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Are you thinking about a career in web development? You may be skeptical since it has become a trend to see ads for coding bootcamps and “Learn to Code” plastered everywhere you look. It seems like everyone has found out about this great industry and wants to get in on the action.
Well, I can ensure you there is enough room for everyone in the web development industry. The barrier to entry into the field is surprisingly low, the demand for jobs is steadily increasing, and the average salary for a career in web development in 2019 keeps rising.
Average Web Developer Salary
According to glassdoor.com, the average web developer salary is around 75k/year. It is one of the highest paying industries that you can get into without a college degree. As long as you have the skillset, and a solid portfolio to show your skills, you can land a job in this industry.
I am a self-taught web developer that learned to code using online resources and I landed my first job in early 2019. You can read my story of how I went from being homeless and working dead-end jobs, to becoming an employed web developer. So believe me when I say if I can do it, anyone can do it.
If you would like to see how learning web development changed my life, and the process I used to make it happen, you can read that here:
The Demand Is There
The demand for web developers is higher than similar career paths in tech. Every day more businesses are depending more on their online presence, and their websites need the visual elements that reflect their brand.
With the rise of UI/UX specialists and custom applications, there is a huge market for every skill level across the nation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, In over 11 states there are between 3,000 and 20,000 web developers already employed and that number and demand for developers just keep rising.
Now that we’ve established the positive growth of this industry, let’s break down the salaries and qualifications for each skill level of web developers. Starting from the beginning of the most common web developer roadmap.
No one wants to start at the bottom, and no one wants to be entry-level. However, you have to start somewhere. Lucky for us, when going into web development, you don’t have to start at the bottom of the barrel.
On average, as a completely green coder, a junior web developer can make around $66,000/yr, according to Glassdoor, which is roughly going to be $33 an hour.
Of course, there are more factors to consider, such as your skill level. Even if your skills are minimal, you would still be earning more than junior positions in most other industries.
That is well above the median wage of $8-14 an hour, and again, this is just starting out. Once you get your foot in the door, your skill level is very much your ticket to anything you can set your mind to. Plus when you are working on real projects within a company, your skills will grow exponentially.
If you are wondering how long it takes to become a self-taught web developer, and the steps necessary to learn the skills you need to land your first job. This article will be helpful to you:
Junior Developer Workflow
They will take direction from the senior developers, project managers, and designers, and train on the job to build a final product. You will have the opportunity to not only build your portfolio, but also learn how to complete a project within a set of requirements.
This is a professional skill that I have often seen overlooked. In web development, you will constantly be solving problems and learning from them. It is a part of the natural workflow.
Once you learn the workflow, if you are persistent and constantly learning new skills, you will reach the next level quickly, which means a higher position and salary.
Mid-level developers are going to be those who have solid skills and years of experience but have not reached the full spectrum of skills yet, such as a full-stack developer.
They are usually experts in front end development and have now begun to work on their skills and projects with back end technologies or some variation of the two.
On average, according to Glassdoor, they will make around $77,000/yr, which is still roughly $38.50 an hour. This type of position comes with around 3-5 years of experience in the industry or appropriate skill level. Keep in mind these are averages and can vary depending on multiple factors such as location and which technologies you specialize in.
You may think to yourself, that isn’t a huge difference in pay. However, it really is more about the larger opportunity to grow as a professional. You will have the ability to adapt to new technologies faster, and your skills will evolve more efficiently.
As a mid-level web developer, you really start honing in on your strengths and finding out what direction you want to go within the field. You are a few years in and all of the practice you are getting, through work and side projects, will make you realize which technologies you are most proficient at.
This is when you capitalize on your strengths and master your chosen skillset. This is an opportunity to specialize and take your career to the next level.
In the web development industry, if you specialize in one particular technology, and become an expert at it, your skills will be in demand. Specialization is sought out in this field and almost always comes with a nice salary.
Not to mention, if you are a specialist, there will be a plethora of freelance work available to you, regardless of the type of technology, or skillset that you choose to pursue.
Front End Vs Back End
What is the difference between front end development and back end development? The biggest difference is the technologies used to accomplish a task.
Front End Developer
Most people start off learning front end web development, which in my opinion, is the best way to get into the industry, especially as a self-taught developer.
This is how I started off in web development. After you learn these technologies well there will also be many freelancing opportunities for you as well.
Back End/Database Developer
Back end development is where it gets more technical. They work with the back end of the website, or application, which is the code that communicates with the database and delivers data to the front end so the user can see it.
Back end developers use languages like PHP, Python, Ruby, .NET and Java. This is the code that runs in the background that makes all the data appear on the appropriate pages.
Let’s say you are doing some online shopping on an e-commerce website. You use the search box to find a particular brand of shoes, you type in “converse shoes” and click to search. The back end code scans the database and retrieves all the shoes of that brand and displays them on the page for you to see.
