How to Become a Web Developer

Everything You Should Know…

If you’re reading this, you are probably wondering how to become a web developer. You may be just starting out or already have some freelance web dev. projects under your belt. Whatever camp you fall into, you’ll find the information in this article highly valuable.

Web developer skills are highly sought after these days, so it’s a smart and lucrative decision to get a web developer education. The average web developer salary was $73,000 as of May 2019, and it’s one of the best paying jobs that you can learn fully online. As other fields are becoming more competitive due to fewer jobs, there is still plenty of demand for web developers.

There is a tremendous amount of information out there when it comes to how to become a web developer. That’s why we’ve put together this detailed and comprehensive guide with everything you need to know how to be a web developer.

So, let’s get right into it!

Learn how to become a Web Developer here - picture of a computer screen with code editor.

What Is a Web Developer

At the core, a web developer builds and maintains websites. They write the code that results in websites looking the way they look when you see them. Businesses and organizations want to guarantee that their websites are as fast, visually appealing, and effective for their needs. They are willing to pay a great deal of money to web developers who know what they’re doing.

If you go online and look right now at web developer jobs, you will notice responsibilities like the following:

  • Create high-quality mockups and prototypes
  • Write web pages using markup languages
  • Develop a WordPress website from scratch
  • Have a proficient understanding of HTML and CMS
  • Be knowledgeable about UI and UX
  • Develop functional and appealing websites
  • Develop functional and appealing applications
  • Maintain and enhance website when necessary

While these are the usual general requirements, you may find yourself tasked with others as well.
When it comes to web development specialties, there are three you should be aware of. They are:

  • Frontend Development – The functions and features on a website the end-user sees and interacts with.
  • Backend Development – The website code, servers, applications, databases, and other aspects that ensure a website functions properly.
  • Full-Stack Development – The combination of both frontend and backend development.

Depending on which web developer job description you’re reading, businesses will either be looking for a frontend, backend, or full-stack developer. If you’re an expert in both frontend and backend, then you have a very wide range of web developer jobs open to you.

How to Become a Web Developer

Now that you’ve brushed up on what is a web developer, it’s time to find out how to become one. First of all, you’re going to need some technical skills. If you want to know what does a web developer do, here are the most commonly-needed skills for a web developer to have:


HTML will dictate the structure of a website. It’s a programming language whose end result is visible on the frontend of a website to the end users. Hypertext Markup Language creates the framework for a website, mostly through the use of tags.

All a tag does is control how the content of an HTML document appears to an end user. There are many tags, but the most common ones you will definitely need to become familiar with include the following:

  • HTML tags – These opening and closing tags will appear at the start and finish of any HTML document. They indicate that it was written using HTML code.
  • title tags – Title tags are used to specify the title of a web page. Search engines like Google look for these tags when their bots scan and index pages on the internet. Whatever is in between these tags will appear in a browser’s title bar.
  • head tag – Information placed between these tags will be relevant to the specific page they appear on. Information like title tags, metadata, and links to scripts, as well as style sheets, are all contained within them.
  • body tag – Everything placed in between these tags will be directly shown to the end user. Text in a blog article, like the one you are reading right now, is sandwiched between these two tags.

There is a forward slash in the second tag of each set to indicate that the tag will not longer be used afterward. The forward slash is vital to place in the second tag of any set. Otherwise, the website will think that the rest of the document should still use the tag.

You can easily learn HTML from the comfort of your home thanks to the plentiful resources online.

There is this handy HTML Beginner’s Guide that teaches you all about the basics of HTML.
There is also a comprehensive HTML Cheat Sheet that will be tremendously helpful to you as a reference when starting out your HTML learning journey.


CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is what makes a website look aesthetically pleasing. It applies styling to HTML code. Without CSS, web pages would look like they were from the 90s. HTML and CSS have a special relationship with one another. CSS style sheets are referenced within HTML code, which then leads to feature-rich frontend design and functionality.

