Developing your skills – A career in coding and development

We live in a digital age, and the rise of the computing industry has been like no other in history, becoming one of the world’s largest in only a few decades, and this unprecedented growth doesn’t seem to be halting any time soon.

This expansion has led to a huge demand for talented coders and developers to come along and program our favourite site we use in everyday life. Due to the nature of web development requiring you to learn entirely new programming languages, there is a high level of demand and relatively small supply for these code monkeys, making it a great opportunity for anyone with a passion for computer science.

While having a basic understanding of computers and programming languages is necessary regardless of what area you specialize in, there are so many potential routes you can take to develop your skills in more specific forms of coding. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all programming roles or potential avenues for web development work, but think of it as more of a top down overview of some of the most common options available.

Front-end developers are the core of the internet, they take a specific design given by the client and convert it into a living and breathing site. The code they write runs on the user’s browser, as opposed to a back-end developer whose code runs on the server that’s hosting the site in question. They essentially look after the design and visible functionality of a site, making sure it meets all the best practises and performs well from a user prospective.

To be a successful front-end developer you need to have a good understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  You’ll also have a good attention to detail along with a broad overview of what makes great UX.

Key skills:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript (& its frameworks)
  • Understanding of responsive design
  • UX design skills
  • Command line
  • Browser development tools

Starting Resources:

What type of hosting do you need to practice these skills with? Most types of hosting, but we’d recommend starting with shared hosting. This is the cheapest and the easiest to get started with.

Salary starting at £26k with a medium of £50k in the UK, and starting at $51k to an average of $105k in the USA (Updated for 2020)

Back-end developers build the functionality and interactivity of a website, building the various systems that let users carry out the more advanced actions, such as creating accounts, item filtering on e-commerce sites or website specific traits like media playback etc.

To become a talented back-end developer, you’ll need to have an understanding of a more diverse range of programming languages, such as Python, PHP, Ruby and, (likely to be the most important) Java. Full-stack Java and Python web development are particularly in high demand and offer generous starting salaries to compliment this.

Key Skills

  • Broad understanding of skills used by front-end developers
  • Knowledge of security and accessibility compliance
  • Knowledge of hosting environments
  • Understanding the back-end framework used by the company you’re applying for.

Starting Resources:

What type of hosting do you need to practice these skills with? Some types of shared hosting support Python, Ruby on Rails and more but our choice would be VPS Hosting. This gives you the chance to configure the server (with your choice of Operating System), choose your language/compilers/environment and quickly start/stop/re-create as needed. VPS (virtual private servers) are less expensive than full dedicated servers.

Salary starting at £30k a medium of £60k in the UK, and starting at $51k to an average of $105k in the USA (Updated for 2020)

We won’t go into too much detail here, but a full-stack developer is one who has mastered, or simply has a passable knowledge of both the front and back-end. You’ll need to learn the skills for both and be able to interweave them all together.

There are honestly too many coding options available to front and back-end developers, but this handy map has attempted to plot most of them out, and we recommend going through it and making a shortlist of ones you might be interested in.

Full stack developers are likely very experienced with hosting and the various types available. Because of this, we won’t give a recommendation and instead just an observation. Most full stack developers work with multiple VPS servers or dedicated servers depending on how large or complex the application is.

Salary starting at £30k to a medium of £60K, and starting at $59k to an average of $110k in the USA

Lastly, we have mobile app developers. Essentially, this boils down to coding on two platforms: Apple’s IOS and Google’s Android. The market is split evenly at the moment, so you can happily specialize in one, but we would recommend a grasp of both in the long run.

For IOS you will want to learn IOS development, you can then use a free tool called XCode to develop the apps using either Objective-C or Apple’s new programming language Swift.

Android on the other hand uses a similar structure to a lot of web apps, and you’ll need to master Java as a starting point. You can also use a tool called Android studio to develop further.

Key Skills:

  • Swift or Java understanding depending on which platform you prefer to start on
  • Once you’ve learnt one, aim to become a cross-platform developer
  • Understanding of database services (beginners could consider firebase – its free and relatively user-friendly)
  • Mobile UX design understanding

Starting Resources:

Salary starting at £21k with a medium of £60K, and starting at $70k to an average of $92k in the USA

There you have it, three (well, four) possible routes to follow. Of course, you can branch off and specialize in certain areas, but if your starting out it’s definitely worth getting a broad understanding of all aspects of web development.

Developer Career Progression:

Junior Developer (0-3 years of experience)

Senior Developer (4-10 years of experience)

Lead Developer / Architect (7-10 years of experience)

Mid-Level Manager (10+ years of experience)

Senior Leader (15+ years of experience)

(Optional:  Freelance, this will require a lot more self-discipline but can offer great potential)

Further Resources:

There are also multitude of online (or face-to-face) boot-camps that you can go on to develop your coding skills further, which we won’t go into detail here as we haven’t tried them ourselves.

There are also hundreds of free resources out there to self-teach yourself skills needed to code like a pro. Here are some of our recommendations: (As a starting guide this has some of the best information available)

However, regardless of how much you learn from somewhere, trial, error and practise will be your most beneficial resource. To help you on your coding endeavours, if you use promo code Hosting4Students at checkout you’ll receive a 50% discount off our basic hosting packages, letting you go and play around building your very own site.


Salaries based on median salaries in 2020 on publicly available data.