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What Is Front End Development?

What is a Front End Developer?

A front end developer builds the front end, also known as the client-side, of a website or web application. They’re in charge of coding the interactive visual elements that users interact within a web application. Front end developers work with back end developers, designers, and managers to build, maintain, and troubleshoot websites. 

What does a Front End Developer do?

Front end developers create the pages we see across the internet. Each webpage is made up of multiple layers – structural, data, design, content, and function. The data and design portions of a website are created by back end developers and web designers.

To create the client-side layers, front end developers integrate markup languages, like HTML and CSS, and write scripts and implement frameworks, usually with JavaScript or Python, to create the environment that users will experience. They knit together the design and technology.

Front end developers can work for large organizations, small startups, or on their own as a freelancer. This means that each front end developer probably does things a bit differently from the next. 

As a Front End Developer, you’ll probably be responsible for:

  • Implementing user experience and user interface design
  • Coding up a design comprehensive with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Maintaining website and web applications
  • Creating tools to enhance how a site interacts with a browser
  • Implementing responsive design for mobile devices
  • Managing the development workflow
  • Implementing SEO best practices
  • Testing the site for usability
  • Fixing bugs
  • Researching and choosing the best technology for the site

What skills does a Front End Developer need?

On any website, you can see the work of a front end developer everywhere. They built that navigation bar, they determined the layout of the page you’re looking at, and they made it responsive to fit your phone’s screen. 

All of this functionality requires front end developers to have strong technical skills, but front end developers also need soft skills to succeed. They usually work on a team with back end developers, designers, and other people within an organization, which means they’ll need to be able to both understand the needs of their teammates and be able to articulate their own ideas. 

Another major soft skill for Front End Developers and any developer is problem-solving. Front End Developers are constantly debugging their code and working with their team to make an idea come to life. Knowing to find the right answers with patience is a major asset for a developer. 

Front end developers should have these technical skills: 

  • JavaScript proficiency – JavaScript makes web pages interactive and dynamic. It is the most important tool for front end developers. 
  • Object-Oriented Programming – the method of structuring a program by grouping related properties and behaviors into individual objects
  • HTML and CSS – HTML provides the structure and content of a webpage while CSS styles it.
  • Working with APIs – Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provide developers with prewritten chunks of code that act as a liaison between two technologies that don’t usually work together.
  • Using SQL – SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It’s used to communicate with servers where data is stored. 
  • Version control with Git – Git is the most popular version control software in the world. 
  • Relevant JavaScript frameworks and libraries
    • Node.js – Node.js allows web developers to develop a server-side component using JavaScript.
    • Rhino – a JavaScript interpreter written in Java designed to make it easy to use Java with JavaScript through APIs. 
    • React – is used for building user interfaces. It was developed to build the front end of a website. It’s the most popular framework of its kind.
    • React Native – allows developers to create mobile apps with JavaScript 

Job Outlook for Front End Developers

Front end developers have some of the most sought after tech skills. They practically power the internet as we know it and nearly every industry is looking for Front End Developers. There is more demand for these skills than trained candidates for hire. 

Over 70% of companies worldwide are hiring JavaScript developers and that global demand far outweighs the number of skilled front-end developer candidates who are seeking employment. Over 48% of employers globally have job openings for JavaScript developers while only 42% of developers are proficient in JavaScript at an entry-level.

This supply and demand gap makes for an abundance of opportunities for front end developers. Not only is this a high-salary position, but it also offers a uniquely versatile stepping stone to a long and strong career. 

Becoming a Front End Developer is a start to a lucrative, nearly limitless career. Front End Developers in the U.S. make $110,490 per year on average with potential for cash bonuses annually. 

There’s no shortage of upward mobility options for front end developers. By learning new languages and methodologies throughout your career, you could upskill into a full-stack developer, back end developer, or data science position. 

You could move up through tech projects or product management. You might even make your way into a chief technology officer position with the right training throughout your career. 

There are full-time, part-time, remote, in-person, and freelance job opportunities for front end developers. You’re sure to find a position at a large organization, small startup, or remote team that fits your lifestyle. 

Almost every industry is hiring JavaScript developers right now. Front end developers can work for tech companies, streaming platforms, social media sites, retail or e-commerce corporations, travel, and leisure services, sharing commerce apps, productivity tools, nonprofits, tech startups, the government, and more. The variety of options is practically endless. 

Do I need to have a certificate or a degree to land a front end developer job?

You do not need a degree or certificate to get your first job as a front end developer. It is true, however, that many front end developers have a four-year degree in computer science or a coding bootcamp education.

The most important qualification for front end developers is actually their skill level. Demonstrable proficiency in JavaScript, relevant frameworks, and the related skills that come along with becoming a front end developer are more important factors to employers than education level.

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