What Does a Web Developer Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Alexandra Gordon © The Balance 2019

Web developers need a combination of graphic design skills and technical computer skills that will allow them to create particular designs on web pages. In addition to looking nice, websites need to be functional and secure. It is the responsibility of web developers to create such sites that meet the requirements of employers or clients. Web developers often are implementing ideas that others may have even those others lack the technical know-how to turn those ideas into an actual, functional website.

Web Developer Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Graphic design
  • Know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and other relevant web design coding languages
  • Collaborate
  • Present design specs
  • Troubleshoot website problems
  • Maintain and update websites
  • Stay up-to-date on technology

Web developers build and shape visitors’ experiences at websites. They do this through the creation of page layouts (headings and paragraphs), website styling (colors and fonts), and page features (animations and pictures). Interactive features, such as submitting online payments securely, are a necessary feature of ecommerce sites.

Web developers work closely with project managers and designers to ensure that final products adhere to predetermined budgets, scope, and designs. Web developers sometimes need to be able to show employers or clients a prototype of a website to help them understand what the finished product will be.

Website maintenance also is an important element of the job. As new features need to be added or old features need to be updated, web developers need to make sure these changes are implemented smoothly and that they do not disrupt the website’s features.

Web Developer Salary

Web developers who can create and maintain attractive and user-friendly websites are in high demand, and those with proven ability have higher earning power, as expected.

  • Median Annual Salary: $69,430 ($33.38/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $124,480 ($59.84/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $37,930 ($18.23/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

In some settings, web developers can get started with no more than a high school diploma, but an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree typically is needed to advance in the field.

  • Education: Many high school classes cover the basics of web design and graphic design necessary to the field, and some web developers are self-taught. Many employers still will seek candidates with associate’s degrees in web design or something similar. Some more detail-oriented positions will require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer programming, computer science, or something similar.
  • Certification: Certifications are not necessary, but job candidates can make themselves more marketable by earning certifications in areas such as JavaScript or SQL through online courses.

Web Developer Skills & Competencies

In addition to the technical skills necessary for the job, there are several soft skills that can be very beneficial to anyone looking for a career as a web developer:

  • Detail-oriented: One line of code can have a significant impact on a website’s functionality or appearance, and web developers need to be sure they aren’t missing key details. When troubleshooting, they need to be able to know where to look for the problem.
  • Multitasking: Projects aren’t always handled one at a time, and one client’s emergency sometimes can push another project to the backburner. Web developers need to be able to juggle multiple projects without missing deadlines.
  • Self-motivated: The work can be solitary at times. Web developers need to be able to stay on task without anyone standing over them.
  • Problem-solving: Websites need to be functional as well attractive, and clients’ needs in these regards might not always be easy to meet. Web developers need to figure out how to translate a client’s vision to an actual, functional website.
  • Good under pressure: Tight deadlines are common when designing or updating websites. Developers need to be able to handle the pressure of having work done when needed.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for web developers are expected to expand by about 15% or the decade ending in 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is more than twice the 7% rate projected for all occupations. Growth is attributed to the increasing popularity of e-commerce and mobile applications for multiple tasks.

Work Environment

Web developers work for a variety of employers in the government, nonprofit, and corporate sectors. However, many also work independently on a contract basis or for web development firms. The majority of the work is on a computer, so it’s important to be comfortable sitting at a desk for long stretches of time. Not all work is in front of the computer, however. Web developers often have to consult with employers or clients about the needs of the site and to review progress.

Work Schedule

Work generally follows a typical business work week, but web developers working remotely for clients in other time zones—especially those overseas—need to be available to talk or otherwise correspond at times convenient for those clients.

How to Get the Job

APPLY

Apply directly with employers or research ads on sites like GitHub, Authentic, and Stack Overflow.

ONLINE PORTFOLIO

Showcase your previous work with examples you can post on a website. Sites like Codeburst and Mockplus offer several examples of quality portfolios.

RESUME

Review advice on creating the best possible resume.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in working as a web developer also might consider one of the following career paths, listed with median annual salaries: