Is a college education necessary to become a great web developer? (2024)

These days, many people are thinking about getting into web development. The job prospect for web developers is better than that of almost any other profession, with expected growth rates of over 20% over the next 5 years.

Salaries are equally attractive: the median hourly wages for web developers in the US is almost $35/hr, which equals to over $72,000 a year. And many developers exceed this salary by far. With those numbers in mind, most experts agree that a good web developer will have no problem finding well-paid work in the near future. What’s more, web development offers great opportunities of working from home (or a local café) by becoming a freelancer. A recent survey revealed that over 7% of developers are freelancing, and this number is likely to go up.

So with all of the benefits, becoming a web developer is clearly a very attractive prospect. But the $72,000 question is, what are the requirements to becoming a developer? Do you need a bachelor’s degree, or a Ph.D. even? Or can you teach yourself, learning everything you need online? We took a look at the state of the industry and asked CTOs of different companies about how they wound up in their positions.

Let’s go!

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Do you need a university degree to become a web developer?

The short answer is no. These days, having a degree in computer science is not a requirement to find a job in web development. There are many ways to teach yourself online or offline (more on those below) to acquire the knowledge needed for starting out as a developer. According to last year’s study by Stack Overflow, almost 70% of all developers are at least partly self-taught, with 13% of respondents saying they are exclusively self-taught. Less than half have a degree in computer science or a related field, and only 2% have a Ph.D.

It’s clear then that a university degree is in no way essential to finding a job in web development. But the opinion many developers share is that it can’t hurt either. Studying at a university usually offers a better-structured and smoother learning experience than trying to learn everything yourself.

As Christian Rebernik, CTO of German mobile banking app Number26 puts it:

“Pursuing an academic path gives you some in-depth understanding. The university is a great place to learn, but it’s not required any longer.”

Other industry professionals agree that while not necessary, a university education can definitely be valuable.

Thomas Schranz, CEO at Blossom, studied computer science but eventually dropped out of school because he felt that applying the knowledge and working on projects suited him better than approaching things from a theoretical side only:

“I think the main reason was that the things we worked on in the agency seemed to be more interesting for me. However, the formal education and the computer science background still helps me today building the products that I’m building now.”

Susanne Kaiser, CTO of German startup Just Software, shares some insights from talking to developers in the US:

“Last year I’ve been to Silicon Valley for a few months, where I have met a lot of people graduating from coding boot camps, that focus on providing the most relevant technical skillset to become a software developer within 3 to 6 months. After graduating they started their jobs as junior developers. This concept seems to be quite successful. In general, I would recommend getting as much practical experience as possible. You don’t need to have an university degree to become a software developer.”

How can you teach yourself to become a web developer?

As Susanne stated in her interview, a popular way to learn how to code in the US these days is attending a boot camp. A coding boot camp tries to compress the essential parts of programming into an intensive course that will teach participants enough to start out in junior developer positions.

As opposed to a standard 4-year university education, boot camps usually only last a few months or even weeks. Through high-impact learning, students at boot camps learn roughly 10% of what they would learn while studying at the university. That might sound like a low number, but the information only contains the most relevant skills to be able to start writing code as fast as possible. Coding bootcamps are definitely a great way to get into the business since they don’t require a huge commitment in terms of time and money. And they seem to be popular with employers too, with over 65% of graduates finding work within the first 6 months.

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Besides attending a boot camp in person, there are countless online courses that teach people how to code. One example is Code Academy, an online education site that teaches anything from HTML to Python and Ruby on Rails. With over 25 million students from around the world, they are one of the biggest online coding schools today.

Other examples are learning platforms like Udemy and Khan Academy. They offer courses on pretty much any skill a web developer needs to start out in a junior position, with many courses being completely free and others starting at around $10. While lacking the structure of a formal education or a coding boot camp, platforms like these can be great resources for learning the basics of coding. And for some people, they might even be the only learning resource needed to landing that first job.

Besides boot camps and learning online, there is also still the old-school method: sitting down with a stack of books and learning the fundamentals of coding through literature. For obvious reasons this method is becoming less and less popular, but there are still countless great books available for learning how to code.

Wrapping it up

In contrast to most other high-paid jobs, going through a university education is definitely not essential for becoming a web developer. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad idea though. Especially if you live in a country that offers cheap or even free education for students, it’s definitely a good idea to start your career by studying computer science.

For anyone not wanting to go the university route, coding boot camps offer a great way to get into the industry quickly. They are pretty intense though and not exactly cheap either, so taking things a bit slower and learning through online or offline courses or even books can be a great alternative too.

