I have been having my doubts lately. I was told by an experienced developer that it is not unusual to have to relocate out of state to pursue a junior web developer position. The area where I am at currently does not have very many entry-level opportunities. In addition, he stated my github must be saturated with projects and that it could take up to 10 or more times applying for jobs.
Next, there is the freelancing route. However, the freelancing market seems saturated, especially with developers in other countries willing to pick up the work for cheap. In addition, I would have to forfeit the opportunity of having benefits such as company-provided insurance.
Is it worth pursuing a career in web development?
There are certainly compromises that usually need to be made in order to work as a junior web developer, and given that a candidate for a junior web developer position is hired usually for their potential - not for what they can actually ‘do’ right now, it’s likely that most of the compromises will have to be made on the job seeker’s end. So, if you’re confident that you’re aware of the compromises you’ll have to make, and that list of compromises isn’t acceptable to you, then it seems like becoming a web developer isn’t worth it.
That being said, you’d have more leverage if you built up your skill set to be more than that of what’s required for most ‘junior web developer’ positions. There’s a world of difference between someone who can learn (junior dev) and someone who can build meaningful things (not curriculum projects) and has a portfolio to prove it.
Whether anything is “worth it” is completely subjective and values-based, so no one can tell you that.
It is “worth it” for me because I enjoy the work, it pays well, and I’m confident in my career path. Then again, in my case it was also “worth it” to go back for a degree in C.S. as an adult, something that many people on this site do not consider a good/viable option.
Depending on the industry where you are, of course it’s not uncommon to have to relocate for an opportunity. That’s true of any career based on specialized skills. If anything, programming is more ubiquitous than most STEM career fields.
The specific focus on GitHub is something that seems to be entirely anecdotal, but significant experience building fairly complex applications is pretty important. Many entry level positions require “a B.S in computer science, a related field, or equivalent experience”. If you don’t have a degree that taught you to code, then you need to be about to prove experience that is roughly “equivalent” to four years of dedicated study (which usually includes 1-3 years of professional internship experience).
I’m not sure what “it could take 10 or more times applying for jobs” means, but the rule of thumb that I’ve heard when it comes to job hunting (generally, not programming specific) is that for every 10 applications you submit you get about 1 interview and you’ll do about 10 interviews before accepting a job offer.