How Hard Is It to Become 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 how hard it is to become a Web Developer.

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While learning the foundational skills to become a Web Developer is relatively straightforward, becoming a good Web Developer can be more challenging, requiring ongoing learning and effort over years.

First, Web Developers do need to learn to code, and most Web Developers will learn how to use a variety of programming and markup languages including JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, and more. The answer to how hard is it to become a Web Developer will vary based on how much prior experience you have with those languages. Regardless, honing your skills with these coding languages and learning when and how to use each one will take time and experience.

Beyond learning to code, Web and Software Developers need to also be skilled at problem-solving and self-directed learning, allowing them to find the right answers and understand the ins and outs of each language. Again, that is something that will become easier with more years in the web development field.

Is Web Development Hard?

Web development isn’t hard in the sense that you don’t need to be a genius or a math wiz to be a Web Developer, but an eye for detail is key. Computers are extremely precise, digital machines. The slightest deviation from what a computer expects means that code won’t compile, won’t run, or will crash.

The whole point of programming and building software is to write code that the computer successfully processes, producing the desired result. In other words, a good Developer has to write code that works.

As many Web Developers will tell you, though, it’s well worth the effort — a web development career can be an extremely fulfilling and well-paying career, and as they say, nothing worth having comes easy.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Web Developer

You can learn the skills needed to become a Web Developer in as little as 12 weeks, which is why it has become increasingly common for aspiring Developers to attend a web development bootcamp, allowing for accelerated hands-on learning and targeted skills development.

While Web Developers come from various educational backgrounds, positions in development require a certain level of technical skill. At a minimum, you’ll need to learn to code and demonstrate your fluency and experience with various programming languages and core development tools.

As an aspiring Developer, you may want to consider establishing a digital web development portfolio that showcases your projects – the web pages or applications that you’ve programmed – to demonstrate your skill.

How to Learn to Be a Web Developer

If you aren’t sure how to learn web development, you have a variety of choices depending on your learning goals, preferred timeline, and career path. You could attend a coding bootcamp, pursue a traditional four-year college degree before finding another path to build out your web development skills, or you could explore different online web development courses.

Here is an overview of the different options you have to start learning web development:

Coding bootcamps

Coding and web development bootcamps are an extremely popular and effective way to build the necessary skills and real-world experience to develop websites. According to job site Indeed, four out of five companies in the U.S. have hired a graduate from a coding bootcamp. In addition, a Course Report survey found that 80 percent of coding bootcamp graduates had found jobs with the skills learned in their programs.

In short, those dedicated to committing the time and energy will find that a coding bootcamp’s project-based, hands-on learning experience can best prepare them for Web Developer jobs, even if they have very little previous experience.

College degree program

A four-year bachelor’s degree of some kind is often a requirement for a Web Developer job, but there is no specific degree that you need to become a Web Developer. Still, bachelor’s or associate’s degree programs in computer science, software engineering, and other related courses could help to give you a foundational knowledge of development frameworks.

That said, traditional college programs will not typically teach the on-job web development skills that you would need to step into a job as a Website Developer, so you would need to supplement even an advanced degree with more web development training.

Online course

There are a range of paid and free web development courses online that promise to teach the basics of building websites, learning different coding languages, and understanding the steps of the web development process.

An online web development course can be a great place for aspiring Web Developers to get their feet wet with development. But if you are looking to learn web development with no experience — or if you want to develop more advanced skills to become a Full Stack Developer — you might need a more intensive coding bootcamp or training program.

Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

Yes, coding bootcamps are a worthwhile investment for those looking to kick-start a career in development. Employers are increasingly valuing skills and experience over higher education, which has made it harder to justify the cost of a four-year college degree.

Coding bootcamps are short, immersive, and focused on delivering outcomes and employment – according to Course Report’s Outcomes Report, 83 percent of respondents say they’ve worked in a job requiring the technical skills they learned in the bootcamp. And that’s not a one-off; a full 90 percent of graduates from BrainStation’s coding bootcamp have found work within six months of graduation.

All of these are reasons why coding bootcamps are more popular than ever. More than 44,000 students attended a coding bootcamp in 2020, which was a 30 percent increase from the year before according to Career Karma.

What Is a Programming Language?

