How to Become a Web Developer Without a Degree [2021]

A university degree should not be the factor to your success. Nevertheless education is still important.

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Today the web developer profession has become one of the most demanded and best-paid profiles in the labor market. 

For what reason? 

The presence of companies and organizations on the web has become a fundamental requirement for attracting customers and promoting their brand. 

However, the number of professionals dedicated to this field is still insufficient and vacancies for them have turned into highly paid job opportunities. 

On average, a web developer can earn $69,430 a year and those with the highest pay can receive $95,020 and the demand is even greater.

Source: usnews

So how do you join this highly demanded niche? If it is a topic that interests you and you are willing to learn, you can do it without having to study a university degree. 

With a lot of perseverance and dedication, you can start learning on your own, taking online courses, studying, and dedicating a lot of effort to become an expert. 

Nowadays many online platforms even deliver certificates when you finish a course and that will help you a lot when you start looking for projects to work on.

Fundamental Skills for Web Developers [to Succeed]

The subject of web development is complex but not impossible to learn. 

If you do not know where to start, it is best to do it by learning the fundamental skills that every web developer needs to know. This way you will know what things you need to learn and what you need to improve.

Basic Languages to Know When Starting

In the world of web development, there are many types of languages that you can learn to program, but CSS, HTML, and JavaScript are three essential and highly demanded languages that you can start learning about. 

The HTML language (HyperText Markup Language) provides the basic structure of the sites, improved and modified by other technologies such as CSS and JavaScript. 

This language is famous for its uses and known by all who have been immersed in the development of web pages. 

While CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to control the presentation, format, and design of the application. Thanks to it, you can shape the style you want to show. 

JavaScript is used to control the behavior of different elements, which adds functionality and dynamics to the elements you use.

WordPress

WordPress is widely used to create web pages. In fact, WordPress currently powers 37.6% of websites and 14.7% of the world’s most popular websites

With the growth of WordPress in recent years, many web developers have specialized in this popular content manager. 

Since WordPress is the most popular content management system, there will always be users looking for developers to improve their websites. 

By becoming a WordPress developer, you even can get to sell your creations or share them with a community. 

Especially if you master the five main creations of a WordPress developer: themes, plugins, widgets, apps, and full websites. 

To develop creations using WordPress, the languages mentioned above will also be very useful. Each of them is important, as creating a plugin/theme/app requires you to combine two or more of these elements.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is a web design technique that seeks the correct display of the same page on different devices, from computers to tablets and smartphones. 

Today you access websites from all types of devices, so there is an increasing need for websites to adapt to the different sizes of each of them.

Responsive design avoids duplicate content, reduces development time, and increases the virality of content as it allows sharing them in a much faster and more natural way.

In short, responsive web design is consolidated as one of the best practices in web development and something that currently all pages require. 

Why is this so important? 

Well, according to Webfx, 74% of users return to use a web page if it is mobile-friendly. 

So making a responsive website is key for your clients to receive more traffic on their website. 

If you add this skill to your repertoire, it will surely position you well among the niche of web developers and give you an advantage when looking for work.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization or better known as SEO, has become one of the most used practices in the digital world. 

This aims to improve the visibility of web pages, focusing on unpaid search engine results, and based on established metrics that allow a website to achieve a preferential position in the search results. 

This is where the web developer begins to play a very important role since by creating a balance between the development and the positioning of the website, they can provide a better user experience. 

Many developers believe that SEO consists of just keyword selection, image optimization, and creation of outreach strategies through social media; but to think this way is a big mistake. 

The search algorithms, due to the amount of information published on the web, need to create metrics that allow them to determine if a website should be among the first positions of the results in the different search engines. 

SEO stopped being just for the marketing area, to now become a challenge for web developers to build a site that, due to the great skills applied in its construction, manages to obtain a high score for its search engine positioning.

Detail-Oriented

To become a web developer you also should be detail-oriented. Details are something that makes a difference, that leaves a mark and, luckily, they are something that you can take care of and work on almost any part of any project. 

Besides, people love attractive websites. In fact, 66% of people prioritize beautifully designed websites. 

Everything that involves interaction with a person is potentially a moment that you can turn into magic to leave your mark and earn a little space in their heart.

