7 Skills Web Developers Can Master To Make More Money

Written By Evan Brown

As the technological universe continues to morph and evolve, the challenges faced by web developers around the globe foster and multiply. Sudden, continual changes in browsers, low performance bars set by developers themselves, and a breed of new developers eager to build their portfolios and taking underpaid projects, as a result, are all sources of pain for the web developer out in the market to earn some real cash.

In this post, we are going to talk about skills you can learn to meat up your expertise levels so you can demand the top bucks.

Before we do that, let’s take a look at where things stand right now.

Web Developers’ Earnings in 2019

According to Glassdoor.com, in 2017, web developers on average made $75,487/year. Payscale.com quotes a similar figure of $73,837. In 2019, this figure isn’t slotted to increase by too much.

web development more money
Source: Payscale.com (2019)

Usually, web developers with a varied skill set and those who offer comprehensive web development packages earn the biggest buck. For example, if you’re a web developer with only a front-end development skill set, you’ll earn less than those with back-end programming skills and those with a full-stack of knowledge and experience.

According to Glassdoor.com, full-stack developers earned $90,697 on average in 2017. This salary is close to what a back-end programmer earns on average: $117,284/year.

However, the real difference lies in employment numbers. Companies are more willing to hire developers who have a sound knowledge and experience-base for both UI and UX. This is because firms are going for leaner employment structures, and smaller teams with varied expertise are favored.

Which part of a website you design isn’t the only consideration upon which salaries are based. Also relevant are:

  • Experience level
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Education level
  •  Project type

To make more money as a web developer, you also need to think about less traditional career paths such as freelancing.

How Much Money Can You Earn as a Freelancer?

This isn’t a question with a simple answer. On paper, freelancing may look more lucrative, as more and more web developers turn to the internet to find some extra work and extra cash. But it also requires a lot more work; you’ll have to sell yourself each time you bid on a new project. It will also take you quite a lot of time to get to the level where you can ask for higher payments.

But, eventually, you’ll get there.

And not gonna lie, freelance web developers are earning quite well. The average hourly rate for IT and Programming on Upwork is $49, according to a Payoneer survey, compared to the hourly rate of $26.30 for a salaried employee.

That’s a huge difference.

However, before you hand in that resignation letter and start building your freelancer profile, listen to this: In America, self-employed individuals have the highest tax rates. They also have to pay for their retirement savings and health care coverage from their own pocket, with no help from the employer, obviously.

So, the wise move would be to start learning new skills such as logo design, social media, search optimization, UI/UX principles, etc. on the side and get into freelance projects—and only quit your day job when you are earning that top dollar. This takes us to our main question:

What Extra Skills Can You Learn To Help You Earn More as a Web Developer?

Here, we’ll discuss some of the most in-demand skills that will start earning you good money right away, both as a freelancer and as an in-house developer.

While most of these skills such as SEO, AI, or data visualization will come in handy whether you’re a freelancer or an in-house developer, some skills such as social media marketing, logo designing, and technical writing skills will be more useful when you’re freelancing, as those projects usually require you to don more than one hat at a time.

To also give you real earnings figures, we are going to rely on two primary sources: Payscale.com for in-house experts’ figures and Upwork.com for average per-hour freelancer rates.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a highly marketable skill. Everyone who conducts business through their website is aiming to turn incoming traffic into real customers. For this conversion to take place, SEO is the key.

SEO turns random traffic into a real customer base through devising organic marketing strategies to make sure that their website is always ranked on top in the search results. SEO involves continuous testing, tweaking, and measuring KPIs to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and making changes accordingly.

An extra skill of SEO specialization will make you very attractive to the potential client as a developer who cannot only create a stunning and functional website but also knows the art to turn that website into a true money making entity.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

  • Keyword analysis
  • HTML
  • Apache
  • Internal linking
  • XML site map
  • Navigation

Average salary for in-house expert: $65,200

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $68

2. Data Visualization

Data Visualization refers to transforming raw data into forms that are easy to understand and make sense of. It essentially involves turning spreadsheets into charts and graphs. With the tech industry looking for more and more data-centered roles, this specific niche is expected to grow exponentially.

