New Career Path! Web Development?

So if you can’t tell by the title, I’m getting into web development. Why web development? Why not continue to pursue my engineering degree further? What does it take to get started? How much does it cost to get started? All this information and more if you keep reading below.

Web Development: #1 How I got started.

Why Web Development?

So, why am I getting into web development? Well first, I’m sick of my job. No really, I’m tired of it. I have been working at a local factory for almost 13 years at the time of this writing and I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere anymore. I don’t have a college degree, I have several thousands of dollars of student debt from attempting to get a college degree, and I’m pretty much topped out at the top of the pay scale for my profession. I’m tired of watching people get promoted that don’t deserve it, and I’m tired of watching people who deserve to get promoted get placed in the same position over and over, year after year, because they’re “invaluable.” Am I talking about myself? Well if the shoe fits then wear it, right? I went halfway through an engineering degree before I was unable to complete it due to work/school/family scheduling issues. But I took most of the courses I needed to fill an engineer’s position. I had 10 years of machining experience plus college level courses to include drafting, solid modelling, business statistics, etc. However, I had to drop out before I could take the major work-related courses like Biology, and Art Appreciation 101. Both of which are applied all over the place in the engineering office at a metal production facility… So yes, I’m a little irritated. Yes, I’m a little frustrated. And yes, that’s okay.

Now, I’m not trying to get all leftist, liberal, “I deserve to get mine” on you, but seriously, what happened to the “results get promoted” concept? I mean, if you can do the job, does it really matter if you have a $40,000 piece of paper with your name on it telling others that you can do it? Call me crazy, but I have a better set of ideals and morals than that. I truly believe that results is what should matter, not how much debt you can go into for a piece of paper that literally says, “I can memorize material and regurgitate it on a final exam in a few weeks.” I’ve seen too many “engineers” come straight out of college and crash a machine because “It worked in the program.” I’ve seen machinists refuse to press the start button on a machine because they KNEW it would crash the machine, only to have the “engineer” press the button for them saying it would work, only to have, you guessed it, the machine crash. But HEY, that guy has a degree! Sure man, whatever. The only thing you are guaranteed out of a college degree is debt. You’re not promised a career in your field of study. You’re not even promised a career at all. The only thing that is promised to you after graduation, (or in my case after your first couple of semesters) is a monthly payment to something that has no real value if you don’t get a chance to use it. The risk to reward factor is largely weighed against us.

So why web development? Well first of all, you don’t HAVE to have a computer science degree. You simply have to know how to produce results. A local business looking to get a website made really doesn’t care if you have a degree. They don’t care what programming languages you know, what school you graduated from, or what fraternity/sorority you were in. Can you deliver a functional and professional website or not? This industry is really based on results, and that is what appeals to me the most. You can start out at a decent pay as an entry-level programmer/developer and the investment into it as you will see in a moment if a tiny percentage of what a degree will run you.

How did I get into Web Development?

So how did I get into web development? At the time of this writing I’m only two months into it. I’ve successfully created a mock website for a fictional company, and it’s really amazing what you can create after just a couple of weeks of learning to code. I started by trying to learn PHP first. This may have been a mistake on my part, as you need to know at least basic HTML and CSS before diving into an actual programming language such as PHP or JavaScript. So what is my monetary investment into it so far? Here’s what it took me to get started.

Hardware Investment:

I’ve spent roughly $300 getting into it. Now before you get all, “I can’t afford that!” on me, please realize that, you don’t HAVE to. Here’s what my investment into web development looks like:

  1. Refurbished computer – $140
  2. Refurbished dual monitors – $140
  3. New keyboard – $15
  4. Computer Desk – $10

Computer:

You see? Chances are you don’t need a new computer. If you already have a desktop or laptop, you can use it. The software and files you are going to be working with are extremely simple and take up very little HD space. You don’t need a super high end graphics card or a 3TB hard drive with 16Gb of RAM. a simple computer will suffice. The desktop I bought is pretty minimal, and you can find it here.

Monitors:

I bought dual monitors as a luxury. It is not required. Most of the tutorials you are going to find online are created using a single screen. However, it’s much better to be able to have a tutorial video going on one screen and follow along on the other. Or, if I’m not doing online tutorials, it’s really nice to have a coding program on one screen and have the browser I’m working in on the other. This way it is possible to see exactly what is going on at a glance. You can change colors, sizes, shapes, fonts, etc as you code without having to minimize or switch between programs. Here’s a screenshot of what I’m usually looking at:

dual desktop monitors showing code editor on one screen and live browser in second screen

Other Stuff:

As far as the keyboard and desk, I bought them because the keyboard that came with my refurbished PC was really bad. I mean, the kind that has the huge buttons that clack very loudly and the backspace button was tiny. I make a lot of mistakes when I’m typing and it was really frustrating when I went to erase something and got a string of equal signs instead. The desk I bought at Good Will. I’m not ashamed to shop there. You can find some really good stuff, and when you’re trying to get into something like this, every dollar saved helps.

Online Investment:

I get my learning courses at Udemy. I am enrolled in the following courses and I would recommend taking them in this order:

  1. The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 by Rob Percival* (See my footnote)
  2. Build Responsive Real World Websites with HTML5 and CSS3 by Jonas Schmedtmann
  3. The Complete JavaScript Course: Build a Real-World Project by Jonas Schmedtmann
  4. PHP for Beginners -Become a PHP Master – Project Included by Edwin Diaz

*footnote: I recommend using Rob’s course first because he hooks you up with free web hosting for a year so you can mess with a real server and get your projects live on the internet for free! So take Rob’s course just long enough to get the hosting, then take numbers 2-3 and then decide if you want to take PHP or dive into the complete web development course.

I recommend these courses in this order because I started with program 4 (PHP) first. Then I realized you need to know some basic HTML and CSS before PHP. So I signed up for program 1, and it was a shotgun blast of so much information it had my head spinning. So I took program 2, which made me confident with HTML and CSS. So sign up for program 1 first to get your year of hosting, then take program 2, and so on.

A bit about pricing. You may have already clicked on these links and seen the whopping $200 price tag on most of them. You can get coupons! I haven’t paid more than $19 for any of these courses. Most of the coupons I got from listening to The John Morris Show podcast (which I highly recommend) and Udemy usually has promotional deals going on so check around. I’ve gotten roughly $1000 worth of Udemy courses for only $60!

One more thing, if you’d like to see the website I’ve created by following along with a tutorial, you can check it out here.


Well, that’s all I have for now. Keep following me to see how my journey proceeds and join me if you want to. What do you think? Do you have comments, suggestions, or questions? Just comment below!

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