There’s a growing concern world-over that perhaps traditional university education is dead. More than ever, we’re seeing people opt out of the old learning model and go into self-learning through online courses and books. The reasons are many, but perhaps it’s the high cost of higher learning that has people avoiding student debt and opting for cheaper alternative solutions.
Luckily, there’s an alternative learning path that many aspiring web developers can choose; the self-taught route. When teaching yourself web development, you learn at your own pace using free or paid courses/resources.
But to be successful in the self-learning route, you’ll need to incorporate some of the learning strategies bootcamps use in your journey. In this guide, we’ll be sharing how you can achieve this.
So, grab a pen and a notebook and get ready to learn how to become a self-taught web developer.
Who/What is a “self-taught” Web Developer?
A self-taught web developer is someone who has learned how to code and build websites independently without formal education or traditional classroom learning. They usually rely on online resources like books, tutorials, and hands-on practical experience to develop projects.
To succeed as a self-taught web developer, you’ll need to exercise more self-drive and motivation, seek out resources, practice coding, and continuously grow your skill set.
Even though self-taught developers may not have traditional formal education, they can still build spectacular portfolios, acquire practical experience by contributing to open-source projects, and showcase their expertise through coding challenges and assessments.
Are Web Developers in Demand?
Spoiler alert: they are very much in demand.
Again, web development is among the fastest-growing and in-demand careers in the tech space. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects about 21,800 job openings for web developers and designers each year, on average, over the next decade. This growth is propelled by ecommerce and the Internet of Things (IoT), which requires web developers to build applications suited to different screen sizes.
Steps to Becoming a Self-Taught Web Developer
Let’s cover the several phases you must go through when teaching yourself web development.
Start with the Basics
Pick a Path in Web Development that Excites You
Now that you’ve learnt the fundamentals, the next step is to pick a path. In web development, you’ll likely be veering towards front–end, back-end, or full-stack web development. All three paths require you to learn different frameworks to excel in each.
- Back-end web development: deals with the server side of a web application. Developers in this space normally build the application logic, use APIs, configure databases, test code, and normally work with front-end developers to develop a complete web application. Typically, back-end web developers need to have experience with a back-end programming language such as Ruby, Java, or Python.
- Full-stack web development: merges both front-end and back-end web development. Developers in this space are in high demand as they can work on both sides of a project. While being a full-stack developer is a challenge, it offers a rewarding experience.
Build a Project (Achievable and Realistic)
You’ve now learnt the basics and picked a path. The next step in your journey is to put what you’ve learnt into practice.
This step requires you to build a project without relying on a tutorial or a book. Generally, this is the most efficient way to:
- Identify gaps in your knowledge.
- Develop a mindset of how developers solve and research problems.
- Feel the thrill of making something.
- Build your portfolio.
- Stay motivated in your craft.
When you start building projects, you should avoid jumping to the top stair on the first step. Start by building small projects that are achievable and realistic. Keep the scope small; if you foresee yourself spending more time (days or weeks) on the project, it’s too big. Narrow the scope down.
Also, you’ll need to identify your end goals before starting a project. Set milestones using free project planning software or use Excel or GitHub’s project tracker to track your work. The goal here is to build satisfaction and motivation with what you’ve built.
Depending on the area you’ve chosen to specialize in web development, here are some ideas worth considering for your project:
- Weather app
- To-do list application
- An app for tracking finances
To network means to connect with other developers and learn from them. You stand to gain nothing when you keep yourself in a silo. So, what are the best ways to start networking?
Join Communities or Attend Meetups
Tech communities will help you grow in your field. They offer the perfect blend of challenging and inspiring you simultaneously. You get to meet people in your field who share the same struggles as you do. Also, tech communities allow you to form lifelong friendships with people from different spaces.
Start talking about yourself and what you do through:
- Personal blog
- YouTube channel
- Posting on professional social media channels such as LinkedIn
Ultimately, doing this offers you more exposure and opens you up for immense opportunities in web development.
There’s no shame in asking what you don’t know. This is an excellent way to network with web developers in your space. Platforms like StackOverflow are ideal for asking questions and getting help when stuck.
Learn Workplace Skills
Besides learning technical skills, you’ll need to learn interpersonal and workplace skills to succeed in the industry. These skills allow you to work in the modern workplace, improve your work-life balance, and become a well-rounded developer. They include:
- Communication: The ability to communicate effectively with your co-workers and clients is the backbone of any workplace. This also includes clearly explaining technical concepts, listening to feedback, and resolving conflicts.
- Problem-solving: As a web developer, you’ll need to identify and solve problems effectively.
- Time management: Web developers work with tight deadlines and need to manage their time effectively when working on given tasks. Collaboration: Web developers typically engage with different stakeholders within a workplace. This requires them to demonstrate emotional intelligence, professionalism, and empathy for others.
We hope this article has brought some understanding of how to become a self-taught web developer. And yes, becoming a self-taught developer and landing a role or working freelance is possible.
If you’re ready to start learning web development and prefer to learn through a more structured path, take the next step and enroll in the Zero to Mastery web development bootcamp. This bootcamp features a modern curriculum that will move you from novice to ninja and get hired as a web developer.
With determination and hardwork, you can achieve your goals and become a fantastic web developer.
Have fun and good luck!