How to Become a Web Developer and Get a Job With No Experience (Guide)

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to become a Web Developer and in turn how to get a job in our industry.

I’ll split the guide into a series of articles. Once the guide is complete, I will also make it available for free to my subscribers in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI format.

How to Become a Web Developer and Get a Job

Who is this guide for

This guide is for anyone who wants to become a Web Developer and get a job as a professional developer.

The “how to become a Web Developer” portion of the guide is going to be specific to web development, but even those seeking to become other types of developers will likely benefit from its insight.

The “how to get a job as a developer” portion is much more generic and will serve you well regardless of your chosen specialization.

I’m writing this guide with two kinds of people in mind. Young people hoping to become professional developers and existing professionals who are hoping to switch careers (or who may be returning to the workforce in the case of stay-at-home parents).

These are the kinds of people I have personally helped in the past and those I have the most experience with. Nevertheless, the advice provided throughout this series should be suitable for anyone whose goal is to land a developer job.


I’ll take for granted that you have used a computer before and are somewhat web-savvy. As a litmus test of the sort, I’m assuming you know that Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are two browsers and can install an extension/add-on (or could figure it out by Googling it).

I’m also going to assume that you’re smart but not necessarily a genius like I am. That’s a joke, by the way, I’m not a genius. I’m a super genius. 🙂

Jokes aside, the media has created a certain stereotype of what a programmer looks like. The asocial genius wearing a hoodie can be an intimidating benchmark for those starting out.

The truth is developers come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. And although developers are reasonably smart people, being exceptionally gifted is by no means a requirement. You don’t even necessarily need to be good at math.

Technical ability, as we’ll discuss more in-depth soon, is also not the only desirable trait of a great developer. Your communication skills and ability to collaborate are just as, if not more, important.

Who am I

I’m a Software Development Manager and AI Advocate at IBM. I’ve been a professional Web Developer for 20 years.

Within IBM, I’m known as the guy who got the company to adopt Rails and Django, in the early days of these technologies, and more recently I’ve been gradually doing the same for Elixir and Phoenix. (If you don’t know what any of this means, no worries, we’ll cover your options soon.)

Over the years, I’ve provided advice to countless people who were hoping to make it into our industry, many of whom I’ve personally mentored.

For the past twelve years, I’ve been doing the candidate selections for my team. As a result, I must have reviewed thousands of résumés, interviewed hundreds of developers, and hired a few dozen applicants.

I’m also the author of a couple of technical books. One on Rails for Microsoft developers (painfully obsolete at this point) and one on Technical Blogging (current and quite useful to those seeking to advance their career in tech).

Among too many other things, I’m also the author of a popular chatbot course that’s been taken by over 100,000 people worldwide on Cognitive Class (a volunteer initiative for which I’m the marketing manager), Coursera, and edX.

This is not to brag (like many of us, I tend to feel underaccomplished at times), but rather to say there is a method to my madness and that my approach appears to have helped a lot of people. I’m hoping that it will help you as well.

A disclaimer on how to become a Web Developer

“How to become a Web Developer” doesn’t mean that I will teach you how to program in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. I could do that, but this svelte guide would become a 1,200-page tome in no time flat. And it would likely be one that would echo a lot of resources that are already available elsewhere.

Instead, I’m going to tell you what to study, along with how and why to study it. I will also point out various useful books and resources where you can learn more about the technical topics I mention.

I’ll give you the roadmap, but I won’t be doing the actual studying for you. 🙂

This is all very doable though, fear not. There are millions of developers, most of who are not any more special than you are. However, it would be a lie to say that there won’t be a lot of work involved on your part.

It will be, but if you’re not afraid of some elbow grease, a better career (and possibly life) awaits you on the other side of that dedicated effort.

Why would you want to become a developer

Instead of elaborate arguments trying to sell you on the profession, I’m going to list a few quick, bullet points in favor of becoming a Web Developer in the 2020s.

  • Web development is future-proof. AI will take over a lot of jobs, but most developer jobs won’t be automated away any time soon.
  • Web development can be remote. Most forms of software development, not just web development, can be carried out remotely. So you’re less likely to lose your job if, as if it’s currently the case with COVID–19, you are forced to be inside for extended lengths of time. There are, of course, other variables at play, but this improves your odds of remaining employed.
  • Web development is creative. You’ll be able to engage both the analytical side and the more creative parts of your brain.
  • Web development is fun. Two aspects that make web development really fun are being able to instantly see the results of your work (right in your web browser) and the ability to share it with the world at large. All this, without them having to install anything on their devices.
  • Web development doesn’t require a degree. A degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering is certainly helpful and provides many useful fundamentals. However, it’s by no means required to become a Web Developer or to get a job as a Web Developer.
  • Web development pays well. Try getting a job that pays six figures without a degree in most other fields; they’ll laugh as they escort you out of the interview room. Sure, your first web development job is unlikely to pay six figures, but you can still expect a generous salary right out of the gate from many companies (in the US, a junior developer will earn, on average, $66,695 per year).

Those are some of the major perks but, as you’ll find out if you go through this process, the work itself can definitely be its own reward as well.

Of course, your landlord expects dollars not your sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. But thankfully, web development covers you there as well.

What to expect next

This first article in our series is primarily an introduction to what is to come in future entries.

Here are some of the topics that I’ll cover next:

  • Front-End VS Back-End Developer: Front-End Developer, Back-end Developer, Full-Stack Developer, DevOps: what are the options, and what do they entail?
  • What set of web development technologies you should study. The ones that maximize your chances of getting a job as a web developer.
  • How to study for your chosen web development stack (including specific books, courses, and resources).
  • Résumés, Github, and project portfolios.
  • Using social media and blogging to stand out from the crowd and attract job offers.
  • Finding the right jobs and applying for them.
  • Mastering the interview process.

For now, remember that you can do this. Together we can get you in shipshape for your future web development job.

And please don’t forget to subscribe below to ensure you receive the next installments of this guide.

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One Response

  1. David July 15, 2020

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