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As the primary way most users can access or interface with the vast internet resource, web development is at the forefront of the move towards a digital economy. With companies and organizations looking to build or bolster a robust online presence, the demand for qualified, skilled web development professionals has rocketed.

In this next part of our series, we will discuss web developer career paths and where you can expect to take your growth and experience as you progress along a career in this exciting field.

What is Web Development, and Who is a Web Developer?

Web Development is the work involved in developing a website for the Internet (World Wide Web) or an intranet (a private network) and can range from developing a simple single static page of plain text to complex web applications, electronic businesses, and social network services. In other words, web development is concerned with the process of building accessible interfaces for web and mobile applications.

Career Explorer defines a Web Developer as "a professional who is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining websites and web applications. Web developers use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create the layout, style, and functionality of a website. They may also use server-side scripting languages like PHP, Python, and Ruby to develop dynamic websites that can interact with databases and provide personalized content to users."

There are approximately 1.3 billion websites on the Internet, and a new one is launched every three seconds. The average web developer in Canada earned an average salary of about CAD$55,623, and the Canadian Job Bank projects an estimated 10,400 new job openings (both from expansion demand and replacement demand)) for Web designers and developers over the period 2022-2031. It's an exciting time to get into this creative and well-paid profession, so let's pause to look at the career path and areas of specialization you might consider as a web developer.

Web Development Specializations/Career Paths

As a web developer, there are three main paths along which you might specialize, and these are:

Front-End Web Development

Front-end developers create the look and feel of a website or application. It is also the front-end developer's job to capture a client's website's brand and vision through code. You'll work with designers and back-end developers to achieve this. You'll manipulate fonts, colours, menus, and interactive components using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (or any other language used within a tech stack) and debug those components.

Skills: Front-end developers specialize in front-end frameworks. We refer to the front end of a website or application as the "client side" because it is the part the clients (end users) interact with.

A front-end developer might know(depending on your organization's tech stack):

  • HTML and CSS
  • Responsive Web Design
  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • React JS
  • Babel
  • Webpack
  • Computer science fundamentals
  • Testing techniques and tools
  • Bootstrap
  • AngularJS
  • EmberJS
  • jQuery

Day to day A day in the life of a front-end developer will involve regular meetings with the dev and design teams to discuss new projects, get updates on current projects/tasks, and discuss and break down large tasks into sub-tasks delegated to members or groups. You might answer help desk tickets if your company uses them, spend time coding out your assigned tasks, researching and learning new technologies, debugging code, and doing maintenance work on existing assets.

Most front-end developers work with a team, regardless of whether they're at a startup or a large company. If they freelance, they'll likely work with some kind of team but probably less actively than they might at a company. Freelance front-end developers will add operational and managerial tasks to their daily to-do lists, including networking, marketing, time management, and bookkeeping.

Back-End Web Development

Back-end developers configure the servers and databases that power a website or application. As a back-end developer, you'll work with other developers and designers to power the front end of the website. You'll be the architect behind the beautifully-designed site. You might code based on a plan another developer or designer has created or create it yourself. You should also know enough front-end knowledge to connect the front end to the back. Required skills: A back-end developer specializes in working with databases, logic, and server-side languages. We refer to the back-end of a website or application as the "server-side" because it's the component that communicates with the server.

A back-end developer might know:

  • Ruby
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Node.js
  • Software architecture
  • Databases and SQL
  • Testing techniques and tools
  • Computer Science Fundamentals
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Java
  • .Net
  • MySQL
  • SQL Server

Day to day A day in the life of a back-end developer will be similar to that of a back-end developer - meeting with the dev and design teams to breakdown and delegate tasks and sub-tasks, answering help desk tickets coding, debugging work-in-progress code, configuring databases and servers, manipulating data, and turning a mock-up into functional code.

Full-Stack Web Development:

Full-stack developers are knowledgeable in every web development level: front-end and back-end. This is particularly useful if you are interested in freelancing and for those who enjoy working in smaller firms. As a full-stack developer, you'll work with other developers and designers to create websites or applications. You'll have a hand in each part of the website's design and development. You'll plan, code, coordinate, and/or multi-task depending on where your career leads you.

Required skills: A full-stack developer doesn't have just one specialization. They're multi-talented and a high-level doer and thinker. You may think of a 'stack' in the term "full-stack" as the technical components used to create a complete application. So full-stack developers know and work with each layer of the stack.

A full-stack developer might know: - HTML - CSS - JavaScript - Ruby - ReactJS - Node.js - Ruby on Rails - Babel - Webpack - Computer Science Fundamentals - APIs, Databases, and Servers - MongoDB - Express - Angular - Vue - Symfony - MySQL

Day to day: A day in the life of a full-stack developer usually involves meeting with the dev and design teams to architect a website or application, answering help desk tickets, coding, debugging something you've already coded, optimizing your work for multiple platforms, or turning a mock-up into functional code.

