Inside Web Developer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises


"Referrals Are Currency...
I was surprised by the amount of business I get through clients and word of mouth. We don't even have a need to advertise (but we do) 90% of our work comes through previous clients recommending us and I never expected the success we had with just this method. Indeed it seems this is the case for a lot of web design companies, there is an incredible amount that exist out there you may never hear of because they don't advertise publicly and just rely on repeat business and references. So if your considering this field keep this in mind because it is really good to know when your just getting started, find three clients and those three will become nine, and so on." (Creative Director/ Web Developer; 2014)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Web Design at Spokane Community College in Washington; completed Associate degree


"Technology Never Stops Evolving...
I was surprised how much technology changes every year. You will have to get certified in a new one all the time." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Computer Science at Tusculum College in Tennessee; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"I Was Happy That I Can Still Be A Good Web Developer Even If I Don't Like Art...
I was amazed at how well I was able to function in this job without being very artistic. I was always afraid to get into this field because of the design tasks, but that's not really a big problem in the real world." (Web Development; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Business Information Systems at Liberty University in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Typical Office Job...
I was surprised to find how very typical and office-like the job is. I knew it would be very standard and run of the mill, but it really is just like Office Space." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Applied Computer Science at Eastern Michigan University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"The rate of change is amazing. There are new approaches and tools appearing constantly. You need to stay up to date." (Currently Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Digital Flight Simulator Specialist at US Air Force Technical Training School, Chanute AFB in Illinois; completed Certificate degree in 1980


"Customer's Expectations...
I was surprised at what some people expect to get for their money. Some people expect you to support their website forever." (Webmaster; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied CIS - Webmaster at MHCC in Oregon; completed Associate degree in 2008


"Fast Pace In The Work Field...
What surprised me the most about my career is how fast technology changes and how quick we have to adapt to it in order to keep up with competition." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Stony Brook University in New York; completed Bachelor degree


"I was surprised to find how difficult it is to achieve mainstream work in web development. The need to have a steady, archived portfolio was also a it overwhelming and could have been better stressed while in college." (Freelance Web Author/Developer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computers / Information Management at University Of Texas in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Good Communication Skills Are Also Important...
I was surprised that having a career in an IT field, technical skills aren't enough. To succeed you also need to be a very effective communicator." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, male
School: Studied Programming at Community College Of Aurora in Colorado; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Diversify Your Education...
The most surprising aspect of my career is the level of communication that takes place during development. Website creation does not happen in a vacuum - you are constantly consulting with clients and continuously redesigning websites to satisfy customers. A good web developer is a strong communicator and savvy business professional." (Website Developer, Manager Of Online Advertising; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Computer Science, Web Development, Ecommerce at University Of Michigan in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"Teamwork Requires Very Specific Skills...
I was surprised when I got put on a team of developers, all of whom I had to collaborate with. I never knew I'd be on a team, so my skills were a bit lacking in that area." (PHP Developer; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Maryland in Maryland; completed Bachelor degree in 2001


"Immigrants Competing With Outsourcing Firms For Jobs...
I'm an immigrant in the US who sometimes does freelance web development work. I found it very surprising that I found myself competing with outsourcing firms in India, China and Russia for freelance jobs. Which is ironic considering I come from India." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Columbia University in New York; completed Master degree in 2009


"Communication Is Necessary...
I was always under the impression that programmers work alone in a dark room and just type all day. But actually, you need to communicate often with your client and colleagues." (Website Designer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Montgomery College in Maryland; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Communication In Web Developing...
I was surprised that by far the most important aspect of my career is having good interpersonal skills and communicating effectively. Knowing how to code all the html/css etc is important obviously, but effectively communicating with the client to design their vision is what I've found to be the most important aspect of the job." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied Web Design at Rio Salado in Arizona; completed Associate degree in 2012


