The job market for web developers in 2018

The job market is tough. Gaining a few extra web development skills could give you the edge you need to get ahead.

It’s no secret that web development is on the rise as both a career choice, and as a way of life. It’s being taught in schools, there are after-school clubs to learn to develop, even Obama has officially endorsed it.

But, just like Hatchimals and Black Friday TVs, those web development jobs have been made extremely rare and difficult to find for the average person.

Sure, there are plenty of jobs out there. But the experience you need to get those jobs? I’m not sure I even have that. The fact of the matter is, unless you eat, sleep, and breathe code, you’re in for a long job search.

Back in my day, you could get a job as an entry level front end web developer with mediocre HTML, CSS, and jQuery skills. The pay wouldn’t be the greatest, but hey, it was still better than most entry level jobs, and you knew it would lead to something great in a few years.

There are, however, some things you can learn to stand out when you’re trying to land your first job, or land another, more advanced position. So without further ado, check out these top in-demand web development skills for 2018.

1. Greensock

Greensock is a great little JavaScript animation toolkit that far outshines

jQuery animations like seen in jQuery UI, and is easier to use than CSS animations, which require a lot of forethought to get the sequencing down right.

Some major clients use Greensock, too. It’s a no-brainer, since it’s already supported in all major browsers, is thoroughly documented, and has a long track record (around 10 years now). You can see it in action on Play-doh’s Gallery of Emerging Species, Nike React, and a whole host of other examples, including the industry renowned Awwwards Conference showcase. If that’s not enough for you, it’s also used by Samsung, Intel, Ford Motor Company, Aol, Google, Youtube, Fox, etc. I just didn’t feel like hunting down the links for those examples.

Long story short, Greensock is a cutting edge technology that will surely get you noticed by some of the more desirable companies to work for, and will definitely make you stand out.

2. React

Somewhere along the way, engineers realized that the best way to write front end code was on a component basis, allowing for reusable, efficient, and well organized blocks of code. One of the most notable frameworks that utilizes this approach is React, a JavaScript library developed by a Facebook engineer that is highly efficient, very up-and-coming, highly scalable, and highly flexible.

Some notable users of React are Netflix, PayPal, and Microsoft. It can be utilized to build web apps, websites, and mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. Knowing React will set you far ahead of the crowd when it comes to snatching up a job worth having.

3. CSS Grid

CSS Grid is sort of a better version of Flexbox, and is the newest layout system for CSS, and gaining popularity.

Grid aims to create a 2 dimensional system that allows for easy placement of DOM elements, as opposed to the crazy workarounds that we had to use back in the days of the sticky footer. Times were crazy, people died trying to make websites, you kids don’t know how easy you have it.

Bottom line is, learn Grid. Learn Flexbox too. You’ll be looked at as a slightly-less-novice developer, which is far more than can be said for most kids trying to hijack the field these days.

4. NPM

If you do end up using React, you’ll have to learn how to use the Node Package Manager (NPM) anyways. NPM basically makes installing tools and frameworks (packages) into your project. It’s used through the command line, which leads us into our next technology:

5. The Command Line

Once upon a time, you could get by without being familiar with the command line, Linux, or Command Prompt (the CLI, or command line interface, for Windows).

Nowadays, unless you’re working for some fly-by-night web shop, or a marketing company that places no importance on the website (as it’s only a small part of their overall product), you’re going to need to learn how to move around in a CLI.

A few places where you can learn to use a CLI? Codecademy has a good beginner’s course, as well as Guru99Learn Enough also has a great resource, and if you’re still looking for more than that, click here.

6. Sass

Not to be confused with the attitude you still give your parents at 30 while living in their basement, Sass stands for Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets and is what’s called a CSS Preprocessor, and while it’s by no means a new technology, it’s a far underused and underrated one.

Sass basically takes CSS and allows you to write it in a more efficient manner, nesting it and creating functions with it, setting variables, almost like HTML5 with lightweight functionality. It’s a must have for any modern devs and in order to use it, you need to know the command line along with our next technology:

7. CodeKit/Compass/Sassmeister/etc

All of the technologies listed in the subheading above are suggestions for the purpose of compiling Sass. Browsers can’t read Sass, it has to be compiled into a regular CSS file before it reaches the browser, so you’ll need some technology to handle that for you. Do your research and take your pick, there are plenty of tools out there.

8. Git

The last tool we’d recommend learning to use if you want an edge while seeking employment is Git, a version control system that is widely used by web shops and always good to know even if the company you work for doesn’t use it, as it’s necessary to clone repositories from GitHub, something you’ll most likely need to do if you want to use any third-party applications hosted on GitHub, which you probably will.

Git is basically a command line language, which allows for multiple user to collaborate on the same project, without overwriting each other’s code. It’s an absolute necessity for developer collaboration, and more than likely will be a desired skill for any employer.

Now go learn stuff.

If your soul wasn’t crushed by the sheer volume of learning that you’ll have to do to break into the holy grail of IT jobs, you just might have the mentality you’ll need to be a developer. Take the time to learn these web development in Michigan skills, and you just might stand a chance out there.

Bon voyage, devies-to-be.

Published 05/18/18 by Doug Sumner