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How to Be a Web Developer Without a Degree

4 min read

Web development can be an exciting career field with many opportunities, but in today’s hyper specialized workplace, it’s often the case that employers look for degrees to help limit the potential applicant pool. In today’s workplace, it is not unusual for employers to receive thousands of applications for a single job opening, so some filters become necessary in order to keep the applicant pool small enough to sift through. A bachelor’s degree has become the new high school diploma, and it’s no longer unheard of to see companies advertising for candidates with master’s degrees, even when the position doesn’t actually use master’s-level learning. 

So what can you do if you want to be a web developer but don’t have a degree? In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the ways you can enter the exciting field of web development even if you don’t have the kind of degree that the competition sports.

First, Have the Knowledge

First and foremost, you need to have the right knowledge to become a great web developer. That means that you need to teach yourself web development, from scratch if you don’t have the skills or any background already. According to a recent survey, at least 70% of all developers say that they learned some, most, or all of their skills by themselves outside of formal educational channels. In fact, 13% say that they are entirely self-taught and have never studied web development in school. Overall, despite the push for more qualifications in new employees, across the web development field, less than half have an undergraduate degree in web development or a related subject, and only 2% have a doctorate. 

So where do you get the knowledge that you need to become a web developer?

One of the most popular ways to learn web development is by attending a web development boot camp. These boot camps typically last between a few weeks and a few months and teach attendees about ten percent of what you might learn in a typical university program. This, however, is not as small as it seems because this ten percent is only the most relevant, foundational, and important information that you will need to launch your web development career. There are also a number of online courses that will teach you web development and coding skills from the comfort of your home. Indeed, some 25 million students currently study programming online. Some of the courses are free or low-cost, while others have a greater tuition. 

Before you start looking for a job, you should possess skills in a number of key areas. Among these are:

  • JavaScript
  • HTML & CSS
  • CSS Preprocessors (Less & Sass)
  • Responsive Design
  • AngularJS
  • Design Patterns
  • Git
  • NodeJS
  • Task Runners

You can learn the basics from an online coding course, but you might want to build on this the old school way, by reading books on the subject. Guidebooks can provide a depth of knowledge that you don’t typically find in a brief online tutorial or course.

Start in an Entry-Level Position

As should be obvious, you won’t waltz into a top job in web development without experience, no matter how much self-taught knowledge you have. The first thing you need to do is apply for and secure an entry-level position. In order to get an entry-level job, you’ll need to be able to prove that you are a better candidate than others in your field. To do so, you will need to show that you are fluent in one or more of the top programming languages, typically Java, and have good knowledge of the others. Be able to demonstrate your mastery in order to convince a potential employer that you are the right person for the job.

Make Your Mark

Once you have your entry level job, it’s time to make your mark. Everyone is nervous in their first position, but don’t let fear of failure prevent you from taking some calculated risks. If you want to move up, you need to prove that you are more than just another web developer. Pursue innovative solutions and work to make sure that you get noticed. And don’t listen to what other people say uncritically. Your colleagues will have plenty of ideas about how to do things, but expertise can only take you so far in the rapidly changing coding world. Don’t get trapped by the argument from authority. Just because something has always been done one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way—or the best way. Chart your own path to success.

Never Stop Learning

Don’t assume that just because you now have a job that you are done building your skills. Keep learning. Take more courses. Investigate new programming language and new approaches to web development problems. To that end, if you find that taking a course toward a degree fits your life goals but completing all of the homework for those courses is distracting you from innovating, an online coding assistance service like can give you the opportunity to pay someone to do programming homework assignments for you. When you outsource homework challenges to experts, you can skip the line and the long process of proving your worth by getting that degree and skipping to the front of the line when it comes time to ask employers to hire you for your first—or next—web development job.

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