A career shouldn’t be all about the money but when considering your future, it’s natural to want to know the average web developer salary and the earning potential of any future role.
Considering the amount of learning, work and hours you’ll be doing, it has to be worth your while, right?
That’s what we’re discussing today. We will be talking about the average web developer salary. We will also discuss career stages, job prospects, what’s you’ll need to learn and everything you need to know about becoming a web developer.
As you’ll appreciate, the size and scope of the field means all we’ll be able to offer are approximates. We have used the latest figures where possible and concentrate on employed web developers rather than freelancers.
There is huge scope for earning as a freelance web developer but there is no reliable way to calculate potential earnings.
Therefore, we’re talking only about employed developers in this article.
Web developer salary
As the web is global, we have collated average web developer salaries from the US, UK and Europe to cover the average CollectiveRay reader demographic.
Every employer is different and as you’ll see when you begin looking for work, each has a very different idea of what salary is appropriate for web developers!
We have divided the salaries up into the main career paths you can take to make it easier to see what you’re in for.
Here’s a summary table of the average web developer salary:
Junior web developer salary
Senior web developer salary
Lead web developer salary
Junior web developer salary
You won’t get rich as a junior web developer. But, like many early stages of a career, you’re laying the foundations of something that will repay your efforts later.
That said, there are a great many lower paid careers so it isn’t all bad!
- According to CW Jobs a junior developer in the UK can earn around £27,000 per year.
- A junior working in the EU could earn from €31,000
- A US-based junior developer could earn in the region of $50,000 per year.
Your earning potential depends on your existing skills and how compelling your portfolio is. The more you are capable of, the more you could earn. Just like any job.
Senior web developer salary
Senior web developers are classed as mid-career by many employers. This is where you begin to earn decent money. If you’re a generalist, you have a lot of flexibility in how and where you work.
As a specialist, your scope may be limited depending on where you live but your earning potential will be higher.
- A UK-based senior web developer could earn around £52,000 per year.
- An EU-based senior web developer earns similar to the UK, around €60,500
- A US senior web developer can expect to earn at least $66,000 per year.
By this time in your career, you should have 5-6 languages under your belt and be able to add significant valuer to a project. That will be recognized in the salary.
You can also start experiment with other technologies, such as switching to development of apps. If you're planing to hire app developer - check out our article linked previously.
Lead web developer salary
The lead developer salary is harder to quantify. There are so many areas of specialization and job types that it’s difficult to put a figure on it.
However, from our research, we think:
- UK lead web developers can earn in excess of £57,000 per year
- Lead developers in the EU can earn more than €66,000
- US-based lead developers can earn more than $80,000 per year.
Lead developers have no ceiling salary. Like most roles, much will depend on who you work for, what size projects you work on, how valuable your contributions are and lots of other variables. That’s why we put a base figure here instead of an average web developer salary.
What does a web developer do?
As the name suggests, a web developer’s job is to develop websites and web applications. Depending on the role, the job will include planning, designing, building, and testing websites, content management systems, databases, apps and web applications for clients or an employer.
The developer is not the designer. A web designer makes a website or app look pretty while the developer makes it all work properly.
A web developer will build the framework and the functionality of the project in question and not get too involved in how it looks or feels.
Typical role responsibilities for web developers include:
- Attending meetings to plan projects
- Deciding on languages and technologies to use in the project
- Outlining and wireframing for projects
- Using a variety of tools and languages to build websites and apps
- Working with pre-sales, projects and support staff throughout the lifecycle
- Working with clients on concepts and support
- Keeping up to date on development trends and emerging technology
- And a whole lot more!
Some web developers will concentrate on narrow areas of specialization while others will have a shallower but much wider set of skills. Both types of developer are in demand so it comes down to your personality and personal goals which way you go.
What types of web developer are there?
There are a few types of web developer. You will usually start out as a junior developer and work your way through to senior developer and perhaps lead developer. There is lots of scope to specialize within that path so you could become an expert in your field.
