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As a teenager, one of my fondest memories was publishing the first web page I designed using Microsoft's FrontPage. There it was, in its flaming header and neon-text horror, and yet how proud I was of the achievement.

There are few vocations more creatively fulfilling than being a web developer. You can dream up these fantastic visions and watch them come to life. And you know the kicker? It's also one of the best-paying tech jobs out there. You get paid for fun, creative and fulfilling work.

How do I become a web developer?

Before discussing how to become a web developer, we first have to understand who a web developer is and the skills needed to succeed in a career as one.

The Government of Canada classifies people who use a variety of programming languages to design, create and modify websites as web developers and programmers. Still, perhaps a more succinct definition might be that from Career Explorer, which defines a web developer as "a professional who is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining websites and web applications."

The skills you need to become a web developer

As a web development professional, you must have some front-end and back-end development skills, web design and server management skills, and the mental and behavioural attitudes required to work and collaborate effectively with others.

We'll classify these into hard and soft skills.

Hard or technical skills

Hard skills are the technical and academic knowledge professionals require to work in their field. For example, the knowledge you get from an educational program would be considered a part of your hard skills. We'll classify these into three categories:

  • Core coding skills: You will need to have the foundational programming skills. These include HTML, CSS and JavaScript for front-end structure and interactivity, as well as back-end languages like Python and Ruby.
  • UI/UX Ddsign skills: As a web developer, your job is to bring visions and ideas to life. You'll have to be familiar with the elements of good design and know how to bring your clients' ideas and concepts to life. You'll have to be comfortable working with design software like Figma and other wireframing and presentation software.
  • Back-end development or database knowledge: For a fully dynamic, interactive web experience with deep functionality, you should understand database design and management programs and languages like Python and SQL.
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Soft skills

Soft skills refer to those more abstract concepts, like attitudinal, behavioural, mental and sometimes physical abilities, that will help candidates thrive in a professional and collaborative work environment. These might include abstracts like collaboration, time-planning and creative thinking abilities.

  • Creativity: As a web developer, creativity is a core part of your identity. You have to envision, plan and bring to life ideas and concepts that reflect your clients' vision and values.
  • Attention to detail: You don't want to write hundreds of lines of code and start getting errors in your implementation because of a misplaced semicolon. As a web developer, you must pay great attention to detail to avoid costly mistakes and delays.
  • Organization and time management skills: As a developer and creative, you will work on multiple projects while attending to other routine non-development tasks. Excellent organization and time-management skills will help you stay on top of your workload.

Learn more about the skills you need to become a Web Developer.

Gain the skills required to become a web developer

Once you've researched the skills needed to become a successful web developer, the next stage involves checking out the methods of getting them that fits your circumstance. There are three main ways you can get the soft and hard skills you need to become a successful web developer:

  • Self-study: You can learn almost anything online with the time, patience and discipline to commit to a self-directed learning schedule. Many free resources available online will help you gain the technical skills you will need for a successful career in web development. This is perhaps the least costly option of all the options we will be looking at. However, It involves focus and commitment, and you will only learn hard or technical skills. You will have to find other ways to build your soft skills.
  • College Degree: Many tech-related college degrees will give you a solid foundation to become a web developer. A computer science or other programming-related degree will provide you with a strong background in computer languages and systems, while a creative degree in design and graphics will give you an excellent foundation for front-end design. With college degrees, you will also focus on acquiring technical and general soft skills. Like the self-study option, you must find innovative ways to build your industry-specific soft skills.
  • Dedicated Bootcamp: One of the best ways to acquire a well-rounded education that teaches both the soft and hard skills needed to succeed in a career as a web developer is to take an intensive bootcamp dedicated to web development and to helping you learn all the necessary skills you will need to succeed in the profession. It is also the quickest path if you're just starting your career or a mid-career professional looking to switch. Bootcamps like our immersive, full-time or flexible, part-time Web Development Bootcamp, with an industry-aligned curriculum and expert mentors, will help you learn both the hard and soft skills you need to succeed in your exciting new career as a web developer.

Ready, set, go! Build a portfolio and begin applying for jobs

The final step to becoming a web developer is getting your first job. Set time aside to build a portfolio (your portfolio likely already had a headstart in a dedicated, hands-on bootcamp) as you send out those first applications and attend networking and recruitment events. Take on personal projects like building a personal website or a website for a local business. You can join in coding challenges or collaborate with friends on larger projects. Every bit of development work you do and add to your resume will help to make you an attractive candidate for prospective employers.

And then, continue to send out those resumes and practicing your interviewing skills. At Lighthouse Labs, our Career Services team will work with you throughout this process with career consultations, resume and interview workshops, matching you with employers that fit your career aspirations and many more. And it's for life! That means they will always be available to support you whenever you're ready to make your next career move.

Learn some of the common interview questions for a web developer

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to become a web developer?

It can take anywhere from 3 months with a dedicated program like the Lighthouse Labs Web Development Bootcamp to more than a few years with a college degree. It all depends on how much time and resources you devote to your dreams of becoming a web developer.

How do I become a web developer in Canada?

In Canada, you can become a web developer through self-study, taking a college or university degree, or attending an intensive, accelerated bootcamp, which is the quickest and most efficient way to get you all the skills you will need to succeed as a web developer.

Ready to begin your journey to a career in tech? Download the Web Development curriculum here, or click the button below to visit our web development bootcamp page and see which of our delivery method is right for you!