"You're Always Learning Something New, Because The Technology Is Ever-Changing...
I was somewhat surprised, although not completely, at how fast the technology moves in this profession. It's an industry that's in it's most nascent stages, so everything moves very quickly. The technology/programming language you use today will be yesterdays news in about six months where the next best thing will be starting to catch on. You really have to be on top of your reading and learning otherwise you'll find your websites out of date and not running as optimally as they could." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Information Systems at Portland State University in Oregon; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"I was surprised with where advancement led to. By advancing you would require much more interpersonal skills. I work in a consulting firm so a lot of the time for the team leaders is spent in meetings talking with clients trying to get a clear idea of what they want." (Web Programmer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Computer Science/Economics at Trinity University in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"Ongoing Training...
I am surprised that there is a constant need to be educated in this field. Technology gets outdated and so one degree a while ago isn't going to cut it. You have to get ongoing training for new things to be at the top of your game." (Web Design Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Web Design at University Of Phoenix in Arizona; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Discipline And Communication Very Necessary...
The extremely flexible hours are great, but it also means that you need to have a certain level of discipline to ensure you stay on track with work. It is also important to have great communication, as you want to fully understand the needs of a client to avoid wasting time on work that does not please them." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Old Dominion University in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Web Development Requires Psychology...
I believe some people would be surprised that web development requires a lot of understanding of people and how they work. There's a lot of psychology involved in organizing the data effectively and making software genuinely usable and effective." (Systems Programmer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Mary Washington in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2005


"Source Control Knowledge Is Key...
I was surprised how important version control software knowledge was. College did not prepare me to use this type of software, and it was something I quickly had to learn on the job. It has taken several years to master and is the number one area I felt my college curriculum lacked preparing me for the real world." (Sr. Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Auburn University in Alabama; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"Software And Web Programming Is Always Changing...
That it's hard to get into." (Graphic Designer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Computer Graphics And Multimedia Programming at Belmont Technical College in Ohio; completed Associate degree in 2004


"Finished Projects Are Not As Perfect As They Appear...
I was surprised that Web Developing is not as professional as it was made out to be, many websites have errors and faults that are up and running at the moment without someone working on fixing them." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Connecticut, male
School: Studied Computer Science Engineer at University Of Connecticut in Connecticut; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"I was surprised to learn that most of the things I would be doing in my career I already knew how to do. Taking this course just taught me a few tricks and techniques to do them better and faster." (Website Designer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Medical Coding And Billing, Website Design at Penn Foster in Indiana; completed Certificate degree in 2009


"Huge Variation Of Skills And Opportunities...
The amount of different fields and skills that exist within the field itself. You never stop learning but as long as you are motivated there are so many different opportunities in the field." (Web Designer; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, female
School: Studied Graphics Design at Horizon College; completed Associate degree in 2001


"Coding Skills Proved To Be Very Important And Useful...
I was surprised at how much coding knowledge I acquired in school in comparison to the real world." (Web Developer; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computer Science at UNT in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"I Didn't Realize How Much Work Went Into Training Clients To Maintain Their Own Websites...
I was surprised at how being a web developer means also being a teacher for clients. It not only includes designing and developing websites but also developing tutorials for clients that wish to maintain their sites on their own." (Web Designer; 2013)

Career: 16 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Art And Design at Southern Illinois University In Carbondale in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 1999


"Not Everyone Is As Prepared...
I was surprised by the lack of computer knowledge at the university I work for. For the most part, I'd been around those who have known what they're doing technology-wise, and it was very difficult at first seeing as I had assumed others would have more of a background than they do." (Communications Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Information Technology at Kansas State University in Kansas; completed Master degree in 2009


"Choose Your School Wisely...
I was surprised by how much my education was lacking when I started applying for jobs. I did not feel at all prepared and I left a few interviews feeling pretty low." (Graphic Designer; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Utah, female
School: Studied Graphic Design at Eaglegate College in Utah; completed Associate degree in 2006