No matter which way you choose to become a developer, one thing is certain: it is a challenging job that can be very tough at times. But it’s also a rewarding one with almost unparalleled opportunities over the next few years (and probably much longer).

Over to you: Is a college education really necessary?

Read next:

How to become a front end developer.

7 Tips on how to become a full stack developer.

Important skill sets for a QA testing engineer.

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Is a college education necessary to become a great web developer? (2024)


Is a college education necessary to become a great web developer? ›

Yes, it is possible to become a web developer without a degree. Web development is a flexible career with multiple entry points into the field. Web developers are proficient in various software programs like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Is college necessary for web development? ›

Enter the World of Web Development, No College Needed

In fact, you can be pursuing professional web development positions in about 13 weeks with a coding bootcamp. And, Devmountain's Full-Time Web Development course can help get you there. Learn more by getting the course outline below.

Do you need a college degree to be a developer? ›

In short, no—you do not need a degree to become a software engineer or web developer. Although obtaining a Computer Science degree or similar remains a common way to break into the field, self-taught engineers and bootcamp grads are increasingly common pathways as well.

Can you become a web designer without a college degree? ›

There are no formal education requirements to become a web designer, but many professionals benefit from having training in a related field or discipline, such as web development or graphic design.

How many years of college do you need to be a web developer? ›

Pursuing a college degree in web development, computer science, or computer programming takes 2-4 years, depending on whether you get an associate degree or a bachelor's degree.

What do you need to become a web developer? ›

An aspiring web developer must first complete an education to develop basic coding and programming skills. In most cases, this is a computer science degree program with core courses in systems design, data management, and the essential programming languages used by industry professionals.

How do I become a web developer without school? ›

Here are the steps to take to become a proficient web developer without getting a college degree:
  1. Complete Online Courses. You can learn web development efficiently without formal training by taking online courses and coding bootcamps. ...
  2. Build a Portfolio. ...
  3. Complete Certifications. ...
  4. Build Your Resume. ...
  5. Prep for Interviews.
Jun 27, 2022

Which degree is best for developer? ›

Computer science is the most common degree that software developers choose when starting their career. When you get a degree in computer science, you will primarily study the exact skills that you will use on a daily basis as a developer.

Do front end developers need college degree? ›

Most front-end development careers require a bachelor's degree. Aspiring front-end developers commonly major in computer science, web development, or software development. Essential skills for front-end developers include JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and potentially a graphic design app like Adobe Illustrator.

Is it worth going to college for software development? ›

A degree is great for in-depth learning of software engineering topics, but not necessarily required for a future career in the field. If you have clearly defined career goals, learn all the skills necessary, and find an experienced mentor, you can achieve your dream job without investing in a 4-year degree course.

How difficult is it to become a web developer? ›

Web development is one of the most straightforward jobs to get into — if you can figure out programming. Not all jobs are for everyone, and there will be those who may struggle to wrap their heads around code. For some people, becoming a web developer will be a breeze. For others, it may never quite click with you.

Is web design a major in college? ›

Graduates with an online bachelor's in web design can become web developers, web designers, and user experience designers. They use their creativity and technical knowledge to design aesthetically pleasing and functional websites. Most students finish an online web design degree program in about four years.

Which degree is best for web design? ›

Bachelor's degree

A bachelor of science (BS) focuses more on the technical side of web design, such as operating systems and web programming languages. Examples of classes you might take for this degree include: Basic and advanced database structures. Programming languages and platforms.

How many hours does a web developer work? ›

How many hours does a web developer work each week? Most web developers work full time — approximately 40 hours a week. Developers may need to work overtime to meet client or employer needs. Freelance web developers make their own schedules.

What percentage of web developers have a degree? ›

Web Developer Education Requirements

The education needed to be a web developer is normally a bachelor's degree. Web developers usually study computer science, information technology or computer engineering. 71% of web developers hold a bachelor's degree and 14% hold a master's degree.

Is 35 too late to become a web developer? ›

In fact, the average age of most web developers is 35. Getting a job as a web developer is not nearly as much about how old you are as much as it is your attitude and your willingness to stick with it. Yes, it's tough. Yes, you'll be tempted to compare yourself and get discouraged.

What are 3 skills needed to be a web developer? ›

Every web developer should know at least the basics of these: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the frontend and PHP or Node. js for the backend. These core web development abilities will provide you with the foundation and rationale required for communicating with programming languages.

