Web Developer At Work With Code On The Screen

Are coding jobs in demand in 2021?

From big companies to small, coding career opportunities are as high as ever, and the demand continues to grow. In fact, software-focused roles make up some of the highest in-demand occupations in Canada, according to the Information and Communications Technology Council.

These tech roles include:

  • Software Developers
  • Data Scientists
  • Data Analysts
  • UX/UI Designers
  • Full stack Developers
  • Cybersecurity Analysts
  • DevOps Engineers
  • Machine Learning Engineers
  • Database Administrators
  • IT Support Specialists

It may seem like having many new developers enter the workforce would create competition, but demand in different specializations remains high. The key to a long, successful career in the web development industry is deciding on your specialization and pivoting if you feel that you don’t like your niche.

Coding careers are generally categorized into three main specializations (click to jump to section):

Similarly, these positions come in a few different formats:

  • Full-time (remote or in-person)
  • Freelance
  • Part-time (remote or in-person)

These coding careers each provide their own fulfilling outlooks and a variety of ways to specialize, learn, and grow. In fact, Randstad ranks web developers as the number one IT and technology job in Canada.

How much do coders make in a year?

Financially, the average salary for a software developer in Canada is $66,341, according to PayScale. Conversely, a full-stack developer in Canada on average earns $69,280 per year with pay increasing significantly moving through the ranks from junior to intermediate to senior.

Similarly, Lighthouse Labs graduates earn on average $53,280 per year for their first job post-bootcamp. Three years into their career, Lighthouse Labs graduates earn on average $85,240 per year.

Career paths for web developers

How do I start a career in coding?

Avenues to become a web developer are broadening. Many employers no longer require a four-year computer science bachelor's degree. Instead, alternative forms of education, like a coding bootcamp, associate’s degree, or demonstrable programming experience as a freelancer are seen as valuable.

Let’s go through each of the primary career arcs and what you’ll do in each role:

Common coding careers

Full-stack developer career path

Full-stack developers are knowledgeable in every level of web development: both front-end and back-end. 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 websites' 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 technology 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

Once they’re employed in the field, a full-stack developer, like any developer, should constantly learn. They might find that each employer requires them to learn new programming languages or technology. They might find that each employer requires them to learn a new technology or language. A coding bootcamp graduate should be more than up for this task and might even enjoy employing their learning again.

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 layman’s terms. Freelance full-stack developers also add business-building tasks to their daily to-do lists including networking, marketing, time management, and bookkeeping.

Full-stack developers typically rise through the ranks the most quickly and might find themselves in charge of a small team relatively early on. They also, depending on the responsibilities they take on at work, might find themselves well positioned to become a project manager in the future.

Front-end developer career path

Front-end developers create the look and feel of a website or application. As a front-end developer you’ll work with designers and back-end developers to make the website look and feel the way the client or designers want. You’ll manipulate fonts, colours, menus, and interactive components using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (or any other language used within a tech stack) and debugging 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:

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

Day to day

A day in the life of a front-end developer might involve meeting with the dev and designs teams to create plans, answer help desk tickets if your company uses them, coding, researching the best technology to use for a project, debugging something you’ve already coded, and turning a designer’s mock-up into functional code.

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 not as actively as they might while at a company. Freelance front-end developers will also add business building tasks to their daily to-do lists including networking, marketing, time management, and bookkeeping.

Back-end developer career path

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 off of a plan another developer or designer has created or create the plan yourself.

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 usually involves meeting with the dev and design teams to make plans for projects, answering help desk tickets if your company uses them, coding, debugging something you’ve already coded, configuring databases and servers, manipulating data, and turning a mock-up into functional code.

Get a headstart on the skills you need to become a developer

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 exactly the same thing. While at other employers, these two job titles may mean completely different things. Some employers designate back-end tasks to software engineers while keeping their full-stack developer a generalist who works with every layer of the web application.

person learning how to code

Some employers expect software engineers to work with local computer systems instead of web applications and websites. Then there are companies that assign software engineers to code heavy tasks while putting full-stack developers on tasks like user experience research, front-end design, architecture planning, and deployment, along with some coding tasks. Long story short, read the job description before applying.

