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In less than two decades, the internet has gone from a niche platform to a phenomenon that’s taken over virtually every industry. With this meteoric growth comes millions of jobs that companies are still struggling to find qualified applicants for.

Software development is, far and away, one of the fastest-growing job industries today. Job growth is expected to exceed 20 percent from 2018 to 2028. And with a median salary of over $100,00, it’s no wonder there are so many people looking to switch to this lucrative field. The best part about choosing to pursue a career in software development is that you don’t need a college education to land a job. You simply need to know your stuff.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to become a web developer without a degree. Web development has the biggest slice of the software development pie. For web development, the position that companies seek the most is that of a full-stack developer. This means that you work on the entire creation of a website or web application from top to bottom. You build the front-end with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then you code the back-end, which usually entails programming logic, user authentication, database connections, and so on. We’ll take a look at these technologies and go over what you need to learn and master to be qualified to land your first job as a full-stack developer.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are what makes up the front-end portion of just about every website on the internet. The front-end is what users see and interact with. It’s how the websites you see are laid out, structured, and composed, and it’s how things like menus, animations, and other functionality are made.

HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s what builds the structure of websites. It determines the flow of content on a website and what those specific parts of the website are. HTML is relatively easy to learn compared to the other languages, so it’s best to start with it.

A great resource for learning about it is Mozilla Developer Network’s HTML resource.

CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS works directly on HTML tags to style a website. Everything that you see on every website that isn’t an image and has color, composition, and typography was styled with CSS.

CSS can be a little trickier than HTML. The code itself isn’t necessarily difficult to learn, but there are a lot of different abstract concepts you have to understand, such as the CSS box model and media queries.

As with HTML, Mozilla Developer Network’s CSS documentation is a fantastic place to get started.

JavaScript

JavaScript is where the actual programming gets started. It’s the programming language of web browsers and, like HTML and CSS, virtually every site on the internet runs some form of JavaScript. On the front-end, it’s used to create things like web forms, animated menus, image carousels, and so on.

Learning JavaScript, out of all the other things you’ll need to master, will be the most involved and the most difficult. It involves extremely abstract concepts, learning a lot of language syntax, a deep understanding of computer science, and a hearty blend of technical knowledge and creativity.

React and Other Frameworks

An extremely important concept that you’ll quickly come upon when learning web development is that of frameworks. Frameworks, which can exist for all of the aforementioned technologies, are essentially a collection of code, code snippets, and methodologies for how to use this code so that you can build products much quicker than if you tried to reinvent the wheel.

One significant framework is React. React is a JavaScript framework that’s maintained by Facebook, and it was created to assist in the development of interfaces. It’s a very robust framework that’s built on the concept of components. This means that you develop specific chunks of your interfaces so that they’re modular and easy to expand on. React is an insanely popular framework, and it’s one you’ll want to give special attention to when learning JavaScript. For a good primer, check out React’s getting started guide.

Self-learning and Bootcamps

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a web developer does, the next step is to start learning. You essentially have two options when learning how to become a web developer without a degree. There’s the path of self-learning and there are boot camps.

Teaching yourself is a great way to start your journey. It can cost little or no money and you can get your feet wet to see if web development is for you.

One resource that is completely free and is regarded as one of the best learning paths for self-taught developers is freeCodeCamp.org. It’s a full-blown, web-based curriculum that’s aimed at getting you from knowing nothing to being a competent full-stack developer. It’s self-paced, so you don’t have to quit your day job to learn. And it’s fully comprehensive; the course will walk you through each technology you’ll use as a developer and will even help you build a portfolio along the way.

If you’ve already acquainted yourself with the basics of web development and you’re certain you want to make the career change, boot camps can be a great way to jump-start your career. They’re highly-intensive classes that can run from several weeks to several months, and they’re aimed at getting you up-to-speed as quickly as possible. Bootcamps can be a bit on the pricey side, and they require a hefty commitment of time, so you’ll want to be certain about your path if you opt for this route. There are a lot of great options out there, so you’ll want to shop around and think about your options.

Building a Portfolio

While it’s true that a degree isn’t necessary for web development, prospective employers won’t just take your word for it that you know your stuff. This is where your portfolio comes in, which is the single most important aspect of landing a developer job.

Once you’ve got the skills necessary to do the work, you’ll need to build a portfolio of work that represents your abilities. You’ll want to have at least three complete projects in it that represent and demonstrates your proficiency with the technologies you’re working with. These should be robust projects; they should be complex and complete, not necessarily the easy things that you’ll be completing while you learn. Your portfolio will be the first thing employers look at when you apply.

Landing a Job

So, you learned everything you need to learn. You’ve built a killer portfolio with projects that showcase all your new skills and abilities. Now it’s time for the moment of truth: Applying for that prized developer job.

With software development, the process for getting hired is a bit different than with other jobs. You’ll be expected to present a solid portfolio, explain why and how you built your projects, and what your thought processes were while doing so. Additionally, you’ll likely have to do coding exercises to demonstrate your abilities. As with everything else, there are plenty of exercises and resources on the web that can help you prepare for this, so take your time and do your homework.

It’ll take a lot of time, hard work, and dedication when learning web development. But if you’re passionate about it and follow it through, that prized position as a six-figure web developer is well within your reach.