Have you ever wondered how to start a successful web development career? And what steps do you need to take to become successfully remote? As a WordPress web developer, I work on local and remote projects. A remote career is great, because it gives variety and flexibility, and the possibility to work on interesting projects.

In this post, I will discuss two distinct roles you can have as a remote web developer or web designer, the perks of being a remote worker, and also the possible salaries for remote roles. But before that, while remote work always has been there, why is remote work such a thing now?

The rise of remote web development

The recent Covid-19 global pandemic has proved to be a game-changer for the course of remote-based work. While the number of remote-based employees has actually been steadily increasing for the past two decades, that number has certainly grown exponentially as the world is still currently very much shut down. Where many companies had struggled to embrace a remote workforce pre-coronavirus, they were suddenly faced with no choice.

However, in the tech industry, remote-based teams have become very trending over the past ten years or so. Silicon Valley is historically one of the most expensive areas to live in the entire continental United States. To compensate for the very high cost of living, companies have been forced to pay salaries that are 20-30% higher than the national average. 

Remote work, a clean desk
I guess he cleaned his desk before taking the photo…

Due to this, companies are switching to remote working, with some running an entirely remote team with a corporate office serving as optional space when needed. Hiring remote employees has allowed Silicon Valley- and San Francisco-based tech companies to hire talents that live outside the expensive Bay area, resulting in lower overhead at still competitive wages for the remote-based employees. However, this practice is obviously not limited to companies in the Bay area of San Francisco but is popular globally.

According to Career Karma’s bootcamp market report, coding bootcamps have been rising in popularity in cities such as Atlanta, Denver, and Austin, and Seattle. The boom of new tech professionals in these cities across the United States, and most notably outside of the two main tech hubs of San Francisco and New York, has created secondary tech hubs bustling with plenty of untapped talent and office space at a much lower cost than the Silicon Valley.

Similar developments are happening in other countries where the tech and creative industry is strong, such as in India, Berlin, London and Amsterdam.

Nevertheless, among the top tech careers that are proving to be quite profitable in terms of a remote-based workforce—profitable for both the employees as well as the hiring companies—are web designers and web developers. Schools like Galvanize, which is another tech Bootcamp can be an excellent resource to learn the necessary skills.

As many new tech professionals are learning their programming skills from means like coding boot camps and online courses, it is becoming far easier for companies to find new tech talent. And far easier for people to become talented!

Likewise, for the emerging Bootcamp-educated tech professionals, finding the right match with a tech company has become much easier since many schools have allowed them to learn the necessary skills, with an agreement that they will pay back already the tuition once they find the job that is right for them. Something that benefits both boot camps and companies.

It is important to note that the tuition is also much more affordable compared to the traditional routes of four-year university degrees or even two-year college programs. In my opinion, a university degree can greatly help you to get a successful tech career and get a good view of the overall picture but is not strictly necessary. For example, most of my tech skills are self-taught, as my university degree is focused on product design. But the tech skills still make up a majority of my income

In the end, it makes sense that web design and web development professionals are now working remotely. All that it truly takes as far as tools is a computer and a website hosting subscription-like WordPress (but only if you want to advertise your own skills). If you are a tech talent who is considering joining the ranks of Bootcamp grads, let’s take a look at what you might do as a web developer or web designer working for a Silicon Valley (or any other) tech company.

The perks of working remotely

Remote relaxing
Remote relaxing…

But before we do that, it is interesting to look at some of the big advantages of working remotely. Why would you ever work remotely?

  • Remote work can be done anywhere, as long as you have good equipment and internet.
  • Besides meetings, remote work can be done anytime, allowing you to choose your own work schedule.
  • Remote work can be really awarding if you are able to get good clients or employers and good skills.

There are some downsides too, the most noteworthy not being into real, physical contact with your colleagues. If you are the social one and need social contact during the day, I would not recommend working remotely. Or find a neat place with other people working remotely (psst, check out Nomadlist, the place for remote workers).

Secondly, many remote workers will be self-employed which will give new challenges such as running your own business and acquiring the right clients. But that is a topic for another time!

Remote Web Roles

Remember we talked about what you might do as a web developer or web designer? Let’s introduce them! In this post, I want to discuss two web roles. Obviously, there are many other roles such as online marketeer and such, but this is the focus for now.

