Choosing a Web Development Specialty

Web development is a broad field. Within it, there are all kinds of specializations and avenues for growth that can help you find and attain the career of your dreams while standing out in the competitive job market. For web developers, choosing a specialty can make a big difference in your level of success.

But selecting a web development specialty isn’t always an easy task. After all, there’s a lot at stake when determining the direction of your career and the wrong choice could set you back on your professional development timeline. Fortunately, the decision can be made easier by keeping in mind a few important considerations. 

From knowing your options to narrowing down the specifics, these are the points to recognize as you choose a web development specialty.

Explore Your Options

Your first task is to understand and explore the specifics of the paths available to you. These paths are common to the development space, where experts use many of the same tools, platforms, and processes to produce a system that users can interact with. Web development and software development, for instance, have similar categories of expertise, despite the two fields differing in the products they create. With web development, you’ll be focusing on applications that run on internet browsers, while software development focuses on mobile and desktop tools.

From here, you’ll have to determine what the exact role is that you want to play in the process. Different specializations come with different workflows, programming languages, areas of focus, and average salaries. Exploring these options and what they entail will help you determine your ideal path.

So without further ado, these are some of the most prominent specialties that exist in the web development space:

Full-Stack Developer

We’ll start with the most versatile of the web development “specializations.” A full-stack developer works as a jack-of-all-trades. Proficient in both front and back-end web development, these dev professionals know how to build effective web applications that do everything you need them to do. However, the trade-off is that full-stack developers often aren’t really specialists at all. Instead, they are ready to build and launch a web app from beginning to end alone or fill in any gaps in the team.

Full-stack developers commonly work on small projects and in small teams or as a manager for development projects. This role is not for the faint-hearted, however, as you’ll need to pick up a variety of skills to be successful as a full-stack developer.

Here are some important details to understand about the field:

  • Requires skills in front-end technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Requires skills in back-end technologies like Java, Python, servers, and network architecture.
  • Earns an average salary of $78,936 per year.

Front-End Developer/Web Designer

Next, we have the role of a front-end developer. Front-end developers design the parts of the application that users actually see, focusing on the user interface and experience aspects of the dev process. Front-end developers can also be web designers or work closely with them as they assemble the resources needed to create a clean and highly functional web application. This means creating graphics as well as buttons and icons that help users navigate the site effortlessly.

Front-end developers and web designers apply user experience best practices to deliver exceptional web applications. The exact skillset you’ll need to pick up, however, will depend upon your area of interest. For the more creatively inclined, web design is the front-end specialization for you. For the more technically minded, the architectural focus of front-end development will suit you well.

Here are the details to keep in mind about these front-end specializations:

  • Web designers use graphic design, content creation tools, and web-based platforms to create user experiences.
  • Front-end developers use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more to build user interfaces out of web designs.
  • Web designers earn average salaries of around $60,000 while more tech-focused front-end developers bring in an average of $103,237 per year.

Back-End Developer

Finally, we have the back-end developer. These professionals are responsible for making web applications work, implementing the code and server functions that allow a site to communicate with a larger network. Back-end developers streamline business logic to produce effective web services that behave the way they’re supposed to. To achieve success, these developers have to have a strong understanding of programming languages as well as the hardware that supports web-based applications.

A back-end specialization is often the most tech-heavy of the development subfields, requiring an understanding of everything from servers to application programming interfaces (APIs). By choosing this area of expertise, you commit yourself to a career immersed in the intricate details behind the scenes of web development.

Here are the important points to note regarding back-end specialization:

  • Requires skills in back-end technologies like Java, Python, servers, and network architecture.
  • Requires knowledge of API, REST, and SOAP services.
  • Earns an average salary of $80,086 per year.

Tips for Making the Right Choice

Every prospective web developer is on a different stage in their journey. You might be a veteran in the field looking to improve your opportunities by pickling up a specialty. Or you might be an enthusiast just getting started with Python. Regardless of your level, determining the right fit for you can be a challenging process. Here are some tips for making the right choice:

  1. Find stories and examples from real-life web developers from a variety of backgrounds.
  2. Network through social media and internet groups to gain input from professionals.
  3. Take courses that align with specialties you’re interested in and even ones you’re not — you never know where you might find your true calling.
  4. Seek out mentorship opportunities from different dev specialists.
  5. Explore which specialty most closely aligns with your passions.

These are just a few suggestions for helping you narrow down your chosen web development subfield. With a specialty like front- or back-end development, you can cultivate unique opportunities. Or you can go the jack-of-all-trades route as a full-stack developer. Making the right choice for you will come down to your interests, skills, and professional aspirations.

Consider these specialties as well as tips for making the right choice as you advance your development career. The right path will allow you to thrive even in a competitive job market.