Web Developer working on work projects at a cafe

Web development (both front-end and back-end) is an immensely popular job. Companies everywhere need technologists who can build, maintain, and improve websites, often under considerable time pressure. When it comes to landing a web developer job, you certainly need the skills—but can web development certifications also help you stand out?

Before we dig into web development certifications, let’s take a moment to break down the web developer role and the skills involved.

What Web Developers Actually Do

Web developers generally fall into three categories: front end, back end, and full stack or “generalized.” Front-end web developers tend to concentrate on the user-facing elements of a website or service; in that role, they work closely with UI/UX designers and other specialists to create something intuitive, polished, and useful. Back-end web developers, by contrast, focus on everything that allow websites to run, such as APIs, interactions with servers, and databases.

Full stack or “generalized” web developers can handle both the front end and back end. Because they’re tasked with everything from building to maintaining and debugging websites and web pages, they need a broad range of skills, from HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and iOS/Android to more cutting-edge tech such as machine learning.

How Much Do Web Developers Earn?

According to the most recent Dice Tech Salary Report, the average web developer earns $87,194 per year, which decreased 11.8 percent between 2021 and 2022. Although that’s significantly less than the average tech salary of $111,348 (which increased 2.3 percent during the same period), it’s important to keep in mind that compensation can rise with the right combination of skills and experience.

For example, web developers who choose to specialize in back-end cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure can earn more than $145,416 per year as a cloud architect/engineer. Focusing on a specialty such as cybersecurity, data analytics, or management can likewise result in hefty salaries.

What are Web Development Certifications and Why are They Important?

In simplest terms, any certification shows a recruiter or hiring manager that you actually possess a certain type of skill. In a web development context, certifications can show that you’re up-to-date on necessary skills in a constantly evolving industry. If you’re competing for a role against other skilled, determined tech professionals, a certification can potentially make you stand out.

But which certifications should you pursue? That hinges on your current specialization and future plans. For example, if you’re committed to being a back-end web developer, you’ll likely want to focus on the certifications that prove your skills in that particular arena. If you eventually want to sidestep into a new specialization such as management, you may also want to explore certifications in that arena—possessing a few may help when you decide to finally make the career jump.

Types of Web Development Certifications

What are some of the most popular web development certifications? For an answer, we can turn to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. Lightcast lists 16 web development certifications:

This list doesn’t represent all web development certifications, of course; when it comes to HTML development alone, there are certifications on offer from CourseraW3CUdemy, and many more. However, the Lightcast list is extensive enough that we feel comfortable using it as the basis for our analysis.

Many web developer educational tracks come with certifications. Here are a few to consider, broken down by specialization:

Front-End Web Developer: Front-end web developers may want to consider certifications that show they can build and maintain the user-facing parts of a website or service. For example, edX has a Front-End Web Developer certificate, and Udemy has an HTML/CSS certification course aimed at those just starting out in web development. Those who want a deeper dive into front-end web developer languages can also consider Coursera’s Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

Back-End Web Developer: Meta (which knows a little something about running websites at scale) offers a Back-End Professional Certificate via Coursera that touches on everything from APIs to cloud hosting to working with GitHub. General Assembly also teaches courses that focus on aspects of back-end development.

Full-Stack Web Developer: For those with the funds and time, MIT’s xPro program focuses on web development, front-end development (with React), and back-end development (including work with MongoDB and more). IBM also offers a (free) full-stack course with a professional certification at the end, via Coursera; topics range from JavaScript and HTML to cloud applications and architecture.

Do You Need a Web Development Certification to Land a Job?

While certifications can help your resume stand out, do you actually need them to land a web development job? Let’s turn to Lightcast again, since it can tell us the percentage of jobs that actually ask for web developer certifications:

As you can see, a broad swath of web development certifications pop up hardly at all in job postings for web developers. In other words, you don’t absolutely need a certification (or multiple certifications) to land a web developer job. That being said, they can give you an advantage, especially since many organizations have begun to tighten up their spending and hiring.

Ultimately, when you apply for a web developer position, employers will be interested in whether you’re actually skilled in JavaScript, HTML5, XML, and all of the other languages and frameworks that form the foundation of modern web development. Many job interviews will come with a test (either in-person or take-home) designed to test those skills. It’s also helpful if you can show a prospective employer a portfolio of work, whether projects for previous clients or just websites and web apps you’ve built on your own time. 

If nothing else, the coursework and resources required to complete a certification can give you the skills and experience necessary to ace these technical interviews (and build up a portfolio of work). If you’re just out of school or a coding bootcamp, and anxious to secure your first web developer job, a portfolio of work—such as school projects—can give you a vital leg up in job interviews. While certifications are useful, don’t view a lack of formal job experience or certifications as a potential impediment if you know what you’re doing in terms of front-end and back-end development. 

How to Prepare for a Web Development Certification

Different certification courses will have different perquisites, which are often indicated in the course materials. For example, a beginner course via an online learning portal such as Udemy may require you to have no skills at all; but more advanced courses in full-stack development will expect you to have mastered fundamentals such as HTML/CSS programming.

Before signing up for any certification, read the perquisites and requirements. If you’re totally new to the tech field, you may have to take an introductory course in programming and HTML in order to become familiar with basic concepts before pursuing certification.

Certain tech certifications—especially intermediate and advanced ones—also require experience in a particular field. If you’re aiming for a higher-tier web development certification, you may need to build up your web developer experience, first.


While you don’t necessarily need web development certifications to build out a successful career as a web developer, possessing certain certs can assure hiring managers and recruiters that you have the skills to make their web strategies successful—which could boost your chances of getting hired. Which certifications you choose to pursue, though, can depend on your specialization and eventual goals. Evaluate your priorities carefully before deciding to pursue any certification track.