Do You Need a Degree for Web Development?

November 28, 2023
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Whether you’re looking to pivot careers or you’re preparing to graduate high school and want to take the next step in your life - do you need a degree for web development? The answer may surprise you, but NO - you can become a web developer without a degree!

That being said, is a degree worth it for web developers even if it’s not necessary? We’ll weigh the pros and cons to help you determine if it’s a good investment or not. 

You’ll also discover the best degree for web development if you decide to take that approach, or some of the other ways to learn web development without the monetary and time commitment. 

At Debug Academy, you can leverage our Drupal training to hit the ground running fast and earn more as a dev. We have everything from free Drupal training to our full-fledged Drupal bootcamp.

That being said, let’s get right into the topic at hand - do you need a degree for web development? 

Do You Need a Degree for Web Development?

No, you do not need a degree for web development. The field of web development is unique in that it values skills, practical experience, and a portfolio over formal education. 

While a degree in computer science or related fields can provide a strong foundation, it is not a prerequisite for success in web development. Many professionals in the industry are self-taught or have acquired skills through bootcamps, online courses, and hands-on experience.

The key lies in mastering relevant technologies and tools, showcasing your abilities through projects, and continuously adapting to new trends and techniques in the ever-changing tech landscape. 

But, just because you don’t need a degree doesn’t mean it’s not a good investment in your financial future. So, is a degree worth it for web developers nonetheless?

Is a Degree Worth it for Web Developers, Though?

The value of a degree in web development is a nuanced topic. While traditional education paths offer certain benefits, they also come with limitations, especially in a field as dynamic and skill-focused as web development.

Pros of Pursuing a Degree in Web Development

There are obvious benefits to pursuing a degree in web development:

  • Comprehensive Theoretical Knowledge: A degree program in computer science provides a strong theoretical foundation. This comprehensive understanding can be beneficial for complex problem-solving and understanding the fundamentals of programming and system design.
  • Networking Opportunities: Universities often provide invaluable networking opportunities. Connections made during your studies can lead to internships, job referrals, and collaborative projects.
  • Structured Learning Path: For those who thrive in structured environments, university programs offer a clear, guided path of learning with access to experienced instructors and a curriculum that covers a broad range of topics.

Cons of Relying Solely on a Degree

However, a degree is typically not going to return the ROI you would expect when spending tens of thousands of dollars on education. You end up wasting a lot of money and time. It may not be the best way to learn, either…

  • Cost and Time Investment: Degrees are a significant investment in both time and money. The cost of higher education and the time required to complete a degree can be prohibitive for many, delaying entry into the workforce.
  • Rapidly Evolving Industry: The tech industry evolves at a breakneck pace. Often, university curriculums struggle to keep up with the latest technologies and practices, leaving graduates needing additional training to be job-ready.
  • Lack of Hands-On Experience: University programs often emphasize theory over practical application. In contrast, web development as a profession requires a strong portfolio of real-world projects, something that degree programs may not adequately provide.

While a degree in web development has its merits, it's not an absolute necessity in this field. In fact, it can end up costing you more time and money than alternative routes which may equip you with better skills in the end.

We’ll show you how to get a web developer job without experience or a degree in just a moment. First, let’s talk about what degree for web developer is best if you do decide to take this route.

What Degree for Web Developers is Useful? The Best Degree for Web Development

If you’re going to take the traditional college education route, what degree for web developers is actually useful? While computer science degrees are typically the best degree for web development, there are other choices to consider too…

Computer Science Degrees

Computer Science (CS) degrees offer a comprehensive understanding of fundamental concepts like data structures, algorithms, and computational theory. This knowledge is invaluable for problem-solving and understanding the intricacies of software development.

These degrees cover a wide range of topics, from low-level programming to high-level application development. This broad exposure can be beneficial for developers looking to understand the entire tech stack.

And, CS programs often focus on developing analytical and problem-solving skills, which are crucial in tackling complex web development challenges. If you decide to take the traditional college route, this is the best degree for web development.

Other Degrees to Consider

There are other degrees you can look into if you’re passionate about getting the authentic college experience along your journey to becoming a web developer:

  • Software Engineering: Focused more on the application of programming skills and the development process, a degree in Software Engineering can offer practical insights into the lifecycle of software development, from design to deployment.
  • Information Technology: IT degrees often include web development in their curriculum, along with a broader understanding of networks, databases, and system administration, which are valuable skills for full-stack developers.
  • Graphic Design or Digital Media: For those interested in front-end development, degrees in Graphic Design or Digital Media can provide a strong foundation in design principles, user experience, and user interface design.

Choosing the right degree means aligning your education with the types of web development you’re most passionate about. Our guide to the best specializations in web development can help you navigate this decision. That being said, you need to consider the specific institution you learn with as well. 

