August 17, 2021 Last updated August 17th, 2021 3,703 Reads share

All You Need to Know About Becoming a Front End Developer in 2021

front end developer salaryImage Credit: Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

We live in the era of digital transformation, and front end developer has become one of the most in-demand jobs, with over 113,000 openings in the last year alone. If you love coding, are meticulous, and have excellent problem-solving skills, it could be the right job for you. But how exactly can you become a front end developer in 2021? 

What does a front end developer do?

We can categorize web development into back end development, which includes everything that the user cannot see (also known as the “server-side”), and front end development, which refers to the visual elements of a website. A front end developer brings the website design to life, from buttons and images to page navigation to content organization, making sure that the website looks amazing on screens of all sizes and that it has what it takes to convert visitors to paying customers.

Front end developer salary

Although there are salary variations depending on factors such as country or region, being a front end developer is generally a well-paid job, above the US average. Also, contrary to popular belief, there are no dramatic differences between front end and back end development jobs.

In the US, the front end developer salary starts at around $60,000/year for a junior and $106,000 for a senior, with the median salary being somewhere around $87,000. However, your employer’s location can greatly influence how much you make. For example, a median front end developer who works for a company in San Francisco, which is one of the biggest tech hubs in the world, can make as much as $115,000/year.

Role & responsibilities of a front end developer

As previously mentioned, a front end developer’s role is to make sure the website looks great and that users can interact with it seamlessly – and that can include everything from implementing design concepts to fixing UX bugs.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Using a variety of programming languages to bring design concepts to life
  • Optimize the user experience
  • Making sure the website looks and works well regardless of the device it is accessed from
  • Fixing bugs and usability issues
  • Collaborate with back end developers to make sure the website is up to standard

What skills do you need to become a front end developer?

Although having a degree in computer science, graphic design, or engineering can be an advantage, studies show that only around 67% of front end developers in the US have a BA, and 14% have an MA. You can become a self-thought front web developer by taking online courses but, regardless of your academic background, you will need to prove your mastery with these skills:  

  • Basic programming languages: HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • JavaScript Frameworks (React, Vue.js, Angular, Backbone, Ember) – knowing how to work in one of these frameworks can boost your salary by a few thousand. However, keep in mind that your employer may prefer one framework over another.
  • Responsive web design and cross-browser development
  • Being familiar with content management systems and e-commerce platforms
  • Graphic design applications
  • Basic SEO knowledge
  • Testing and debugging

Apart from these general technical skills, front end development also requires soft skills: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Good communication (you will often have to work directly with clients)
  • Teamwork – both with back-end developers and other team members
  • Attention to detail

9 steps to become a front end developer?

Some people become front end developers straight after graduating high school. Others have tried it after retirement. There is no age limit, and with hard work and determination, anyone can become a skilled (and well-paid!) frond end developer:

  1. Consider getting a degree in computer science, web design, or engineering, which will help you familiarize yourself with basic programming notions.
  2. Alternatively, take an online course to learn programming languages and frameworks
  3. Practice as much as you can. You might not be able to find a job immediately, but you can gain experience by building personal projects.
  4. Invest in continuous learning. Web development is a dynamic field. Even though you got a BA in IT 15 years ago, new technologies have come out in the meantime, and the best practices have changed. Polish your skills to remain relevant!
  5. Challenge yourself. Always try to learn new things, accept new challenges, and expand your skillset.
  6. Familiarize yourself with as many front-end development tools and frameworks as possible to boost your chances of finding a job.
  7. Build a portfolio of your best works.  
  8. Join LinkedIn groups to build connections.
  9. Apply for as many jobs as possible, both on freelancing websites and recruitment platforms.

What’s the outlook for front end developers?

According to LinkedIn data, software engineering jobs were one of the most in-demand jobs in 2021, the outlook is extremely promising. Before the pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the demand for web development jobs would increase by 13% by 2028. However, the pandemic fast-tracked digital transformation, and now more and more businesses are looking to establish a digital presence. The prospects of getting a job as a front-end web developer are extremely positive, and the financial outlook is also optimistic. Besides, the rise in remote work means that you don’t have to limit yourself to local jobs!

Become a front end developer

All in all, being a front end developer can be a lucrative career path in 2021 and beyond. However, keep in mind that standards are high and, if you want to succeed in this field, you have to constantly hone your skills and stay up to date with the latest practices.

Daria Herasymova

Daria Herasymova

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