A programming language is a system of symbols and words with syntactical rules that can be used to control the resources of a computer – namely the CPU, memory, and inputs/outputs such as a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Computers are electrical devices that are controlled by electrical signals in the form of low/high voltages, which are known as 0 and 1. A computer, therefore, understands a series of signals made up of 0s and 1s, or binary.

For humans, writing in binary is very difficult, so having human-like languages that can be translated down to these 0’s and 1’s makes controlling computers much easier. However, there is no one universal programming language and all programming languages are eventually translated down to 0s and 1s.

Similarly, in the human world, there is not one human language. There are many families of human languages – some with obvious relationships and evolutions, while others are completely separate and unrelated. All humans have similar experiences in life and numerous languages have all evolved different ways of expressing those experiences.

Many computer languages share fundamental concepts, just like human languages do, even though syntactically, they can look different. Some programming languages are very domain-specific – for example, some can be used to control a specific electrical device – while others are so general that they can be used on virtually any computer or device and can solve any problem.

Programming languages that are closer to a problem domain, and more human-like and abstract, are called “high-level” programming languages. Languages that are more computer-like in their syntax and terminology are considered “low-level” programming languages.

Types of Programming Languages

All types of programming languages are based around some fundamental paradigm or a set of paradigms, that form the conceptual approach to using that programming language – and there are numerous programming paradigms. This affects the expressiveness of a programming language, and how easy it is to solve various problems.

Some of the common types of programming languages include:

Functional programming languages

Conceives of a problem as solved through a series of “functions” that, given the input, return a result. By putting together these functions, you can achieve the result you want.

Object oriented programming languages

Conceives of a problem as a system of objects that interact with each other, like in the real world. Objects have properties and actions that they can take, and can manage their own state.

Imperative programming languages

A more literal, computer-like paradigm that conceives of a problem as a series of instructions for the computer, such as accessing computer memory, creating branches of instructions, and using indices to control repeating code.

Event-driven programming languages

Conceives of a problem as a series of events that can happen at any time, in any order. This is important because events are unreliable – anything can happen. So, a Programmer defines what they want to happen when an event occurs, without worrying about when exactly that event will happen.

Which Programming Language Should I Learn First?

The best programming language to learn first will likely vary depending on your specific career goals and existing development skills, but for most people, the best first programming language to learn will be JavaScript, Python, or one of the other most popular programming languages.

If you have been in the tech space, you have certainly heard of common programming languages like PHP, Ruby, Java, C/C++/C#, and Swift. There are countless others, and even flavors of these languages – almost like how different regions of a country will speak different dialects of a common national language.

Learning any of these languages will give you a strong understanding of what computers are about, and allow you to develop your programming skills. So while choosing your first language can seem like a daunting task, getting started is far more critical, no matter what language you choose.

In fact, most Web Developers today probably do not program professionally in the language they first learned, and have since learned additional languages.

How to Choose a Programming Language

Most people who are looking to learn a programming language are approaching it pragmatically, as in “Which programming language is most likely to help me get a job the fastest?”

From a practical perspective, the choice of a programming language depends on two main factors: Industry and Domain.

Different industries might favor certain programming languages. For example, many enterprise web applications, such as banks, use Java or C# for much of their infrastructure. The age of an industry or company can also affect the tech stack used – many SaaS companies started in the early 2000s were developed using PHP and may continue to use it.

For domains, considering whether you are in a mobile, web, IoT, or the VR/AR/MR space can narrow the options of languages that you will be looking at. If you are interested in mobile, for example, you will be learning either Swift for iOS, or Java/Kotlin if you are focusing on Android. If you are interested in the web, at some point you will want to learn JavaScript.

If your goal is to get a job, getting to know your ideal workplace and industry can help decide what language you should focus on. Job postings are a good place to start; if companies you’re interested in seem to be asking for a particular language — or if a particular language seems to correlate to a higher average Web Developer salary — that’s something to consider.

Some languages are more widespread than others, and you might find learning those languages easier and more broadly useful. There are also more niche programming languages, which can be useful, but which might limit your job opportunities. On the other hand, there might be value in mastering a language that few other Web Developers understand.

When choosing a first language, it’s important to remember that languages increase or decrease in popularity and evolve over time, with new languages emerging that are more powerful and effective than previous languages or versions.


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