Here’s an example of CSS code to create a clickable button.

a:link, a:visited, a:hover, a:active {
background-color: green;
color: white;
padding: 10px 25px;
text-align: center;
text-decoration: none;
display: inline-block;

You can learn everything you need as a web developer when it comes to CSS from Code Academy’s excellent CSS Beginner’s Course. The only prerequisite is learning HTML.

Also, there is a handy CSS Cheat Sheet you can easily reference something when you’re brand new to CSS.


The third, and increasingly popular, language you should be polished in is JavaScript. With it, you can insert all sorts of elements on a web page, such as interactive maps, animated graphics, autocomplete text suggestions, and more.

JavaScript is a scripting language, which means it automates processes end users would typically execute. JS will automate these processes step-by-step. That Facebook newsfeed you have that automatically updates while it’s on your screen is done thanks to the power of JavaScript. Google’s suggested search terms show up due to JS performing its magic.

Here’s an example of what JavaScript language looks like:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
JavaScript code is placed here

Once again, Code Academy has the ideal Introduction to JavaScript course you can take free of charge.

Also, as with HTML and CSS, it helps to have a JavaScript Cheat Sheet readily available when you’re new to JavaScript.


Most websites are running on WordPress. This powerful content management system (CMS) is open-source and updated regularly. It can be installed on virtually any web host. These are the reasons why it has cemented itself as the go-to web development software websites use.

Setting up a WordPress website is easy these days. Many web hosts have an autoinstall wizard that does most of the legwork for you. Once you’ve entered database and website names, among a few other details, you are able to operate from within the WordPress admin dashboard. From there, you can directly access PHP files and CSS style sheets.

Being a web developer isn’t necessary to publish content on a website powered by WordPress. However, anything that involves PHP or CSS code will require the knowledge of a web developer. It is web developers who can develop plugins for WordPress that provide additional functionality and features. Web developers can also design or modify WordPress themes that change the look of what the end user sees. There is a high demand for web developers who have knowledge of how to work within the WordPress framework, so it’s definitely a good idea to get familiar with it.

If you’re brand new to WordPress, the official WordPress Tutorials for Beginners is a great places to start. From there, you can follow along with guide on how to Customize a WordPress Blog.

UI and UX

UI stands for User Interface, while UX stands for User Experience. Both of these are related to how end users experience the design of a website or web page. However, this is more of the realm of what a web designer would get involved with. Still, you should be familiar with at least the fundamentals of UX and UI design. This will familiarize you with how a site should work. If you’re interested in Design more than in development, check out our Definitive Guide to Becoming a Designer here.

Also, it helps to know about UX and UI since there is a direct relationship with how long users stay on a site due to these elements. These will help users find what they are searching for, leading to them to earn the website owner more money.

Programs like Photoshop and Sketch are some of the major ones when it comes to UX and UI.

Here is a great condensed crash course in UX and UI design you will find helpful.


SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It is related to databases that store information related to a website. PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is closely related to SQL because it either places or pulls data from an SQL database.

SQL and PHP are both used for WordPress websites. MySQL is what’s usually used to store and manage blog posts, page content, reader comments, and other information. All of this is stored in database tables.

Thanks to PHP, WordPress websites become dynamic, which means that there is interaction with all of the elements within the SQL databases. You can put a PHP script anywhere within a document. At the start of each script, needs to go at the end of each script. Additionally, a PHP statement will have to end with a semicolon.

Here is an example of a basic PHP script using the built-in ‘echo’ function, in order to output the text “PHP Example” on a page:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<h1>Developer News</h1>

<?php echo "The Best PHP Examples"; ?>


When you have a grasp on how SQL and PHP work, you can become a WordPress web development guru. There is a high demand for someone with these skills, so we highly recommend you learn about them.

If you want to learn SQL for free, ten Code Academy’s course is a great starting point. They also have a free course where you can learn PHP as well.


SEO, which is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization, is the single best way to improve organic web page rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s a very useful skill, even though a web developer isn’t required to have knowledge about it. However, when you do, you will place yourself ahead of the competition when looking for web developer jobs.

