All You Need to Know About Becoming a Front End Developer

It seems like everyone is online these days. The Internet not only facilitates interpersonal communication between users (e.g., email, social media); it’s also a much relied-upon source for all kinds of information. And a convenient means of paying bills and making purchases.

Consumers, organizations, and businesses alike have been quick to pick up on and take advantage of the conveniences of the Internet and mobile computing, as evidenced by the growing number of new websites. New users mean more demands, which translates into a need for more sites and apps.

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Every single online application has that part with which users interact. When you log onto a website, you are greeted by the welcome page, the menu, site map, and other items that facilitate navigation and utility. All of those items fall under the collective term of “front end.” The front end includes the user interface, which is the part of the website or app designed for the consumer’s use.  

Ever stop and wonder who creates those front ends? That would be the appropriately named front end developer, and that could be YOU someday. Intrigued? Read on.

What Is a Front End Developer, Anyway?

A front end developer, also known as a front end web developer, is a professional responsible for the design and implementation of the interface. The users require this interface so that they can access the application in question. A web designer is a professional who creates a website’s appearance and design. And the front end developer makes sure that the design works online by using coding languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

We should pause for a moment to clarify the differences between a front end developer, back end developer, and full stack developer. Let’s put this in simple terms: a front end developer is responsible for the parts of an app or website that users see and interact. A back end developer takes care of the “behind the scenes” matters such as infrastructure and databases. The full-stack developer is a mixture of both, a jack of all trades that can handle the whole design process from the beginning to the end.

Note that there’s a trend these days where the line between the front end and back end development has been blurring. Primarily since many of the tasks that fall in the domain of back end developers are being increasingly handled by the front end developers.

As a final aside, there are also full-stack engineers. They are full-stack developers who have project management experience, adept at disciplines in the configuring, managing, and maintaining computer networks and systems.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Front End Developer?

If you're wondering what a front end developer does, he must:

  • Decide web page design and structure
  • Develop features to enhance the users’ experience
  • Striking a balance between functional and aesthetic design.
  • Make sure the web design is smartphone-capable
  • Build reusable code for future use
  • Make sure web pages are optimized for best speed and scalability
  • Employ a diverse selection of markup languages to design web pages
  • Keep the brand consist throughout the whole design

What’s a Front End Developer Salary?

According to Glassdoor, an experienced front end developer in the United States can expect to take home over $100,000 per year. A “regular” front-end developer can earn an average salary of $70,000 a year, according to Payscale.

A junior front end developer (more about them below) earns about $49,000 on average, but that’s hardly surprising, considering they need less experience and have fewer responsibilities.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Front End Developer?

Since the front end developer is the rock star of website/app development, they need to have a well-stocked personal toolbox. So a front end developer skills include the need to:

  • Have a degree in Computer Science or similar field
  • Be proficient in coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery
  • Understand server-side CSS.
  • Be experienced with graphic design applications (e.g., Adobe Illustrator)
  • Understand the principles of SEO
  • Have excellent skills in problem-solving
  • Be proficient in communicating with team members, bosses, and clients
  • Have good interpersonal skills

Ok, so How Exactly Does One Become a Front End Developer?

Don’t let the above list intimidate you. You can become a front end developer if you follow these simple steps.

  • Learn CSS, JavaScript and HTML. These coding languages are the essential building blocks for web and app development, so you need to learn them. Fortunately, it’s not a very difficult undertaking. There are lots of online resources available out there that can help further your education in the coding languages. For extra credit, familiarize yourself with jQuery and JavaScript Frameworks.
  • Get informed. That means reading articles and books about front end development. By getting an understanding of how things work on a website, you can make better sense of the various coding languages. If you want to round out your learning experience, check out some videos on YouTube.
  • Practice! Here’s where the old saying “practice makes perfect” comes into play. Start small by using your newfound knowledge to build small parts of a user interface, then expand slowly. If you end up making mistakes, don’t worry. Sometimes we learn more from our errors than we do from a flawless performance.
  • Learn command line. When pursuing a profession that has anything to do with web design, it’s a good idea to get at least a basic grasp of concepts like displaying files and filesystem navigation. On a related note, you should familiarize yourself with the properties of the Shell, which is the means of accessing operating system functions via a text interface.
  • Learn version control. One of the hazards of coding is having it break when you change one small thing. Even after you try to rectify the problem, things are never quite the same again. That’s why a good front end developer learns version control. There is an impressive selection of version control systems to choose from, but if you want to go with the most popular, go with Git.
  • Check out some tutorials, tools, and open-source projects. Resources such as freeCodeCamp, Codecademy, Bootstrap, Vue.js, CSS Layout, and Front-end Checklist exists to help you master the skills of front end development without having to lay out any money for the opportunity. These tools are easily accessible online and can be a much-needed boost to your front end development education.
  • Take a front end development course. There’s nothing like learning from experienced people in a structured environment. You could do this by physically attending classes (which can be a drain on your free time), or taking an online course. There are many appropriate courses out there, but later on, we’ll show you an excellent and well-tested option that would perfectly fit your needs!
  • Become a junior front end developer. Sometimes, the best way to learn new skills is to work under more knowledgeable people, and that’s what a junior front end developer does. Of course, the pay is less, but you need fewer qualifications. Besides, you’ll be learning from more experienced people, and that’s always a plus!
Complete Web Development Course consists of an introduction to HTML, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, and more enabling you to be a developer. Enroll now!

What’s the Future for Front End Developers?

Overall, the future looks bright for anyone who wants to become a front end developer. The latest studies predict that by 2020, there will be a deficit of approximately 1 million developers in the United States alone. The rest of the world will have it even worse, according to similar studies.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web developer employment in the US is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. The rate is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Although these numbers seem incredible, if you pause and consider the times, it’s not so surprising. Increased Internet usage, especially in the mobile field, means a greater need for user interfaces, which in turn means more front end developer jobs. Web development is a field whose potential is tied closely to the Internet’s popularity, and the latter is surging with no signs of letting up. If you want to go where the jobs are, then look no further.

Want to Become a Web Development Master?

Simplilearn offers a program that helps you sharpen your web development skills, which, of course, includes front end development. The Full Stack Web Developer - MEAN Stack Master's Program will teach you about the front and back-end JavaScript technologies of the most popular MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node.js) Stack. You will master the skills needed to create applications from the ground up and start your journey down one of the most rewarding and rapidly growing web development career paths.

The five-course program gives you access to over 90 live instructor-led online classes, industry-based projects to help refine your new front end developer skills, and of course, a Masters certification upon successful completion. It’s the best way to learn front end development.

You can also check out the Complete Web Development Certification Course offered by Simplilearn today and create a more rewarding, secure future for yourself as an always in-demand front end engineer!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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