DEV Community

John Au-Yeung
John Au-Yeung

Posted on

A Comparison of the Education Paths to Become a Job-Ready Web Developer

Subscribe to my email list now at

Follow me on Twitter at

Many more articles at

Even more articles at

The web development job market continues to grow at a healthy rate with so many companies building apps — they need to add new features to or maintain their products. This means that many people are considering the possibility of actively trying to become web developers by whatever means they can. In this article, we’ll explore the options to see which is right for you.

There are a few choices to learn the skills to become a web developer. It depends on the pace that you are comfortable with for learning, how much you can learn without guidance, and how much you are willing to invest your own money.

With that in mind, there are a few options to choose from. Possible choices are to self learn web development, go to a Bootcamp, go to community college, or get a degree.

Self Learning

Self-learning costs nothing but it’s also the hardest way. If you have the aptitude for web development, this could be the way to go. There’re many free resources online, including the Mozilla Developer Network, freeCodeCamp, Medium blog articles, and YouTube videos. Paid options include books, Coursera courses, Udemy, online degrees, and similar sites.

If you want to learn from free options, then a structured video course on YouTube is a great place to start. They begin from teaching trivial Hello World programs to more advanced techniques. You can follow along and then write your own programs until you’re proficient. However, this means that you have to learn without guidance and no one is going to review your code unless you ask an experienced developer to do so. This is free, but then you have to do everything yourself.

For very basic things, you can also go to websites like Codecademy to learn the syntax of most popular languages, but the content isn’t enough to make anyone job-ready.

Paid options include things like books, Coursera courses, and online degrees. Many concepts you can learn from books are available in various places for free like freeCodeCamp, so it’s hard to justify paying for most books. Also, physical books aren’t searchable by a computer so it’s hard to find what you want. They can get outdated fast since web technologies change all the time.

Coursera is free if you audit the courses but costs money if you want a certificate. Courses have videos and text which makes learning easier. However, it’s still self-learning so you’re on your own most of the time. Coursera also offers online degrees so there’s more prestige attached to them.

There are also many online degrees which are available. They cost more than any of these options but also have more prestige which may add points depending on who reads your resume. The content varies between different degrees at different levels. However, generally, Bachelors's and Masters's degrees for software development have similar content.

Prestigious schools like the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania offers degrees for software development on Coursera. Of course, tuition is going to high at $25,000. A great free option includes videos from Traversy Media, which covers lots of web development topics.


Coding Bootcamps are private schools that offer short courses for learning web development and other software topics. They vary in quality and the tuition is high, so you need to read the reviews for each Bootcamp carefully before choosing one.

Bootcamps do offer a shorter time to completion. However, it skips the fundamental computer science principles most of the time, so critical knowledge for success in interviews and on the job might be missing. This is one thing to be aware of.

There are in-person and online boot camps. In-person offers mores interaction and help, but online ones are more flexible. This may matter depending on your aptitude for web development and the underlying principles.

Bootcamps include places like App Academy which offers a 15 weeks long Ruby on Rails Bootcamp at $12,000.

Community College

Community college offers similar courses that boot camps offer but it may take longer. They offer practical courses for a lower price than boot camps since the tuition is subsidized by the government. This means that you get the benefits of boot camps while paying less. There are also in-person full-time, parttime, or online options.

This is a viable option since it’s more affordable, so the risk is lower. It also means less debt after you’re done.

Something like the web development diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology may be a good choice since it has lots of courses to cover the basics of software development and web programming. However, the price a bit high for international students at over $12,000 CAD tuition per term, although domestic tuition is much cheaper.


There’re many software development degrees from private and public universities. The price range is wide, starting from a few thousand dollars a year to tens of thousands of dollars a year. They have both theoretical and practice modules so it’s very helpful for learning. There are both in-person and online degrees. Online degrees like we explored above, offers less support and interaction. It’s great for people that can learn by themselves.

In-person degrees offer more chances for interaction and getting live help. It’s good for people that can go to school full-time or are willing to finish their degree slowly.

Degrees also have more prestige than the other methods, which may matter to some employers. However, proficiency is more important in most cases, so paying more for a more prestigious school probably isn’t worth it.

There are both bachelor's and master’s degrees that can teach you software development in general. A bachelors is good if you don’t have a degree. A master’s degree is good for people that already have a bachelor's degree in something and want to transition into a software development career.

An example of a low-cost bachelor's degree is something like this one from Eastern Florida State College at $6,118/yr tuition. It includes all the essential content for software development like object-oriented programming, web applications programming, databases, and more.

Master’s degree like this one from Middle Georgia State University has a software development program that has the essentials like data structures, object-oriented programming, software testing, mobile applications, and other courses. This is a viable choice for people wanting to fast track their learning and already have a bachelor’s degree. It’s also very affordable with tuition at $3,825 a year. It’s also much shorter than bachelor’s programs.


There’re many options to learn web development. The cheapest choices would be learning from YouTube for free or auditing Coursera courses. Once you discover that you like it, then community college is a good choice since you can take shorter programs or individual courses easily for a lower price than Bootcamps. They’re also run by the government, so they get government subsidies to reduce tuition for local students. Degrees are great options for prestige and rigorous learning if you’re ready to commit to building a career as a web developer. It teaches the fundamentals and has practical courses as well. Prices vary greatly, so choose what you can afford without going through too much debt.

Top comments (6)

joshuawoodsdev profile image

Good write up, I'm learning on my own at the moment it's been a little over a year. I think its also good to point out that people should learn this just to do it. After all they may not land a job but they will have skills, where I am now I am not "job" ready but I know enough to build what I want. I found what you wrote really helpful thanks

aumayeung profile image
John Au-Yeung

Thanks very much for reading.

Yea. Being able to program your computer makes it much more useful. Programming it easier than ever now.

joshuawoodsdev profile image

I'm leaning to more creative use cases like LUA and game design.

Thread Thread
aumayeung profile image
John Au-Yeung

The world is yours if you can program.

Some comments may only be visible to logged-in visitors. Sign in to view all comments.