Tips on Vetting a School Before Investing in Education

Not all universities or community colleges are created equal. Most colleges will charge you thousands in tuition while failing to provide real-world experience and insights. So, consider these factors:

  • Curriculum Relevance: Ensure the program's curriculum is updated regularly to keep pace with the rapidly evolving tech industry. Look for courses that include modern programming languages, tools, and practices.
  • Hands-On Experience: The best programs integrate practical, hands-on learning opportunities. Look for degrees that offer capstone projects, internships, or collaboration with tech companies.
  • Alumni Success Stories: Investigate the career trajectories of alumni. Successful graduates working in desired web development roles can indicate the effectiveness of the program.
  • Industry Connections: Institutions with strong ties to the tech industry can provide valuable networking opportunities and insights into current industry trends and employer needs.
  • Faculty Expertise: Research the faculty's background. Instructors with current or recent industry experience can offer practical knowledge and real-world insights.

More Effective Ways to Learn and Prepare for a Future in Web Development 

You may be wondering…is it hard to get a web developer job if you don’t have a degree? Not at all. You still need to learn the skills somehow, but college may not be in your plans. You can still develop and incredible career in web development.

Our guide on how to learn Drupal is a great resource for those just beginning their journey in web development. We’ll break down the three ways you can learn and prepare for a future in web development below.

Free Online Resources: YouTube, Forums, and Our Blog

The vast majority of information college classes will teach you is available online for free - you just need to know where to find it! And, you won’t get the same structured education. That being said, YouTube is an excellent starting point.

From beginner-friendly tutorials to in-depth coding sessions, channels dedicated to web development provide free, accessible learning opportunities. They allow learners to see code in action, which is essential for understanding practical applications.

Even our Debug Academy blog offers insights, tips, and industry trends, providing learners with up-to-date information and practical advice. Blogs are a great way to supplement your learning with articles written by experienced professionals. 

You can learn about different CMS platforms like Drupal vs Sharepoint, Drupal vs Joomla, Drupal vs Wordpress, and more. We even have resources on topics like what is Drupal, the Drupal interview questions you should prepare for, the Drupal certification cost, is Drupal still relevant, how to get web development projects, and more.

Online forums such as Stack Overflow and Reddit are not just platforms for troubleshooting coding issues. They are communities where learners can engage with peers, share knowledge, and even find mentorship opportunities.

Debug Academy: A Tailored Approach to Web Development Training

The best way to jumpstart a career as a web developer is through strategically structured educational courses, like those here at Debug Academy. 

From our Drupal training for beginners to our Drupal certification program and even our Drupal migration services, we can help you prepare for the next chapter in your career with confidence and clarity. 

At a fraction of the cost of college and with far superior insights, you’ll hit the ground running fast - and you’ll earn more when you land your first jr web developer jobs, too!

Our courses are designed to fill the gaps typically left by traditional education. You’re taught by seasoned web development professionals who bring their real-world experiences to the classroom, offering students first-hand insights into the industry.

Understanding that each student’s journey is unique, Debug Academy offers personalized learning pathways, ensuring that every learner receives the attention and guidance they need to succeed. 

There is no substitute for hands-on experience. At Debug Academy, we emphasize project-based learning, where students apply their skills to build real-world projects, from websites to applications.

Take a look at our vast array of courses today and see which one resonates with your goals and your passion. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can make your first paycheck from your keyboard!

Hands-On Experience: Learning By Doing

Even with the best degree for web development, you need to put your skills to the test and learn through practical experience. You can break stuff on your own website and try new tactics without having to stress about failing a project or getting in trouble with your boss.

Beyond building your own website, you can seek internships or engage in collaborative projects. This exposure to working environments and team dynamics is invaluable for professional development. 

A strong portfolio is essential in the web development field. We guide our students in curating a portfolio that showcases a range of skills, from technical prowess to creative problem-solving. 

Closing Thoughts on the Best Degree for Web Development

The journey to becoming a developer isn’t set in stone. You can forge a path that resonates with your goals, timeline, and learning style. So, do you need a degree for web development? More importantly, is a degree worth it for web developers? 

While degrees offer foundational knowledge, they are not the only gateway to success in this dynamic field. They’re expensive and time-consuming, and frankly, not the best way to become a dev. 

The essence lies in practical skills, continuous learning, and adapting to the ever-changing tech landscape. Embrace the power of online resources, tailored training programs like Debug Academy, and hands-on experience to craft your unique path. 

Ready to transform your passion into a thriving web development career? Join us at Debug Academy, where we empower you with the skills, experience, and confidence to excel in the digital world.

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