Several aspects can be considered to be detail-oriented and one of them is speed and performance. If what you have developed for a web page works quickly, the feeling from the first moment will be very positive. 

You should also avoid usability errors. If a user does not know how to continue or if the website looks bad when they open it from their phone, it will be something that will affect the experience of that user on the web page. 

The details are the result of continuous improvement, constant concern, and desire to improve. 

If you can make a website have details that make it stand out from others or even make visitors smile, you will have done an exceptional job.

Problem Solving

During the development of a website you probably will have to face a wide variety of problems. 

From security flaws to the website not looking good on mobile devices, or even disagreements with your client. Every job has its difficulties and web development is no exception. 

In fact, beyond having errors, surely there will always be something that can be improved. 

However, you need to have the right attitude for every time a client informs you that there is a problem with their website. 

Having a good problem-solving attitude is not something you learn in college but everyone should learn how to do it.

Self-Motivated

Self-motivation is influencing your mood. 

This ability is like a powerful engine that produces your energy to achieve objectives or goals. 

When you start working as a web developer, you will surely come across projects that will intimidate you at first, but you are the only one who can give you the necessary courage to face new projects.

To be successful and achieve your goals you have to be persistent and not give up in front of the obstacles that arise, your effort will be worth it and it will be rewarded. 

Although everything related to web development can seem very complicated, keep in mind that great developers were in your same position at some point and that beyond having a degree, the most important thing is having the skills and knowledge. 

Take courage and decide to start learning everything you need to become a web developer without a degree.

Choose Your Path

The world of web development is very wide and if what you want is to enter this world, you will have to choose what to specialize in to be able to become a successful web developer. 

Maybe you think that doing a bit of everything is a better idea because that way you could do more projects, but no. 

The best thing you can do is to specialize in a certain area, just like all developers do. While they may know about various types of web development, there is one they are experts at.

Front-End Development

They are web developers who have specialized in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

They translate the designs into a programming language, they receive all the documents worked in the design stage and are in charge of translating them into code. 

These web developers dedicate themselves to elaborate the visual part of a web page. This part includes the layout of the structure of the web and the design as well as the behavior of the same.

Source: Payscale

Back-End Development

A back-end developer is in charge of designing the logic and solutions so that all the actions requested on a web page are executed correctly and they are responsible for the programming of the site in all its components.

These developers are specialized in databases, servers and programming languages such as Python, Php, Ruby or Visual Basic .Net or C #. 

Within the database languages, the most common are MySQL (oriented to Php), SQL Server or MsSQL (oriented to work with Microsoft or .NET technology) and PLSql (oriented to Java). 

Although it is oriented in one language, it is possible to work with different programming languages.

Source: Payscale

Full Stack Development

These types of developers take care of both the Front-End and the Back-End parts. 

This type of developer is more difficult to find but they also have more demand as many clients want someone who has knowledge of both areas.

Source: Payscale

Plan Your Journey

Now that you have all the important information, what should you do? 

Like any other goal, you will need to make a plan to reach your goal. 

By reaching small achievements, you will achieve big goals. Everything is a matter of perseverance and patience.

Do Your Research

Stay focused on what you need to learn to become a web developer without a degree. 

Research and gather information about your niche, the trends that are being handled and the latest advances. That will keep you motivated to become an expert on the subject. 

As you research and learn about your niche every day, you will realize that there are many types of programming. 

However, do not focus on server-side programming, frameworks, and libraries when you are just starting out. 

Start with the basics and when you have more knowledge and experience you can expand into other areas. 

The most important thing to start with is that you master HTML, CSS, and then JavaScript. That will be the basis for everything else you want to learn.

Specialize

As you already know, web development is very broad and has many areas that you can learn about. 

However, you will progress more quickly to becoming a web developer if you stick to one area to start with. 

This way you can focus your effort and energy on something specific instead of on several things at the same time.

An interesting fact is that the more specialized you are, the more likely you are to earn more money

Also, specializing in a determined area will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with information. 

There are many things you can learn, but to start you do not need to learn about things that you are not going to put into practice yet or that are still very complex for your level. 

Later, when you have mastered the main languages and have already decided on what type of web development you want to specialize, you can open yourself to the rest of the information that there is about things related to your niche.

Learning Methods

As you already know, to become a web developer you do not need a university degree but without a doubt, you need to study constantly and have the necessary knowledge.

