Front-End Developer Career Path: Definition, Skills, and Outlook
Every day, millions of people benefit from the hard work that front-end developers do. From online stores and news outlets to company websites and online media platforms, front-end developers are the experts in software design who make sure these websites function seamlessly.
Tasked with building websites that are easy to use and that fulfill companies’ brand visions, front-end developers are technically skilled web engineers as well as collaborators and creative problem-solvers. Through programs that focus on practical skills, such as the technical careers programs offered by Revature, technology professionals have the opportunity to hone the critical thinking skills and strategies required to embark on a tech career path such as front-end developer and build a bright future in tech.
What Is a Front-End Developer?
From visual appeal to how intuitive a website is to use, what a front-end developer is tasked with involves the integration of design and technology to create user-friendly websites and online platforms. Their job is to create every detail of a website with the user in mind. By considering how users are likely to interact with a website, front-end developers make it as enjoyable as possible, encouraging users to engage with a website and invest their time or resources.
Tasked with both creating new programs and fixing bugs in preexisting ones, the work that front-end developers do can greatly affect their employers’ bottom lines. Details as simple as how quickly a website loads or functions can be a crucial driver for success; if a website takes too long, users are more likely to get frustrated and look elsewhere.
By working closely with employers to ensure that online platforms not only look the way they’re supposed to, but also function as they’re intended to — front-end developers can design both their company’s and their own success.
What Do Front-End Developers Do?
What front-end developers do involves balancing skills in information technology (IT), design, and workplace relations. Their job is to use technology to reflect the employer’s brand voice, ensuring that the ways in which a website looks, functions, and engages with users are aligned with the company’s primary goals and objectives.
Building a website or an online platform that’s tailored to an employer’s needs, however, can be challenging and requires a solid foundation in program coding and design. Successful front-end developers must be comfortable using various techniques and programming languages, including the following:
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- Photoshop (for design elements)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Through a combination of programming, design customization, and optimization, a front-end developer’s goal is to build a website that is attractive, engaging, and popular and that encourages customers to keep coming back.
Roles and Responsibilities
Designing websites that are both functional and engaging involves various day-to-day responsibilities for front-end developers. These tasks include the following:
- Website monitoring and testing. Ensuring that all elements of websites are working properly, updating them with improvements, or fixing any issues.
- Coordinating with companies. Adapting or optimizing content to align with an employer’s needs or objectives.
- Visual design or tool creation. Creating the visual elements or technological tools required to perform tasks or achieve an aesthetic.
- SEO optimization. Using techniques to ensure that websites are as visible as possible on search engines; putting strategies into place to drive traffic to a website.
What a front-end developer is focused on from one project to the next involves a balancing act of creativity, technological design, and organization. By building knowledge and technical skills, developers can establish a foundation to balance their many responsibilities and guide both their own careers and their companies’ missions in the right direction.
How to Become a Front-End Developer
Individuals can take many different avenues when pursuing the front-end developer career path or a similar tech career. While some choose the traditional route of earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science, this can take at least four years plus a significant financial investment. In other cases, technology professionals opt for an associate degree in their chosen specialty, focusing on a specific set of skills or area of software development.
For many, however, taking time away from the workforce is not ideal, so they choose instead to invest in a program that combines work and study, allowing them to both gain work experience and learn the technological foundations required to move directly into an IT career.
Through a combination of education and work experience, technology professionals can advance from entry-level front-end developer to senior-level developer. This allows them to pursue coveted roles and higher salaries.
Front-End Developer Education
The fundamentals of education for individuals looking to begin a tech career such as front-end developer involve foundational and theoretical knowledge of how computers and web design work, as well as the technical skills to create design elements. Whether through a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, a certificate, or an immersive working program, front-end developers must learn the following:
- Use and design of web tools
- Website organization and structuring through information architecture that prioritizes user experience
- Application development and optimization
While some front-end developers choose to earn a bachelor’s degree before entering the field, the most important factor is that candidates have a strong grasp of programming language. With many professionals entering the field from other industries or areas of technology, learning the tools and strategies to become a front-end developer can open doors.
Front-End Developer Salary and Outlook
The work that front-end developers do has the potential to improve the bottom line of companies and positively impact the lives of a platform’s users. However, gaining the skills and experience to work on consequential projects takes practice and a thorough knowledge of what is required to build or maintain a valuable online platform. With the right training and hands-on experience, front-end developers have the potential to work with well-known or influential organizations, increasing their desirability and salary.
Salary and Outlook
According to Payscale, the approximate average annual salary for experienced front-end developers was about $78,000 as of July 2022. As with many occupations, prospective developers need to understand that what front-end developers make over the course of their career and the opportunities available to web professionals often depend on additional work experience and education, and typically fluctuate in relation to job location and company-specific compensation.
Worth considering, however, is that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the future outlook of the front-end developer career path appears to be very promising. Employment of web developers and digital designers is predicted to rise by 13% between 2020 and 2030, far above the national average for all occupations.
Front-End Developer Key Skills
Achieving success as a front-end developer relies on a versatile set of both hard technical coding skills and soft communication and organization skills. In conjunction with a thorough knowledge of programming languages, developers must be able to balance the employer-facing portion of their job with the programming aspects, building strong work relationships and ensuring that projects are finished both on time and with a clear brand vision in mind.