Here are some typical types of web developer:
You can then specialize further to become an:
- HTML/CSS developer that works almost exclusively in those two languages
- Frontend UX developer who specializes in interactive elements and navigation
- Mobile frontend developer who specializes in mobile technologies
A backend developer gets involved with everything that happens behind the scenes. That can mean databases, frameworks, server applications and so on. You may need languages like Java, C++, Ruby, Python and Scala to develop web services and APIs to provide functionality.
Further specializations for backend developers include:
- Java or NodeJS developer specialize in this one language
- API developer specializing in those pieces of code that let different systems talk to one another
- Scala backend developer who specializes in Scala
- Ruby or Ruby on Rails developer who has specialized in frameworks
Full stack developer
Full stack developers work both front and back end and combines the languages, skills and approach of both to build websites and applications. That can also include design, APIs, databases and other skills too.
If you have the capacity to master many areas of web development, there is huge demand in qualified and experienced full stack developers. If you have the aptitude, it’s one of the most in-demand areas of technology right now!
What programming languages do web developers need to know?
The languages you’ll need to learn will depend entirely on what you want to do. You may already have an idea of the languages you like or the elements of web development you enjoy most.
If you don’t, according to Fullstack Academy, these are the most in demand skills right now:
Add HTML, CSS, SQL and PHP and you have a good selection of programming languages to get you started in web development.
Career stages for web developers
As you saw in our average salary chart, there are three main career states for web developers that sit separate from specializations. Those stages are junior web developer, senior developer and lead developer.
Junior web developer
A junior web developer has just graduated or just joined their first full time job as a developer. You are at the beginning of an exciting career that rewards hard work and effort with opportunities for advancement and earnings.
You may know a couple of languages well or know a little about a few of them. It is unlikely you’ll know exactly where you want to take it right now but you may be one of the lucky few.
You will usually begin in a junior position. You’ll be assisting in projects, helping out other developers and generally working within the team.
You may spend 6 months to a year as a junior depending on the organization. That may or may not include formal training but should have a defined training schedule internally at the very least.
Don’t expect to earn a fortune as a junior developer. While salaries tend to be competitive, you’re still learning the ropes.
Senior web developer
As a senior web developer, you should know one or more languages very well and be used to taking the lead on smaller projects or project elements. You will have been in the role for a while and be specializing or mastering the full-stack.
Either way, you’re the person the juniors will go to for advice and guidance while they are learning the ropes.
Senior web developers can know a lot about a few languages or a moderate amount about a lot of them. Much will depend on whether you’re have the ability to deep dive into subjects or prefer to learn as much as possible about as many as possible.
Senior web developers have great earning potential even before any particular specialization.
Lead web developer
Lead web developers do exactly that, take the lead on various projects to deliver the complete experience at the end. They will often work within a project framework run by a project manager and will be responsible for creating the deliverables for that project.
Many lead web developers will have areas of specialization but it isn’t mandatory. As long as you know some languages very well and can deliver in your area of expertise, you’ll be fine.
You can be a lead frontend developer, lead backend developer or even a lead full stack.
Salaries are pretty good at this level. The more specialization you have and the more languages you know, the more you can earn.
How to get started as a web developer
You have two main ways to become a web developer, the formal route or the self-taught route. Neither is ‘better’ than the others but each does have strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll also need some other skills to be a successful developer:
- Computer literacy
- Numeracy skills
- Good listening skills
- The ability to present ideas
- Genuine creative ability
- Strong attention to detail
- Excellent communication skills
- Tenacity and problem-solving skills
- A logical approach to work
- A keen interest in technology
We’re sure you can think of other skills you’re likely to need but you get the idea. Some of them will be mainly for senior or lead roles but the more of these core competencies you have, the more successful you’ll be as a developer.
