How To Become A Web Developer

Emmet from Lego Movie standing in front of a computer

I remember that first time I ever thought about becoming a web developer. I was stuck in a dead end office job working for a power company and hating every minute of it! You see, I chose a career based on the opportunities that had fallen into my lap. I didn’t choose my career based on my passion. Instead, I spend 7 years in a field just because it was the easiest way for me to get a high paying job out of college. It wasn’t a bad job, however, I just grew to despise the work because it wasn’t my passion. I knew I could do something more with my life. After 7 years of working for this power company, I entered a crossroads because I was let go from the company. This was the first time I ever felt completely lost. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Leading up to me being let go, I had dabbled in the idea of possibly switching careers and doing something completely different. I’ve always had several side hobbies and interests and web development was one of them. It was this crossroads in my life where I decided I was going to become a web developer. So, I though to myself, “how do I become a web developer?” Over the next several months and years I would learn just how to do that. I decided I was going to change my entire career and become a web developer.

How Do I Become A Web Developer?

For me, this question would haunt me for some time as I took the wrong approach many times on my road to becoming a web developer. I wasn’t quite sure how to become one, because I had never been one. My very first approach was the ole’ “fake it till you make it” mind set. This didn’t serve me well because in the end, I would come to just embarrassing myself many times in the process. I went on to find several recruiting agencies looking for web developers. I ended up telling them I was more advanced than I was. Up and until this point, I was just a dabbler. I knew just enough to answer very basic questions about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. At the beginning, I remembering feeling like I was ready, until I got my very first interview.

How badly did I embarrass myself?

Well, one recruiting agency had found me a job with the highest salary I had ever seen. The job was for a senior web developer working for a company that created web based software for website exit surveys. With my “fake it till you make it” attitude, I completely bombed the interview to the point where the interviewers were visibly upset upon my answers to their technical questions. I couldn’t answer the most basic CSS styling questions or even the proper way to begin an HTML page. Heck! I didn’t even know what the very first line of an HTML document was used for anyway.

“Fake it till you make it” doesn’t work!

After completely falling on my face in many interviews, I finally landed a job. Not that high salary job I was bidding for in my first interview. But a job that had the lowest salary I had ever made. I essentially went to starting over in my career both professionally and monetarily. Although I may have thought I had become a web developer, I still was not one. I just had convinced a company to give me a chance to show them how much I could learn.

I started to wear funny t-shirts.

My next step in becoming a web developer involved trying to fit into the culture. Up and until that point, my work attire had been comprised of a polo shirt, khakis, and loafers (no socks). My first day on the job as a web developer was almost as awkward as the first job interview I went on. Mostly because, I was way over dressed. The next week, I decided I would try and fit in by buying funny tech and geek t-shirts.

Surely I would fit in now with t-shirts like:

  1. 99 Bugs In My Code Programmer T-Shirt
  2. Hide-And-Seek Semicolon Developer T-Shirt
  3. Hello World Geek T-Shirt
  4. Coffee Cup Empty Code Nerd T-Shirt
  5. There Is No Cloud T-Shirt

I had no clue what those t-shirts meant, but I wore them like I knew what was going on. Needless to say, I began to alienate the team I was on, because I wasn’t yet a web developer. The team picked up quickly on the fact that I was only trying to act like I was one.

So far, I’ve not told you how to get started as a web developer. I’ve only shared with you two of my many mistakes a long the way that ultimately held me back from getting to my goal. I share these with you because I hope that you could learn from the mistakes that I’ve made.

Patience, Always Be Willing To Learn

From what we’ve learned thus far, trying to rush the process is no way to start out your career in web development. In fact, in my opinion, humility and patience are two attributes that depict the makings of a great web developer. Starting off with this mindset will help you in your journey to learn web development faster than if you try to rush and “fake it till you make it.” As a web developer, if you try and rush through the process of learning, you will miss the point of the lesson and miss making connections between each lesson. Ultimately making the road to web development as a career further than if you just maintained patience and where willing to learn. This mindset is the key to your success.

