Do You Need a Degree to Be a Web Developer?

BrainStation’s Web Developer career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative new career. Find out if you need a degree to get a job in web development and software engineering.

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No, you do not need a degree to be a Web Developer. Many postings for Web Developer jobs will call for a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree, but it is not always a pre-requisite.

In fact, there is increasing evidence that both employers and professionals alike are no longer seeing the return on investment in a four-year college degree. According to Stack Overflow, less than half of all Developers have a degree in computer science or a related field. In fact, almost 70 percent of all Developers are at least partly self-taught, with 13 percent of respondents saying they are exclusively self-taught.

Certainly, there are plenty of great reasons to pursue a college education. But getting a degree to land a job in web development is not one.

Web Developer Degree

There is no specific “Web Developer degree” or a college or university degree for a career in web development.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science has traditionally been the starting point for many aspiring Web Developers, with the most common minimum educational requirement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being an associate degree.

It’s important to note that development is a highly technical field, and no matter what educational path you choose, learning to code will be a requirement because a command of relevant programming languages is required. In fact, professionals in this field – more than many other fields – must be committed to ongoing learning to stay on top of changes and updates to languages, tools, and trends.

Is a Web Development Certificate Worth It?

Yes, a web development certificate is an increasingly worthwhile investment, as it will help you develop the development skills employers are increasingly depending on, and give you more opportunities to advance your career and raise your salary.

Why a Web Development Certificate Is Worth It

Web development certificates, courses, and bootcamps have surged in popularity as demand for development skills has increased. The best web development courses help students establish a solid foundation with HTML and CSS, before moving on to key development fundamentals, including:

  • Bootstrap
  • Visual Studio Code
  • React
  • Server-side programming and responsive design

Let’s take a closer look at why a web development certificate is such a good investment at this particular time.

Web Developers Are Highly Sought After

A recent report from Indeed found that Front-End Developers were the second hardest-to-fill job in tech, with Full-Stack Developers coming in at the fourth-most difficult to find.

“In today’s world of digital business, such talent is clearly essential to many employers,” concluded the report.

Those findings have been consistent across any number of labor forecasts. Businesses need Web Developers to build websites, web and mobile applications, and other software programs, and that need for web development talent is expected only to increase.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that the job market for Web Developers is expected to grow another 15 percent by 2026, while Mondo’s annual Tech and Digital Marketing Salary guide also found that “Web Developer” was the most in-demand job title in all of digital marketing, as well as one of the top-paying titles in tech.

It’s easy to understand why Web Developers are in such industry-wide demand. Today, eCommerce/digital influences up to 56 percent of in-store purchases and now represents nearly 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales – a figure that is growing by 15 percent annually, Absolunet found.

Not only is eCommerce rapidly becoming a point of focus for all businesses, but mobile-specific eCommerce is growing at a breakneck pace – Absolunet predicts mobile will reach 70 percent of eCommerce traffic.

And mobile transformations more generally still represent a huge challenge for slow-to-adapt companies. Mobile now represents 53 percent of all worldwide traffic – as opposed to 43 percent on desktop – and as the scales continue to shift, companies around the world will have to reconsider their digital strategies. Web Developers, of course, will be a crucial part of that process.

With all of that demand for experienced Web Developers, an intensive web development bootcamp or course would be enough to prepare someone with no coding experience to fill those development jobs.

Web Developer Salaries Are Going Up

The average salary for Web Developers in the United States is $71,531 according to Indeed, with Senior Developers averaging $95,325. If you want to know more about Web Developer job salaries, Developers For Hire did a much deeper dive and found Web Developer salary ranges by specialization.

And those numbers should trend upward. TEKsystems’ annual IT Forecast found that Web Developers/Software Engineers were the hardest jobs to fill, and also the second-most likely job category to see their salaries rise over the next year.

In part, this could owe to the fact that employers are figuring out that they can increase salaries now or pay the price later. A recent report from the market research firm Forrester predicted that employers who were slow to attract critical digital talent would wind up paying up to 20 percent above market salary rates for in-demand talent.

Employers Are Emphasizing Continuing Education

For newcomers to Web Development, a certification course will give you all the tools you need to learn web development and hit the ground running in this quickly developing field. But it’s not just neophytes and career changers who want to become a Web Developer who might benefit from a web development certification.

Given how rapidly tech is evolving – and beyond the shift to mobile, companies will soon also have to develop websites that are optimized for voice searches, photo-based shopping, and app ordering – it’s crucial for tech talent to evolve at the same pace. Though it is still possible to find success as a self-taught Web Developer, it will be expected that you supplement that training with ongoing upskilling efforts.

The IT research firm Foote Partners found that a single tech certification raises base salary by an average of 7.6 percent. Employers are obviously in agreement over their value; according to the TEKsystems report, 90 percent of IT leaders said they either planned to increase or maintain spending on training and personal development.

“It seems like in that field more than many others, the pace of change happens so rapidly – you constantly need to be learning new skills to stay on top,” Carlson said.

“Whether you’re taking a certification to transition your career or you’re taking a certification to update your skills, that demonstrates to an employer that you’re constantly trying to learn new things. It says you’re open to new challenges and you’re trying to grow yourself as a person and an employee.”


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