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Career Advice

How to become a Web Developer

How to become a Web Developer?

Do you have a creative technical mind with a passion and skill for computers and the internet?  Then a career as a web developer might just be option for you…it’s a role that has experienced an ever increasing demand over the pastcoding decade, and that isn’t a trend which is going to change any time soon…it would seem after all that the internet is here to stay.

We imagine that if you are reading this you probably already have a fairly good idea of what a web developer does but, ‘hey ho’ we shall give a quick rundown of the role anyway (so we are on the same page)… pardon the pun.

What does a Web Developer Do?

A web developer (on a basic level) is a person who designs, creates and maintains websites and web applications. Web developers work for private/public organisations, IT companies, agencies, and for themselves offering development or consultancy services in a freelance capacity. The work to be undertaken within each project can vary quite significantly, however all web developers work to create quality and functional web applications that suit the needs of their clients and run as smoothly as possible. Some of the activities which they may be involved in to deliver this result include:

  • Liaising with clients in order to get an understanding of a number of things including; how they want the end product to look, what functionalities they want their product to have and what security measures they want the site to use.

  • Design, build, or maintain web sites, using authoring or scripting languages, content creation tools, management tools, and digital media.

  • Making sure that the new site or application can be smoothly transitioned into the client’s existing network.

  • Continuously testing the site whilst it is under construction and fixing any problems which are identified.

  • Providing ongoing technical support to websites in order to fix any problems or make amendments to its functionalities when requested.

What is it like to be a web developer?

Given that the modern world is so entwined with its digital counterpart, web developers have the opportunity to question-markwork in a truly staggering range of businesses and industries – offering enviable career progression potential.

Many people describe being a web developer as the best of two worlds. On the one hand a web developer will be in regular contact with clients and team mates whilst on the other they will have the opportunity to work quietly by themselves to get the job done.

Pay is generally quite good in the industry, although the level of salary that you can expect to receive is highly dependent upon your experience, skill level and the company that you work for.  Roughly speaking, a newly qualified web developer can expect to receive somewhere in the region of £20,000 which will rise incrementally to between £25,000 and £35,000 once a good level of professional experience has been acquired. Salary levels for highly skilled developers (lead developers for example) is somewhat less well defined, but you could expect to be earning in excess of £40,000 in such a position.

Generally web developers spend much of their time working in offices and (surprise surprise) much of that time is spent in front of a computer screen. If you are employed in a permanent position, this office will normally be onsite within the company that you work for, although there is also some opportunity to work from home, particularly if you are working on a freelance basis.

Working hours typically mirror those of standard working offices (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) although a certain level of flexibility is normally required, particularly approaching deadlines or when a serious fault is reported on a project you are involved in. There will be times when working evenings and weekends may be unavoidable.

Skills and attributes

As with any job which requires a high degree of specialty there are a number of skills and attributes which may be of i.t. skillsuse in your career.  Some examples include:

  • Uncommonly detailed knowledge of IT systems

  • Expertise in programming

  • Creative flair, particularly when it comes to images and web layout

  • Artistic vision to turn a client’s ideas into an attractive and functional end product

  • Good people skills – particularly when it comes to meeting with clients

  • Well developed problem solving skills and a methodical/systematic approach to work

  • The ability to work flexibly and adjust your plans based on client feedback

  • An understanding of international web development standards

  • Patience and the steadiness to keep you cool in situations which can become very frustrating

  • Being comfortable working to strict deadlines and the flexibility to put in extra hours if need be

  • The will and desire to keep up to date with the fast changing world of technology

  • The ability to continuously seek new skills in line with changing client demands

Qualifications

It can seem like a rather daunting career prospect given the huge level of skill and knowledge which must be retained however, it is important to remember that no one is born with these skills… everyone has to start at the bottom.

Most people begin their journey to becoming a web developer by learning what they can independently, which can graduatesinclude HTML and CSS – the basic building blocks of pages on the web.

At a more advanced level you will want to acquire good working experience of;  Java, C#, Perl, PHP, JavaScript, ActionScript, Ajax, HTML, XML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as well as an understanding of SQL,  MySQL databases and application frameworks such as ASP.NET.  There are a wide range of courses available which will provide instruction in these skill areas – many of which are free and can be accessed online.

Whilst you do not technically need any official qualifications to become a web developer, generally it will be through these that a prospective employer will assess your suitability for a role/project.

Most people will complete a Bachelors degree in a highly specific area to get their career off to a good start.  Courses which are widely available include; web development, web design, web application development and IT management for business.  Entry requirements vary depending on the university and course which you are applying for and they will generally set a minimum number of UCAS points to have been achieved with the inclusion of relevant secondary level courses such as;

  • Level three diploma in web development

  • Level three diploma in web design

  • A Level ICT and computer science

For lots more information on qualifications and training courses available, pay a little visit to the Chartered Institute for IT Professionals http://www.bcs.org/

Best of luck if you still wish to become a web developer. But if the notion isnt quite up to code, then why not have a browse through our rather fabulous career directory.

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