The projected demand for web developers in the U.S. is expected to remain higher than average into the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Software and web developers are such a commodity that they can work around the globe, in Silicon Valley or even from the comfort of their own homes. For those who learn to develop software and web applications, there may be many interesting job opportunities in Colorado and beyond. So why isn’t everyone doing it?
The answer typically amounts to this: learning to code intimidates people. Like mastering any language, learning how to code means understanding new rules, symbols and structures that have assigned definitions. The process can be time consuming, especially when attempting to learn alone. As a result, people may quit coding — and consequently, their dreams of becoming a software developer — before fully giving it a chance. But diving into code doesn’t have to be so daunting.
Prepare yourself for the web development field with these four steps:
1. Understand the basics
Right click on this web page that you’re currently viewing. Now scroll down and select “View Page Source.” What you are looking at is HTML, the main language used to structure web pages. There are plenty of instructional videos and articles that can help you comprehend the basics of HTML. Certain browsers, such as Mozilla® Firefox®, also offer helpful tools that allow you to highlight and inspect the code behind any text or image on a web page.
Next time you scroll down a page, quickly view its source code or inspect an element to see the actual code behind the page — or what developers call “the backend” — looks like. This can help you become comfortable recognizing basic HTML code and tags that correspond with certain elements on a web page.
2. Choose a language
The act of choosing a programming discipline means you are now taking your interest in coding seriously. Conduct thorough research to ensure you make an informed decision.
The discipline you choose will define the base language and work you focus on. However, if you’re truly set on becoming a top-of-the-line developer, you will eventually have to learn a few different languages. In fact, many developers who are comfortable working on the front or backend of a site — known as “full-stack developers” — typically code in five or six languages. For now, simply pick one or two base languages you’re excited to pursue and implement in projects as a student.
3. Ask people who have experience
No amount of online articles can compare to personal experience. If you know a developer or have a friend who is becoming a developer, schedule some time to pick this person’s brain. Is your friend happy in this career? Based on experience, would he or she have chosen a different profession?
If you don’t know anyone who fits the bill, post your coding-related questions on sites like Quora and Reddit, where there are active communities of coding professionals. You can also attend local coding meetups to connect with developers and get their take on which coding languages and skills they like.
4. Find classes or a school
No matter the base language you choose, take time to decide which school to attend. This could be the biggest decision you make on your journey to learn code, so choosing a school that aligns with your professional goals and learning style is essential.
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