Not too long ago, the person in charge of a company's website was called the webmaster. This magical person could conjure up a website using basic HTML coding skills ― a quaint idea in today's complicated mix of programming languages and CMS platforms.
Webmasters have been replaced by a team of specialists who can handle the complexity that the modern web requires. Today, many websites need a variety of these experts: front-end developers, back-end developers, UX designers, content strategists and full stack developers overseeing its design, programming, integrations and maintenance.
In today's work environment, web developer requirements include creativity, technical skills and project management expertise. No matter your direction, the outlook for web developers is positive — the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15 percent job growth for the field. The trick to succeeding in the field is staying agile, and on top of trends, so you can adjust as new technology disrupts the industry.
Here's how to leverage your coursework and skills to land that first job as a web developer.
Examining the different types of web developers
So, what does a web developer do? The role of the web developer shifts from industry to industry, project to project, and even year to year.
Figuring out where your skills fit best requires a breakdown of the different kinds of web developers. Here are some typical web developer jobs:
1. Front-end developer
2. Back-end developer
A back-end developer delves more deeply into the site's functionality, creating the database and algorithms needed to make the site function properly. For instance, while a front-end developer will create a form on the website for inputting names and email addresses, the back-end developer will give that information a function. Back-end developers also earn higher salaries due to their proficiency with advanced languages like:
3. Full-stack developer
This highly desired employee is skilled in a variety of languages and applications, from user experience to DevOps, and can bring those skills into play when working on a project.
The full-stack developer is a jack of all trades, agile enough to move through the process and pull in tools as needed to get a website up and running. This position is the embodiment of the "move fast and break things" ethos and is best suited for the hacker type who is willing to learn everything and isn't afraid of cracking open the code to see how things work.
4. Other types of web development
As the web has matured, so have the languages and tools used to create websites. Open source CMS platforms and frameworks allow developers to build upon the basics without having to code from scratch. For instance, Keystone.js provides a database framework to build upon.
Examples of other open source CMS frameworks include:
Some developers utilize these platforms to create solutions quickly for clients — especially clients who can't afford to employ a web development team and will have to update and maintain their own website.
For clients like these, some web developers have found that specializing in closed-source platforms, like Shopify (e-commerce) or HubSpot (inbound marketing), can prove a smart career choice.
Finding a web developer job
When searching for jobs, focus on what type of web developer you are most interested in becoming and then do a deep dive into the languages, frameworks and platforms necessary in that arena (and use our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates when you begin applying).
There are plenty of online web developer courses available if you need to beef up your knowledge. Many web developers work for themselves as freelancers and find a variety of opportunities at online job boards. For a great list, see this one from Hackernoon.
Many web developer job descriptions include the following requirements:
- Experience with custom (WordPress) development, plugins and themes
- Extensive knowledge of HTML(5) and CSS(3)
- Awareness of current trends in digital design and development
- Graphic design knowledge (i.e., the ability to translate aesthetics into development projects)
- Knowledge of email APIs (MailChimp/My Emma/Constant Contact, etc.)
Understanding the basics of coding and good user design will help, no matter which direction you head in a web developer career.
Creating your web developer job application
Web developers need to be fast learners as well as creatively minded. When you're learning how to write a cover letter, make sure you highlight those soft skills. And when you're learning how to write a resume, make sure you showcase the more technical aspects of your skill set, in both the skills and work experience sections of your resume.
Web developers will be required to do some basic tasks. You should highlight your experience in these areas in your cover letter and resume:
- Discuss website needs with your client or managers
- Translate those needs into the design and functionality of the website
- Work with designers to create wireframes for building a site
- Write code for the front-end that allows users to interact with the website
- Write code on the back-end that creates the website's functionality
Technology is moving forward rapidly. Today it's blockchain, the Internet of Things and AI that are disrupting business — in a year, it may be all about data analysis. It's a web developer's job to stay current on developments in the industry and keep looking ahead.
To create a resume that will set you apart from the competition and show off your forward-thinking skillset, check out our Resume Builder. When you're ready to apply for a specific job, our Cover Letter Builder helps you write a letter that conveys your expertise and passion and catches a hiring manager's eye.