Front-End Development Career Track

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portrait of Meg Whitenton
by Meg Whitenton

Published September 21, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
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Front-end developers are responsible for ensuring that websites are accessible and attractive. To do this, these professionals use code to make sites as engaging and streamlined as possible. Also called client-side developers, front-end developers can adapt their skills to broad applications in mobile technology and UX/UI design. Front-end developers are also adept at using the world's most popular programming language, JavaScript, along with HTML, CSS, and Python.

Programmers with a creative streak and a knack for problem-solving are ideal candidates for front-end development careers. Professionals with these and other technical skills can earn annual salaries of more than $77,000 and enjoy long-term job growth as front-end developers.

What Is Front-End Development?

Front-end development is the process of creating the user-facing side of a website, including the layout, graphics, and menus. Front-end developers are responsible for designing the surface-level elements that affect how users navigate and interact with web pages online.

Any business or organization with a website must consider its front-end development needs. Developers can customize features such as the color scheme and font to fit each client's needs. Functions may also include drop-down menus, slider windows, and animated graphics.

Web developers, including front-end developers, specialize primarily in computer systems design and related services. However, many also work in publishing, management, scientific, and technical consulting services, as well as advertising, public relations, and related services.

What Do Front-End Developers Do?

Front-end developers engineer the client-side experience of a website that users see and interact with. They must work with back-end developers, who perform the behind-the-scenes functions that aren't visible to users, such as data storage, security, and application integration.

Front-End Development Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster-than-average job growth of 13% for developers, including front-end specialists, from 2021-2031.

Salaries for entry-level web developers can start at around $77,000. However, extensive experience can lead to salaries of about $100,000 for senior executive or engineering management roles.

California tops the list of highest-paying states for front-end developers, according to Payscale. Multiple cities in the state pay salaries above the national average for this occupation. Other states offering higher-than-average salaries for front-end developers include New York, Washington, Texas, and Florida.

Front-End Development Career Paths

Mobile App Developer

Mobile app developers specialize in programming for devices like smartphones, tablets, and portable gaming machines. Since they require skills in both front-end and back-end development, mobile app developers often pursue full-stack development through a bootcamp or choose a degree program with a mobile app concentration.

Mobile app developers commonly learn C++, HTML, and Java. They may earn professional certification in this specialization. Problem-solving and troubleshooting skills can especially benefit mobile app developers.

Average Annual Salary (2022): $76,390


Web Developer

Web developers design and build websites for all types of organizations. They may learn full-stack web development or focus on front- or back-end skills. Most employers prefer web developers to possess a bachelor's degree in computer science or web or software development. Some candidates complete a coding bootcamp instead.

Web developers typically learn multiple popular programming languages. They may specialize in a particular type of development, such as mobile app, UX/UI design, or cloud computing. Beginner developers often start with front-end development.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $78,300

What Kind of Skills Do Front-End Developers Need?

HTML and CSS

HTML and CSS coding languages are enduringly popular among front-end developers to make websites functional. HTML (hypertext markup language) is used for creating and publishing document structures on a web page, while CSS enhances the format and style of the documents.


Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps drive organic traffic to a website. Front-end developers must include SEO-friendly elements in their designs for a site to rank on a search engine results page. In other words, SEO is critical for users to actually see the web pages a front-end developer designs.


JavaScript

JavaScript is commonly used in combination with HTML and CSS to enhance the functionality of these programming languages. Long-favored among developers for its versatility and adaptability, JavaScript enables front-end developers to add dynamic page updates and interactive user-response features to their designs.

Some back-end developers even learn a version of JavaScript through Node.js.


DOM Manipulation

DOM, or document object model, manipulation is an HTML interface that indicates how a browser should render the content on a web page. DOM manipulation enables front-end developers to create dynamic data updates and edit page layouts without needing to refresh the page.

DOM manipulation is often introduced alongside common languages like JavaScript or HTML.


Problem-Solving

Professionals with excellent problem-solving skills are well-suited to careers in front-end development. The best programmers tend to excel at solving non-tech-related issues and coding problems. Front-end developers must regularly identify and fix bugs and anticipate solutions through creative problem-solving.

Is a Career in Front-End Development Worth It?

This career suits techie programmers with a creative flair. Front-end developers possess the tools to design and beautify content in the virtual realm. Aspiring professionals at any level can learn front-end development, which can lead to lucrative careers in popular specializations like mobile apps, cloud computing, or UX/UI design.

Indeed ranks companies like Apple, Accenture, and UpWork among the top employers for front-end developers in the United States. Payscale lists several Silicon Valley locations, including San Francisco and Seattle, as among the highest-paying cities for front-end developers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Front-End Development Careers

Does front-end or back-end earn more money?

While salaries for front-end and back-end developers vary based on factors like experience, education, and location, back-end developers tend to earn slightly more. The average annual back-end developer salary exceeded $88,400 in 2022, while front-end developers earned nearly $78,100, according to Payscale.

Back-end developers require complex and specific skills to ensure the functionality of a website and bring a front-end developer's vision to life. They may face less competition than front-end developers as job seekers.

Are front-end developers in high demand?

Yes. Front-end developers remain in high demand among tech specialists and IT professionals for multiple consecutive years. The BLS projects positions for web developers and digital designers — including front-end developers — to grow 23% between 2021 and 2031.

Aspiring and existing front-end developers can further enhance job prospects by upskilling in a specialization like mobile app development or incorporating full-stack or DevOps skills. Front-end developers with more than 10 years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree may qualify for the most lucrative senior development roles.

How do I become a front-end developer?

Most front-end development careers require a bachelor's degree. Aspiring front-end developers commonly major in computer science, web development, or software development. Essential skills for front-end developers include JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and potentially a graphic design app like Adobe Illustrator.

Others may choose to enroll in a coding bootcamp to launch their front-end development career, learn new skills, or switch careers. Experience is also crucial to the career of a front-end developer. Students may qualify for junior developer jobs to gain experience. Some employers prefer candidates with professional certification, such as Java development certified professional or certified web professional-web developer.


Feature Image: Vesnaandjic / E+ / Getty Images

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