Written by Emilie Brunet on August 31, 2023
It’s a question I semi-jokingly asked our Web Development instructor, Andrew this week when I sat down with him to discuss the impact that AI is having on the industry.
Andrew has been working as a developer since he completed the bootcamp in 2020 and with the introduction of ChatGPT in late 2022, I wanted to know how he was feeling about the future of web development careers.
“For newcomers in the industry, the issue is going to be the barrier to entry. Juniors are going to need to know more.”
The introduction of ChatGPT means that basic productivity expectations have now gone up. What you can do in a shorter period of time is expected to increase. So, while ChatGPT is definitely not able to replace devs altogether, it has increased the standard of productivity for a junior developer.
“Junior Devs will need to be able to solve problems that AI can’t.”
They’ll also need to know how to effectively use AI in their roles.
You’re not going to hire an accountant to do your taxes if they’re still using an abacus — you expect people to learn the skills related to changing technologies. Similarly, it’s important to learn the skill of how to properly use ChatGPT as more and more employers will be expecting their devs to use it.
Before we get into the more difficult conversation, let’s start by highlighting one of the biggest positive impacts AI is going to have on Web Developers.
AI is going to increase our ability to learn and be productive.
Since the introduction of ChatGPT, we’ve had students ask us if using it is considered cheating in class.
“Is using a calculator to help you with math considered cheating?” Andrew mused. “It can get you the answer quicker. You can use it to increase your understanding, but you can also use it to neglect your understanding.”
Using ChatGPT as another tool in your toolbox is the best approach. In the same way that you need to stay up to date on changing technology to remain relevant in any field, ChatGPT and Web Development are no different.
“Just how Google is a tool for learning, so is AI and AI is much more efficient.”
“Right now, while AI is powerful, it’s still not great at design and making things look nice,” Andrew assures.
How to incorporate CSS and making a good UI design is going to be really important as you move into the field. There’s an opportunity for web developers to hone in on their skills of actually making things look nice and making things that are unique and pretty that AI cannot do.
The need for Web Developers isn’t going to go away, but Junior Dev jobs will be expected to be more efficient and be able to do more, therefore the number of available jobs may decrease.
Succeeding in the industry means making sure that it’s something you truly want to do.
If this is your passion, you’re going to succeed
Andrew Diles, Web Development Instructor
With less jobs available, the people who will get the jobs are the ones who are dedicated to web development, improving their skills and who do it because they love it and are willing to learn and dedicate more time to increasing their knowledge.
“Realistically, technologies are always changing. You have to be able to learn new technologies, that’s the field.” And being able to enjoy learning these new technologies will come down to dedication, interest and passion.
What should someone who’s entering the field for the first time be mindful of?
“Stay productive and keep coding.” Showing employers what you’ve made and how you can deploy applications quickly is really important. “Another thing to keep in mind is not to be discouraged by what other people have done.”
This doesn’t just need to be for web development, but just in general. It can be really easy to start to feel that there’s no point in building what you want to build or creating or working on something because someone else may have already done it. “But you can’t let the accomplishments of other people discourage you from working and accomplishing your own achievements.”
So is the future really that bleak? Will web development roles be eradicated completely?
“Try removing web developers and see what happens.” AI is still very new. While some companies went on major hiring freezes in the winter of 2023, many of them are starting to hiring again. While AI is powerful, it can’t do everything. Things cannot be created right now without developers. “AI cannot connect the dots yet. We’re definitely still in a world right now where we need people doing that work.”
Will what web developers do on a day-to-day basis change with the introduction of ChatGPT? Definitely. But technology is always changing. It always has. You need to learn to adapt and shift when working in tech. Being able to pick up and understand new tools easily, being comfortable with change and continuing to learn new languages are key for any tech-specific role.
While we can’t know for sure what the web dev industry is going to look like in 10 years, we do know that it doesn’t look the same now as it did 10 years ago, and yet tech jobs still exist.
For now, we don’t need to worry too much about AI.
AI still struggles to solve complicated problems, the code it generates often still needs to be debugged (if it’s not so complicated that it crashes the system entirely) and there’s a lot more to being a developer than just generating code anyway.
Instead of being concerned about AI taking your job, reframe your mindset and look at the ways in which understanding and developing your skills utilizing ChatGPT can actually increase your employability.
Web development roles are still there.
I'm the People & Culture Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.
Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!
My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.