It is the foundation of most websites and applications that allows all of the code to function correctly. Back end web development is a career within itself. You could also specialize in only back-end web technologies and have a solid career with those skills alone.
Senior development is when you have the keys to the kingdom, you can do pretty much everything. You know the front end and back end technologies(aka Full Stack Developer), how to work with a client, how to manage projects and staff, and have the skills to build everything from the ground up on your own.
On average, according to Payscale, senior web developers will make around $88,000/yr and up, which starts at roughly $41 an hour. Senior-level developers can make up to twice the amount of what a junior developer could make in the beginning.
This is an average, but after more research, I have seen that senior-level developers more commonly make anywhere from 90k/yr, all the way up to 120k/yr.
The salary also depends on which technologies you are skilled with and what kind of developer you are. Location is also another factor of course.
As you can clearly see there is also a huge jump in the benefits as well, with bonuses, and commissions for specific projects. Once you reach this level, the sky is the limit.
Becoming a senior web developer usually means you have many years of experience in the industry. This title also comes with a lot of responsibility due to their expertise and large expanse of knowledge and experience.
Like I mentioned above, there are web developers who specialize in certain systems or certain technologies. CMS developers are one of these specializations.
They work specifically with content management systems, the biggest and most popular being WordPress. A few others are Drupal, Joomla, and Magento.
According to W3Techs, WordPress powers over 34.7% of all the websites on the web. It is the most popular content management system, and in recent years has become a go-to for businesses and companies looking for an online presence.
The big advantage of using a CMS like WordPress is that the business can manage certain features on their site, without having to hire a developer every time they need to change an image or add or edit a product for example.
There are many developers who specialize in WordPress because of its wide presence and demand. On average, according to Glassdoor, they make roughly 75k/yr, which is around $36/hr, and that is at entry-level. Depending on skill level and experience you can make up into the $100k/yr range.
According to broadbandsearch.net, around 52% of all web traffic are users accessing the web via a mobile device. This percentage is growing and more focus is being put on responsive design and of course mobile application development.
Cell phones have completely changed the state of web development, and mobile application developers are increasing in demand. In this specialization, these are the developers that create native and web apps, along with general applications for businesses to accomplish goals.
According to Payscale, they earn an average of $73k/yr, which means around $37/hr. They generally make more starting out than in other areas of web development, often more than a mid-level developer would make.
This is a specific, but broad area to be in because there are many different types of mobile developers. Nonetheless, it is definitely another high paying area of expertise that one could aspire to be a part of.
As hard as it is to believe, some still see development work like its magic, and that magic is in constant demand. We live in the information age, and companies need that information delivered in a polished modern design.
Besides the impressive salaries, most companies have great benefits for their employees. If you take a quick look around on Indeed, you can see which companies are hiring and what kind of benefits they offer.
In the private sector, you will almost always have sign-on bonuses and project-based commissions, which sometimes start on the junior level.
The potential benefit of working remotely is also becoming a growing trend in a lot of companies that hire web developers. This means you can work from home in your pajamas if you wish, and also make a great wage no matter where you are in the world.
In our millennial world, many companies develop certain work cultures and try to appeal to the young crowd. They will offer on-site lunches and happy hours, on-site gyms or memberships, travel, conferences, training, and also paid holidays.
Check out this short video about Google’s unique work culture and the benefits/amenities they provide employees:
Though Google is an extreme example and one of the largest companies in the world, there are also many startups and mid-sized businesses that are adopting this type of work culture and providing unique amenities.
Companies today need web developers more than ever before, and I think the great benefits make this even more apparent.
One of the biggest benefits of being a web developer is the ability to find freelance work, whether you are employed or not. Minus the potential client meetings, you can basically do your job from anywhere and at any time.
Most web applications and websites are project-based work, which is why companies are more often going to hire contractors rather than retaining permanent staff.
You have only had to glance at freelance websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer to see the number of contracts that are out there. I have used all three of these resources throughout the stages of my learning process. I was able to easily find jobs, even when I had minimal skills.
In the beginning, I would use these platforms to find small jobs and make some decent side cash, which helped me build my portfolio for when I started the process of applying for jobs. I also have a few on-going clients that I still do side work for from time to time.
Be Your Own Boss
Freelancing can be risky, and you generally want to have as many skills as possible so you have more services to offer to your clients. It is also a great starting point to get your feet wet when you are a newbie web developer.
With that said, even as an employed web developer, I still use Upwork to find side projects, not only to increase my skills and add to my portfolio, but also to make some decent part-time income.
Freelancing can be a very rewarding path to take if you put in the time and effort, and you are confident in your skillset. There are many full-time freelance web developers that earn a great living working for themselves.
As a freelancer, you make your own schedule, you can work from anywhere, and you can choose your own jobs. You can even use that edge of creativity that might be lacking when you are always handed a design to replicate with an industry job.