"You Must Adapt Quickly...
I was surprised at how many support questions people have. Some people are really computer illiterate and you literally have to walk them through the most basic things. It really improves your communication skills." (Web Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied History at University Of Illinois in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"I was surprised that the demand for it seems to come in spurts. At times, it's like there are tons of job offers and you make a lot of money and then you can go thru a dry spell of a couple months before you get another good paying job." (Web Designer; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Graphic Design Communications Specialization at New River Valley Community College in Virginia; completed Associate degree in 1999


"I was surprised to find that web design requires me to know about marketing. I thought the clients or company would provide the content for the website, but that is not the case in small companies or small businesses." (Web Designer & Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Business Administration And Computer Science at Eureka College in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 1987


"It's actually common nowadays for us to joke about how impossible it is for most people to find jobs as developers/programmers. A slight exaggeration of a typical ad for any programmer may read like this: * Great entry level programmer opening * Preferred candidates should have 4 to 6 years of previous professional programming experience * Must have at least 10 years experience with a language that's only 3 years old * Must be comfortable acting as your own boss in the cage we provide you As I said, that is a slight exaggeration but many younger programmers are actually screwed entering a professional setting since the people hiring them don't understand that you can't have 10 years experience with a 3 year old language and that their unwillingness to bend for those just entering the profession is the reason that there isn't a shortage of programmers but we also see an abundance of startups. The younger ones have no real option for work experience other than to go to a startup or start their own; it will likely fail after less than a million in funding but at least it's experience for them they can put on their resume. I was lucky to fall into my first programming job right before I even graduated. I never went to school to learn. I went their merely to get the piece of paper that says I know what I already knew. I did learn some things but primarily I just wanted the piece of paper. But what I still notice from ads I see posted younger programmers probably still have a hard time find a job." (Web Developer/Designer; 2012)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Web Development at ITT Technical Institute in Ohio; completed Associate degree

Best & Worst Things About This Career


Web Developer: "The single most enjoyable part of my job is that it provides challenges that require me to be creative. No one can tell you that there is only one way to program. Every programmer or web developer has their own "style" very much like a painter has a style." (2011)


Senior Web Programmer: "The best part is that you get to learn a lot. Web pages require extensive knowledge of a variety of fields and new technologies and standards come up all the time. Additionally, web companies are BOOMING thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, and everyone wants in on the action. There's big bucks to be made in the industry, so that's a plus. The worst part of the career is having to deal with clients. I'm sure this is true in most industries, but it's particularly bothersome in this one as clients constantly change their minds about design requirements, both graphic and functional. Many times we need material from the client (logo design, information about the business or what they want on their web page) and it can take weeks for the client to turn it in, which delays development and the overall project." (2011)


Web Developer: "The worst part of my career is the documentation of the work I do. The main reason I become a website designer was to program and design things. No programmer wants to document what they have done but, it is a very necessary thing to do. On top of that, it typically turns out that the documentation takes more time than the actual programming. Although this isn't a huge turn off, it is something to think about." (2011)


Web Designer: "The best part of my job can also be the worst part of my job, and that is working with new web technologies, such as developing mobile web sites for smart phones. I love to work with new technology, but very often, it's hard to keep pace of what is new and upcoming. In my career experience, management has always been keen on letting us explore different ways of getting things done and brought to the users." (2011)


Web Developer: "The best part of the job is the gratification you get when a job is complete. You get a feeling of satisfaction having built something, even if it is virtual and intangible. The worst part of the job is having to convince clients not to hinder projects with their own bad ideas. Since clients usually have specialties that aren't related to the web, they can have a hard time understanding why you are trying to talk them out of doing it the way they want to. The only thing you can do is try to give them the best advice possible and hope they listen. They are the ones who are paying, so if they really want something, you have to give in after awhile." (2010)

Career Background


Web Developer

  Salaries
  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips


"Chose Your Field Because You Love It, Not Because Of The Paycheck...
Make sure you chose a career path you will be happy in and not just because of the financial picture" (Web Designer; 2014)


