their popular courses. Normally, the course duration ranges from a few weeks to a few months, and they are often available for free or at discounted rates. Some of these programs also offer professional certificates, which you can add to your resume or LinkedIn profile.
  2. Coursera: Like edX, Coursera has several courses on web development, in collaboration with reputable universities around the world. Some of their highly ranked courses include Full-Stack Web Development with React Specialization by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers by Johns Hopkins, Introduction to Web Development by UC Davis, and Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding Specialization by University of Michigan.

Most of these are beginner-level to intermediate courses and are offered 100% online. Some of the courses offer flexibility in the number of hours required per week and last for about three to six months.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn Learning offers numerous free and paid video courses on different aspects of web development. There are courses suited for beginners as well as for candidates at advanced levels. Durations vary, and some courses are even up for a month-long trial. They also provide certificates on the completion of some of these courses. You can expect practice sessions, projects, and quizzes to help you brush up on your skills.

If online courses don’t appeal to you, you should enroll in a full-time or part-time web development course through a university. If you’re majoring in a technical field, especially software, you should opt for courses related to both front-end and back-end development as part of your curriculum.

Web Development Certifications

Once you’re skilled in certain areas of web development, you can seek out additional certifications that will boost your chances of landing a good job. Some noteworthy web development certifications are:

  1. ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) Web Specialist: When you enroll in this certification exam, you’ll be provided with a lot of self-learning material. Some paid training programs, both virtual and classroom, are also offered as preparation for this exam. The cost of one exam is about $180.
  2. MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer): These are priced at $127 per exam for an MTA certification and $165 per exam for an MCSD certification.  MTA tests you on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while MCSD is more concentrated on development technologies for mobile and web on Microsoft platforms.
  3. Zend Certified PHP Engineer: PHP remains one of the most sought-after skills in the job market. A Zend certification involves passing a single but demanding exam on PHP language, its syntax and data types, web features, object-oriented programming techniques, security features, and web-based input and output. The exam is priced at $195, and Zend offers online as well as instructor-led training and self-study guides, aside from the certification textbooks offered online.

Hopefully this article has helped to shed light on the various learning resources out there that could speed up your journey to becoming a web developer—even if you have no previous coding knowledge and have never worked in computer programming. Find out more pro tips for software engineering newbies in our web development blog.


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