Front-End vs. Back-End Development

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by Tessa Cooper
Published on November 23, 2021
Reviewed by Brian Nichols

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Front-End vs. Back-End Development

Thanks to web developers, the information on digital platforms is accessible for the average user. Web developers create websites, web applications, and smartphone apps using code.

Front-end developers create front-facing content — that is, the site and app interfaces that people see. They make layouts with user experience in mind. Back-end developers work on the back-end, or the side of a site that users do not interact with. These professionals use different coding languages.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects positions for web developers will increase by 13% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average growth rate across all occupations. So, now marks an ideal time to pursue this career. In this guide, we discuss front-end vs. back-end web development, including job responsibilities and salary.

What Does a Front-End Developer Do?

These professionals oversee the public interfaces of web pages and apps. Front-end developers build sites, but they also enhance existing pages. They work with web designers to create a positive user experience.

What Languages Do Front-End Developers Work In?

Front-end developers use programming languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript to design websites. They primarily work in HTML to build webpages. Using CSS, they can add style to the site with colors and fonts, and JavaScript enables interactive elements. Front-end developers must also use frameworks and libraries like AngularJS, React.js, jQuery, and Sass.

What Skills Does a Front-End Developer Need?

Front-end developers must possess soft skills, like problem-solving, organization, and time management. They also need to pay strong attention to detail and work well on teams. Most importantly, front-end developers must have hard skills, including experience with programming, graphic design, and algorithm coding. Front-end developers can also benefit from possessing some SEO-optimization knowledge.

Are Front-End Developers Paid Well?

These developers usually earn competitive salaries. According to PayScale, front-end developers earned an average annual wage of $75,560 in November 2021. Entry-level front-end developers earned an average of $61,000 per year, while professionals with more than 20 years of experience earned $92,000.

What Does a Back-End Developer Do?

Back-end developers create and maintain servers and databases that help a website function. They construct and maintain a website's foundation and core application logic. Much of their work happens behind the scenes for a site.

What Languages Do Back-End Developers Work In?

These professionals primarily work in PHP, Python, Ruby, and Go. They also work with a server-side version of JavaScript. Most back-end developers specialize in one to two of these languages. Experienced back-end developers possess proficiency in several. However, back-end developers can practice debugging and website development using just one language in some cases.

What Skills Does a Back-End Developer Need?

Back-end developers need soft skills just like front-end developers. They also must work well independently without close supervision. However, this job requires collaboration with front-end developers, web designers, and graphic designers. Back-end developers need SEO knowledge and fluency in coding languages, as well. These professionals should also possess basic knowledge of front-end development.

Are Back-End Developers Paid Well?

According to PayScale, back-end developers earned an average annual salary of $83,170 in November 2021. Entry-level back-end developers earned an average income of $61,000 per year. Professionals with 10-19 years of experience earned $130,000 annually. Salary varies based on experience, employer, and location. For example, an entry-level back-end developer working for a start-up in the Midwest may earn less than $61,000 per year.

How Can I Become a Front or Back-End Developer?

The paths to becoming a front-end vs. back-end developer can be similar. Learning one coding language is a good place to start.

Many front- and back-end developers attend bootcamps rather than earning degrees. A coding bootcamp requires a smaller time commitment, but moves at a fast pace. For example, Coding Dojo's online software development bootcamp requires 23-35 hours per week and takes 16-32 weeks to finish. After completing a program, learners should put together a portfolio to show potential employers.

At BestColleges, we research coding bootcamps and rank them based on factors like price and graduate success rate.

What Jobs Can I Get as a Front-End or Back-End Developer?

Front-End Developer Jobs Back-End Developer Jobs
Front-End Web Developer Back-End Web Developer
Front-End Software Developer Back-End Software Developer
Front-End Engineer Back-End Engineer
UX Designer Back-End Engineer

Frequently Asked Questions About Front-End and Back-End Developers

Is front-end development harder than back-end development?

Opinions vary on whether front-end or back-end development is more challenging to learn. The difficulty level often depends on a person's unique skill set. For example, people with an artistic eye may find designing front-end web pages easy.

When professionals start learning coding languages, they may find both professions equally challenging. Aspiring developers should try out both types of coding languages.

Are front-end and back-end developers in demand?

The BLS projects jobs for web developers and designers will increase by 13% between 2020 and 2030. This is faster than the average projected growth rate of 8% across all occupations during this period. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected to experience a growth rate of 22% over the next decade.

What is a full-stack developer?

Full-stack developers work on both the back ends and front ends of sites. They know multiple types of coding languages. These professionals also know how to maintain databases and make basic design choices. Front-end and back-end developers may choose to become full-stack developers as they advance their careers.

Learn everything you need to know about coding bootcamp careers, from different career tracks to employment and salary outlooks. Explore our list of the top web development bootcamps offered online and in person, and learn more about coding career paths. Learn everything you need to know about coding bootcamps from what they are to the career opportunities they lead to.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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