Most full-stack developers work with a team, whether they're at a startup or a large company. If they're working freelance, they'll likely be building an entire application, website, or component by themselves. However, they'll still need to communicate with their client as they would a team but in more lay terms. Freelance full-stack developers will also have managerial and operational tasks on their daily to-do lists, including networking, marketing, time management, and bookkeeping. Full-stack developers typically rise through the ranks quickly. They might be put in charge of a small team relatively early on and, depending on their responsibilities at work, can find themselves well-positioned to become a project manager.

The choice of the area of web development to specialize in will come down to your core interests as well as other external factors, such as career opportunities - either in your locality or within your organization. An artistic person with a passion for tech might like to specialize in the front end, while someone with a passion for coding might prefer the back end. Your company might suddenly have an opening for an area you might not have had an interest, and you might feel up to the challenge. The industry is fast-moving, with many exciting opportunities always coming up. Let your passion guide you while also paying attention to developments within the industry.

What's the difference between a software engineer and a developer?

Software engineer and full-stack developer are often used synonymously in the industry.

Sometimes these job titles will mean precisely the same thing, and other times they might mean completely different things. Some employers designate the title "software engineer" to back-end web development, which might be a bit more code-heavy. In contrast, some employers assign the title to a local hardware engineer. Every job title will vary from employer to employer, so ensure you read the job application and requirements to understand the role you are applying for.

Web Developer - Career Advancements

Now that we've looked at the different routes along which you might take your career in web development let's examine what happens as you gain experience in the field. Regardless of what area of web development you specialize in - Front, Back or Full Stack Development - you'll begin moving into more senior roles - assuming more managerial, operational and strategic responsibilities. You will start leading a team of developers, setting their agenda and delegating resources.

Some of your broader duties will involve the following: - You might be in charge of a small team of developers, supervising and managing their output and possibly handling their appraisals and performance assessments. Depending on your organization and the scale of tasks and projects, you might still have to do some coding at the mid to senior level. You might be a hands-on leader wanting to be more involved in some of the granular tasks, or you might decide to delegate some of the smaller tasks and concentrate on making code improvements or writing the code that ties together a project's different code sections. - From merely attending most of your scheduled meetings, as a senior developer, you might be more involved in planning those meetings and their agenda. You will get involved early in projects, meeting with clients and third-party providers like UI/UX professionals and database consultants. - You will set and enforce coding standards for the developers in your team. - As a senior developer and a team leader, you will have some control over your team's budget and resources and the task of assigning them. - You might also get to work with the HR department to select and screen new team members.

Other Career Paths

Having web design and development skills opens up career paths from traditional paid employment. These might include entrepreneurship and consultancy.


As a Web Developer, you might decide to go the startup route, launching a business that offers products and services directly to the end user. You just need a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit and a dash of that good old drive for success.


You might also decide to go Freelance or start a boutique web development outfit. This will be a breeze as a Full-Stack developer as you have all the skills you need to complete an entire web project. Even as a back-end or front-end developer, this is a possible route as long as you surround yourself with partners to ensure you have a well-rounded team covering all aspects of web design and development. Many Lighthouse Labs graduates have successfully set up their own dev shops immediately after an immersive and accelerated program like our Web Development Programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are Web Developers in Demand in Canada?: The Canada Job Bank, which tracks gaps in the labour market, expects a demand of about 10,400 web developers over the ten years of 2022-2031 and expects to have about 12,700 new job seekers to fill them. This 12,700 doesn't represent existing developers but will come from training programs like our Web Development programs and other routes like school leavers and immigration.
  • Will AI replace Web Developers?:This is an exciting topic that has seen a lot of interest since we saw the launch of large language model AI programs like ChatGPT. While we will discuss the phenomenon of AI in a future series, the short answer is no. While AI can automate routine and repetitive tasks, it is far from the level required to replace the nuance and complexity humans bring in tackling web development tasks. Web Developers will instead have to incorporate AI in their workflows. You might not lose your job to AI, but you might lose it to the developer who knows how to use it. So as technology enthusiasts, our stance is not to fear new technologies but to embrace them and use them to achieve higher levels and standards of success.

Learning to code

Thinking about starting a career as a developer? Learn about how Lighthouse Labs can kickstart your journey.

Have a busy schedule? Family commitments? A job you can't leave due to financial considerations? Or perhaps you just prefer a more relaxed pace of learning? Check out our Web Development Flex Program, which allows you to complete the curriculum in thirty weeks.