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How to Become a Web Developer: 5 Soft Skills to Develop to Succeed

Web developers are in high demand. There are thousands of open positions for web developers of all experience levels. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates demand for web developers will grow 30% between 2021 and 20311. This makes web development a great career choice. Fingerprint for Success (F4S) has spent over 20 years studying the ‘human skills’ of the world's most successful individuals. F4S has used these findings to create an extremely accurate set of analytics tools to help people discover the soft skills they need to succeed. Developing these vital soft skills can help you gain a competitive advantage in the web development industry.

Illustration of how to become a web developer is by analyzing and building the performance of websites optimum website performance

What do web developers do?

The role of a web developer is to design, build, maintain, and improve the performance of websites. They do this by writing, editing, and maintaining code using a variety of programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, and PHP.  

Some web developers become very specialized in one area of web development, such as front-end development or back-end development. However, many web developers maintain a more general set of web development skills. This type of web developer is called a full-stack developer

Front-end web developers create the elements of a website with which users interact. This is called the user experience or user interface. They do this by using programming languages such as HTML and CSS. A deep understanding of these markup languages is crucial.

Back-end web developers focus on the back-end parts of the website such as the databases. Backend developers use common programming languages such as PHP and Python.

Finally, full-stack developers do both front-end and back-end development. This means they have the ability to work across all parts of a website. Developers with full-stack development experience are highly sought after. This is due to their complex skill set and versatility2.

Some people believe that web developers and software developers (also known as computer programmers) do the same job. This isn't true. They are actually two separate roles. Web developers write, test, and analyze code for websites. Software development covers more applications than just websites. These include mobile apps, desktop software, and network infrastructure. It’s common, however, for web developers to work alongside software developers.

Web developers are needed across both the public and private sectors. If you don't want to work as part of an in-house team, you can also work for a website development agency. This means web developers have many job opportunities to choose from. If you're looking for a career with a wide variety of work, becoming a web developer is an excellent choice.

What are the soft skills needed to become a web developer?

To become a successful web developer, you need to have both hard (technical) skills and soft (human) skills. This will help you throughout the entire development process.

Web development hard skills include coding, project management, database management, and responsive web design. Soft skills include communication, attention to detail, and problem-solving. You need both to thrive in the tech industry.

Let's discuss some of the main soft skills first.


Communication is a key skill for web developers. When working on web development projects you will be working with a wide range of people. These will include people in different departments such as graphic designers, UX designers, and marketers.

Good communication is critical to successfully understanding the objectives of the project you are working on. You need to be able to explain technical concepts to a wide range of stakeholders. If you can translate technical jargon into plain English, this will be a definite plus.

Being able to accept constructive feedback is also very important for web developers.

Systems and strategic thinking

When planning, developing, testing, and optimizing websites, you need to understand how systems work. This will allow you to know the best way to carry out responsive design. Doing so requires the ability to think strategically about every aspect of the project. For example, you need to consider the long-term use cases of the software so you can future-proof it. This will make it durable and optimizable for many years.


Web developers need to have the initiative to start and manage projects with strict deadlines. Depending on the specifics of the project, you may be working by yourself or as part of a team. Regardless, you must be able to manage your time and workflow. This will help ensure the project is completed on time and to the correct specifications. If you're part of a remote team with people in different time zones, this is particularly important.


Web development involves the ability to solve problems—sometimes hundreds a day. This ensures the final product delivers the use cases required by the client or organization you’re working for.

To successfully do this, you need to analyze risk when making decisions. Having the ability to test and develop multiple potential solutions, and then decide the best one, is a great skill to have. For example, you may have to choose the best database setup to use for a website you're building.

Focus on the details

Software—even simple web applications—can involve constant code changes. Even small changes can have a big impact on usability and responsive web design. This means web developers need to be right across all the details of the project they are working on.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you understand and manage a project's details.

Develop these important web developer skills

Soft skills are critical to your success as a web developer. Having skills such as communication and problem-solving will ensure you excel in your career at every stage. This is especially important in the development industry.

F4S has more than 20 years of experience studying the “X Factor” soft skills of the most successful people. F4S has turned these insights into a crazy-accurate assessment tool that helps you discover the skills you have, and the skills you need to develop.

Take our free motivation assessment today to find out how your personal motivations relate to these core human skills. F4S' aim is to help you thrive in your web development career.


