Career Transitions: How Designers Become Developers

Are you a designer with an interest in development? Ready to make a career switch? If you’re a design professional who wants to transition to a web development career, the good news is that you may have a lot of transferable skills. Keep reading to find out tips on how to put your best foot forward in a new industry. 

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In this article:

3 Things to Consider Before Making a Career Switch to Web Development 

coding on a laptop with a smartphone beside it

Many people, who work in visual design, change careers to become developers. And you can too! But before you start sifting through job postings or trying to find a class to hone more skills, make sure development is right for you. 

1. Consider your goals, assess your current skills, then fill in the gaps.

Self-learning is a big part of any career transition – especially if you do not have the desire to enroll in formal education. So, decide what type of developer you want to be, research what that specific career takes, then try to fill in your knowledge gaps in your spare time. It may not happen overnight, but it is possible to make a career change. You just have to stay focused, find transferable skills, and hone new ones as needed. 

2. Connect with folks who have transitioned from a design job to work in development. 

Do you have any friends, former colleagues, or family members who have made a career change from design to web development? If so, reach out to them! It’s important to talk to other professionals, especially if you’re having second thoughts. Their insight can help quell fears or point you in the right direction to find a full-time job in your desired field. 

If you don’t have any personal connections, try reaching out to folks in your professional network, or visit forums for online communities that share advice. 

3. Consider your current design career and what you enjoy about it. 

The best advice we can offer anyone who is considering a career change is to take a long, hard look at their current position. Assess the reasons you became a designer, your design process, and your current career trajectory. 

Ask yourself the following questions then reflect:

  • Why do I want to change careers?
  • Do I want to have freelance gigs or would I prefer to work full-time for a big company? 
  • What about development is more appealing than my design career? 
  • Do I want to pursue a formal degree or take MOOCs to supplement my education? 
  • How would my design skills aid me as a developer?

5 Transferable Skills Between Designers & Developers

a laptop with coding on the screen and a coffee cup nearby

If you’ve been working in design for a while, chances are you’ve picked up some development skills along the way. Below are 5 skills that many designers already have mastered. 

  • Problem Solving and Analytical Reasoning
  • Critical Thinking 
  • Teamwork/Collaborative Planning
  • Active Listening Skills
  • Familiarity with CSS or HTML

Other transferable skills could include leadership, adaptability, time management, as well as any programming skills you have. 

5 Career Transition Hacks to Land a Job in Web Development

a design or development professional coding with dual monitors

If you are certain that you want to shift to a career in web development, we’re excited to help you along your journey Below are 5 practical hacks you can use to land your first job as a developer. 

1. Pick a niche then learn everything you can about it.

Do you want to work as a front-end developer or a back-end developer? Want to strive to become a full-stack developer? Perhaps you want to focus on mobile application development or become a developer who works with artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning platforms. And that’s not all, there are many other developers that we didn’t mention! 

So ask yourself “what type of developer do I want to be?” Once you decide which career is best for you, start learning everything you can. 

2. Want real-life experience working on real projects? Volunteer your time.

Volunteerism isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, however, it is one way to gain experience as a web developer. So, why not take reach out to a non-profit organization or school group to test out your programming skills? Who knows? Volunteer work could be extremely beneficial to your career. 

3. Find development mentorship.

If you’ve ever spoken to other designers about career goals, then you know the benefit of sharing knowledge among like-minded people. The same goes for developers! As you enter your new field, seek out developers, preferably those at different stages in their careers. 

Finding a mentor can present some difficulty at first. So consider the following when getting started on your mentorship hunt:

  • There may be someone at your current company that can offer stellar career advice or acts as a career coach. Look in your professional network before paying for expensive services that you come across online.
  • If you’ve gone through a formal education, try reaching out to your alma mater – especially if the school/university offers courses in both design and development. 

4. Invest in your education. 

No matter what type of developer you’d like to become, you’ll have to learn more skills. So, get ready to do a lot of self-learning and possibly take a few formal classes as well. If you’re not sure where to start, review our blog posts on10 coding tutorials for beginners or check out these free Ruby on Rails books and courses

5. Use our job board. 

Authentic Jobs is the leading job board for creative professionals, including designers and developers! Thousands of big and small companies post their jobs with us. So, bookmark our site for your web development job search, and keep reading our blog for career tips.