How Much Do Web Developers Make? And 5 Other Questions About This Coding Career
By Kirsten Slyter on 10/15/2018
Every day, millions of people across the globe visit websites dedicated to nearly any topic you think of. These sites serve as digital storefronts, forums for discussion and centralized hubs for news and events that have a massive influence on our lives. Needless to say, websites are a pretty big deal.
Do you know what’s also a big deal? The people who make websites work—web developers. These crucial tech professionals work to bring visually appealing and highly functional websites to life. You’re not alone if you think this sounds like an appealing career option—but you probably have a few questions. In this article, we’ll tackle six frequently asked questions like, “How much do web developers make?” and more.
6 FAQs about web development careers
It’s normal to have questions anytime you’re considering a potential career path. But there’s no need to search high and low for information because we’ve compiled the answers to all your burning questions about a web development career right here.
1. How much do web developers actually make?
Earning potential is almost always a top priority for those who are considering career options—fortunately things look strong in that department for web developers. The 2018 median annual wage for web developers is $69,430, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent of web developers earn less than $36,830, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $122,320.1
Additionally, the BLS projects employment of web developers to grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all other occupations.1 Of course, a lot of variables like location and experience can influence your earning potential as a web developer. Heather Weaver, a freelance web developer and marketer, has found the biggest determining factor for earning potential is often your range of expertise.
“The more value you can bring, the more you get paid,” Weaver says.
2. What are some typical web developer job duties?
Web developers cover a lot of ground when it comes to technical know-how and sometimes are divided into distinct positions, particularly those who work for larger organizations. There are two primary types of web developers—front-end and back-end. Those who can (mostly) do it all are sometimes called “full-stack” developers. These developers may be especially appealing to smaller organizations with limited development stuff budgets. General duties for all these types of positions include:
- Meeting with clients or company management to discuss website needs and design
- Creating and testing website applications
- Writing code using programming languages like HTML and XML
- Integrating graphics, video and audio
- Working with other designers to determine the website’s layout
- Monitoring website traffic
Back-end developers are the behind-the-scenes crew of any website. Their work is primarily focused on writing and editing code that allows sites to communicate with servers and function properly. Front-end developers focus their work primarily on the appearance and layout of information on a site.
It’s becoming more and more common for developers to develop a mix of front-end and back-end skills, though it’s not always easy. Colton De Vos, web developer at Resolute Technology Solutions, says it may be more difficult to go from front-end to back-end if you don’t have a deeper programming and coding background.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the differences between front-end and back-end developers, check out our article, “Front-End vs. Back-End Development: Which Side of the Screen Are You?”
3. What are the must-have web developer skills?
Being a web developer means learning new skills frequently as web design changes and more and more tools become available. So what technical skills are in-demand? We analyzed over 154,000 web developer job postings to identify some of the most commonly sought-after skills. Here’s what we found:2
- User Experience (UX) design
4. What qualities are needed to be a great web developer?
Aside from learning the technical programming and coding languages, the best web developers possess characteristics and qualities that lead them to success. You might already have these and if so, becoming a web developer might be the perfect fit!
- Persistence in problem-solving: Building a website doesn’t always go smoothly and troubleshooting issues can take time to resolve—but the best developers embrace the challenge.
- Creativity: Developers must be able to design websites that are both functional and appealing, while also using their creativity to problem-solve any glitches or find solutions to the client’s or management’s requests.
- Customer service and communication skills: Web developers often interact with internal and external stakeholders and need to be able to effectively explain their work.
- Detail-oriented: A minor error in coding can derail an entire website, so web developers have to be diligent even when proofing their own work.
As in many jobs, excellent communication is key. You may think of web development as a solitary career, but Joshua Holmes, CEO of Ethode, says the days where developers could plug away at their work in cubicles and never talk to people is over. Sharing your ideas and opinions is crucial, as is listening to the needs of your clients or management.
“Great problem-solving starts with great listening,” Holmes says.
5. Where do web developers work?
Web developers typically work in one of three environments—at agencies, as a freelancer or as part of an in-house team.
Working for an agency can provide you a fun, collaborative, varied workload, where you’ll get to work for a variety of clients. This setting provides a great opportunity to expand your skill set and develop your portfolio as you’ll work with multiple clients with a variety of web development needs. That being said, agency work can have drawbacks.Weaver notes that agencies tend to have more “Fires to fight” and tighter deadlines, which can get stressful.
An in-house corporate environment gives you the chance to work more extensively on one or a few websites in a more traditionally structured work culture. In-house developers will likely see less variety in their work, but that’s balanced out by typically stable working hours and less unexpected issues.
Freelancing can provide you flexible work hours with the option to choose your workload and clients. Though you’ll still have deadlines for projects, you get to determine them and work during the time of day when you feel most productive, instead of the typical 9–5. Being your own boss does have potential drawbacks, as you’ll need to devote energy to things you likely wouldn’t in other settings. For example, securing additional client work and providing yourself benefits like health insurance.
6. What education and training is needed to become a web developer?
Though creating simple websites has become easier with site building tools and various online coding courses exist, a college degree remains important to employers. According to our analysis of web developer job postings, over 90 percent preferred candidates with some at least some college education.2 There are multiple educational routes you can take into becoming a web developer—a Web Programming degree or Computer Science degree align very well with back-end development, but aspiring front-end developers may opt to focus their studies on Design-related degrees or courses.
Can you envision yourself as a web developer?
Does a web development career sound like a good fit for you? There’s a lot to like about this role—solid earning potential, work variety and the opportunity to build downright cool websites that wows users is certainly enough to pique your interest.
You’ve got the creativity and drive to make a web development career happen—but that’s not all you’ll need. Learn more about what it takes to thrive in this position in our article, “6 Signs You Should Consider Working in Web Development.”
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed September 18, 2018] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 154,661 web developer job postings, September 19, 2017 – September, 18, 2018)