I really struggled with this question. I’ve always liked computers ever since I was a kid, but I hadn’t really done any coding until my Computing Studies degree at university.
Turns out, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I found it really satisfying programming something and making it do what I wanted it to do.
What if I'm Not Good Enough?
My first problem was believing that becoming a developer meant you would join a company and immediately be thrown in at the deep end, expected to produce the next Facebook on your own and shouted at when it turns out you're a bit shit.
I know, it sounds ridiculous. I can’t quite believe that I thought that either, but there we go. I think perhaps my lack of confidence at the time led me to think I just wouldn’t be good enough if I chose that particular career.
This is genuinely a thing, and devs with much more experience than me still get this.
Even once you know your stuff, you'll still have those moments where you just don't think you're good enough. What you need to remember is you already know more than most of the general population about web development, and they wouldn't be able to do half of the things you do!
The moral of the story is, have faith in yourself. You got this.
Junior Positions Are a Thing
Yes, really. You can actually join a company as a junior dev and be given tasks appropriate to your experience level! Who'd have thought it?! Sarcasm directed at you, past Luke!
As a junior, you’ll have the support you need and the expectations of you will be adjusted accordingly. You’re a beginner, and everyone knows that. You’ll get time and help to hone your skills and increase your knowledge.
You Don’t Have to Know You’re a Developer!
The next thing I struggled with was not being sure whether I could code all day, every day as a job. I knew I enjoyed the uni projects, but did that translate to guaranteed happiness working as a dev full time?
Do you have to feel the programmer blood coursing through your veins and know, without a shadow of a doubt, you will absolutely live for coding hours on end?! It seemed like it, and some advice I was given early on also led me to believe that could be the case. I knew I had enjoyed coding, but was it more a hobby than a calling?
Having been in the game for a little while now, I can say that for me personally it’s worked out. I still enjoy my job and in my case (probably yours too) my day is broken up with enough meetings to make it a non issue!
Admittedly I can’t make any guarantees here as it's a very subjective thing, but in hindsight I would say if you enjoy coding, it's really worth giving it a shot.
Just Give it a Try, See if You Like It
You'll pretty quickly discover if coding seems like a good fit for you. If you get to the end of the day and can't wait to pick back up where you left off the following morning, then it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see you're enjoying yourself!
What Makes a Good Developer?
I’ve always been logical, methodical and organised. I find these attributes serve me well as a developer. I enjoy the process of debugging (even if it is infuriating at times!) and investigating an issue drives me forward and motivates me to get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution.
1 - Adept at Problem Solving
If you find that you are basically tech support for your friends and family, and for the most part can work through a problem methodically to get to the solution, you are already in great shape. This is an invaluable skill when it comes to coding, as you will frequently encounter problems that you need to overcome.
2 - A High Degree of Independence
Easily follows on from the above point, and I'm not saying you need to be a loner who hates people! While you will commonly be working in a team, and together with other developers, there will be plenty of times when you will be coding on your own. You need to be independent enough that you can proactively seek out your own solutions when you hit a roadblock.
3 - Attention to Detail
The code you produce needs to be very precisely written in order to do what it is intended to do. It's no exaggeration to say that one incorrect character in your code can cause your application to either break entirely or do completely the opposite to what's intended. Many a developer has had moments where they are tearing their hair out trying to debug an issue, only to track it down to what seems like the smallest, most innocuous little thing!
4 - A Willingness to Continue Learning
In web development things never stand still, they are constantly evolving. There is always a new flavour of the month, always a new version of something around the corner. If you're looking for a career where you can put in some initial effort, and then take your foot off the accelerator, this probably isn't for you. To keep up, you will need to continue learning throughout your career.
5 - Able to Communicate Well With Team Members
While you might imagine a developer is buried away in a cave, coding in the dark, the job actually requires a good level of communication skill in terms of interacting with your colleagues. You still need to be able to work within a team, and will often be coding together with other developers.
6 - A Certain Level Of Creativity
You might think as a developer you would be solely focused on code and technical details. In actual fact as a web developer, particularly a front-end developer, you will also need some degree of creativity and design prowess. It's likely that you will be working alongside designers and following a prepared design, but there will also definitely be times where you need to generate something that looks acceptable at least! Don't be too concerned about that though, there are lots of resources online to help with that.
Is the Salary Right For Me?
This is obviously hard to measure exactly, so take the following figures with a pinch of salt, but in general, as of 2023, mid-level developers in London can expect to earn around £55k to £70k, and senior devs around £70k plus, perhaps up to about £100k. This is about average, there are obviously higher and lower outliers depending on the field. For example, fintech (financial technology) jobs will pay figures on the higher end.
It's worth noting the salaries you see on websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, CWJobs etc seem very low, for some reason.
Does Web Development Have Good Future Prospects?
In short, web development is a great career choice. Web developers are in high demand with employers, and the industry is experiencing tremendous growth.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 21,800 new jobs opening up in web development every year from now until 2031. Although this statistic is US based, you can safely apply this growth to the global market as well.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea as to whether web development is the right career for you. Obviously I'm biassed, but personally I really enjoy my job and have no regrets about choosing this career. I would strongly encourage you to consider it if it sounds like you would be well suited based on the post!
If you think you'd like to give it a go and want to learn what the next steps are, continue reading for details on how to become a web developer!.