Web Developer Salary and Career Paths

Web developers are responsible for creating and maintaining websites and apps on both desktop and mobile platforms. Web developers may use coding, computer programming, design and other skills in their jobs. This article will cover various career paths for web developers and coders, including job outlook, the average web developer salary and the best cities to work in as a coder.

Careers in Coding

You may be wondering: What do web developers do? That depends on the area in which they specialize. Some web developers, called front-end developers, focus on designing a website or app—the look and layout. Back-end developers concentrate on building the technical framework of the site and making sure it functions the way front-end developers intended it. Individuals who do both are called full-stack developers. People interested in coding careers may gravitate to any of these specialties, especially full-stack or back-end development jobs. 

Across all web developer jobs, developers may meet with clients to understand the site’s needs and bring that vision to life. Developers may prototype or mock up web pages using standard programming languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Coding, graphic design and user testing may be beneficial skills for website developers to have. Web developers may be tasked with ongoing site maintenance and bug fixes.

Web Developer Work Settings

Web developers work in a variety of settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top employers of web developers were computer systems design companies and non-Internet publishing industries in 2020. Additionally, self-employed web developers made up about 18% of the industry in 2020.

Many different web developer job settings exist and can influence web developer careers. Many developers work in agency settings directly on client projects. Freelance website developers can also be hired by agencies specializing in website design and development or work directly for clients. Coders working in government settings may have to consider additional cybersecurity measures. In the academic field, web developers might work on large, complex websites with intranet capabilities. In business, they may have in-house positions working on the website design and development for a single company or an agency with many business clients. 

As mentioned above, a variety of web developer job titles exist, from front-end web developer to back-end web developer to full-stack web developer. They may also be found in positions including web designers or webmasters. Web developer careers may vary based on industry and employer. 

What Career Paths Are Possible as a Web Developer?

We’ve already outlined some of the job settings in which web developers work—from freelance to agencies to government, academic or business settings. The educational requirements and web developer qualifications differ depending on the job. Web developers can learn coding skills in a computer science or related degree program, taking an online course or coding boot camp, or teaching themselves through online tutorials or books. While some hiring for careers in web development may value an educational background in coding, others may prefer to see a portfolio of projects and real-world work experience. 

Coding Careers in Business

Web developers may play an important role in some businesses. A company’s website may be a space to sell, educate and inform potential customers about their services or products. Many modern companies may be looking for a website that both conveys the company’s information and also represents their brand and professionalism. This may be achieved through website design and function. 

Since many companies use their website to convey important information, web developers looking for a career in a business work setting may be asked to analyze user data to make sure navigation, graphics and content offer a favorable user experience. Web developers in this setting may be asked to do quality assurance testing to identify bugs and ensure production runs smoothly. Additionally, coders in a business environment may be asked to create reusable templates and wireframes for web pages and emails. Employers may seek out candidates who have knowledge of computer software, HTML coding and a keen eye for graphic design to help carry out their business goals. 

Coders in corporate settings may find themselves working directly for a company, as a contractor or through a website design agency. In this capacity, coders may need to be comfortable talking to various stakeholders to understand the website’s purpose and functionality. They have to find ways to communicate their ideas to diverse stakeholders through prototypes and regular meetings. Depending on their skill level, coders in this setting may be tasked with anything from developing and designing basic website layouts to handling more intricate website attributes. 

Web Developer Jobs in Computer Science

Web developers working in computer science may design innovative uses for new and existing technology. Individuals in this industry might also take on a teaching role in academia, and they may contribute to open-source platforms that move the needle on existing and upcoming programming languages. 

Similar to web development jobs in the business environment, web developers in a computer science work setting may be asked to communicate with clients, write code, create and implement content on the client’s website, and plan and design a web layout. 

Web developers in this setting might be tasked with conducting routine site audits and maintenance to ensure websites are functioning properly. They may use common code and script programs to help develop a site. Additionally, they may be asked to optimize and troubleshoot web pages to ensure responsiveness and security for the company’s account.    

Web Developer Jobs in Healthcare

There are many opportunities for web developers in the healthcare sector. They may develop and maintain large health system websites, both internal and external, as well as patient portals that give various medical staff access to health records in real time. They may develop mobile applications that support medical providers and patients.   

