I have a dilemma. My boss has been pushing me to do web development even though I am not technically a developer. I feel it's getting close to him firing me if I don't. I believe the reasoning is he wants to save money by not having to pay a web design agency. He knows I know some git, html, css, php, js, etc. because I have fixed a few bugs here and there on the site but trust me when I tell you I am not a web developer. Another issue is I am already doing all the SEO, Web Analytics, Business Development, Data Management, 3rd Party Management, and Paid Marketing. If I have a private meeting with him to discuss this matter I could realistically be fired.

I have considered trying to find a web development mentor and paying him/her to coach/help/guide me or potentially face unemployment. And as insane as it sounds I have even considered just hiring a freelancer and paying him/her myself to do the work just to get my boss off my back and not have to worry about loosing my job or working 80+ hours a week under even more stress. What should I do?

  • 6
    Is your boss just expecting you to magically become a web developer overnight? If yes then they're being unreasonable and you might want to look for a job someplace else. If they're willing to provide you with the necessary training and time and web development is something you're interested in - then why not give it a shot?
    – Egor
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 3:55
  • 2
    Isn't this a good opportunity? If your boss allows you time to study and slowly pick it up, it should be beneficial to you? If you're goal is to stay as you are, I would be wary as it seems that your boss thinks you can do a lot more, and I dont know your tasks but it seems like tasks that you setup once and are done with, just to maintain a bit here and now (correct me if I'm wrong)
    – notsure
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 4:14
  • 3
    Can you edit your question to include: What you actually want to happen? What is your job actually supposed to be?
    – BSMP
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 5:28
  • 3
    There's a big difference between "Boss wants to me to do this other job" and "Boss wants to me to do this other job in addition to my current one", which one are you most worried about? Pushback on the latter can be as simple as "I don't have that many hours of work in a week, so we're gonna have to cut responsibilities for this"
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 5:40
  • 8
    Are you OK with becoming a web developer? Is that something you want from your career? All the answers so far seem to assume it is, and are just advising on how to do that. But it seems to me that you might not want to do that at all. Besides not getting fired, what is your desired outcome, here? Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 12:53

8 Answers 8


Ask for paid training, even if just a Udemy course and work time to do it.

In most things, even the most asinine of management decisions, there are opportunities to be found. Use this as an opportunity to acquire more valuable skills that can make you less fearful of being fired.

As far as your boss is concerned, the training will probably only cost $10 or so. You might even consider paying for that course yourself. Most of the cost will be hidden in your salary for the time spent training, which is something they cannot really and why reducing productivity is much preferred to spending a dime on improving it. If you need to, put it in those terms. "$10 now can save us from having to pay [insert web developer costs]."

  • 2
    Actually I disagree with that. Developper is not the current career path of the OP and he doesn't seems interested in that. Of course if OP doesn't mind learning developping this answer stand, but there is nothing in OP Post or comments suggesting so.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 7:22
  • 1
    @Walfrat fair enough, but if you are so afraid of losing your job that you will hire a freelancer to cover for you, it may be time for a career change. Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 9:13
  • I'd be careful with the last line. If you go that way, you have told your boss you can do after the course what a fully trained web developer can. I'd doubt that. And if things go awry that fear of getting fired will come back with a very real chance of becoming a reality. If OP wants to go that route, I'd make it clear to boss that I'd be happy to try to learn enough to do the necessary things, but that there is a certain level of risk involved - which to take then becomes the choice of the boss. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 0:22

I guess it's obvious to everyone other than your boss that he would get better results for his money by hiring a web developer. On the other hand, doing this could get you fired which you don't want at all. So what you do:

  1. Update your CV and get it out. Even if you don't want to leave, you might have no choice. And don't be surprised if you actually manage to get an offer that is better than your current job. It doesn't mean you have to leave, but having a fallback like that puts you into a much better position.

