Take it from us – web development is a pretty sweet gig. We love what we do and encourage anyone who’s got the itch for making websites to look into it as a career path. But before you dive in, here are some helpful things to know.
It helps if you are …
- Handy with computers (duh)
- Good at solving problems and puzzles
- A good listener and communicator
- Able to handle criticism
- Savvy at math (or analytically-minded)
- Willing to constantly learn new things
- Work well both independently and with others
Maybe consider going another way if …
- You hate being inside.
- You don’t like sitting a lot.
- You don’t want to look at a computer all day.
- This hurts your brain:
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- You thrive on group interaction (some web jobs require you to work on a team, but many of them require your independence).
- You don’t like being told what to do.
In our experience, the best perks about being a web developer include …
- Creative opportunities.
- Flexbility – Many jobs allow you to work from home and let you make your own hours. We’ve been known to hang out at Starbucks 10-12 hours per day.
- Peace and quiet (most of the time).
- The thrill of seeing all that code do crazy things.
- Helping clients – Web solutions tend to boost their success or (at the very least) make their lives easier.
- The pay – At a median $30/hour (or $62,500 per year) it ain’t bad.
- Security – There is a growing need for developers and computer-savvy people in general
On the flip side, there are some downsides…
- It’s a pretty immobile job, so your butt hurts sometimes.
- Looking at a computer screen all day isn’t awesome on the eyes.
- Circumstances often require you to work extra (or weird) hours.
- It’s not always easy to find solutions to certain problems (which can be stressful).
Before you get started, we recommend you …
- Make sure it’s a practical option. Check out what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says about this job and make sure it would be a smart move for you.
- Try making a website. If you get chills up and down your spine when you see your finished product and think, “Hey, I’d like to do that constantly as my livelihood,” that is a good sign.
- Build up your portfolio. You can make a few sites for fun, or offer to do some pro-bono work for family or friends. When you have a good group of sites to show off, consider showcasing them up on your very own website, like we do here.
- Try your hand in freelancing. Websites like Freelancer.com and Elance allow people to post jobs that freelancers (you) then bid on. The employer then awards someone the job and then you get paid. It can be difficult getting on your feet with this, as people tend to choose the more experienced developers with lots of good ratings. You might have to start out pricing yourself low, or sell yourself so you stand out from the others in another way.
- Consider a formal education. Google “web development classes” in your area, or look into online schools like Full Sail or Devry. Think carefully, because this is one of those fields that don’t necessarily require a degree for you to land a job. Experience and portfolio tends to matter more to employers, but having a degree or certification on paper could set you apart from competing applicants.
If you have any other questions or concerns about starting a web development career, do not hesitate to ask us! Either way, we wish you the best. Good luck! And then come work for us.