Even were we to restrict the entire planet of tech to just the terrains of software, there would still be a remarkable variety of jobs an aspiring entrant could choose from: systems engineer, games developer, embedded developer, data analyst, desktop developer, and many more besides.
In spite of that, there is one role that appears to be half of everyone’s favorite – that of the web developer. This is something I can testify personally for the simple reason that I work in a coding school. If someone wants to learn to code, then what they very often – not always by any means, but very often – want to do with their coding skills is web development.
Why is this particular field so popular? If you’re already steeped in the world of tech, perhaps you know the answer. But if you’re on the outside, and maybe thinking of coming in one day, you may want to know the reasons. Let me lay them out for you.
The web is not a product, nor a type of product – it’s an enormous space where an infinity of other products subsist. This means that there are endless ways for a resourceful person to find work in web development.
The historical conjuncture could not be more favorable. Everybody uses the web, and everything that exists in the real world must build a presence on the web. Moreover, everything that already exists as a desktop application is getting its online equivalent. For someone who learns coding for the express purpose of finding an entry job, this is among the best if not the very best specialism to pick up.
There is an urban legend that web development requires less skill than the average job involving coding. In reality, the field is just as hard to master as any other, precisely because – as discussed – it is so broad, and there are so many different problems and solutions. What does hold true, however, is that the learning curve for web development is comparatively gentle.
This is not because the field is simpler but because of the overwhelming amount of available resources to learn web development or to upskill, from free online courses and bootcamps to populous communities willing to lend a hand. These resources are both the product and the effect of the field’s popularity, forming a self-reinforcing cycle. As importantly, web dev requires no more infrastructure to be learned than a good laptop with access to the internet. No separate hardware, no emulators, no laboratories – just you and your console.
When I ask our students what it is that attracted them to a career in tech aside from their interest in the subject-matter, there are two benefits that are mentioned again and again. One is the high salaries, but the other is the freedom to organize your own time, work from wherever you like, and do so at your own pace.
Because web development offers so many opportunities, and because its hardware requirements are so simple, it offers its practitioners the freedom to work any way they like. An embedded developer will have to come to the office where the technology is, and a systems engineer may struggle to find good freelance work. But a web developer with a little bit of work experience normally has the freedom to choose when, where, how, and how much they want to work.
Web development allows you to be creative, and to come up with any means you like to make web pages colorful, expressive and beautiful. Granted, it is not the most creative field available in software – a game developer must be even more of an artist. But it does leave room for creation, and depending on the sort of work you take you may very well be expected to do much more than just deploy technical skills.
In fact, several of the skills people pick up in web development are so transferrable to more creative fields like, say, web design, that there is no reason why the two cannot be done together.
It’s clear that web development is here to stay. It’s the easiest and most natural way into tech, and the need for professionals in the field will only keep booming for the foreseeable future.
It is by no means the only job you can do in software, and you would do well to consider other options too. But if what you choose is web development and you go into it with heart and soul, then be confident, you are going to go far.