Do you need a degree to be a web developer?

January 23, 2019

A post by Will Mayger
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Find out if you need a degree to be a web developer (You don’t).

No.

The answer to “Do you need a degree to be a web developer?” is plain and simply no and I’ll explain why.

This is based on my own experience as a web developer (based in London), I do not have a degree and so far, I would say, my career has been pretty successful.

I am employed as a frontend web developer in the UK at The Telegraph with a very wide range of skills, from mobile app development to back end development and everything in-between. I currently specialize in a frontend Javascript framework called “React”.

I started out with absolutely no IT or development qualifications, or experience whatsoever.

So how did I do it?

I will be completely transparent, I left school with absolutely no intention of becoming a web developer, in fact, I barely understood what that meant.

I was the typical kid that enjoyed hitting the gym with my friends, I thought I wanted to be a personal trainer at some point down the line.

I saw a video on YouTube where someone was coding in C# which caught my eye.

I followed their videos trying to learn what I could, printing out sheets of code that I couldn’t understand, trying to copy what I could in order to learn.

Eventually, I created a little “C#” application for windows computers to calculate macronutrients and calories.

At the time it was really difficult for me, probably because I didn’t have a good course to follow and I was only learning by example, but I still managed to do it.

Shortly after I started to do the same but in a coding language called “Java” so I could create a mobile app as this was a lot cooler.

Again, this was very tough, but it was still achievable just like it is for everyone. This was more software development but that doesn’t matter very much as many skills in development are highly transferable.

This app landed me an apprenticeship. For you, it could get you the same or even a junior role from the very start if you follow a good free course like I will show near the bottom of this post.

To get the apprenticeship I had to go for an interview for a role in a company called Atos.

When I got there, the whole room was full of people also interviewing, all of whom were way more qualified than I was.

To cut a long story short, It was me that received the offer, not because of my experience but because of my passion to learn and do something off of my own back rather than doing it in school or university for a degree or qualification.

This still remains true, even today, I know that employers will much prefer to hire passionate people over people who just have the qualifications and degrees.

So I certainly did not need degree to be a web developer, just like it can be for you.

So, to answer your question “Do you need a degree to be a web developer?”, no, you don’t!

I’ll briefly go over how you can start.

It’s actually really easy.

Here is a step by step guide to show you what you need to do to get started which I will break down.

Do some learning online for free. Do in depth research. Use what you have learnt and play around with it. Create a portfolio website to act as an example for what you can do (don’t worry this is easier than you think.) Write your CV. Apply for Junior, apprenticeship, or trainee based roles.

Let’s start with online learning for free

Firstly, you won’t need to spend a penny to learn the skills required to become a web developer which is a huge bonus, you just need to put in the leg work.

The only thing you will need is a computer and an internet connection.

There are three core things you will need to learn first. How to code HTML How to code CSS How to code Javascript

All of which have a lot of free resources online to help you do so.

I personally would recommend codecademy to learn the basics for HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

It is an interactive learning platform for coding and a really good place to start, especially if you prefer to learn by doing rather than just reading.

There are many services out there just like codecademy so if you want to choose another, just have a quick google.

After the basics I highly recommend diving into each one in a little more depth and doing some more research.

For HTML you might want to have a read through https://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp

For CSS https://www.w3schools.com/css/default.asp

And for Javascript https://developer.mozilla.org/bm/docs/Web/JavaScript, https://github.com/airbnb/javascript.

When you get stuck, which will happen, don’t worry, all developers get stuck. You will need to get used to googling your problems.

90% of development is googling problems that you don’t know the answer to yet.

A few sites that will become very helpful are sites such as https://stackoverflow.com/, and github issue pages.

After you feel comfortable just play around with it, have some fun and try to recreate sites out there, for example see if you can replicate the login screen of facebook (save the file as facebook.html, then drag and drop it as a new tab in your browser to see it).

The more you do this the better you will get, and the more it will show in your interviews.

Once you feel you are ready to try and get your first job it is worth creating a website to demonstrate what you know.

Get inspiration from other websites out there that you think look cool, as this will help you create a website that looks visually stunning!

After you have done that you will want to host it, I won’t go over that here as it would deserve to have its own post. For the time being, see if you can use google to figure out how to do this.

(Googling is the most important developer skill).

Finally when writing your CV, make sure that your passion comes across and you will get offers.

Don’t get me wrong it isn’t necessarily an easy journey, becoming a developer off your own back, but if you persist at it, you can definitely achieve it.

I hope you have found this post useful about whether you need a degree to be a web developer or not.

Soon it will be you answering the question “Do you need a degree to be a web developer?”!

Good luck!

Will