Can everyone become web developer? ›

Anyone can become a web developer. You don't need to be a tech wizard or possess a never-ending list of formal qualifications; as long as you're passionate about the field and willing to learn, a career in web development is well within your reach.

Do web developers code? ›

Web Developer: A Definition

Web developers use coding languages (think HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python) to build websites and web applications. It's really as simple as that.

Can a kid be a web developer? ›

Even if a child will decide to pursue another career and will become a writer, a photographer, or even an artist, such skills won't go to waste. Many professionals would benefit from web development skills. At an early age, such learning activities can be used as interesting and useful leisure.

Does Google hire web developers without degree? ›

Do I need a computer science degree to be a Google software engineer? No, a CS degree isn't required for most of our software engineering or product manager roles.

Can I become a self taught web developer? ›

With enough practice and motivation, anyone - from any background - can learn web development.

Do most web developers have a degree? ›

Education requirements for web developer jobs range from a high school diploma to a college degree. A professional certificate and/or associate's degree demonstrating you have the skills necessary to succeed as a web developer can be a great way to get started in the field.

Are developers highly paid? ›

Are Programmers Paid Well? Generally speaking, yes. Some kinds of software developers are in higher demand than others, and some roles require more skills and experience.

What is the highest degree as a web developer? ›

Master's Web Development Degrees

The master's degree is generally the highest degree an individual can receive in web development.

Is a web developer certificate worth it? ›

Is a Web Developer Certification Worth It? A web developer certification can be worth it if it helps you gain the skills and knowledge necessary to advance your career. It can also improve your credibility with clients or employers, but experience and portfolio may hold more weight in the industry.

Is an associate's degree in web development worth it? ›

Yes, an associate degree in web development is worth it for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow by 11% over the next 10 years, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

How much do front-end web developers make? ›

According to Glassdoor, the average freelance frontend development salary is $70K per year, with a low of $42K and a high of $120K. ZipRecruiter reports the average freelance frontend developer's salary at $84,380 per year, with a low of $25K and a high of $146K.

What percentage of software engineers have no degree? ›

What Percent of Software Engineers Don't Have a Degree? A 2018 survey of software engineers by Overstack Flow found that 27% do not hold any type of college degree. Of all respondents, 86.7% said they had taught themselves programming languages, tools, and frameworks without taking a formal course.

Is it stressful to be a software developer? ›

Is software engineering stressful? Interestingly, it is considered one of the least stressful occupations within the technology industry. Factors contributing to this perception include a typically calm work environment, generous compensation, and a low likelihood of job loss. But this is only one side of the coin.

Is it hard to study software developer? ›

While it's undoubtedly a promising career, the vastness and complexity of software development can make it hard to learn. Software development is a field that requires its practitioners to have a good understanding of multiple programming languages, operating systems, database systems, and more.

How do I know if web development is for me? ›

If you enjoy the process of exploring creative ways of addressing new problems, web development might be a good fit. Sometimes the layouts and functionalities you'll build as a web developer just won't cooperate on the first try—so it helps if you enjoy the “figuring it out” part of the process.

How stressful is being a web developer? ›

To summarize, yes web development can be a stressful job. However, that depends on many factors. Such as where you work, project urgency, stress tolerance, whether or not you like web development, and experience. In my personal experience, working as a web developer isn't a very stressful job.

Is web development easy than coding? ›

Thankfully, web development is not nearly as difficult as it might seem to non-programmers. Most people can learn web development fundamentals in a few months and land an entry-level job even if they had no experience beforehand.

What type of degree is web developer? ›

Earning a degree in computer science or a related field is one path toward a career in web development. Many web developers have an associate or bachelor's degree in web design, digital design, or graphic arts. Coursework can typically include computer programming, coding, graphic design, and math classes.

What are the pros and cons of being a web designer? ›

The 5 Pros And Cons Of Working In Web Development
  • PRO: … ...
Jan 2, 2022

What skills do I need to be a web designer? ›

To achieve this, there are skills needed, and web designers should work to be proficient in them.
  • Visual design. Visual design focus on digital products that determine how a website looks and feels. ...
  • Using Design software. ...
  • HTML. ...
  • CSS. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • Time management skills. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Problem-solving skills.
Dec 14, 2020

What is the difference between a web designer and a web developer? ›

A web designer is a graphic artist who is responsible for designing the layout, usability, and visual appearance of a website. A web developer is someone who builds and maintains the core structure of a website. A successful web designer must possess an array of creative, graphic, and technical skills.