You value verbal comms - in person meetings, phone calls, audio recordings, voice memos, podcasts etc.

100% Match
Systems and strategic thinking

Strategic thinking involves understanding how things are connected, setting targets, identifying priorities and having the resilience to follow through on your goals.

100% Match
Starting fast

Are you the real roadrunner? You are fast at moving from idea to action! 🚀

100% Match
Assessment Tile

Placeholder (Do not edit) You value verbal comms - in person meetings, phone calls, audio recordings, voice memos, podcasts etc.

100% Match
Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

See how your traits compare

Take the F4S assessment

How long does it take to become a web developer?

There are many paths to getting a web developer job. The pathway you choose will determine how long it takes. Let's discuss some of the important factors to consider.

What higher education is required to become a web developer?

There are several qualifications a web developer can attain to learn the necessary skills to begin their career. These include university and college degrees, associate degrees, and free online courses. Having an information technology degree or associate degree from a higher education institution is desirable. However, many great web developers are self-taught. If you can display your skills to prospective employees, job opportunities will arise.

According to Zippia, 71% of web developers worldwide have a bachelor’s degree, and 14% have a master’s degree10. Having a formal education is a definite advantage, however there are pathways to becoming a web developer without one. In web development, having demonstrable skills is most important.

What licenses, certifications, and registrations are needed?

Web developers don’t require licenses, certifications, or registrations to work in the industry. However, many companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce offer certificate programs. These programs allow web developers to pass a competency test showing they understand specific tools.

Microsoft offers a range of online courses prospective web developers can take, and if they pass a series of tests, they will be issued a certificate. For example, you can do a programming skills course and then receive a certificate if you pass a test.

What about on-job web development internships?

Many organizations–including private companies, universities, government departments, and non-profits–offer internships. If you have graduated with a qualification or can demonstrate your skills, you can apply for one. These paid and unpaid internships typically last between six and 12 months. Upon completion, you could be offered a full-time position within the organization.

There are internships and, in some cases, apprenticeships offered in many different countries. Major technology companies such as Amazon offer thousands of apprenticeship placements each year.

What advancement or specialization opportunities are there in the web development field?

Web developers will often begin their careers as generalists or focus on just front-end or back-end development. During your career, there will be many opportunities for you to specialize. For example, you could become a full-stack web developer or master content management systems. This can help you speed up your career advancement—especially if you have in-demand skills that employers are looking for. Potential clients may often require specialized skills.

Web developers will start as junior developers and can then work their way up to senior developer or consultant roles. If you're a web developer who wants to get into management, there will be opportunities. For example, roles such as development manager, chief technical officer, or chief engineering officer.

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What are the career opportunities and outlook for web developers?

Web developers are in high demand. This is due to the continued growth in software and web-based applications. This affects almost every industry. In the United States alone, there will be a 30% increase in the number of web developers required between 2021 and 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics1.

The most in-demand web developer roles are full-stack developers. This is because the flexibility of their skills and experience means they can take on a wide range of development roles2. Full-stack developers are also the most common type of developer. A survey of over 66,000 web developers by Stack Overflow found 49.47% of respondents identified as full-stack developers. Meanwhile, 43.73% identified as back-end developers and 27.42% as front-end developers3.

If you’re just starting out, any role will help you gain a foothold in the industry. This is the same whether you're a front-end developer, back-end developer, or full-stack developer. Once you get your first job you can start to build up a strong portfolio of work.

Over time, you can expect many opportunities for career development. These will include hands-on senior web development roles and management roles where you oversee a team of developers.

Another option you have as a web developer is to become a freelancer and work on a project-by-project basis. A survey by Stack Overflow found the number of web developers who work as contractors or freelancers increased from 9.5% in 2020 to 11.2% in 20214. Once you gain experience and a portfolio, you can up your hourly rate and start to earn a greater income. Freelance web developers are seeing an increase in demand due to their ability to work on request. For organizations, this means they don't have to hire as many full-time employees.

Many web developers who go down the self-employed path end up establishing their own web development agency. They can then employ other developers so they can manage and grow the business.

Where can web developers work?

Two common career paths for web developers are to work for a web agency or as part of an in-house web development team in an organization. If you choose the first option, you can begin your career as a junior developer. Once you gain experience, development professionals can move up to intermediate and senior roles within the agency.