  2. If possible talk your boss out of his idea. But very very carefully to not lose your job.

  3. If (2) doesn't work: Since your boss is stupid, loyalty is out of the window. So your goals are: Getting paid for as long as possible, and learning website development (won't hurt your career).

Set expectations: Tell your boss that it takes time to learn how to create a website, and it takes even more time to learn how to create a good website. Then look for resources. Books, online books, online courses, whatever. Work hard on learning, and try producing something every week so you can show the boss slow progress. Remember it doesn't have to be good, just good enough to keep you in the job.

Keep the boss busy. You need real devices to test the website. A PC, a Mac, an iPhone and an Android phone. Given your boss is not very smart, demanding this will keep him busy and off your back for a bit. (If I tried that with my boss, I'd have all the hardware that I need at my home within two days. But my boss isn't stupid). All this keeps you employed for longer.


If I have a private meeting with him to discuss this matter I could realistically be fired
paying him/her to coach/help/guide me or potentially face unemployment.
I have even considered just hiring a freelancer and paying him/her myself to do the work

How much does your company paying you that you can afford hiring a mentor or somebody else to do this job out of your pocket? How much the are paying you that you are AFRAID of losing a job just by talking about insane expectations?

Lose this job. Your boss have no ability to evaluate your skills, he cannot realisticly estimate time needed to do all your task AND (and this is a setting for failure) he have unmeetable expectations (unmeetable by you).

With the taks you are doing you should realise how important is well done page. And you know you cannot do it. You are aware you cannot meet your own requirments to do things you're already doing.

Trust me, with the skills you listed you will be better looking for other job.

  • 1
    We cannot be telling people what to do, as unless you are OP, you cannot make decisions for them.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 8:14

Wow ok. So many things are messed up here.

It's not something I would usually start with but: polish up that resume before continuing reading this answer and apply for any other SEO/marketing position in your area.

Once you've done that, realize that you were hired for the job you signed for. Not a whim of your boss to do something else, that is not what was agreed to in your contract. (Thus not what you're paid for, though you could send him an Invoice for work outside of contract I suppose - quick way to really be fired I'm assuming).

already doing all the SEO, Web Analytics, Business Development, Data Management, 3rd Party Management, and Paid Marketing.

The fact you're already doing all of this and on top of that have managed to learn enough about programming to at least fix a few bugs in a system/website makes you a skilled employee. One capable of learning on the job, do what's needed. Your current boss is not recognizing this, but you'd make a very valuable employee with your mindset of learning all the things for the job and then some related things.

Your SE profiles show an affinity with Magento. Even on SO Jobs you should be able to find a few companies offering remote work in that.

Sorry, this turned into career advice / opinion. But as a web developer myself, I've seen this happen and have had this happen. The only option is to leave. Even if you manage to get a concession on something now, the next thing is only 2 weeks away of becoming an issue.

I have considered trying to find a web development mentor and paying him/her to coach/help/guide me or potentially face unemployment. And as insane as it sounds I have even considered just hiring a freelancer and paying him/her myself to do the work just to get my boss off my back and not have to worry about loosing my job or working 80+ hours a week under even more stress.

Yea... don't do this. If your boss wants you to learn a skill, he/she has to pay for it. It's that simple. You were hired as you were to do a agreed upon tasks. This is precisely why people want education with their jobs, paid for by their employers.

Hope this answer can help you out.

Final kick in the nuts: today it's learning a bit of web dev to fix more bugs. Tomorrow you're doing devOps because AWS sign-ups grant 2 weeks free server hosting. GL & HF.


Your boss is changing your job description without giving you consideration. You could tell him that you refuse if he refuses to renegotiate your wage. If he fires you, you would be entitled to UI since he changed your JD unilaterally and without giving consideration to your side of the employment contract. There has to be consideration to both parties in any contract or contract change.

He would still be out of worker performing their current duties and he would have to hire someone to replace you.

And if you can't perform the new duties, you could argue that your boss constructively dismissed you.

