Hospitals, schools, nonprofits and tech giants all rely on web developers to serve their communities. Strong computer programming skills can lead to a high-level role in any industry since your skills will be essential to the company’s success.
Wondering just how far your Python and C++ skills might take you? Here are the job titles, potential paths and growth opportunities that will open up if you spin your coding ability into a lasting career.
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Web development job titles
The world of web development includes a whole range of specializations. Learn the subtle differences to guide your studies, and your job search.
Programmer vs. Developer - These terms are one and the same. Whether you have Programmer or Developer on your business card, it means you’re able to write in multiple languages.
Web Developer vs. Software Engineer - These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually denote different roles. Web developers build websites: they use code to achieve the right functionality and aesthetic look. Software engineers build programs, software and applications, and are less involved with customer-facing sites. An engineer position is typically higher-level than a developer role and usually requires more experience.
Back End Engineer - Back end engineers build the mechanics of how a site processes information. They determine how the site will communicate with servers, and how to collect, store and manage user data. Ruby, PHP and Python are some of the most common languages for back end development.
Full Stack Engineer - If you know multiple languages and have successfully built both front and back ends of a site, congrats: you’re a full stack engineer. These expert programmers are able to guide the user flow, as well as how the data is transmitted to servers.
Software Architect - An experienced programmer who leads the development team. They make high-level decisions about design and functionality, and create standards and tools for the department.
Career paths in web development
Web developers have two main career paths to choose from, depending on work style and level of experience. You might opt for a stable, salaried position, or enjoy more autonomy as an independent contractor.
Those who like working with a team and appreciate a stable source of income tend to be happier in a full-time position. You’ll work closely with other programmers and designers, learning from members of your team. If you prove to senior leadership that you’re committed and reliable, you’ll almost certainly have room to grow - especially with larger companies. And since programming skills are in demand, developers often earn high paychecks, cushy employee perks and could be eligible for bonuses.
If you enjoy the challenge of working with new clients and want the autonomy to select your own projects, you’ll probably take the freelance route. You’ll be responsible for generating your own business. But you’ll have high job satisfaction when you succeed, as you set your own schedule and guide the course of each project without the red tape of a traditional corporate structure.
Once you’ve spent several years perfecting your craft, you’ll have the option to work as a consultant. Web consultants interview potential clients to decide if they’re a good fit, and build out sites or apps to meet their needs. They often continue to maintain and manage their clients’ websites, leading to ongoing, reliable income.
Whether you’re drawn to the freedom of freelance or the security of a 9-5, you have a long-term future with web development. Programming skills will always be in demand. Complement your coding prowess with a strong work ethic, and you’ll build a career that comes with high pay and even higher job satisfaction.
Responsibilities of a developer
The responsibilities of a web developer usually extend beyond writing scripts. Your role could entail any or all of the following duties (in addition to the actual programming part).
Meeting with clients: You may need to meet face-to-face with customers to fully understand what they’re looking for, and communicate with them throughout the project - especially if you work for a small organization or as a freelancer.
Customer research: If your company’s already completed extensive customer research and surveys, you may have to look at this data first-hand to understand the context before you start building out the project.
Partner with other teams: Your company is probably going to be made up of UX designers, data analysts, project managers, and product designers. You will most likely end up working with all of these teams at one point or another to ensure the site is aesthetically appealing and collects the right user data.
Quality testing: Testing is a huge part of the development process. You’ll troubleshoot your own work, check for bugs, and run tests on multiple browsers and devices before your site or app goes live.
Day-to-day life will look vastly different for a one-person web contractor or a member of a 30-person engineering department. Before you sign a contract or accept an offer, put some serious thought into the aspects of your work that bring you the most fulfillment. Programming is a versatile skill that can take you down a variety of very different paths; choose the one that’s right for you.
4 Skills of a successful developer
An impressive portfolio and solid grasp of HTML could land you the job. But there are other qualities that will help propel your career forward, and they can’t be taught in a one-hour Youtube tutorial.
The following four skills will set you up to excel in the field of web development. Maybe these come naturally to you; but if they don’t, you can hone your eye for detail, logical problem-solving, creativity and communication with every site you build.
Attention to detail: Even the most minute typo can lead to a 404. Programmers learn to re-read their code multiple times as they check for errors and look for efficiencies. It takes patience, laser-focus, and an ability to look at your own work with an objective eye.
Logical thinking: Programming languages operate on rules and definitions. If you’re naturally skilled at thinking through problems logically, you’ll pick up these languages much more quickly. As you see them in action, you’ll develop a knack for breaking down statements into their core parts and predicting logical outcomes.
Creativity: Developers are responsible for finding the most elegant solution for the end-user. As you take on more complex projects, you’ll find that there is rarely one answer to a problem: you may have multiple avenues at your disposal, and it takes a creative mind to imagine how they’ll each perform.
Communication: Whether you’re part of an extensive engineering department or going solo as a contractor, you’ll need to communicate to stakeholders or team members throughout your projects. Remain open to ideas from designers, clients, and others on your team, and speak up if you anticipate roadblocks. Promoting open lines of communication will lead to a better finished product, and help you improve as a developer.
Opportunities for growth
A skilled developer will go on to lead a team, and could progress to technical director or even CTO. That means potential for bigger paychecks and new challenges, but also increased responsibility and less time coding on the front lines.
Senior or lead developers still spend time programming, but they take on the most complex tasks and have more autonomy in their work. They lead team meetings and serve as the seasoned experts, available to answer questions for newbie members of the team.
If you make it to Technical director, get ready for a whole new realm of responsibility. Technical directors guide the direction of the whole department, which means tough decisions about staff, tools and budget. If you’ve made it to this point, you’ve already proven your coding abilities. Now you’ll have to step up to the plate with leadership, delegation and project management skills.
If you’re after a leadership role, your programming experience could eventually lead you to become Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, you won’t have your hands in the actual programming anymore. Your time will be spent creating policies, procedures, and goals for the development teams. You’ll call the shots on new products, features and major investments for the company.
Job outlook for web developers
The world needs programmers, and that demand is growing: web development jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028, outpacing average job growth.
Small businesses and global companies alike are willing to put resources into online tools that are user-friendly and effective. This is especially true in the retail sector, where more and more brands are focusing on e-commerce: the click of a mouse is far cheaper than a fully-staffed store.
And web development isn’t going anywhere. A skilled programmer who can visualize an ideal solution and bring it to life can’t be replaced by machines; a developer’s powers of prediction, problem-solving and creativity could never be automated. Even in a changing job market, you’ll have the security of a future-proof career path. Plus, if you know multiple languages, you’ll have even more options.
There will always be opportunities to continue learning, growing, and improving your skills. Set your sights high and get ready for a life-long career in code.
How to start A career in web development
Some choose to pursue an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in computer science. These programs will cover the basics of computer programming and logic, but a degree isn’t required to land your first job or even to excel in your career.
Quick online tutorials are also popular. While these are a great way to get your feet wet, it could end up being a long road if your ultimate goal is a full-fledged career. Learning programming for the first time is frustrating if it’s just you and a computer, without any live support. And forging a career in web development is a nuanced process that takes more than a basic knowledge of Java and Python.
A structured online software engineering course like ours focuses on the skills you’ll actually apply on the job, and pairs you with a personal mentor who’s on hand to answer questions, help you think like a programmer, and achieve your career goals. You’ll build a portfolio that appeals to top employers and gets you offers. And our graduates don’t just land jobs: they go on to earn promotions and grow long-term careers doing something they love.
Learn through a hands-on, project based curriculum in the company of other students, a career support team, and one-on-one mentorship. It all starts here.