Getting into web development:
The formal route
The formal route includes a computer-based degree. The US values degrees more than other countries and many larger organizations make it difficult to get roles without them.
There is no web development degree but any that teaches the basic languages should work out fine.
The advantage of a formal degree is a recognizable qualification at the end. You will also get work placement and assistance finding a job when you graduate. The downside is of course, the time it takes and the student debt.
The informal route
Digital skills are the great leveller in that you don’t need a degree to break into these types of career. Some employers prefer a degree but if you can prove, or have already proven your ability, you can still get into the career.
You will need to work on the skills in your own time but can be done alongside your day job. There are lots of online tools and resources to teach web development.
Those resources include:
- Google developers training
Learning languages and developing your skills
Whether you go the formal route or the informal one, you’re joining a career that requires you to be continuously learning. Employers may help with training but it will be largely up to you to learn new languages and keep up to date with developments.
Resources can include those linked above but also code bootcamps, Free Code Camp and others. Many are free while code bootcamps tend to cost money. Each has its pros and cons and you’ll likely find you gravitate more towards one than the other.
How to show your skills as a web developer
The main way to demonstrate your skills or aptitude to become a web developer is to show rather than tell.
That means building a portfolio of projects you worked on or played a pivotal role in. That could be from university, college or off your own back.
If you don’t want to take on paid work, consider offering your skills for free to charities or local businesses, developing apps or websites for friends or local clubs, or creating sample projects to showcase your work.
The more you have in your portfolio, the better a recruiter can understand your skills and aptitude.
What web developer skills are most in demand?
The world of web development is ever-changing with trends and technologies driving demand constantly. There are a few specializations or languages that seem constantly in demand.
According to this report for 2021, the following are the most in demand web development skills:
SQL, Structured Query Language, is another in demand skill. It is used in any website or application that uses a database including content management systems like WordPress and some mobile apps.
HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are core web developer skills. HTML makes up the layout and structure for a website while CSS controls the styling. You won’t usually get involved in the design side of these two languages but they are the backbone of any website.
Python is regarded as one of the easiest languages to learn. It is used as a framework for websites and uses much more user-friendly language than many others. It’s also very popular thanks to its power and flexibility.
Java is the most popular web development language as it is used everywhere from websites to apps, mobile apps, games and more. Apparently, Java is installed on over 15 billion devices, so if you know Java, you’re set for life.
The cloud is also an up and coming area of expertise for web developers. Whether that’s Amazon Web Services or something else, knowing how websites and apps can utilize the cloud is another skill that should serve you well in your future career.
Mobile is another huge growth area for web developers. If you can play nicely with mobile and know your APIs and mobile languages, you have almost unlimited potential for work and salary here. While mobile covers a lot of ground, specializing in only one or two mobile languages could serve you very well indeed!
How to find a job in web development
You should begin your career by learning and then proving your skills.
We mentioned earlier that learning languages can be done at university or by yourself. However you learn, you’re going to need to create a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills. You can then leverage the portfolio when applying for jobs.
Like the skills you went out and developed yourself, there are the jobs out there to utilize them. You just need to go out there and develop those opportunities too.
Personality types in web development
What personality traits do you need to be a web developer?
As the majority of development is drive by code, you need to be logic and have good problem solving skills. You need to be analytical and have excellent attention to detail.
If you design user experiences, you will also need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of a user and accurately imagine what they want from a website or app.
There are creative elements to development too. While you won’t get into website design, you will have to come up with creative solutions to problems and be creative in the features and experiences you develop.
Web developer career path and salary
The web developer career path has a lot of freedom to work to your strengths and identify areas of your own expertise.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find that area quickly and while you’re developing your career. It’s never too late though. You can specialize at any time in your career and there are always opportunities for late stage career changes.
Like many digital careers, there are fewer rules in web development than there are in other careers. If you want the skills, learn them. If you want the job, demonstrate those skills. The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out!
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