  • 1
    What's with the negativity to learning new things? Would you rather be sacked than learn to do something different?
    – Simon B
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 15:17
  • @SimonB 1) Those aren't the only options and 2) It's not unreasonable for the OP to not want to work 80 hours a week.
    – BSMP
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 18:39
  • ... and let's just give "the Boss" the full benefit of the doubt here! Full disclosure: "I am one!" Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 19:28
  • @SimonB I'm very good at doing A, and I have a colleague who is very good at doing B. That's why each of us was hired. I wouldn't be any good at B, and he wouldn't be any good at A. If I had to do B, I wouldn't be worth my salary for a long, long time. And I need to learn new things all the time to just stay where I am doing A, so if I did B for a year, learning B until I'm reasonably good, my employability would have suffered significantly because I'm not at the top doing A anymore, and there are plenty of people better at doing B.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 22:16
  1. Learn to do web development. There are plenty of learning resources on the internet that don't involve paying a one-on-one mentor or just paying someone else to do the job. And if you pay someone else to do the development, you're also going to have to pay them for ongoing support.
  2. Manage your boss' expectations. Given time, you should be able to learn what you need. But until then, your productivity will be low. Your boss needs to know that. Maybe they will get somebody else to do the job instead.
  • ... but, "fully leverage your boss's support in this!" He's got resources. He's been around this block before. Your boss is on your side. (Believe it or not!) Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 19:30

"Quite honestly, I think you're a bit too paranoid!" Your boss might be trying to give you an opportunity. He actually thinks that you can do it – or, learn to do it. Don't let your thoughts be distracted by the fear that "you might be about to be laid off," especially when it now seems to me that he has particular confidence in you.

So, here's what to do right now: "Talk(!) with your boss!" Describe your concerns, express yourself however you need to, describe any support and assistance that you think you need, and so on and on.

So to speak, "think of this as a business proposition." First of all, say that you really are willing to "take a sip from a fire-hose" and try your best to do a thing that you've never before done. Then, spell out in great detail what you think you need, and what your concerns are. Don't presume that you have to get that support "on the sly" ... "this was his idea, after all!"

Also – don't try to put yourself into his head and 'presume' that you actually know why he's asking you to do this. You really don't know.

Finally – if your boss didn't actually have faith and understanding in your own abilities, you wouldn't still be here!

Therefore – instead of "stewing" in fear of actually opening up a conversation with someone whom you realize is your superior, "throw open the gates!" Your boss has a business requirement - articulated by his boss – that "needs to get done!" Work together now, to do it. Get busy. Satisfy his(!) superiors – "the Business.™"

(P.S.: "If, at any point in these now-too-many years, I had actually let myself be stopped by the thought that "I've never done this before," I wouldn't have done anything, and my career would have been considerably more boring than it has turned out to be!)


I think you should ask yourself what you want to do, what do you see as your future career?

If you want to be a web developer, then here is a chance to learn web development on the job and get paid for it. The fact that you have done a variety of tasks indicates to me that you are capable of doing it, if you want to. I would echo other replies of making sure that your manager understands you will take time to pick up the skills and that you will need training (tell your manager it will pay for itself many times over because you will be much more effective if he resists).

If you do not want to be a web developer, but want to continue with your present type of work, then it is more difficult. I'm afraid that as I see it there are only three options:

  1. Threaten to resign if they make you do it. (Make sure you have enough money to live on while you find new work, which could be difficult in the current economy)
  2. Work as a web developer while you look for a new job.
  3. Have a job you do not enjoy for the rest of your life.

I was faced with a similar situation and took option (2).

Ironically the situation changed while I was looking for a new job and I was asked to go back to what I was doing before. But by then it was too late, if the management had forced me to go down I path I had told then I did not want to do once, what was to stop then asking me to do an even worse job in the future?.

While I was looking for a new job I just used the period as training, and it did not stress me as I knew as I was leaving, so I quite enjoyed doing something different for a couple of months!

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