Even those who did graduate from college need to keep their knowledge up to date, so taking the time to train is very important. 

The good news is that this is something you can do from home, using useful tools that anyone can found on the web.

Self-teaching

Self-teaching is becoming more and more popular, especially among freelancers who want to save money. 

Self teaching consists of studying on your own with the help of courses, training, readings and other types of tools. 

Another advantage of self teaching is that you can study as much as you want at the time that best suits you.

Currently, there are many tools that you can use for this and one of them is The Odin Project, which is an open-source project, completely free, specially made for those people who want to start learning about web development and put into practice their skills. 

Here you will not only learn the theory of web development but you will also carry out exercises to test your knowledge and in the end, you will be able to use these tasks as a portfolio to show it to your clients.

Online Short Courses

On the internet, you can find many online course platforms that teach you about particular topics focused on your work niche. 

These types of courses are extremely useful because they allow you to learn flexibly ( without having to meet a schedule in an academy), they use visual resources and many give you a certificate that in the end that you can attach to your CV and thus add credibility to your experience and knowledge.

Here are some of the trusted platforms you can use:

Team Treehouse

On Team Treehouse you will find specific courses related to your niche and with a monthly payment of $ 25 you will be able to access the available classes but in case you want a certification, you will have to pay $ 199 monthly. 

Udemy

Each platform has a different way of payment. For example, on Udemy you do not need to pay a monthly fee, but rather pay for each course you want to take. 

On Udemy you will find very complete courses aimed at beginners, so it could help you a lot. 

CodeAcademy

Like Team Treehouse, CodeAcademy especially aimed at web developers. 

If you do not have a lot of budgets, CodeAcademy may be the best for you as it has an extensive catalog of free courses, ideal for learning about programming languages. 

LinkedIn Learning

Using LinkedIn Learning will allow you to acquire knowledge in the skills most requested by employers in your profession and if you belong to LinkedIn Premium, you can access these courses without paying something extra. 

Familiarize Yourself With the Industry

To become a web developer without a degree, you must be aware of all the news, not only those related to your niche but to web development in general. 

Stay up-to-date, both on the different software that exists in the market and on new consumer products and user trends. 

Knowing the latest trends in web design will also help you understand what the new Internet formats are and what customers are looking for. 

Being up-to-date with all the trends, you can also suggest solutions to clients when they tell you what they need on their website.

To familiarize yourself with the industry, you should also know the applications and resources most used by web developers, such as GitHub, which is a social network for developers where they can share their work with other people. 

It is an excellent platform to make yourself known to other designers and clients. If you are there, your work will receive diffusion and will be able to reach people who want to hire you.

Other applications that could be of help are Moqups, a free app that offers a dashboard with which you can make several sketches of your web design and present them to your client, and SimpleGrid, which helps you create fluid grids for your responsive websites.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The most effective way to get the most out of your knowledge is to put it into practice. 

It is just like a sport. Imagine that you have read everything about tennis, how it is played, and how you can be a good athlete, but you have never really played it. Could you really know how to play tennis? It is the same with web development. 

The best recommendation is that as you learn new things, you immediately put them into practice. 

That is also a way to learn, because if you practice what you learn you will remember it more than if you just read it.

If you are a starting web developer and you have not yet had a client, your practices can serve as material for your portfolio. 

Through the practices you do, you will be able to show the client everything you know to do and it will also help you to evaluate what you should improve. 

The best way to learn and consolidate knowledge is to carry out projects, take them as exercises to strengthen the knowledge you have obtained so far.

Build Your Portfolio

A portfolio of projects is more important in some professions than in others. 

Web development is one of those professions. 

Web developer portfolios not only help show your work as a developer but also give an idea of your own style as a professional and help you better capture the attention of companies.

Only highlight projects related to what you want to do in the future.

For example, if you have dedicated yourself to data analysis but want to work as a full-stack developer, include projects in which you have touched both the user and the server-side. 

A portfolio informs about your potential and your capabilities both as a professional and as a person, that is why having a portfolio is so important in an increasingly competitive industry where everything counts. 

The more projects (or work samples) you carry out, the more information you can give about yourself and your work. 

