Becoming a web developer at 40 – how feasible is it?

You know, it’s never too late to change your career. 

Work from home, work in the office, work flexible hours around the kids. Software and web development offer real, secure, salaried jobs with opportunities for advancement in a growing industry.  Starting salaries for junior developers are around £25k.

There are over a hundred thousand missing workers in STEM industries in the UK. Nine in ten STEM businesses have roles they cannot fill. You could fill one of those roles.  But how do you get into tech? Can you become a web developer at 40?

What do web developers do?

A web developer is a kind of programmer, or coder. Web developers use the technologies that build the web. Everything you can see on your screen right now is made by a web developer. 

A front end developer built the user interface, using languages like  HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The text you are reading comes from a database that a back end developer designed, perhaps using MongoDB (MongoDB is one kind of database, there are others).

All these technologies are built or stacked on top of each other, to produce these words you are reading. Some web developers build the whole thing, front to back, and we call them full stack web developers

Developers might be experts in one language, but more often they use a few languages, and once you know how to code, it’s fun to learn more.  Every developer is always learning new things because web development is always changing. It’s exciting to be part of something so dynamic, and it means that it’s completely normal to be learning something new if you want to become a web developer at 30, become a web developer at 40 or even become a web developer at 50! We all are still learning!  

What qualifications do I need?

You don’t need certification to become a web developer. You need to get deep skills and ship great code. And you can do that, whatever your educational background.

Some employers specify degrees in Computer Science, Maths, Informatics, or Chemistry; many do not. If you do have a STEM degree, however, you will have an advantage in the job market.  

What skills do I need? 

Web developers need to think in a careful, systematic, logical way. The core job of a programmer is to break down problems and solve them piece by piece. If you enjoy puzzles, you will probably enjoy programming. But what programming should a web developer learn?

  • Front end web developers need to know HTML, CSS, and Javascript. If you learn a popular Javascript framework like React you will be in high demand.
  • Back end web developers need to know databases and usually at least one of these programming languages: Ruby, Python, Node (Javascript again!), PHP, or Go.
  • All coders need to know Git, which is how coders work together on the same codebase on different computers. We call this version control.

Do I only need to code?

But we can’t just write code, if we want to make money, we need to deliver products that people actually need. In tech, we call this ‘delivery’ and the industry-leading technique is called Agile. This means developers work in teams to break down big tasks into smaller pieces, and cycle through thinking, coding, testing, and re-thinking again. 

Agile is all about embracing change and making changes often. Which is handy, as understanding Agile will help you change your career. 

How do I start?

At CodeYourFuture, many of our students started their coding journey with us after they turned 40. In fact, we’ve had students up to 55 years of age! If you think coding or a career in tech might be for you, our Intro to Coding course is designed for people who have never coded before. Visit our Study page and register today!