Changing careers isn’t easy. Moving from one industry to another (especially into the tech field) can seem daunting at best and impossible at worst. It is not, however. I am proof of that. I transitioned from the music education field to Web development rather quickly by engaging in a few key activities: immersing myself completely within it, following and learning from leaders and blogs and not being lazy.

Immersion

In my opinion, the best way to learn anything is by completely jumping in over your head and becoming completely engrossed in it. This is especially true with anything development or technology-related. There is such a massive conglomeration of information out there that it is impossible to fully ingest it all. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Find and complete tutorials. Search for blogs. Watch YouTube videos and tutorials. Never stop looking for things that will increase your knowledge base and show you what you need to know to carve out a foot-hold in your new career.

Industry leaders and blogs

It may sound cliché these days, but social media is your friend. Find people, organizations, groups and blogs that cater to your particular interests and follow them. Become active in their respective social media feeds. I have found it much easier to learn in a collaborative setting interacting with others than sitting forever alone with only a book to guide me. Finding those more experienced and smarter than you who are willing to share that knowledge and experience is paramount to really bettering yourself.

A few people and blogs that I found invaluable during my journey include:
Paul Irish, Paul on Google+:  Paul is a member of the Google Chrome developer relations team and is a huge proponent of HTML5 and jQuery. He is very much a “cutting-edge” guy and is always informing his followers of the latest developments in both HTML5 and the Chrome Developer tools.

Sitepoint blog:  A great resource for articles about all things Web development. This site features articles and tutorials for front-end developers, software developers and even those looking to go into business for themselves as a freelance developer.

NetTuts+:  A huge resource of tutorials covering everything Web development. Not all are free, but a great many are. Tutorials are available for PHP, JavaScript, general HTML and CSS, plug-in development and more.

Don’t be lazy!

Don’t use Dreamweaver, seriously. It’s a great tool, but too many beginning developers use the “Design” mode to layout a website and think they’re done. You have to learn how to code HTML by hand to truly move into the Web development field. There is a dichotomy that exists between those that drag-and-drop with Dreamweaver and those that understand HTML and the structure of a website’s layout. Don’t be lazy. Learn HTML and CSS and how to use them to manipulate a site to display what you want/need it to.

These are merely my suggestions for anyone wanting to break into the Web development field. These are what worked for me. If you have any other suggestions for resources or methods that helped you become a developer, please let me know in the comments below. Good luck out there, I know it’s hard but just remember: it’s not impossible.

4 Responses to Breaking into Web Dev

  1. Your article is very informative!

    However if I was thinking about going into web dev, how would I break into the industry first if I’m relatively inexperienced (experience with programming , but not web dev)? Or you have to study on your own for bit before going out to see what jobs are there? Seems like most of the jobs require a lot of experiences and/or very strong in CS. What was your experience with breaking in if you don’t mind sharing?

    huey | December 20, 2012at 3:53 pm

  2. My experience started with getting an education. I spent some time taking classes at a local community college to get the absolute basics down. I took online classes in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as well as other programming languages to round out my skill set. Of course, going beyond just the class material was important and I always looked to improve what I was doing as an assignment and go a bit “above and beyond.”

    Also, putting together my own website was (I think) very helpful. While it won’t win any awards, just having a personal site with a few links to projects I had done in school as well as some basic HTML structure helped to show I had at least a basic idea of what I was doing.

    On top of this, I applied everywhere I could. Full time, part time, internship, it didn’t matter. Just going through the interview process is incredibly useful and really shows where you may lack some knowledge or a particular skill that is being sought after.

    Lastly, I got incredibly lucky with TM taking a chance on a guy with almost no experience. Unfortunately, every job hunt requires just a bit of luck.

    Make sure you keep learning, keep practicing, and keep applying. You’ll get the break you’re looking for before you know it!

    Jeff Rimer | December 20, 2012at 5:10 pm

  3. Thank you for your informative article. I recently got my AS in web development at the local community college and I am just now trying to break into the web development industry. I have the foundation in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL from my classes and projects. Now, I am applying to any job that matches the description of what I am looking for and hoping for some luck in the process.

    Joe Nicholson | February 14, 2015at 1:44 pm

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Joe. Best of luck on your job search!

    Ashley | February 19, 2015at 3:54 pm

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