A data visualization expert is skilled at predicting trends, identifying patterns, locating important variables, and guiding business strategies.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

  • R or Python
  • MS Excel
  • Presentation skills
  • Statistical programming

Average salary for in-house expert: $77,000

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $20-$200

3. Cloud Computing

As more companies switch from traditional server setups to more flexible and dynamic cloud-based solutions, the demand for cloud computing specialists is on the rise. A lot of this demand is being driven by companies that require IT professionals who specialize in Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS is the biggest cloud computing solutions network at present. With clients such as Netflix, Unilever, McDonald’s, and GE Oil & Gas, it boasts of the biggest shares in the market—with more than a million active users registered with it. A certification in AWS will get you an average income of $123,000 a year.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

  • Database skills
  • Programming skills
  • Linux
  • DevOps
  • Information Security

Average salary for in-house expert: $123,000

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $104

4. UI/UX Design

In a room full of people who can either design a beautiful website or do great backend programming, how attractive will you seem with full-stacked expertise to offer and comprehensive web development knowledge?

For those of you who are already earning good money being UX developers, learning how to do UI will increase your employment potential. And for our UI comrades here, begin learning UX now. It is not so easy to learn, granted, but easy never gives top dollar anyway.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

For UX:

  • HTML
  • Java
  • CSS
  • Databases
  •  Algorithm
  • Statistics

For UI:

  • Product design
  • Interface design
  • Photoshop
  •  Animation
  • Prototyping

Average salary for in-house expert: $75,057

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $30-$150

5. Artificial Intelligence

If you’re willing to put in the hours and the work, building a skill set centered on AI is the most exciting thing to do. Increasingly, more companies are looking to implement AI solutions in data analysis and user experience.

According to Forbes, there’s been a 14x increase in the numbers of active AI startups since 2000, investment into AI by venture capitalists has increased 6x, and the job market for AI programmers has grown 4.5x since 2013.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

  • Machine learning
  • Python
  • Java
  • Data science
  • R Programming language

Average salary for in-house expert: $121,000

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $61-80

6. Basic Social Media

Having a website is not enough. You need a strong, engaging, and lively social media presence to stay in touch with your audience. No matter how interactive or engaging your website is, it is nothing compared to the authentic human connection feel that social media provides. Customers respond well to businesses that seem like living, breathing entities.

Learning basic social media is quite easy, and the gains are beneficial. As a web developer, if you are well versed in social media strategies and can build digital marketing guidelines for your company or client, that’s an instant plus.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

  • Strategy planning
  • Understanding how content works on social media
  • Respectable writing skills
  • Knowledge of latest digital marketing trends
  • Flexibility
  • UI/UX design

Average salary for in-house expert: $50,040

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $50-100

7. Technical Writing

The fact that the whole of the internet is evolving at a tremendous pace gives most people a sense of worry that they’ll be left behind in the surge of new developments. And this is a fair worry. Technical writing is what keeps this worry at bay. Not only do you learn about these developments firsthand, as continuous research is a part of technical writing, but you also add the additional skill of tech-writing to your portfolio.

Technical writing is article writing and blogging about new ideas, products, technologies, and other tech-world news that the industry is looking for. The purpose of technical writing is primarily to impart information and instruction to those looking for it. In addition to the tech industry, medicine, legal, engineering, and other areas of science use technical writing to share information.

As you probably know, not everyone can write well, and not everyone who writes well can do technical writing. If you have a bit of writing flair, writing technical documents will add a great deal of money in your bank account. Because not every good writer can do technical writing, those who can are already in high demand, so make sure you tap into this pulsating market, and get your fair share of it.

Major Technical Skills to Learn:

In addition to good writing skills, you also need:

  • Design skills and formatting
  • Analytical skills
  • Data presentation
  • Ability to write concisely and clearly
  • Research
  • Interaction with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Average salary for in-house: $59,217

Average hourly rate for freelancers: $30-60

Learn More To Earn More …

Now, sit with all this information, and come up with a strategy for the next phase of your booming web development career. We hope one or some of these exciting skills have enticed you enough to start thinking about them seriously.

Do tell us which one(s) feels most appealing to you, and then let’s get to work. Here’s to more money, baby!