How Do I Become a Web Developer?

Published February 29, 2016

Learn, engage, practice

If you look at what the experts are forecasting for jobs, it’s hard to find a list of promising careers that doesn’t count web developer in the top 20.

  • The US Department of Labor puts web developer in the Bright Outlook Occupations category, which means it is “expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, will have large numbers of job openings, or is a new and emerging occupation.”

  • Online finance magazine The Street puts web designers at #17 on the list of "Careers to Pursue if You Want the Best Work-Life Balance".

  • US News slots web developer at 20 in the 25 overall best jobs for 2016, and number three of the 9 Best Technology Jobs of 2016, due to an above average opportunity for upward mobility, low stress level rating, and high flexibility.

The average salary is not bad either, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics putting web developers at around $63,000 per year, (compared to just over $32,000 per year in general for people over the age of 25 in the United States.) Rapid growth, low stress and high wages – a vocational trifecta! So why aren’t more people pursuing careers in web development?

Part of the reason might be that it is relatively new (compared to say systems analyst or software engineer,) there is not widespread agreement of specifically what a web developer is, (are designers developers?) and there is no clear documented educational or career track outlined (degree or no-degree; coding expertise or not?)

Add to it the breakneck pace that web technologies are advancing, their gargantuan role in supporting global commerce, culture and government; competition among frameworks and content management systems (should you learn Sharepoint, Wordpress, Drupal?); and then throw in the community cultures of Open Source technologies – and you get a lot of things to figure out. It’s confusing just contemplating it. There are endless options and no steadfast requirements; so how do you know how to even get started?

Well here is some help, at least if you’d like to consider riding the Drupal wave.

As technologies go, Drupal has been growing in worldwide adoptions as the go-to CMS for the top enterprise, media, academic and government sites globally, and with the introduction of Drupal 8, it is sure to attract even more attention from organizations needing a scalable, secure solution for simple to complex sites. With this kind of growth, there is, and will continue to be, huge opportunity for new blood in the Drupal Community in a variety of niches from front-end developers (yes, in Drupal most designers are developers) to project managers.

We’d also like you to consider the quality and collaborative culture of the Drupal Community, which is legendary in the Open Source universe. The culture within Drupal puts contributing and collaborating at a priority level that rivals the quality of the technology side of Drupal. We are really friendly! And, finding your way is always easier with some help from like-minded friends.

In addition, as compensation goes for web developers, Drupal Developers, as demonstrates)  make out pretty well in comparison to other frameworks:

So, if we've convinced you; the process is now a bit more defined. With a Drupal career, there are several ways you can become a professional, but they all involve three key efforts:

  • Learn: Get skills
  • Engage: Get connected
  • Practice: Get experience

For the learning part, depending on your background and/or the amount of time you have to devote, make sure you find training to learn Drupal in a way that ensures you are endowed with Drupal best practices. DrupalEasy Academy (shameless self-promotion) is the leader in comprehensive Drupal career training, with a 5-year track record of developing top-shelf Drupal talent through our 12-week Drupal Career training. Our next instructor-led online session starts March 21st.

To engage, register on, find some groups that interest you (topics, industries, geography) and begin by learning about what is new, what is being developed, and where you can go locally to meet Drupal professionals. There are meetups in most metropolitan areas, and camps all over the world. Once you start getting a little comfortable with the technology, there are also a lot of ways to learn and meet others by helping to improve the Drupal project. Visit the Getting Involved Guide to help you find your inlet.

To practice, take what you learn, draw on who you meet for some help, and build a site. It’s also a great way to figure out in which area you’d like to specialize. For our Drupal Career Online students who are not already working, we try to match them up with organizations that are looking for interns or junior developers. Sometimes they get paid, sometimes they don’t, but we’ve found that those graduates who devote themselves to building experience in this way have the greatest success.

The important thing to know about success as a Drupal developer, is that the Learn, Engage, Practice process is a career-long commitment. If you want to keep getting better, (which, don’t we all?) you will keep the process going, since that is what ultimately develops your path to success.

For more information and resources on becomeing a Drupal web developer, visit DrupalEasy Academy and check out our how to start a career in Drupal and career resources pages. You can also register for our free online Taste of Drupal information session on March 9 at 3:30 pm EST.

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