The same is true for working as an in-house web developer. Depending on the size of the organization, there will be many opportunities to work on different types of web projects. You will learn about various development environments, CSS frameworks, application frameworks, and more. It's a great way to get hands-on experience with a variety of development projects.

As mentioned above, a third option is to become a freelance web developer. You can find work on a project basis, which is either paid per hour or on an overall project fee basis. Platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr allow you to showcase your skills and connect with prospective clients. For example, you can offer your services to build e-commerce websites. The major downside to this approach, however, is you are responsible for finding your own clients. This can take up valuable time that you could spend doing development work. You will also miss out on working closely with more senior developers.

When it comes to the types of organizations you can work for, there are endless possibilities in both the public and private sectors. Some of the largest employers include Apple, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Netflix, and Adobe. But it's not just Fortune 500 companies. Organizations of all sizes require a website and other web-based applications to be developed and maintained. They are important for their customers and other stakeholders to communicate and carry out transactions.

Recent world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have forced businesses to speed up the digitization of their businesses. Organizations have been investing heavily in their websites and software to make them more resilient to change6. This offers web developers a lot of exciting job opportunities.

Industries that need web developers include financial services, e-commerce, entertainment, and communications. This applies to both large organizations and new start-ups2.

How much can web developers earn?

Compared to many other jobs, web development jobs pay quite well. The average annual salary for a web developer in the United States in 2021 was US$77,0301. In the UK, web developers can earn up to US$90,000 per year for senior roles8, while in Australia they tend to earn up to US$73,0007.

Your salary is strongly linked to your level of experience. In the US, web developers with less than one year's experience can expect to earn an average salary of US$73,647. Developers with over 10 years of experience in a development job can earn an average of US$104,1793. As you can see, web development can become a lucrative career!

Self-employed web developers who work as freelancers or contractors can earn anywhere from US$41 per hour to over US$160 per hour9. The rate will depend on their level of experience and specific skills.

Frequently asked questions

How do you become a web developer, step by step?

There are several options that help you become a web developer. First, gain a degree or qualification in something such as information technology. If you don't have a degree, check out coding bootcamps. These will help you build valuable coding skills.

Next, you can gain experience through internships or finding your own paid projects. From this, build an online portfolio. You can also earn industry certifications from companies such as Microsoft and Adobe. These steps can be followed in all countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, and India.

Can anyone become a web developer?

Yes. The skills required to become a web developer can be learned by almost anybody that has a computer and an internet connection. To learn the required skills you either need to gain a qualification or learn programming languages yourself. This can be done by doing free online tutorials and then showcasing your skills by developing websites.

How long does it take to become a junior web developer?

Many web developers' roles have educational requirements such as a bachelor’s degree. This can take up to four years. Once you gain your qualification, you can do internships and build up your knowledge and technical skills. You can also teach yourself the required programming languages within a few months and start building a portfolio of your work.

How much does it cost to become a web developer?

It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to gain a degree from a college or university. You can also self-teach the necessary technical skills and build up a portfolio of your development work for very little upfront cost. Certifications can be gained for a few hundred dollars so potential clients and employers can validate your skills.

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Reshimi Buthello

F4S has been crucial for our Baraja teams. We have a debrief every time we have new team formations, or when we have new team members joining existing teams. It gives us direction for team compositions, hiring and conflict resolution. There are so many “Aha” moments when we go through these debriefs.
Reshimi Buthello, VP of People and Culture and Change Management Expert, Baraja

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  1. 'Occupational Outlook Handbook, Web Developers and Digital Designers'. Available at: Bureau of Labour Statistics, US Department of Labor
  2. (2023) 'What Companies Hire Web Developers?'. Available at: BrainStation
  3. (2023) 'Web developer salary in United States'. Available at: Indeed
  4. (2021) '2021 Developer Survey'. Available at: Stack Overflow
  5. 'What is The Future Demand for Full-Stack Developers?'. Available at: Kingsland University
  6. 'What is digital transformation?'. Available at: The Enterprisers Project
  7. 'Web Developer salary'. Available at: Seek
  8. 'Job Profile - Web Developer'. Available at: Prospects
  9. 'Freelance Web Developer Hourly Rate'. Available at: Arc
  10. Zippia. Available at:
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