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What would you recommend learning to be qualified for an entry level position in the web development industry? I am currently unemployed after being laid off again in the field I was in and decided to follow my passion and make a career change. I am good with html and css and have been working through the web development track. Any help appreciated.

4 Answers

Jonathan Baker
Jonathan Baker
2,304 Points

The industry generally likes to split the term "web developer" into two sub-categories: back-end web developer and front-end web developer. Most entry level web developers tend to fall into the front-end category with required skills such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These are must haves in my opinion. Front end developers usually take a design, such as a PSD or similar, and turn it into a real, working website. They're also responsible for creating the interactive parts and pieces of the website, usually using jQuery or even client-side MVC frameworks such as Backbone.js.

When it comes to back-end web development, this is where the experience with PHP, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET, etc comes into play. Back-end or server-side developers are responsible for developing the business logic of a web application, most likely including persistence with a database such as Postgres or MongoDB. Generally, if you want a position as an entry level back-end web developer, you need to have experience or knowledge of one or more of the common web application frameworks that I mentioned above.

You may here the term "full-stack" web developer thrown around on job boards. This generally means that you know and are experienced with developing both sides of a web application. While I think it's great to have knowledge of both sides, you generally should not try and become an expert on both sides. For front-end developers, it is a good idea to understand how web application frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails, handle CSS and HTML templates. For back-enders, you need to be aware of how the HTML is constructed so you can provide the right data in the right APIs.

In the end, I would recommend figuring out which side interests you more and then learn the technologies used in that realm. I will list a few recommended technologies below for both sides.

Front End Web Development

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript / jQuery
  • SCSS / Less / Coffeescript

Back End Web Development

  • Ruby, PHP, Node.js, or other similar language
  • Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET, Django, or other frameworks
  • PostgresSQL, MongoDB, MySQL, or other DBMS
Pavol Almasi
Pavol Almasi
Courses Plus Student 1,524 Points

Your story is rather similar to mine. Got laid off last year and decided to concentrate on web development as my new career. I did a few sites in the past and got familiar with php (on intermediate level) but I did it just on the side. Now i am working on my associate degree in computer science and programming. Quite a career change - from digital prepress graphics artist to a web developer, especially since I just turned 40. :-) Anyway, my effort is aimed towards php but also c# as I want to work using Microsoft's ASP too. I just want to kind of separate myself a bit from the php crowd hoping asp could give me a bit of a boost. And since I will already be taking VB.net at school, then i figured I can work on my .net skills as a whole. Along with improving my php skills (I really want to go beyond intermediate) and Java and C++ classeses I am taking at school too, I hope I'll be ready to get my foot to the door and compete with 20 year old graduates...

Adam Waxman
Adam Waxman
8,779 Points

I'm a student at the Flatiron School. Our prework is a great start for materials to learn to be a web developer: http://prework.flatironschool.com/

I also wrote a blog post for resources for learning to code: https://medium.com/on-coding/41fe6fc1b8df

Treehouse is great! If you want to be a front-end developer I'd focus on HTML / CSS / Javascript. If you are interested in being a 'full stack' developer I'd suggest learning ruby/rails or python/django.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Thanks all for your advise. I have self taught html, css and basic javascript but decided to enroll here at treehouse to ensure I get a good foundation. I want to get into an entry level front end dev position and continue my education to eventually specialize in back end dev. I feel like I have the appropriate knowledge and skillset for an entry level position now I just have to find a firm willing to give me a chance. In the meantime, I continue to improve.

Andres Mendoza
Andres Mendoza
3,088 Points

Jason, it looks like you are on the right track in getting your foot in the door. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are crucial for basic web development. As you progress you should also look into newer stuff like HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery for nicer layouts and simple animations on the web.

Now if you are interested in learning the back end then I suggest you find a framework and learn it. You can choose ruby on rails, PHP, or use Microsoft .NET. Start to learn the basic coding fundamentals and how the code behind integrates the front end with some database on the back end. depending on the framework you choose to learn you can either take up My SQL, or MS SQL both very similar.

Good Luck!