If you’re reading this, it means you finally got your foot in the door of that web development company that you’ve had your eye on. Congratulations, this is the beginning of a very rewarding career path, but now I bet you’re wondering “okay, cool, I’m a full-fledged (junior) web developer, but what now? Where do I go from here?”
The first thing you probably think is that you’ll just work towards that senior developer position, but what if you work for a small company and that person doesn’t seem to be leaving any time in this decade? What do you do then? What should your goal be?
I hope to help you young padawan and help answer some of these questions to help prepare you and help you shoot for the stars in this vast digital media world. (Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep the Star Wars references to a minimum, but no promises.)
Please note* That most of this blog refers to being a web developer as it refers to building websites and mobile applications.
In this blog post, I’m going to touch upon the different job positions, starting salaries or possible salary rates for those positions, the overall job description, and the skills required to thrive.
Grab a coffee or today maybe grab yourself an iced latte get crazy, and let’s dive in!
Senior Web Developer
You already know what is required from your current job as a junior web developer, but do you know what might be required from you as a senior web developer?
The first thing you’ll need to do is to make sure that you have a good grasp of everything that is currently required from being a junior web developer, which could include everything from working with HTML, CSS, Jquery, and JSON to graphic design with a strong knowledge of WordPress and at least one of the top 5 builder platforms.
Once you believe you can do your current job in your sleep then it’s time to start looking at that senior position. This position could mean doing the same work that you do now, but just on a slightly higher level. Lower-level tasks you can now hand off to your junior developer. It could also mean that you are in charge of the project making all of the design decisions and you might start delegating the actual coding or website building to your team.
As a senior developer, you’ll be responsible for the final say on a website or application and if it’s ready to be launched or if there is more work that needs to done. You could also spend time on doing researching new design trends, Google standards, and conduct other tests on plugins or methods that could help your team’s workflow. I think the most overlooked skill for any developer is making sure they have great communication skills. You’ll need to be able to effectively communicate with both your team and in most cases also directly with the customer.
At the time of this writing, the current salary for a senior web developer for Western North Carolina is $70,000 to $90,000, but those numbers are much higher in bigger cities. Salary Estimates from ZipRecruiter.
The project director oversees the entire team and in most cases, this could also mean overseeing different teams from the developers to the SEO specialists, project managers, and customer support team members. For this position, you’ll need to be ready to have an understanding of what everyone does and if you don’t know how to do every job, then you will be required to know the people that you can direct to get the job done.
In this position, you probably won’t be doing too much of the actual design, code, or even dealing directly with customers (unless of course it’s an angry one) and in most cases, you’ll be required to make sure that the team and project are all operating as a well-oiled machine. You’ll need to keep close tabs on whether or not the team is meeting goals whether that is sales goals, timeline, scheduling goals, or other goals that are specified by the company.
Director salaries are harder to estimate because this will be different according to the number of job duties set forth, but on Glassdoor.com they have it set at an average of $83,575/year.
CEO / Owner
Whoa, that was a short ladder to the top. One of the biggest things when it comes to being a web developer and being in the digital media industry is there is a lot of different avenues that you can go down, but most of these paths won’t always have a ton of different positions within them.
You can be a junior marketing specialist to a senior marketing specialist or you can be a junior AR designer to a senior AR designer. As the CEO, I’m assuming you already know that this basically means you’re the king of the castle and you make all of the big decisions for the company and for the salary, well the sky is the limit. The same with being the owner of the company, you’ll have all of the main responsibilities, and more than likely you’ll spend your days in meetings or zoom meetings with your team that could be located anywhere in the world. I’m not going to dive any deeper into the CEO position, but instead, I want to pivot and talk about being the owner of a digital media company that specializes in a handful of digital services.
Website Design & Marketing Agency
Now this might not be for everyone and honestly, this option is arguably the hardest one to achieve, but if done right could help you reach your highest goal of building a company from scratch, and with great risk, comes an even greater reward!
If you’re someone like me, you enjoy all aspects of digital media and you don’t want to limit yourself to only building websites for plumbers or whatever websites you are currently building. You love building WordPress websites, but you also have a passion for SEO and Google analytics. You enjoy being creative to the highest degree in you take that energy to dream up new marketing campaigns. Maybe you also love to spend hours upon hours in Adobe Illustrator coming up with branding concepts or logo design. You might want to consider going out on your own and building a website design and marketing agency.
Here are a few specialized services your media company could offer:
1: Brand Identity & Logo Design.
2: Website Design & Development.
3: WordPress Hosting & Support.
4: UI/UX Design & App Development.
5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
6: Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC).
7: Social Media Marketing.
8: Package & Mechandise Design.
9: Mobile App Development.
10: Photography & Videography Services.
That is just a small portion of what your digital agency could offer, but the list could really go beyond those listed above! For your salary, well as I said before it really just depends on you and what you want to value your services at and of course you’ll also need to research what other agencies charge for these services and whether or not if your services are specialized or ninched down enough to warrant the extra fees and price levels.
The biggest thing to rememeber with this path is that you’ll need to not only help with marketing for your clients, but you’ll also need to do marketing for your own company. The best plan is start small by offering a few services to start and then scale up from there and once you are able to hire on, then you’ll be able to offer additional services and also hire out help for customer outreach among everything else that a company needs to be successful.
Remember to always keep investing in your own learning. Subscribe to newsletters on web development, marketing, videography, or whatever you think will make you stronger in the industry. If you don’t have experience of owning a company, I would highly recommend either taking a few business classes or even just starting a small business like selling candles. This can teach you more valuable lessons of entrepreneurship than any teacher can teach in a classroom. Everything I learned from managing a business comes from my 10 years of owning a clothing line, where I wore all of the hats and did all of the things required to have a successful business. The lessons that I learned from that experience still holds true to everything that I continue to do today. Remember this is only the beginning and it might seem like the road ahead is long, but with enough passion and drive you can make anything possible!
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