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How to break into a career in web development

If you’re looking for a new career, it makes sense to head where the demand is. And no job is experiencing quite as much recruitment activity as web development.

According to the jobs site Indeed, demand for full-stack developers has grown by 607% in the last four years and they can command an average salary of £46,542.

“Full-stack”? It means someone versatile enough to code both the pages that users see and all the behind-the-scenes systems and databases, which use a wide range of programming languages and technologies.

Even with all these employment opportunities, it isn’t an easy career: it’s a highly technical field that is always changing. But you don’t necessarily need a degree in computer science if you can demonstrate that you’ve got the practical skills. Here’s how to get up to speed.

 

Research the most relevant technologies 

Even all-rounders need to prioritise their efforts, so it’s important to know which programming languages are most in-demand and to learn them first.

The essentials for front-end development are learning HTML and CSS, the fundamental languages that government how a webpage works and looks, and Javascript, which is used on 93.6% of all websites.

There are tougher choices to make with back-end languages, but the top three for jobs according to Indeed are SQL, Java and Javascript. “Whichever you decide to learn, just stick with it and learn as much as you can about it,” says Daniel Borowski, editor of Coderbyte, a web application for practicing coding skills. “There are jobs out there for all the languages.”

To really shine as a full-stack developer, you’ll also want to understand databases and web storage, the HTTP communications protocol and web application architecture.

 

Find courses to follow

So now you’ve got a wishlist of things to learn, how do you get started? Luckily there’s been an explosion of different ways to learn coding.

Many of these you follow at your own pace at home for free. MDN Web Docs, run by the Mozilla foundation which created the Firefox browser, has a host of resources for beginners. Or you can try programmes such as Codeacademy and freeCodeCamp.org.

Of course, lots of us prefer to learn with an experienced teacher who can help us out when we get stuck and keep us motivated. In that case, you’ll find college courses for every skill level starting with absolute beginners.

 

Participate in communities

Good coders are always learning, especially from each other. So connecting with others online and in the real world is a great way to start practicing your skills.

You can get involved on open-source projects on GitHub, the world’s most-used code hosting platform. If you’re only starting out, you can still play a role by helping with testing or bug reports. And because projects are public, employers will be able to see your growing contributions.

You can also find out more about technical trends by attending conferences, some of which allow volunteers to attend sessions free.

 

Try freelancing to grow your skills

It’s the age-old problem: you can’t get a job until you have the experience, but how do you get the experience without a job?

Software developer James Burt recommends freelancing. You can start by building a website to advertise your own services, which also serves as your calling card, and then tackle increasingly complex projects for customers.

“Those with passion and acumen will always be able to find a place within the industry, regardless of their academic training,” he says.

 

Head here to find out more about our own range of IT and digital courses.

 

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