Does web design require math? ›

“It's absolutely not a barrier to becoming a web developer.” According to Web Developer Charlotte O'Hara, it's not only easy to learn to code without having a background in math, but outside of some routine arithmetic, most web development projects don't rely heavily on math at all.

What do web developers do all day? ›

Web developer tasks and responsibilities

Your tasks will vary depending on your work situation, but day-to-day responsibilities might generally include: Designing user interfaces and navigation menus. Writing and reviewing code for sites, typically HTML, XML, or JavaScript.

Do web developers work from home? ›

The 2022 Jamstack Community Survey recorded that 62% of developers work fully remote, with 83% working remotely for at least half of the time.

How long does it take to get your first job as a web developer? ›

A reasonable timeframe for finding a job is between six and twenty weeks. For non-college graduates, the path into a full stack web development career is relatively straightforward. Web development coding bootcamps teach students everything they need to know to qualify for an entry-level full stack position.

What GPA do you need to be a web developer? ›

Most online bachelor's in web development programs require a minimum GPA of 2.0-2.5.

What is the average age of a web developer? ›

The average age of web developers in the USA is 30-40 years old.

Do web developers use a lot of math? ›

Front-End Web Developer

This role typically requires basic mathematical skills, such as understanding algebra and geometry. In addition, you will need to be comfortable working with formulas and variables. This is because most front-end development tasks involve calculations and solving problems.

What age do web developers retire? ›

Early retirement in tech is fairly common; the retirement age for most software engineers is between 45 and 60. However, many senior technologists—especially those who were forced into “early retirement” during the early stages of the pandemic lockdown—are now considering wading back into the labor pool.

Is it worth becoming a web developer in 2023? ›

Web development is currently an excellent career to have. The demand is already there for web developers and the projections look great. Demand for the next decade is expected to steadily grow, and the industry is considered quite lucrative.

How many hours a day does it take to become a web developer? ›

Most web developers are employed full-time, which typically translates to 40 hours a week, eight hours a day. Additionally, some of them work overtime to complete projects on time. Web developers can also be freelancers, which means they get to determine their business hours.

Can I get front end developer job without degree? ›

Front-end developers do not need a degree or a school certificate to work. Rather, they must understand the fundamentals of front-end development, programming languages, and front-end development frameworks.

Do I need math for web development? ›

“It's absolutely not a barrier to becoming a web developer.” According to Web Developer Charlotte O'Hara, it's not only easy to learn to code without having a background in math, but outside of some routine arithmetic, most web development projects don't rely heavily on math at all.

Is web development easier than coding? ›

Software Developers ensure that their products and applications have the ability to work well in different OS platforms. Web Development is generally easier to get started with as the tools and techniques are not complicated to learn.

Is it hard to be a self taught web developer? ›

Learning to code by yourself is hard, and the path is often not as straightforward as we imagined. Unforeseen challenges come up daily, and without the right motivation and support, it's easy to fall into despair.

Can you become a self taught web developer? ›

Becoming a self-taught web developer in 2022 is still totally possible, but you will need to understand how to tackle each obstacle along the way. After reading this article, you have now clear in mind what challenges you will face, and a practical, simple approach to solve them.

Which degree is best for web development? ›

  • BA in Designing Mobile Applications. ...
  • BA in Web Applications. ...
  • BSc in Computing Web Development. ...
  • Bachelor Software Development (BSc) ...
  • Bachelor in Front-end Development. ...
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Development. ...
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems - Web Development Concentration.

How do I become a web developer with no experience? ›

The qualifications to get a web developer job with no experience typically include a degree in the field of web development or computer science. However, many professionals gain their experience through a certificate training program or even teaching themselves the methods.

Is web development high paying? ›

The best Web Developer jobs can pay up to $175,000 per year.

Web Developers typically work on a team; they may collaborate to create the layout of a new website and design new elements such as logos. As a Web Developer, you are always primarily concerned with creating an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly page.

Is coding math heavy? ›

While some fields of programming require you to have extensive knowledge of mathematics (such as game development and machine learning), you don't need advanced math skills for most coding jobs.

How much math is in coding? ›

Of course you need some basic math concepts, like calculus or algebra, or logic, but the very basics if it. You don't need to know any of complex numbers, probability, equations, graphs, exponential and logarithm, limits, derivatives, integration, differential equations and so on.

Do web developers use calculus? ›

Yes. If you look at a list of required coursework for a degree in software engineering, you'll typically see Calculus I-III, Differential Equations, Discrete Mathematics, Linear Algebra, and other advanced math classes.


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