Content is the basis for good SEO, but the structure and code of a web page also is a factor. For instance, it is vital to have proper HTML heading tags. That is because this is what search engines look for when crawling a website.

As long as you know that basics of SEO, you’ll give yourself an edge among other web developers vying for the available jobs out there. Also, your clients will be much happier that you are so well-rounded.

Here are some of the SEO basics you should know as a web developer:

  • Optimize meta tags – Meta tags let search engines know what a website is about. The more optimized the meta tags are, the more likely users will click through to a website.
  • Place heading tags in a specific order – There are different heading tags that should appear on a web page or blog post. H1 is the largest heading and is used for the main one. After that, you get into subheadings, such as H1, H2, H3, H4, and H5. Search engines look for subheadings and reward sites that use them.
  • Optimize the title tag – Make sure that the title tag perfectly describes what a particular web page is around. That will ensure more users click on the link to it from the search engine they are using.

Moz has a thorough and extensive Beginner’s Guide to SEO that is highly recommended.


When a website is ‘responsive’ it means website elements will adjust to match the screen size they are displayed on. A responsive website will look as intended on any device it is viewed on. A few years ago, there was a significant push toward using responsive design in websites. It has become so important that Google will penalize websites that aren’t responsive by dropping them lower in the SERPs.

Today, businesses will expect their websites to be responsive. That’s why you should understand how to make a website responsive. This isn’t as difficult to do today as it used to be, so you should get the hang of it quickly.

How to Get a Web Developer Job

Woman becoming a Web Developer by coming on a laptop.

The last thing you need to know is how to actually get a job as a web developer. This will be a three-step process for you if you want to position yourself as best as you can.

Look on Freelance Job Boards

These days, most web developers are freelancers. Popular job boards like UpWork make it easy to match up with clients looking for a solid frontend, backend, or full-stack web developer.

These are great starting points, but will not be ideal for a long-term strategy. That’s because you may have many one-off clients, as well as clients who are not that great to work for. You will also have a higher likelihood of getting clients who are inexperienced with hiring web developers, so they may have unrealistic time frames or budgets.

You will want to be developing your brand so that you can get the best jobs and the ones that pay the most. However, this is a great starting point when you are still a new web developer. You will certainly gain more experience from any jobs you do as a freelance web developer off of a job board.

Some popular job boards for web developers are:

  • PeoplePerHour
  • Codeable
  • TopTal
  • UpWork

Create a Portfolio Website

To receive more clients who will find you outside of job boards like UpWork, you should put together a portfolio website. To make it easy, use WordPress and pick any one of the great themes available for sites showcasing portfolios. You will get to display your latest projects, testimonials, your web dev capabilities, and make it easy to contact you.

Some things to keep in mind when making a portfolio website are the following:

  • Showcase testimonials from both previous and current clients.
  • Show off your own personal flair to separate yourself from others.
  • Include elements like your name, story, recent work, skills, and a way to contact you.
  • Demonstrate value and make a case for why clients should hire you.

Make sure your website looks visually appealing and functions perfectly. After all, you’re a web developer! Let your website be an example of the brilliant work you can do.

If you want to create a stellar portfolio site that will get you hired, this guide is a great resource.


While looking at job boards is important when you’re just getting starting, don’t solely use all your time and energy doing that. You should get out there and network. These days, most networking is done online through sites like LinkedIn, but there are also in-person networking events you may be able to attend. Granted, that’s more challenging to do these days than before, but keep your eyes peeled anyway. The more you network, the more connections you develop, which can all lead to web development jobs.

Hubspot has a helpful guide that can help you figure out which networking events are actually worth attending.

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You now know how to become a web developer. With a bit of time, focus, and effort, you will be able to become a great web developer whose skills are highly sought after. There are plenty of ways to learn how to become a web developer, and it’s easier now than ever. Online courses are plentiful today, and are very accessible regardless of what your skill level is. You can even get certified and mention it on your resume.

A highly-rewarding career awaits you, whether you end up working for a salary as part of a major company, or decide to work freelance. This is one of the rising job professions today, so you have made the right choice to become a web developer!