The job function for web developers in a healthcare work setting may differ from other industries. Information security and patient privacy may play a big role in their day-to-day duties. Web developers in this setting might be asked to design and build new features to provide a positive user experience. Their daily activities may also include making improvements to existing applications to enhance speed and reliability, as well as performing site audits and maintenance.

Web Developer Jobs in Other Industries

Web developers work in just about every industry that exists. In addition to the industries mentioned above, web developers may work in publishing, advertising, management consulting and other areas. Anyone with a particular interest can likely find a web development job that caters to it. It’s also possible for a web developer to pick a niche and market their services as a freelancer or contractor.

How Much Do Web Developers Make?

The median annual salary for a web developer was $77,200 in May 2020, according to BLS. The top 10% of web developers earned more than $146,430, and the lowest 10% earned less than $40,750. The top salaries by industry for web developers included non-Internet publishing industries with a median annual wage of $123,870, computer systems design with a median annual salary of $75,450, advertising and public relations with a median annual wage of $71,930, and management, scientific and technical consulting services with a median annual salary of $70,790. Most web developers work full time. Web developer pay may be affected by the industry they pursue. 

What Can Affect Web Developer Salary?

Coding salaries may be affected by experience and education. In some cases, individuals with a bachelor’s degree may be eligible for project management roles. Others may progress in their career based on a portfolio of work projects. In general, due to the rapidly changing nature of the industry, it may be important to stay up to date on technology continuously. Additional training, certifications and courses can advance a person’s career in web development and affect their salary potential. 

What Is the Job Outlook for a Web Developer?

Web development is a growing industry, and, according to BLS, employment of web developers is expected to increase 13% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the national average for all occupations. Approximately 17,900 job openings are projected annually for web developers during that period. Web developers who know multiple programming languages may have the most prospects. 

Part of the growth of web development jobs is sparked by e-commerce as online purchasing is outpacing in-person retail. The popularity of mobile devices is also fueling the demand for web developers. Because of this, developers may need to be comfortable creating interfaces that work on mobile, tablet and desktop screens. While some companies hire developers in other countries with lower wages, this practice may decline due in part to the cost of managing workers in multiple countries.

Discover These Cities for Web Developer Jobs

These are the top-paying cities for web developers in 2021, according to BLS. The table below includes metropolitan area and salary.

It may be important to keep in mind that the cost of living in California and Washington is quite high, which may affect higher wages. 

Explore These States for Coding Jobs

These are the top-paying states for web developers in 2021, according to BLS. The table below includes state and web developer salary.

StateAnnual Mean Wage

Web Developer Alternative Jobs

If you are interested in coding but don’t want to explore web developer careers, perhaps a related job at the intersection of technology and coding may spark your interest. These alternative jobs for web developers might help you find a meaningful career in an area of interest. 

  • Computer Science Jobs: This degree builds on understanding basic computer programming and looks at various technology applications. It can take a more theoretical view of the history and possible future of computers and technology in all of our lives. 
  • Data Science Jobs: A degree or certificate in data science may set you up with the skills needed to analyze large data sets to uncover useful information for companies, researchers and others. It draws on coding skills and may require an additional understanding of database languages. This degree relates to the quickly growing fields of AI and machine learning. 
  • Cybersecurity Jobs: Getting a degree or certificate in cybersecurity is a growing field that explores how to keep the increasing amount of data and information that is online safe and protected. It has many business and government applications. 

Is a Career in Coding Right for You?

If you have strong problem-solving skills, a solid understanding of mathematical principles like algebra and enjoy being at the cutting edge of technology, a web developer career might be right for you. A few additional questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Do I want to pivot careers quickly? A coding boot camp or self-guided course can help you become a coder without committing to an entire degree program. 
  • Do I enjoy solving complex problems? If you have the patience and tenacity to sit down for hours at a time working on solutions at a computer, you may enjoy coding. 
  • Do I want to be in a career with positive future job prospects? If you want to be in a high-demand occupation, coding might be an excellent fit for you.

Last updated May 2022