Even later on in your web development career, you will find this to be true. For example, maintaining the rushed attitude may lead you to situations where you may be unwilling to learn from a less experienced web developer. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made because I didn’t listen to a less experienced web developer.

One time I even cost the company I was working for $30,000 dollars.

There was this one project I was assigned to as the lead web developer. For the company I was working for, this wasn’t a big project. However, it was the largest project I’ve ever lead. The project was to create a user registration portal that would allow users to signup for a recorded webinar that would be broadcasted as a live webinar on a certain day and time. The key to this project was to make it look like the recorded webinar was live. To accomplish this, we would have to host the webinar video onto a streaming service that would users to stream the event. I chose to use a service I had used in the past to do something very similar. One of the less experience web developers working on the project with me had been concerned that the service I chose wouldn’t be good enough to host the webinar video. He had requested we do a load test to validate that the service would not fail if too many people were watching it at once. Needless to say, I did not listen to him and dismissed his idea thinking to myself “how is this guy going to tell me what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m the lead!” On the day of the webinar, we had 20,000 people trying to stream this webinar video I had put onto this service I had purchased for the event.

The webinar crashed and I cost my company $30,000.00 in revenue!

Because I failed to learn from my fellow web developer, I failed badly and was knocked of my latter by 3 rungs.

Patience, always be learning has been the key to my success in web development.

Hello World! Is Your Key To Getting Started In Coding

So far, I’ve told you nothing about code. How do I become a web developer if I don’t know anything about code. I spent so much time talking about the right attitude because for me, it has been the most important part of becoming a web developer.

Now how about we code something?

I’ll never forget the rush I felt when I got my first app up and running to see the words on the screen “Hello World!” For every developer, this is a rite of passage as it is the first time you code something successfully in your career. Hello world is a tutorial each developer takes to start to learn how to code. In it, you will learn the basic code structure of an application and how it all works together to show you the words “Hello World.”

For you, you will want to start out by searching for hello world tutorials for the programming language you are trying to get into. Don’t know what language you want to code in yet? No worries, later on in this article, I’ll give you some hints on what a web developer should be looking at to get started.

Now, hello world may seem like a boring way to start, but look at it as your canvas, in which you can use hello world as your jumping off point to create those awesome applications you have been dying to create.

Examples of Hello World in different languages:

//in PHP
echo 'Hello World!';
//in JavaScript
console.log('Hello World!');
<!--in HTML-->
<h1>Hello World!</h1>

The Keys To Becoming A Web Developer Is Patience And A Willingness To Learn

As we pretty heavily covered here, becoming a web developer isn’t about the code, it’s about your attitude. If you are impatience and unwilling to learn, you will never make it as a web developer. The code is a very small part of this process. I’m even convinced that I can teach anyone to code. The difference between those people who are taught to code and a software developer is the willingness to learn.

Becoming A Web Developer – Frequently Asked Questions

Is Web Development For Me?
Web develop is for you if you are willing to learn and are patient with your progress.

How Much Money Could I Make?
Many developer I know, and who have been at it for at least 5 years, are making between $90,000 and $150,000 per year.

Do I Need a Degree?
The fortunate thing about web development is that a degree doesn’t really help, nor hurt, your chances into becoming a very successful web developer. The degree might help you get your foot into the door of a company, but probably will not help you much further than that. You don’t really have to get a degree.

What Programming Language Do I Pick?
The programming language you pick is completely up to you. As far as web development goes, I’d look into PHP, NodeJS (JavaScript), Ruby on Rails, or Java. Those tend to be the most popular way of serving up web pages.

Author: Joshua Johnson

My name is Joshua Johnson and I am the founder of UA1 Labs. I am passionate about helping other developers to become successful in their paths. When I started developing software, I didn't have many resources to help me out. UA1 Labs is my way of giving back to all those who helped me.

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