My name is Jacob Stopak, and I’m a self-taught programmer, web/mobile developer, and creator of the Initial Commit project. Here are my top 10 suggestions for someone interested in pursuing a career in web development.

1) Don’t be afraid to Google

This might sound silly, but the world of software development is so vast that knowing how to use Google to your advantage will be very important. You will undoubtedly encounter many issues and error messages in your journey. Learning to efficiently narrow your search to the most promising sources will save you tons of time and pain. If you run into an obscure error message, odds are hundreds of people before you have to. StackOverflow, an open-source community, is always there to help. And don’t be ashamed – professional software developers rely on Google as much as anyone else.

2) Learn how the Internet works

Investing a small amount of time upfront to learn how the Internet works will pay massive dividends. It will give you a blueprint for how the pieces of your future projects fit together and what they are built on. If you skip this step and go straight into coding, you will equip yourself with tools before understanding the big picture you are working within. It would be like playing a game without knowing the rules.

3) Learn the types of tools Web Developers work with

Before diving into code, give yourself an overview of the web development tools out there. Here is an extensive roadmap with charts illustrating many front and backend tools.

4) Learn the basics of the command line

Whether you use a Mac, PC, or Linux, I’d highly recommend getting familiar with the command line (DOS prompt in Windows, Terminal in Mac). Once you start coding, the command line will become an invaluable tool for efficiency and productivity. I’d recommend getting comfortable using the command line to browse directories, view and work with files using a command line text editor like Vim, create files and directories, and run programs.

5) Learn some HTML, CSS, and Javascript

You don’t need to be a master, but at least learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and Javascript before jumping into a web project. There are infinite free courses and blogs for beginners on these topics.

6) Learn a backend programming language

If you want to do backend application coding, you will need to know a programming language. I recommend Python, Java, or Javascript for this.

7) Learn some SQL

SQL is short for Structured Query Language. Think of it as a programming language for databases. Most websites and applications use SQL statements to fetch data from the databases and display it to users on the website. The nice thing about SQL is it’s pretty universal, so if you use MySQL as your database, your SQL skills will also transfer to other database platforms.

8) Learn Git

Git is a tool that developers use to track the progress of their projects and collaborate. It is essential once you start working on projects with multiple developers.

9) Learn about hosting options

Once you build a website or application, you need somewhere to host it. These days many sites will provide this service, from GoDaddy to Digital Ocean, to Amazon Web Services (AWS). I recommend AWS – it’s getting more robust every day, and they have a wide variety of options depending on the type of project you are working on.

10) Check out some open-source projects

One of the best ways to improve your coding skills is to download the code of open-source projects, look through the files yourself, and try to understand how it works. You can usually track down open source projects through Google – you will find that the code is available for download from GitHub, along with a good description of how to use the program and how to contribute or ask questions if you’re interested.