Do You Need a Degree to be a Freelance Web Developer? (Uncomfortable Truth)

Do you need a degree to become a freelance web developer?

The simple answer is no. 

But you do need to show you are competent and have experience.

I went to university and got two degrees, and then once I graduated, I set up an online agency business. Here is the thing. Nothing I learned at university set me up with the skills I needed to set up my own business!

In the first two months of setting up my business, I learned more than the four years I spent studying. The reality is the real world works completely differently than what they teach you. The same applies to web developers.

Over the last 11 years in the industry, I have developed numerous websites myself and have hired dozens of other web developers as freelancers to work for me. I have also taught a few hundred developers to become freelance web developers and agency owners.

Simply put I know what I am talking about!

How to Become a Web Developer Without a Degree

There are many ways to become a well-paid web developer without going to university to get a degree. Here is my advice on how to get started:

1. Learn the Programming Languages Online 

There are so many free courses online to learn how to program for free. Pick the most popular coding languages and start teaching yourself. This is the cheapest and best way to become a full-stack developer.

2. Use a Web Development Platform Like WordPress or Shopify

You don’t need to have a deep knowledge of programming to get started as a web developer. The alternative to learning a programming language is to start by learning how to install and customize WordPress and Shopify websites for clients. If you need custom coding you can simply hire a freelance web developer with the required skills to help you. An experienced WordPress developer in a developing country for example only costs $5 to $15 per hour to hire.

3. Start Small

Start by offering a service to set up landing pages or other websites with minimal functionality. You can use services such as Squarespace and LinkPages to do this without much (if any) technical knowledge. Once you are doing a few of these projects a month you can then start to learn PHP, how to install and modify WordPress websites, or how-to setup Shopify stores, etc. The point is you will be earning money and will also be learning new skills while you earn.

The Bottom Line

Once you have picked up enough skills yourself in the freelance web development space you can start to build your own agency. You can hire developers on platforms like UpWork to help you with areas of web development you don’t know yet and grow that way. It's important to learn how to find the best freelancers to help you, one good skill to learn is how to properly interview them.

Going from a beginner freelancer to agency owner can happen very quickly if you are constantly picking up new skills and expanding the services that you provide. You can figure out a lot of it as you go! So, No you don’t need a degree to become a freelance web developer!

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Aleksander Vitkin

Aleksander Vitkin has helped over 700 people with a sincere interest in entrepreneurship and contribution, to start profitable businesses and quit their jobs.