The day has come; you’ve decided it’s time for a change and soon your unfulfilling job will be a distant memory. You’ve been following others as they find their own developer niche, and have officially decided it’s time to turn your dream career into your new career.
As you venture down the road to becoming a web developer, you’ll be faced with numerous decisions, the first of which is the most important:
What kind of web developer will I be?
The simplest way to tackle this question is by first determining the types of developer opportunities exist. So, let’s take a deeper dive into the kind of web developers there are and then, how you can find your developer niche within those opportunities.
Web Development 101
When you first heard the words ‘web developer’ it’s possible that you first thought of a front-end developer. These developers build what you see on the website page – the front-end of the website that is consumer facing. On the flip-side, a back-end developer builds what exists behind the scenes. And then there is a full-stack developer: someone who is familiar will all levels of development and has an interest in all technologies associated with web development. Now, this may seem like common sense to many, but it is important to walk through each step of defining who you are as a developer to make a fully-informed decision.
It’s no secret that the demand for web developers is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of web developers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations”. And this is in the United States alone. This is due to the fact that web developers are now needed within every industry, not just tech firms. So sure, we understand now that there is a high demand for these jobs, but with that comes a greater desire from others to become a web developer. What sets you apart from the competition and how can you truly find your developer niche?
What’s Your Developer Niche?
Your answer to this question will determine your entire career as a developer. However, before you can adequately answer, there are a few starter questions you must ask:
- What are my passions?
- What are my strengths? Weaknesses?
- What would set me apart from other web developers?
Let’s first take a closer look at defining passions. You currently sit in an office Monday thru Friday, but on the weekends you and your roommates go brewery hopping.
Or, you’ve been a first responder on the scene of accidents for the past 11 years, most of the time confined to the inside of an ambulance. Outside of work hours, you enjoy ballroom dancing with your partner and often travel to various cities for competitions throughout the year.
You get the idea. These are your passions. These are the activities you choose to do in your spare time and are a great place to start when deciding what kind of web development you want to pursue. Is there a brewery in your city whose website may need some TLC? Start there; once you’ve developed your core skills, reach out to the owners and express your desire to help them create a more inviting website that will excite both them and their fellow beer drinkers. This would be your front-end developer opportunity.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself in answering question number two. Think of this as an interview question. If a potential employer asked what your strengths are, how would you answer? I’m great at time management; I’ve conquered user interface, etc. And for the weaknesses? Sometimes I’m a bit too literal – it would benefit me to think out-of-the-box, be a more creative thinker. Playing to your natural strengths can set you up for a successful career as a web developer.
Now you’ve gotten to the third question: what would set me apart from other web developers? Well, if you’ve done your homework on questions #1 and #2, you’ll find that it may be easier than expected to answer #3. What sets you apart from the competition is your love for beer. Your desire to work for a company that shares your passions. You may not necessarily want to be a web developer for Google and that is OK. You could work for a beer company, or a nonprofit instead.
Or you’re a logical-thinker, and you love the technical aspects of bringing a website to life. You don’t truly care about the outward-facing user experience, but your passion lies in building the infrastructure of the website. This would be your back-end developer opportunity.
So, there you have it. It’s time to do some research. Get out there and first learn everything you can about web development and the intricacies of the roles. Then stay true to yourself and know that the path you set out on today can determine where the rest of your career may take you.