Whenever you’ve logged on to a news outlet, shopped online to buy gifts, or visited the site of your favorite sports team, you have experienced the handiwork of a web developer.
With over 1.86 billion websites operating as of June 2021, with 4.66 billion internet users worldwide, and 85 percent of adults in the United States logging online every day (with 31 percent stating they are online “constantly”), it’s no small wonder that web developer is listed number four among Best Technology Jobs of 2023 by U.S. News and World Report.
Web Developer Job Overview
From designing graphics to writing content, web developers must create and maintain websites. While they mainly focus on the technical aspects to ensure that a site can handle a certain amount of traffic and generate graphics and other visuals, web developers could also create content for a web page.
Web development is a collaborative effort, so web developers typically work with project managers, graphic designers, software engineers, content developers, and others who contribute to creating a web page.
Web developers are typically broken down into front-end developers and back-end developers. Web developers utilize programming languages and frameworks to layout a website on the front end.
At the same time, back-end web developers also use various programming languages to integrate applications and make a website’s features “work.”
Both web developers are essential for designing and implementing websites for any business or organization. For the sake of this article, we will use the term web developer to encompass both front- and back-end developers.
You might earn a bachelor of science in computer science, a bachelor of science in information technology, or a bachelor of science in information systems, all of which typically include areas of concentration or at least some courses in web design and development as well as programming, but employers are generally open to hiring candidates without a formal education.
Some employers might prefer one of the bachelor’s degrees listed above or one in graphic design, visual communications, or visual arts. A bachelor’s degree in any of these areas can, in some cases, help when it comes to advancing in the field.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused spikes and decreases in various employment areas; for web developers, a rise in e-commerce and social media and mobile device usage proved to be a boon over the past year-plus.
In January 2021, CNBC reported that web development was among the top in-demand technical skills posted on LinkedIn jobs. In the same month, web development was identified as one of the most “resilient” and “profitable” tech jobs of 2023.
Web Developer Job Trends
Several trends in web development could increase the demand in this area. For instance, progressive web application (PWA) technology enhances user experience by combining the best of both web and mobile applications.
In August 2023, it was reported that PWA technology would have a huge impact on businesses, with increased offline accessibility and security, increased conversion rates, and improved engagement.
Better voice search optimization, improved single-page application technologies, the growing use of mobile-friendly web technologies, and upgraded human interaction through artificial intelligence (AI) are all further trends in the web development arena that has led to increased customer use and engagement, access to websites, and even competition within respective markets.
Thus, many businesses are turning to these emerging web technologies, leading to more demand for web developers who have technical expertise in these areas.
Web Developer Jobs
Web developers work in almost any type of industry. They might be employed in corporate IT departments or work for computer systems design companies.
Many web developers freelance; the latest statistics from the BLS show that 13 percent of web developers are self-employed.
In addition to computer systems designs, some top industries utilizing the expertise of web developers include:
- Computer systems design industry
- Digital and social media
- Public relations and advertising industries
- Data processing, website hosting and similar services
- Manufacturing (audio, video, electrical)
Typically, a web developer’s level is based primarily on experience in coding or programming. Junior developers tend to have a year or less of experience, a mid-level developer with 1-3 years of experience, and a senior developer at least three years or more.
Junior and mid-level developers tend not to design solutions or more extensive code and work under supervision.
In contrast, senior developers apply more defined coding skills, are more involved in architectural design, and can fix problems or design solutions in a way that a less experienced developer simply cannot.
Web Developer Education Requirements
A valuable certification is the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) credential; since Adobe is a top web development software, obtaining multiple certificates could increase employer interest.
These certifications ensure employers that candidates have expertise in specific languages and could help increase salaries for web developers.
Certifications in this field are important, as technologies are ever-evolving and rapidly changing; certification best reflects one’s ability to keep up with and master the latest technologies.
Constantly upgrading your skills and knowledge will show employers your dedication and commitment to taking on new challenges that can help grow a career in web development.
