Looking to become a web developer or curious about what subtypes of the job pay best? Web development is a competitive, varied industry, constantly evolving as new languages and frameworks are brought into the spotlight.
Asking what a web developer’s salary is a tough nut to crack (we tried answering this question for WordPress developers though). There are just too many factors to take into account.
Whether you’re a freelance developer or interested in pursuing a more traditional job, prefer frontend or backend work, or wondering what languages would be the best to invest in, here’s a helpful guide that gives you insights on what salary you should expect.
Ready to know? Let’s get the ball rolling!
Are Web Developers In High Demand?
Web development (and software development in general) is one of the most popular and rapidly growing industries in the world. It’s a very good time to be a developer of any kind.
And despite the growth of this job industry, salaries continue to increase. There’s no oversaturation of web developers these days.
Demand for developers is booming. The downside to this is that it can be a very competitive industry. You’ll probably need to pick up multiple languages and a wide variety of skills to get the best jobs. Keeping up with the hot frameworks and languages is key to staying relevant.
On the bright side, web developer jobs are expected to grow 13% from 2018-2028. That might not sound like an overwhelming number, but typical job growth across all industries is only 5%. IT, in general, is a booming industry, with general computer occupations growing at 12%.
It also takes a certain set of skills to become a programmer. Proficiency with computers, the ability to concentrate for hours at a time, and a talent for learning several new and unique languages all take time and practice to develop, so they’re in relatively high demand.
People are spending more and more time on the internet and businesses are following them there. Every company wants and needs to have a website and every other person is trying to start an online business. These people need developers to create functional websites from the ground up.
Over half the global population uses the internet, and web developers are needed to build and customize online stores, blogs, newspapers, gaming, and informational websites that keep people hooked online.
There’s no shortage of work if you’d like to build websites for a living.
What Do You Need to Become a Web Developer?
There are many types of web developers and each job position is suitable for different types of skills. You have a lot of options for your work environment too. Whether you want to be a freelancer at home, in a small, comfortable company space, or a large and lively office environment, you’ll be able to find a suitable place for you.
In fact, there are many who choose to become freelance web developers for the flexibility this job can give you.
Although some web development positions will ask for an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields, many job offers will take anyone with a suitable amount of experience and you’ll find plenty that make no mention of a degree at all.
That’s why you should focus on building up your portfolio.
A well-rounded portfolio is essential, especially if you’re going in without a college education. Many self-taught developers got their jobs by having a good portfolio and enough experience to get by.
Besides educational requirements, web developers will also need:
- Experience with multiple web languages and frameworks.
- Analytical skills.
- Project management skills.
- Adaptability to a constantly changing set of online standards and languages.
- Communication skills (working on teams and with clients).
Types of Web Developers
There are several different types of web developers you’ll want to research if you’re planning on getting into the industry. “Web developer” is just an umbrella term used to encompass the wide variety of skill sets you might have.
Generally, web developers fall into three main specializations: frontend, backend, and full stack. There are also several other subtypes.
- Backend Developer: backend developers work on server-side tasks, making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. An understanding of databases and complex systems is necessary. There’s a much larger variety of languages available, including PHP, Ruby, Python, and Java, plus frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
- Full Stack Developer: a full stack developer does both frontend and backend work and has a deep understanding of both. You’ll need to pick up many skills and be ready to adapt to anything.
- Mobile Web Developer: These developers need to understand responsiveness while designing websites for mobile visitors. This can also overlap with software development and app design.
- Web Security Developer: This may also be called a security software developer or a cybersecurity developer. Your job is to secure websites, fix any hacks that may occur, and study common attack vectors to gain insight into how websites get hacked.
The Average Web Developer Salary
Before getting into the data you’ve been waiting for — the average web developer’s salary — let’s set the proper way to look at it.
The data here collected comes from job websites that take into account different resources related to their own internal data.
There are going to be some discrepancies, of course, but I’ll try to add as many data sources as possible for each category we’ll analyze.
Don’t forget these numbers are mostly related to the US and should be intended before taxes.
Now that we know more about where this data comes from and what it represents, let’s dive deep into web developer salaries!
In 2018, the median pay for all developers as listed by the Bureau of Labor was $69,430/year or $33.38/hour.
