Websites are everywhere you look in the digital world.
We use them for shopping, to work, or when we need to find the nearest fast food joint. Websites, it seems, are everywhere, and everything today is available through a website.
But who builds these powerhouses, and how long should it take to learn to create one? Who exactly are the wizards behind websites and web applications?
Luckily, you’re about to learn more.
These extremely brilliant wizards who build websites are called web developers. These professionals design and build web applications or websites using different programming languages. They will typically convert human language into a language a computer can understand.
This guide covers web development, including how long it takes to become a web developer.
By the end of this article, you’ll have learned how long it takes to become a web developer, the different learning paths, the challenges affecting your learning timeline, and how to address them.
Let’s dive in.
Types of Web Developers and How Long it Takes to Become One
The type of web developer you choose to become will significantly affect how long it takes to learn and start working. There are different learning paths in web development, each with an ideal learning timeline.
This section will cover the different learning paths for web developers, including the skills and credentials required to land a job in the field.
Let’s start with the first learning path.
Front-End Web Developers
A front-end web developer typically develops the front-end—the section of a website or web app that a user interacts with.
Does text on a website change color, shape, or size when you hover over it? Are there specific animations on a website that appear differently on the phone than on a laptop? These are the concerns that front-end web developers address.
Becoming a front-end developer often serves as the initial step in a web development career, although the path choice depends on personal preference. It's important to note that front-end development can be as complex as back-end development.
With the increasing prominence of client-side applications and the inclusion of extensive logic, the decision between front-end and back-end development is more of a personal preference. As front-end developers acquire sufficient skills and experience, many expand their expertise and transition into back-end or full-stack web development roles.
To become a proficient front-end developer, you need to master the following programming languages/frameworks and skills, at a minimum:
- React, Angular, or Vue (you can pick one)
- UX/UI design (not mandatory)
- SASS (not mandatory)
- Git (applies to all paths in web development)
- Communication skills (applies to all paths in web development)
- Problem-solving skills (applies to all paths in web development)
So, how long does it take to become a front-end developer? 6-24 months.
This timeline will vary depending on your preferred learning path—from self-learning to a bootcamp, to an associate degree, or a full university degree. But generally, six months are ideal to become comfortable with front-end web development. However, having more than a year of working experience is highly recommended to start working as a front-end developer in a full-time role. Even better, you can gain experience working on open-source projects or building personal projects. This explains why short, fast-paced bootcamps are popular with front-end developers.
Back-End Web Developers
Back-end developers serve as the driving force behind websites, powering the "engine" that enables seamless functionality.
In the new era of web development, a significant portion of website functionality resides on the front-end. However, the back-end plays a crucial role by providing various APIs facilitating communication between the front-end and the necessary resources. Back-end developers use databases, APIs, and scripting to ensure smooth interaction from the website to the end user, resulting in a seamless user experience.
Like front-end development, back-end development is also technical, and developers will advance into this area after amassing enough working experience in the front-end space. Again, this highly depends on career preferences and the path you want to take.
Besides what’s required to work in front-end web development, back-end developers must have the following skills, at a minimum:
- Programming languages like Java, C++, Ruby, or Python (pick one and master it)
- Back-end frameworks such as Laravel, ASP.NET, Django, or Spring Boot (highly recommended)
- Databases such as PostgreSQL, Oracle, or MySQL (pick one and master it)
Similar to front-end development, becoming a proficient back-end web developer takes approximately 6-24 months.
As far as education is concerned, and much like the scenario with front-end development, taking the self-learning, bootcamp, or traditional education learning path is usually all clients or employers require to work in back-end web development. However, a little more work experience and building personal projects are highly considered in many working scenarios.
Full-stack Web Developers
Full-stack developers can work on a website's front-end and back-end components. Transitioning to full-stack development typically requires a strong understanding of front-end and back-end web development fundamentals.
In most cases, full-stack developers can develop a website independently and often offer front-end developers guidance and support in a typical work environment.
Regarding programming languages, full-stack developers must be competent in various tools and software systems used in web development.
Seeing that full-stack web development is highly technical, it takes 12-36 months to become a competent full-stack developer. This timeline includes six months for each front and back-end development.
You’ll need to build and master your front-end and back-end development skills before moving to full-stack web development.
Factors Affecting How Long It Takes to Become a Web Developer
Various factors can influence the duration it takes to become a web developer, including:
Prior Background and Experience
If you have previous experience with web development or coding, it may expedite your understanding of web development principles.
Learning Approach and Resources
Your learning path and the resources you use will significantly influence your time to become a web developer. Options include coding bootcamps, self-learning, formal education, or online courses. In addition, the quality of resources, curriculum, and hands-on practice can all influence the pace of learning.
Personal Learning Style
We all have unique learning styles. While some individuals grasp concepts quickly, others may prefer a slow-paced and gradual learning style. Typically, your learning style can assist you in tailoring your learning style and resources efficiently, potentially affecting the duration it takes to become a web developer.
Time Commitment and Dedication
If you’re bogged down with personal responsibilities such as family or a full-time job, this can significantly affect your learning and growth as a web developer. The same cannot apply to a college student with minimal personal responsibilities; they have more time on their hands to learn and grow at a quicker rate (not that it cannot be done if you have a family. Quincy Larson did it.)
Web development requires consistent practice and regular study, and hands-on sessions to ensure you can progress faster in your field. If you invest more time, the quicker and easier it is to master web development.
Access to a Mentor
A mentor can offer you the much-needed guidance, support, and advice you need to excel as a web developer. They can reduce your learning timeline by offering tried-and-tested solutions to help you get to your level-best easier and quicker.
Tips to Become a Web Developer in a Shorter Amount of Time
- Set realistic learning goals. Avoid the temptation to learn everything in web development all at once. Instead, start small and master the fundamentals before advancing to complex topics.
- Build a portfolio. Hands-on learning is core in web development. Work on real-life projects, including your portfolio, to grow your knowledge.
- Practice regularly. The more you code, the easier it is to progress in your career.
- Utilize online resources. Leverage the wealth of online courses, tutorials, and coding platforms to reduce your learning streak.
There you have it!
We’ve covered how long it takes to become a web developer across different career paths, gone into challenges affecting your learning timeline, and offered alternative solutions to address the challenges.
Web development is a highly satisfying career with lots of potential. And don’t think for a minute you’re too old to get into web development. No. On the contrary, web development is talent-based, which applies to both young and old.
As you start your web development journey, consider the Zero To Mastery web development bootcamp that will help you achieve your objectives correctly.
All the best!