How to Become a Front End Web Developer

Modis Posted 17 January 2019

Becoming a Front End Web Developer Overview

Please raise your hand if you've ever felt disappointment, frustration, or stress as you searched for great tech employment opportunities. You spend endless hours each day scouring the internet trying to unearth promising IT jobs.

Well, there's good news: looking for a better job opportunity doesn't have to be that daunting. With the right resources at your disposal, you could easily land the perfect position.

That's why we put together this guide - to help you learn exactly what it takes to become a Front End Web Developer.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, employment of web developers – including Front End Web Developers – is expected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2024, a significantly higher projection than most other occupations. This demand is driven in part by the popularity of mobile devices and eCommerce. A review of well-known job boards provides further evidence of its popularity, with many promoting thousands of Front End Web Developer jobs.

As of December 2018, here at Modis alone we have more than 1600 Front End Web Developer job openings nationwide. The Modis 2019 Salary Guide for Technology & Engineering reports a median base salary for Front End Web Developers is $85,259. Developers with low experience started around $63,500 while those with high experience reporting earning over $114,000 per year.

Front End Developer Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “The median annual wage for web developers was $67,990 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $122,320."

Front end web development -- sometimes referred to as client-side development -- is the practice of developing HTML, CSS and JavaScript for a website or web application that allows users to see and interact with them directly. Sometimes the role is also referred to as Front-End Engineer, Front-End Software Engineer, Front-End Web Developer, Client-End Developer, or Front-End Coder.

Front End Developers are responsible for the technical aspects of a website as well as its look. This means developers often have graphic design knowledge in addition to programming skills. While some developers deal with all facets of a website's construction, other developers choose to specialize in a particular area. For example, in addition to front end web developers, you also have back-end web developers and webmasters.

Ready to learn more? Let's dive in.

front end web developer

What is a Front End Web Developer?

So, what does a Front End Developer do?

In a nutshell, the core function of a Front End Web Developer is to design and create websites. They may also oversee the website's technical aspects, like performance and capacity.

Front End Web Developers are ultimately responsible for how a website or web app looks. They create the website's layout and integrate apps, graphics, audio, video, and other content. They also write web design programs in various computer languages like XML, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

After reviewing current Front End Developer job descriptions, here are a few examples of popular roles and responsibilities of a Front End Developer:

  • Developing front end code for customer use in accessing web applications using an array of front-end technologies
  • Integrate front-end interfaces with back-end Ruby on Rails API
  • Write clean and intuitive interface with reliable and scalable code
  • Design and code with the user in mind, prototype interface solutions, and run user tests
  • Develop UI/UX for web applications on multiple platforms including web based and mobile systems
  • Testing the site for usability and fixing any bugs

One of the key aspects of the Front End Web Developer role, and perhaps the most challenging, is the ability to be creative and detail-oriented while maintaining a focus on delivering a world-class customer experience. Here are some examples of the skills required to be a successful Front End Web Developer:

  • Concentration -- A large part of the role is sitting at a computer and writing code for websites and web apps. Since most web developers work full time, you'll need to focus for long periods of time.
  • Creativity -- Because front end web developers are responsible for the appearance of the website, you'll need to bring imagination and innovation to bear to make the site appealing to visitors.
  • Detail oriented -- Since a small error in coding can crash an entire website, you'll need to have a keen eye for detail.
  • Communication -- You'll have to collaborate with a team to plan and develop new features so having a good attitude and the written and verbal communication skills required to share ideas will help you help the team meet their goals.
  • Continuously learning -- In addition to honing your graphic design chops and learning programming languages, you may need to understand multimedia publishing tools. Get used to the idea of keeping up with new tools and computer languages because it's important for developers to be up-to-date with software, industry knowledge, and language updates.

A Front End Developer can be employed in diverse work environments. This could include working in-house or in an agency role.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “About 1 in 6 web developers worked in the computer systems design and related services industry in 2016. About 1 in 6 were self-employed. Others worked in industries including publishing, management consulting, and advertising."