At the time of this writing, Glassdoor’s estimate lists a similar number, $68.5/year. Even on the lower end of the spectrum, you could still make $44k/year, while the top-ranking web developers rake in $111k.
You can find even more interesting statistics on Payscale. While its salary outlook is slightly above $59K/year only, you can see that the number goes up the more years of experience you have.
And other sites like Indeed list even higher numbers above $75,5k/year.
While the numbers vary somewhat across these sources, they consistently reflect an average pay ranging from 60k-75k/year. This is fairly generous for a job you can get with an associate’s degree or less.
As mentioned before, web development is a highly specialized field and the average salary isn’t the end of the story.
Frontend vs Backend vs Full Stack Web Developer Salary
What salary you earn will depend heavily on what niche you pursue and the languages you’re proficient at. But generally speaking, frontend developers earn the least of the three specializations, while full stack developers can expect to earn more than average.
So, what are the numbers here…? There you go!
Reported salaries for frontend developers:
- Payscale: ~$72k/year, with a low of $48k and a high of $109k.
- Glassdoor: close to $77k/year, with the top tier making up to $131k.
- Indeed: ~$107k/year. This is definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, however.
Excluding the outlier, it would be reasonable to expect a salary of $70-75k as a frontend developer, likely more once you have experience.
Reported salaries for a backend developer:
- Payscale: a little above $71.6k/year, surprisingly a lower estimate than frontend developer salaries on this site.
- Glassdoor: slightly above $101.6k/year, with the lowest percent making $81K and quite a sum of additional compensation listed.
- Indeed: more than $128k/year.
Averaging these estimates, you might be looking at around 100k/year salary as a backend developer.
Reported salary for full stack developers:
Last is full stack developers, whose salaries seem to be highly variable (possibly due to them being rarer or harder to define). Let’s check a few extra sources.
- Payscale: $75k/year, with a low of $48k and a high of $113k.
- Glassdoor: $68.5k/year, actually the lowest of any of these estimates.
- Indeed: almost $113.5k/year.
- Salary.com: above $94k/year, with a range of $80k to $106k.
- ZipRecruiter: roughly $102.4k/year. Here it lists a minimum salary of $37.5k and a max of $153k.
This indicates that full stack developers tend to be paid a little better, but depending on your education and experience, you might not get as much as you might expect with the expertise necessary to do two people’s jobs.
Averaging all estimates, we can get a 90.5k/year salary as a full stack developer, although positioning it as the highest-paid job role out of the three with an average of 121K.
Experience: Junior vs Senior Web Developer Salaries
As you go job hunting for new opportunities, you might encounter junior or senior web developer listings. These classifications are mostly separated by years of experience.
The other key difference is that senior developers tend to be in charge of multiple junior developers, similar to a managerial position.
You’ll likely need a minimum of 5 years and possibly a bachelor’s degree to qualify for senior positions. Junior positions usually only require at most an associate’s degree and/or a few years of personal coding experience.
Salary Estimate of a Junior Web Developer
- Glassdoor: $58.8k/year. Interestingly, entry-level web designers are listed as having a higher salary of $65.3k/year.
- Indeed: $56.7k/year, with the lowest percent making only $14k/year.
- ZipRecruiter: slightly above $50.2k/year. 18% of jobs will pay $42k-$48k/year.
Averaging data gives up a total of 55k/year salary for junior web developers. Now, moving on to more experienced web developers aka senior devs.
Salary Estimate of a Senior Web Developer
- Payscale: $87.8k/year, with a general range of $61k-$120k.
- Glassdoor: $87.7k/year. Even the absolute lowest-paid senior developers make $58k, a little more than junior positions.
- Indeed: above $100k/year. The top percent could make up to $198k/year, and the lowest $36k.
Averaging the three salaries give us a 92k/year for senior web developers.
Web Developer vs Software Developer Salaries
Curious about how software development and web development match up in terms of income?
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As said before, general web developers have an average salary ranging from 60k-75k/year or fairly above-average wages.
In short, it seems that software developers — those who create applications that run on your computer or device — tend to make better money than website creators.
The Bureau of Labor gives a median pay of $105,590/year or $50.77/hour in 2018. That’s a lot higher than what they listed for web developers, which was only $69,430/year.
ZipRecruiter lists its most generous estimate for software developers close to $86.5k/year. Excluding outliers, the average range starts at $68.5k/year and ends at $100k.