Sample Web Developer Job Description
A job description for a senior web developer might look like this:
For entry-level or junior web developers, a job description might read:
“We are looking for a dynamic junior web developer to join our team. You will be assisting with website builds, implementing new design features, and working to ensure that the underlying structure of a client’s website is correct. You will be taking direction from senior developers and assisting with all aspects of website and application design. To ensure success as a junior web developer, you need to possess excellent website design skills and meticulous attention to detail. Ultimately, a top-notch junior web developer should be able to work well under pressure in a highly technical environment.”
Some descriptions might state that senior developers are expected to work independently, while junior web developers must be prepared to work under supervision.
Web Developer Career Outlook and Salary Info
With almost every major business and just over 71 percent of small businesses having a website, it’s apparent that there is a steady need for web developers in every sector.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the projected growth rate for web developers is 16 percent over the 2022 to 2032 decade, translating into nearly 19,000 job openings per year. This rate is faster than average compared to other occupations.
The BLS further reports that current web developers earn a median annual wage of $83,240. The highest median salary is found within software publishers at $138,010, followed by the management, scientific, and technical consulting services at $80,270.
Computer systems design and related services ($72,740) and educational services ($69,840) are not far behind the top two industries in terms of median pay.
PayScale.com reports the average web developer salary as $63,567; entry-level with less than one year of experience earn $52,224/year, mid-level developers with 5-9 years of experience $71,208/year; senior or experienced developers with 20 or more years of experience can earn at least $84,044/year.
Payscale.com reports that skills in UNIX, Dynamic HTML, Continuous Integration (CI), database administration, NoSQL, Google App Engine, Apache Cordova, and .NET Core can increase salaries between 31 percent to 55 percent depending on the specific skill.
According to the BLS, the highest annual mean wage for web developers as of May 2022 is seen by those living in Washington ($135,490). Rounding out the top five states with the highest annual mean salary for web developers are Delaware ($109,720), the District of Columbia ($109,350), California ($104,370), and Maryland ($104,130).
CareerFoundry lists the salary for web developers in the U.S. as $82,460; junior developers earn $66,798, and senior web developers $100,921. The site states that web developers can be paid more or less according to the programming language they are most experienced with.
In addition to certifications, other ways to earn a higher salary as a web developer are to participate in open-source projects, expand your networking, and even complete freelance projects that you can add to your portfolio.
Learning new programming languages without becoming certified can help you take on more responsibilities and earn a greater salary.
Market area and company size are two factors that could impact a web developer’s salary. For instance, New York might be considered a more favorable market area than Des Moines, Iowa.
The BLS shows that metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston have higher annual mean wages than other areas. And, of course, larger companies would have the ability to pay higher salaries than smaller or start-up companies.
Accordingly, less populated states and more rural areas show lower mean salaries for web developers; these states include Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Nevada.
Where to Look for Web Developer Jobs
There are few specific job sites devoted singularly to web developer jobs for the most part. Still, prospective professionals can turn to job boards to find job listings.
Opportunities can also be found listed on major job search sites, such as Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, or Monster.com. Most sites will allow you to break down your search into junior or senior web developer positions.
As with many technical jobs, web development can be done remotely in many cases, and it is not usually difficult to find remote jobs listed on job sites and job boards.
For example, remote web developers might need to meet face-to-face with clients, but most of the day-to-day tasks assigned to web developers can be performed off-site. Self-employed web developers typically perform all job duties from a home office.
Building your website as a sort of “showcase” for potential clients is imperative to becoming a self-employed or freelance web developer. It should demonstrate your knowledge of the latest web building technologies, explain how you can help clients create an effective website, and allow potential clients to contact or interact with you.
You will also need to market yourself to specific target audiences and develop a portfolio of completed sites once you begin signing clients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Types include front-end developers, back-end developers, full-stack developers, and webmasters, each specializing in different aspects of website development.
Salaries can vary greatly depending on the geographic location. Urban areas and tech hubs often offer higher wages compared to rural areas.
A portfolio is crucial as it showcases your skills and projects to potential employers, highlighting your proficiency and style.
Many web development jobs offer the flexibility to work remotely, making it an attractive career for those seeking work-life balance.
The demand for skilled web developers is consistently high, with a growing need for advanced web technologies and mobile-responsive websites.