At first, you should dedicate yourself to making work samples to have something to show, but when you have done more than three jobs you can include them in your portfolio.

If you wonder how to make your website portfolio, the answer is WordPress, which is a very popular platform for this purpose. 

You can use it for free or use WordPress.org to buy your own web domain, which will make you look much more professional, and use Bluehost to manage your website.

Here is a list of great portfolio websites from web developers that will give you an idea of how to make yours:

Start Landing Projects

To be successful as a web developer you must not only learn about the subject as such but also promote yourself. 

The job search also requires effort, patience, and learning how to do it. At first, this part can be a bit frustrating, but you will see the payoff if you are consistent.

How to Apply for Jobs?

To find a job you will have to knock on many doors, in fact applying to 5 or 10 proposals may not give any result. 

Every day you must be attentive to opportunities, present yourself to potential clients, and keep in mind that there are never too many. 

However, sending proposals to many clients is not everything. You should also make sure that you are applying to jobs within your capabilities. 

Submitting a proposal that you know you do not qualify for will not do you any good. Instead of spending your time there, use it to apply for proposals that truly fit your profile. 

Pay close attention to details when applying for a job, read the instructions carefully to make sure you meet the requirements, and that you know what the job they are offering you is about. 

Rejection is something everyone has to deal with when looking for a job, but having the right mindset will keep those rejections from affecting you and will keep you motivated to find a job as a web developer.

Where to Look?

Job platforms are a great place to start looking for projects to work on.

There you will find many proposals related to your niche, you will be able to see in detail what they require and overtime on these platforms you will be able to build a reputation that will make it easier for you to find more jobs. 

Each platform is different and offers various advantages, it is up to you to try them and see which one best suits your needs. Some of the platforms that you can try to find clients are:

  • Upwork: is the largest job platform in the world, offers access to a large number of companies and its payment system is secure. 
  • FlexJobs: here you will find attractive job offers from prestigious companies such as Apple or Dell.
  • WordPress Jobs: it offers many vacancies related specifically to web development.
  • LinkedIn: it has a large network of important companies and other web developers with whom you can interact and find out about job offers. 

Pricing Yourself

When you are a freelancer there will always be people who do not value your work and who want to pay you less than they should. 

That is why you should investigate how much you can charge for your services, so no one takes advantage of you and you will not affect your union by offering prices too below the competition. 

To know how much you should charge, you must take into account your experience and your level of knowledge. 

Of course, if you are just starting out, you probably will not charge as much as other colleagues who have years in this job and many clients in their history. 

When you start you will surely receive job proposals with payments that do not convince you, but you should consider that when you start you are not only working for money but to gain credibility, reputation, and experience. 

So if you are starting, it is better to accept jobs instead of doing nothing and waiting for a better client (that you do not know where or when they will arrive).

Build Your Personal Network and Reputation as a Developer

To advance as a professional you also need to rely on other people who are going in the same direction as you, so you should try to expand your online presence on platforms where other web developers participate. 

This will help you meet other people who work in the same area and also spread your work, which will earn you a reputation among other developers.

Another way to make yourself known and improve your reputation as a web developer is to participate in communities by contributing with open source projects. 

These are programs that are freely distributed (even free) and that can be used and modified by users without any restrictions. 

This way, other developers can intervene in your project and take advantage of it, which will make you better known in your niche.

Belonging to a network will help you keep abreast of important news and events, answer questions about topics, and even get job opportunities. 

Twitter and Github are ideal social networks to interact with other people in your niche and start your own networking, but especially GitHub since it is aimed at web developers. 

In this directory, you can display projects you are working on and receive feedback from the community, which will help you refine details and become a better professional.

You Can Do It: Start Right Away!

There are many different languages that a web programmer needs to master, no matter if you are looking to start out as a front-end or back-end developer. 

It is a long way ahead. However, there are online learning platforms that can help you learn. 

The best place to start would be CSS, HTML, and JavaScript because you will have to understand them, regardless of whether you are a frontend or a back-end developer, 

Try to learn about other languages and be consistent in the area in which you have decided to specialize. 

Web development is very broad and there are many things to learn, but if you focus on one thing at a time you will be able to devote more attention to each point and you will not become saturated with information.

Remember that to be a great web developer you do not need formal education, but rather a willingness to learn every day and practice what you learn.

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