Every job title will vary from employer to employer.

Additional Coding Career Specializations

There are plenty of job opportunities out there for you as a developer, whether that's back-end, front-end, or full-stack. You’ll be able to find jobs full-time, part-time, on-site, or remote. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even freelance temporarily to get more experience during your job search or full-time to start your own business.

Web developers are in demand in virtually every industry. Expand your horizons even further by exploring careers in development beyond as a web developer.

Alternative career paths to being a web developer (excluding the titles mentioned above) include:

  • Software Engineer
  • Full-Stack Engineer
  • Full-Stack Software Engineer
  • Full-Stack Architect
  • UI/UX Developer
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Technical Product Manager
  • Front-end Engineer
  • JavaScript Developer
  • HTML/CSS Developer
  • Front-end Web Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Front-end Quality Assurance Engineer (QA Engineer)
  • Mobile App Developer
  • Technical Writer
  • Dev Marketer
  • Business Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Scrum Master

At the end of the day, all these roles are trying to solve problems by writing code. All programming jobs require a great deal of problem solving, coding skills, and programming experience. Learning to code is the first step in starting a career in the tech industry.

Is coding a good career?

The short answer to this question is yes, coding is a good career. There are many benefits to computer programming careers but like most careers, there are a number of drawbacks as well.

Let’s start by reviewing the benefits:

Pros to coding jobs

  • Set your own hours: Coders are often able to set their own hours and enjoy a flexible work schedule. This is most common with freelancers but can be negotiated into your contract with a full-time or part-time employer.
  • Work remote: Given the nature of the job, it is not always required for a coder to be in-office to do their job. Many employers offer work remote or work from home options to their development team.
  • Casual dress code: Obviously if you’re working from home the dress code will be quite casual; however, most in-office coding jobs will have a fairly relaxed dress code. This will vary from workplace to workplace and depend largely on the industry and company you work for but for the most part, coder dress codes are quite casual.
  • Pay: Computer programmers have some of the best salary ranges in the world. Entry-level computer programmers can expect to earn a starting salary of $57,935 per year.
  • Continued growth and learning: For some, continued learning is an exciting way to keep their job interesting. Learning new programming languages and systems or staying up to day on data science innovations. Constant growth and development provides a rewarding way to challenge your mind and better your programming skills and your role as a developer in general.

Despite being ranked the number one tech job in Canada, there are some negative aspects to the job to consider before jumping into computer coding.

Cons to coding jobs

  • Isolating: Programming jobs can be fairly isolating. Many roles are less people-focused and more independent. Interactions with clients or coworkers may be minimal and delays in communication can leave coders feeling isolated.
  • Gaps in understanding: Frustration can build when working for a company or client that does not understand a developer’s role, scope, or the value of the work.
  • Long hours or burnout: There can be many contributing factors to long hours or computer programming burnout. Some of which include difficult clients, delays in communication, review and approval lag, gaps in understanding, or tight deadlines.
  • Continued growth and learning: To some, the constant upkeep of continued learning can be a con. New tech, skills, frameworks, programming languages — these all require software developers to stay on top of updates and advancements to do their job at max efficiency.
  • Lack of diversity: Looking worldwide as of 2020, 91.5% of developers were male, 8% were female, and the remaining 0.5% were non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-confirming. Diversity is important because it increases empathy, contributes to creativity and risk taking, helps us learn, grow, and practice open mindedness.

Pros and cons to coding careers

Job satisfaction of computer programmers

Job satisfaction is rated high as a coder. Satisfaction is based on salary, work environment, utilization of skills, finding enjoyment and meaning in the work, and how well matched their personality is fit for the role.

The combination of pay, autonomy, and job flexibility results in computer systems engineers being quite happy compared to people in other professions.

Learning to code

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