Web designer (or UX Designer)

The web design process is today often called User Experience Design, or simply UX, for short. The user experience is the part of the website that the users actually see and interact with. All of the functions such as search bars and buttons like “Click Here to Make an Appointment,” are designed by a UX Designer before they are built to their proper working order. While UX designers often use fancy tools such as Sketch and Adobe Experience Design, it often also involves a lot of brainstorming and making sketches.

Remote work: UX Design

Web designers also plan the layout for where the web content (text, graphics, video, etc.) will be placed so that they serve as engagement tools for the users. Therefore, many web designers are also skilled content creators, photographers, video directors, and video editors (or often work together with these).

While there are different ways of becoming a UX designer, a common route nowadays is to learn the trade through a UX/UI design bootcamp. Of course, there are other ways to learn what you need, such as self-study, or pursuing a college degree. Once you’ve acquired the education you need, the next step is to develop and refine your technical skills while building your portfolio. Once that’s done, you can prepare for and start your job search.

One important feature that distinguishes a UX designer from a regular web designer is the ability to do user research and really understand them, and also have a great understanding of what patterns work well on the web. A pattern may be the use of certain menu-items, button colors or white-space and images that work well. Next to being able to use design tools well and have a feeling for composition, a UX designer need to understand psychology. After all, as a UX designer you are creating products for real people to use.

Web developer (front-end and back-end)

After the layout of the website has been designed by a UX Designer, a web developer is tasked with bringing it to life. This process requires a heavy amount of coding. One part is known as building the User Interface (UI) and all the visual parts of the website and is also called front-end development. This includes all programming exercises that take place behind the scenes, or better put, behind the user’s screen. A front-end developer often works closely together with a UX Designer, to

The other part of being a developer is being able to program all the logic behind an application. What will happen when a user signs up or log in? How can you ensure safe payments? The back-end is basically responsible for processing all dynamic actions that someone can do on your site. And it also deals with getting information to and from a database in an efficient manner. As a back-end developer, you often need to learn about databases and servers as well; as they are used by websites to run and store data.

If you are able to both program a front-end and a back-end, you are called a full-stack developer. When you are dealing with WordPress, you typically need to be able to do both sides since the back-end and front-end in WordPress are tightly intertwined. As a WordPress developer, you also need to learn multiple programming languages such as JavaScript, PHP, and React (which is technically not a language, but a framework).

In the end, there are several paths to become a web developer. One of the most common ones is to earn a computer science degree at a college or university. Of course, you can also learn web development on your own through self-study. Finally, an option rising in popularity lately is to attend an intensive, short-term coding bootcamp specializing in web development.

Salary outlook

In the end, you just don’t want to do work for fun (unless it is something you really believe in). Rewards also do count. Well, I have good news for you! If you gain experience, remote work can really pay off.

Remote work, a salary prospect

The web development sector is one of the fastest-growing in the tech industry, with current expected job growth of 13% by 2028. Web developers can stand to make around $67,000 in entry-level roles, with more senior developers making more than $130,000 per year. The salaries also depend on what kind of developer you are and which programming languages you use. A junior web developer will earn on average $67000 a year, while a JavaScript developer can earn up to $118000 on average.

As a UX designer, salary outlooks are also positive, although slightly lower as a developer. In the United States, starting UX-Designers earn $59000 per year on average. That figure can go up to $128.000 on average if you are a senior designer.

What do you think?

So what do you think? Do you feel it? Time for a career change? A succesful career starts with learning the right skills and taking the right courses.

If you want to pursue a career in either remote web development or UX Design, I can recommend the following courses and platforms (I even took a couple myself):

Learning UX Design

  • Udacity has great programs for web development and UX Design. My wife took the UX Design course and she is raving about it (in a positive sense).

Learning Javascript

In addition, JavaScript is one of the most popular languages used for web development nowadays. You may be completely new to it, but it is used by WordPress and many other platforms to built serious web applications. Udemy, a platform where professionals post their own courses has some great, and inexpensive courses on learning JavaScript. I recommend these (in the given order, from beginner to experienced):

Learning WordPress

Since this site is all about WordPress, I can’t leave some useful WordPress courses behind. Since WordPress is big, being able to develop plugins and themes yourself can lead to many opportunities. These are two courses I highly apprieciate:

Noteworthy to mention, this post was a collaboration with Career Karma. They offer a unique approach to learning web development including the use of coaches. Something that in my opinion really helps to become a great developer. And something I definitely recommend, because learning on your own is much harder!

So, what are you waiting for? A tech or design career can be great and rewarding! I wouldn’t hesitate if I would be you.