Payscale, on the other hand, estimates for software developers $71.2k/year and a very high range of $50k-$104k. Between the two data sources, Glassdoor suggests $76.5k/year with data collected from hundreds of thousand salaries.
According to figures from these sources, chances are, you could look at an average salary of almost $85k/year as a software developer.
Web Developer vs Mobile Developer Salaries
“Mobile developer” is a difficult job title to pin down. A mobile developer may be in charge of making a website responsive alongside other typical web development duties. And they might be creating apps that run on Android and iOS.
The estimated salaries of a mobile developer can be quite variable since it’s a less common job title. The salary of a “mobile web developer” can range from $59.8k/year (PayScale) or $68.5k/year (Glassdoor) to $110.6k/year (ZipRecruiter).
If you’re interested in mobile development, it may be worth pursuing, since much of what you’ll learn will overlap with software and web development.
The Average Freelance Web Developer Salary
What if you decide to go the route of freelance web development? If a traditional office job just isn’t for you, you may want to consider forging your own way into the industry. There are no prerequisites to start: you don’t need a college degree or a certain amount of experience, just the skills, some understanding of project management, and self-marketing abilities.
Freelancing is also a great way to transition into salaried jobs later if the right opportunity presents itself. Many employers will value expertise and direct experience over a degree.
So how much can freelance web developers expect to make?
That’s even more than some of these other salaried positions, so creating a brand for yourself can be quite lucrative.
I should add, though, that as appealing as the freelancing world can be, it’s not for everyone. It requires deep commitment and a multi-faceted skillset that, even if it can be improved as you go, you’ll need to have to prevent your business from going south.
Having said that being a freelancer of any kind could really be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. That’s why I’d like to highlight a few crucial aspects that go beyond development to help you with a smooth transition to freelancing.
7 Crucial Things to Get Started as a Freelancer
- Your first step should be to create a portfolio where you can show off your skills and give potential clients a way to contact you.
- Use freelancing websites like Codeable or even Fiverr to find jobs and start gaining a little credibility.
- Learn how to pitch yourself. What makes your offer unique? What can you do that other developers can’t? Make your pitch compelling, concise, and reach out to business owners.
- Network with other developers on social media and in real life. Share advice, pass clients to each other, and gain access to a helpful community.
- Pick up new skills and keep an eye on the trends. If you can find time to learn a new language, you might be able to earn a lot of money before it gets too saturated. You’ll also have an edge of experience on the competition.
- Upsell. Ongoing maintenance, SEO optimization, speed optimization are just some ideas.
- Create a blog. Make tutorials (free or paid) to help others and convince clients who visit your portfolio that you know what you’re talking about.
- Consider taking up affiliate marketing to earn some extra commissions.
Now, back to the main topic: web developer salary. Let’s see what data tells us about different languages.
Web Developer Salaries by Language
What programming languages you know will play a big part in how much money you’re able to earn. Remember to keep an eye on sites like PYPL, TIOBE, and HotFrameworks to see what’s growing in the industry.
Here’s a quick breakdown of popular web development languages and how much they’re worth from lowest to highest (according to PayScale):
- CSS: $64k/year.
- HTML: $69k/year.
- PHP: $70k/year.
- SQL: $78k/year.
- C#: $82k/year.
- C++: $87k/year.
- C: $90k/year.
- Java: $90k/year.
- Python: $90k/year.
- Perl: $93k/year.
- Ruby: $94k/year.
- Rust: $96k/year.
- Kotlin: $99k/year.
- Go: $115k/year.
- Scala: $116k/year.
You may also be interested in Stack Overflow’s highest-salary languages from 2019, though not all of these are suitable for web development:
There’s so much work out there for web developers. The industry just gets bigger and bigger every day and client needs are more specific than ever.
The data here collected and grouped should give you a clear view of what to expect as a web developer’s salary, based on different criteria such as experience, language, and niche.
With a median pay of $69,430 per year, web development is a well-paying job no matter what specialization you choose. Of course, the web languages you know will pay a big part in your salary and what jobs you can land.
As with non-development work, keeping yourself up-to-date and expanding your horizons on new languages, frameworks, tools, and initiatives will help grow your expertise and make you more marketable before the eyes of employers.
Now, your turn: how did you start as a web developer? If you’re considering it as your next career path, what’s blocking you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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