"Your Website Should Speak For Itself...
If you are looking for a career in web design, the number one most important part of getting clients to begin with is having a good online portfolio. Having a clean and concise web page is important, it's what people are going to determine if they are going to hire you by the most." (Creative Director/ Web Developer; 2014)


"Become A Part Of Your Career...
If you want to be successful at your job, make it what you do. Don't do it just because I get paid for it, do it because it's a part of you. Make it a part of who you are." (Web Developer; 2014)


"Be Confident...
You have to be outgoing in the Graphic Design field. Your education and portfolio are very important, but if you can't sell yourself you won't get the job. Confidence is key, be proud of your work." (Graphic Designer; 2014)


"Know When It's Best To Use Your Knowledge...
From a web development point of view, keep up with every new web technology that is thrown at you. That does not mean that you should use all the technologies. Most of them are fads. Gaining knowledge of said technologies and applying the best ones to a problem is the key to being a successful web developer." (Web Developer; 2013)


"You Don't Need To Be An Artist To Be A Good Web Designer...
Try to build as many websites as you can. There's so many options to use that it's really important to know which vendors you like to use." (Web Development; 2013)


"Be Patient And Always Remember To "Over-Communicate"...
Communication is the key for success in this field. With that comes a lot of patience and empathizing with how confused and overwhelmed the client may feel." (Web Designer; 2013)


"Real Learning Happens Outside Of Class...
If you are really interested in this field, don't just learn through your classes. Get involved and learn on your own as well." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Early Experience...
Get as much experience in college as you can." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Get Your Hands Dirty And Start Coding...
The biggest thing is just to get out there and start working on projects, as hands-on experience is the best way to get started. Many employers will care more about what kind of work you have done and how comfortable you are with various technologies, rather than details on paper like GPA's or degrees." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Learn To Talk With Others...
Take as many math and business classes as you possibly can. Companies are not looking for someone who hides in their office all day working on code - they want the idea generation that comes from being a strong communicator." (Website Developer, Manager Of Online Advertising; 2013)


"Take Business Management Courses...
Be sure and take some business management courses if you are planning on being self-employed. Managing your business is a big part of the time you spend working." (Webmaster; 2013)


"Keep Up In Class...
Programming classes dump a ton of information into your head all at once. If you fall behind in class, make sure you seek help or you risk being left behind." (Website Designer; 2013)


"Improving At Web Design...
Practice, practice, practice. Whether it's web design, programming or any other occupation that requires coding, repetition is a key. The more you write, the more comfortable you become. Also there's a ton of helpful information out there that may not be covered in a class so go search for it whenever you have the time." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Good Pay...
If you can handle it, there can be very rewarding work/pay." (Web Design Engineer; 2013)


"Adapting In The Workplace...
Get used to working under people that have tight deadlines for you. Also, improve your communication skills." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Have Multiple Tools In Your Development Tool Belt...
Be as multi-faceted as you can in terms of your knowledge. Don't just focus on JavaScript or html/css. Expand your knowledge base across a variety of different technologies/libraries/languages. This will help you tremendously within your current position and in particular as you begin to look for better opportunities." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Use Personal Skills...
Web development really is a typical office job. Since it is, personal skills are always going to be a must." (Web Developer; 2013)


"General Ed Helps Support Good Software Design...
Don't take psychology and your general education classes for granted... creating software for people really requires an interdisciplinary approach." (Systems Programmer; 2013)


"You Will Be Much Happier With A Fast Computer...
Buy a fast computer. You are going to be spending most of your life working on one, might as well have a good one." (Web Developer; 2013)


"Learn To Communicate Well...
Learn to work in teams, and communicate effectively." (PHP Developer; 2013)


"Fanatical Work Ethic Takes You Farther...
Having a high quality work ethic will go far in this field. In my limited work experience I have outlasted many of my peers through several lay-offs by having a great work ethic. Most of my peers are lazy and unwilling to help co-workers, and those type of people are first up on the chopping block." (Sr. Web Developer; 2013)