A career in front-end web development offers many perks such as being in high demand, sound job security, and good salaries. Because front-end development is a flexible field in terms of when and where work can get done there are lots of options for mobility. In fact, opportunities for freelance work tend to be as prevalent as full-time openings.

Now, you're probably wondering how to become a Front End Developer. The answer is simple. You need to develop the technical skills and you need to prepare for and find employment opportunities as a developer.

Requirements and Qualifications to Help You Stand Out

The education and training requirements for Front End Developer jobs vary by employer, specific role and industry. Some positions will require a relevant BA/BS degree, whereas other will be more concerned with your experience.

What should a Front End Web Developer know? Start by learning the essentials—HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language developers use to make web pages. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language used to present documents created with HTML. Both languages are indispensable to being a Front End Developer.

JavaScript (JS) is a programming language that determines the function of a web page. You'll also want to get familiar with libraries like jQuery, a collection of plugins and extensions that make it faster and easier to use JS on your website.

There are tons of tutorials available which will teach you Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

Here is a simple checklist of all essential skills needed for professional Front End Developers as well as some nice-to-have skills. You can use the checklist as a benchmark to assess your current learning curve.

Front End Developer Skills Checklist

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • jQuery
  • Version Control Software Platforms (e.g. Git, Subversion, Mercurial)
  • Responsive Design Principles
  • Testing/Debugging
  • Browser Developer Tools
  • Photoshop and Sketch and other visual design programs
  • WordPress, PHP
  • SASS (or other precompilers like Less or Stylus)
  • JavaScript frameworks (Angular, React, and Vue.js.)

Some of the resounding soft skill requirements we noted in current Front End Web openings including the following:

  • Strong interpersonal and teamwork skills
  • Good written and verbal communication skills and attention to detail
  • Good problem solving, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
  • Detail oriented with a commitment to quality and accuracy.
  • A desire to be a part of an Agile team - adapting to change and continuously learning.

Self Development, Networking, and Interviewing to that Dream Job

Are you ready to start setting your sights on your dream Front End Web Developer role? Here are some steps you can take to see to it you're putting your best foot forward towards landing the job.

  1. Prepare to crack the coding interview-- The coding test is an important component of the Front End Developer interview. Most employers will assesses your knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You'll take an online test where you solve common HTML/CSS and JavaScript coding problems. You can take a practice test online prior to your interview.
  2. Dive into some projects to build up your Front End Web Developer portfolio -- Don't just soak up web development knowledge. There are any number of front end developer projects you can work on to put your newfound skills to use. Build something -- a UI kit, a simple CSS tool, a responsive one page website, or simple web app -- and put it on your resume. This will be the beginning of your front end developer portfolio.
  3. Prepare for a Front End Web Developer interview -- Now that you've learned how to perform the duties of a Front End Developer, it's time to learn how to sell yourself to potential employers. You want to be able to share what you've learned and talk intelligently about web development. Here are some examples of potential Front End Developer interview questions:
  • What excites you about coding?
  • What is a recent technical challenge you experienced and how did you solve it?
  • Tell me about a recent issue you solved regarding front-end security.
  • What is your preferred development environment?
  • What resources do you use to learn about the latest in front end development and design?
  • How do you serve a page with content in multiple languages?
  • What is progressive rendering?
  • How would you approach fixing browser-specific rendering issues?
  • How do you organize your code?
  • What tools do you use to find performance bugs in your code?

These are just a few questions to show you what potential employers are looking for as they evaluate candidates.

Conclusion

After reading this guide, you've now learned:

  • Why the Front End Web Developer role is a great opportunity for professionals with an IT background
  • What a Front End Web Developer is and some of their core job functions
  • What experience you need in order to qualify for a Front End Web Developer role
  • Steps you can take toward getting ready for finding a job as a Front End Web Developer.

If what you've learned sounds exciting, take the first step towards landing your dream job today.

Click here to learn more about software development courses offered by Modis Academy in your area! 

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