The title Webmaster is a term that has been around since the beginning of Internet Jobs. It used to be an all-encompassing term for someone with any kind of coding or website management skills, that knew how to work with websites.
As web development evolves, it is less commonly seen in job titles, as more specialization is needed within the industry. In general, a webmaster is a professional that manages and updates websites. More specifically, they are hired to handle a variety of different roles, usually within a smaller company.
According to Payscale, the average webmaster’s salary is around $55k/yr, which is around $27/hr. As with all of the average salary data, there are many factors that determine the salary amount. Location and skill level are always big factors.
Larger companies have specialized positions for web designers, front and back-end developers, content writers/managers, SEO specialists, digital marketers, and data analysts. Where a small firm may have a webmaster who does a little bit of everything, performing smaller tasks in each of these roles.
Jack Of All Trades
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists three common job types for web development; Front-end development, back-end development, and webmasters. The difference between being a developer and being a webmaster is projects.
Webmasters maintain sites that are in production for their clients, while developers create a project, usually from scratch, and then move on to the next.
You could say that a webmaster is like a jack of all trades, but mostly manage client websites, whether that means re-designs, SEO, digital marketing and more.
While it can be a lower-paying job compared to the specialized positions in the industry, it’s useful to keep your options open. These types of positions are perfect for a self-taught developer trying to get their foot in the door of the industry to get some experience.
My Experience As A Webmaster
I was hired as a webmaster for my first web developer job. As a self-taught developer, I needed a way to get into the industry by any means necessary. It is hard to land your first job without any experience or a degree. A webmaster position is a great way to get started.
As a webmaster at a digital marketing agency, I manage our client’s websites, mostly in WordPress. I help with the design of new clients who need a website, create layouts, CSS customization to themes, help set up an SEO strategy, do keyword research, order blog content and optimize pages to rank higher in google.
I also run Facebook and Google ad campaigns for many client sites. As you can see, the job consists of a little bit of everything, which is great for me because I am learning new skills every day, all while being paid to do what I love. I know all of the skills I am learning are valuable and will only boost my career going forward.
A Tip For Newbies
Once you land your first job in the industry, it’s like a stamp of approval, and you will now have the experience to put on your resume. From this point on, you can only move up in the industry, especially if you keep leveling up your skillset.
At this point, you learn an enormous amount of new skills and at a much faster rate compared to teaching yourself with tutorials and courses. Above all, you will be getting paid while you learn, and this was my first main goal when I started learning web development.
Across the board, webmasters will usually make as much as a junior developer, and with many years of experience, you could earn more.
Though most developers end up finding their own lane by specializing in a particular skill set and finding a position that suits their needs and salary requirement.
Public Sector vs. Private Sector
Another factor I would like to make you aware of is the type of environment and companies you will find in this career field. In the tech world, you have two routes. The Private Sector or the Public Sector.
You have the private sector where companies and corporations will pay top dollar and give all the fringe benefits to their employees based on performance.
You also have the public sector, government agencies that cannot afford pricey contracts that hire permanent staff to develop and maintain their sites.
Pros and Cons
After a quick discussion with a fellow web developer who works in the public section, I can understand why most coders wouldn’t want to go down this road. The pay is always going to be lower. You will have a stable income, but no real fringe benefits.
What you will have though is civic pride and a work/life balance that is unheard of the public field. You mean I get federal holidays off automatically?
Also, there is a level of stability to be found once you become a government employee that can not be sneezed at when compared to the highly competitive world of private companies. So these routes are aspects that you should consider also.
The business world desperately needs web developers to come in and fix their outdated systems and also innovate the new technologies that make our lives easier. I encourage you to learn more about this fascinating industry and how you can be a part of it.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and developers and engineers are on the bleeding edge of it all. We are able to make technology blend with society in the most efficient way possible.
Don’t Get Left Behind
If you are considering a career in the web development industry, or even if this is your first exposure to it all, I highly encourage you to learn the basics of coding and web development.
Even if you discover that it is not for you personally, at least you will learn the basics of how the technology works. I firmly believe in the next 10-20 years that coding will be taught at the elementary school level.
We can’t let technology leave us behind. As adults, we should always strive to advance our skillsets, and we should also be encouraging the next generation that follows us to start coding at an early age.
The Next Generation
There are platforms and top-rated apps that teach kids to code through games and apps that they will enjoy using. There are also many books and courses made to help kids learn to code through creating video games that they may be interested in. The next generation is important for the evolution of technology, and we should strive to keep our kids interested in how the technology works.
Technology will be an integral part of everyone’s day to day life, way more than it is today. Start learning to code as soon as possible, whether its in web development or another avenue.
If you are interested in learning web development and don’t know where to start, I have many articles and tutorials that will point you in the right direction.
If you enjoyed this content please share on your favorite social network. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them down in the comments. Thanks for reading and remember to always level up your skills!