"Employers Want 4 Year Degree Job Seekers...
get a 4 year degree." (Graphic Designer; 2013)


"Be Different...
Play to your strengths and don't be afraid to do something that hasn't been done there before." (Communications Coordinator; 2013)


"Seek Out Volunteer Projects...
There are many places on the web which can allow a new developer to get their feet wet. Volunteer work for charities can go a long way not only to getting visible work on the market, but in making good connections. Start early, compile all the types of projects you do, possibly making a blog through which you can track your progress." (Freelance Web Author/Developer; 2013)


"Develop Alternative Skills For Slow Times...
When going to school I would learn all you can about different areas in computers, I work as a web designer but I can also build a computer and work on them as a side job if/when needed." (Website Designer; 2013)


"Have A Strong Technical Base...
Take a variety of computer science classes if you do consulting. You never know when it will be useful. Also realize you probably will be interacting with people, so work on those skills." (Web Programmer; 2013)


"Two Main Choices...
There are two main approaches you can take. 1) Be a generalist who knows both back end and front end development. Front being HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. Back being PHP, ASP, Python and some database skills. This is best if you get bored doing the same thing all the time. 2) Pick one area Front, Back or Database. Devote yourself to a particular focus within one of those areas." (Currently Web Developer; 2013)


"Study Hard And Work Hard...
Stay on top of technology and keep building your portfolio!" (Web Developer; 2013)


"Build A Free Web Site For A Non-Profit...
When just starting out volunteer to create some web site for local human service organizations or your church or synagogue. As you build up a portfolio of completed work, you'll be able to send people to those web sites when you are looking for work. Even if you are mainly interested in graphic design and are seeking positions in web site design, you should learn some JavaScript. No matter where you work in Web Development you'll encounter this language and need to know how to make sense of it." (Web Developer; 2011)


"Freelance In College If You Can...
If you can start working in college, even as a freelancer, I strongly advice it. A lot of the things that you learn in college are just the theoretical basis and you're going to need a lot more than that to be successful in the field. Learn and research the basics of graphic design. It's an incredibly useful skill and will take you a long way, and it can give you an edge over the competition. Make sure you like what you do. Most web developers can spend up to 8+ hours per day doing nothing but coding for weeks at a time." (Senior Web Programmer; 2011)


"Three Tips For Success...
My three biggest tips to become a successful web developer are the following: First, even if you are not artistic, take courses in interface design or design in general. The goal of website design is to make things look good, and if you have no idea what goes into that, you will be lost. Two, take a course in public speaking. Speaking to a group of clients is an important part of the job, so having the ability to verbally communicate one's ideas in an organized manner is a huge plus. Finally, continue studying on your own. Always look at developing technologies and take an interest in them." (Web Developer; 2011)


"Tips For Web Developers...
If you're keen on learning web design, be sure to learn a programming language and syntax, whether it's DotNet or PHP, to get the basics. Also make sure you learn JavaScript. If you learn a programming language, it will make JavaScript that much easier to pick up. Make sure you learn about usability of web sites. Accessibility of disabled users and user experience on web sites is very important these days. I would also suggest learning and developing project management skills. Learn project methodologies. They are employed in the Information Technology field, regardless of the project." (Web Designer; 2011)


"Be Prepared To Solve Problems On Your Own...
1. The more skills you have the better. In addition to design and programming, you should have excellent writing, verbal and customer service skills. 2. Never say "I can't." This may seem obvious, but I have seen people who want to learn how to do their own web work and fail because they just aren't persistent. Just be calm, determined and remember that hard work pays off. 3. Don't be afraid to ask for help but do not rely on it. Realize to some extent that you have to solve problems by yourself to be successful. There will be many days when there is no one there to help you and you need an answer ASAP. Be an effective problem solver." (Web Developer; 2010)