Relevant to both the technical aspects of website design as well as workplace relations, what front-end developers do can become a careful balancing act. The following are some of the key skills required of front-end developers to ensure the efficient and successful delivery and maintenance of online projects:
- Detail-oriented. One of the most crucial parts of coding is a meticulous attention to detail. A single wrong keystroke can be the difference between a functional and a defective project, making accuracy vital to web development.
- Problem-solving. Throughout the creation and maintenance of an online platform, developers will run into glitches, programming challenges, and elements that need updating. With strong problem-solving skills, developers are able to address these issues efficiently and quickly.
- Creativity. Designing a website that follows a design vision requires creativity and an eye for aesthetics. The more enjoyable and visually appealing a website is to use, the more likely customers are to return to it or invest more time into using it.
- Organization. Multiple facets and tasks must be completed to create a well-rounded and fully functional website. Ensuring that all those individual pieces are both accounted for and given due attention requires strong organizational skills.
- Communication. Front-end developers often work in a team, in conjunction with other employees. To realize an employer’s vision, developers should have clear and effective communication, manage expectations of what is possible, and provide an accurate final product.
- Time management. Many projects must be completed within both a deadline and a development budget. Managing both factors requires front-end developers to use their time and resources wisely, ensuring that companies do not incur technical debt throughout the development process.
Front-End Developer Career Paths
Individuals have various options available to them when considering front-end developer career paths. In many cases, these career paths focus on a segment of the web development process, enabling developers to become proficient in specific processes or design aspects. This specialization can allow professionals to invest in the area of web development that they enjoy the most, building sought-after skills and experience that can allow them to compete for coveted senior-level roles and take control of their careers.
These concentrations include the following:
For front-end developers who are interested in focusing on creating websites from start to finish, the coding skills that front-end developers acquire can allow them to play a valuable role in a design company or pursue freelance design work.
What front-end developers do often involves tailoring solutions for their employers by creating applications that are specific to their needs. Developers who are passionate about application development can specialize in the design, monitoring, and improvement of applications.
Digital Media Design
Some people are more artistically inclined than others. While all web developers must have a design instinct to make an online platform visually appealing, some front-end developers specialize in creating the aesthetic elements of web design, creating visually appealing applications, products, and designs for websites and other developers.
Technically gifted coders and developers are able to do incredible things with software. For web developers who are passionate about innovating the software and programs behind the latest platforms and technology, using the skills they built as front-end developers can allow them to specialize in software development and design, creating programs that both solve problems and pioneer the technology of the future.
Entry–Level Front-End Developer
Having only recently built the skills and coding knowledge required to work as entry-level front-end developers, new development professionals often require supervision to ensure that they do not make mistakes or miss coding bugs. With this in mind, many of their tasks involve assisting midlevel or senior team members, taking on projects that can allow them to hone their skills.
Tasks for entry-level front-end developers can include the following:
- Developing coding skills by monitoring and updating information systems
- Assisting managers and working in a team to write and maintain code
- Conducting tests, gathering information, and writing reports
As front-end developers gain experience, they are better able to take on more responsibility, managing the maintenance and creation of code with less supervision and taking on their own projects.
Midlevel Front-End Developer
What a midlevel front-end developer is able to take on compared with their entry-level counterparts often comes down to their command of programming languages and their knowledge of more complex processes. With increased experience, midlevel developers are less likely to make simple mistakes and can take on projects with more job autonomy.
The expectations for midlevel front-end developers include the following:>/p>
- Writing and maintaining code
- Monitoring and making revisions for project success
- Coordinating with designers and other departments to ensure that projects are meeting company needs
- Managing projects and technical requirements and implementing tests to track a project’s progress
Senior-Level Front-End Developer
Developers with years of education and experience, senior-level front-end developers have the knowledge and skills to not only lead projects but also train junior developers on coding and analytics. Having invested the time to learn advanced coding and software development, reaching the upper levels of the front-end developer career path can mean exciting opportunities for design professionals.
Senior-level front-end developers are able to focus on the elements of development they enjoy the most, whether it is designing new software programs and coding, working on advanced programming or applications, or creating and implementing their own design plans. As a result of this versatility, they can take on exciting opportunities.
With the proper training and experience, senior-level front-end developers can guide the success of projects for their organizations, shaping new talent and working with other passionate professionals to create new and exciting technology.
Design a Bright Future as a Tech Professional
The advancement of technology plays a key part in our everyday lives. From the technology that millions use on a day-to-day basis, such as phones, laptops, and the internet itself, to the programs that allow that technology to enrich our lives, technological innovation shapes the way in which we approach the world. Front-end developers help drive that innovation by creating, monitoring, and developing new software and code for websites and online platforms.
Working with the technology careers program at Revature allows future development professionals to build the skills and knowledge they need to take on the many challenges and opportunities of the tech industry. With an innovative program that allows associates to build practical skills while getting paid during a 10- to 14-week training session, Revature understands that for many, the key to taking the next step in their career is to gain hands-on experience, learning how to code or program while preparing for a position in a top company.
If you are interested in gaining new skills and pursuing a career in technology with the peace of mind that a work placement is waiting for you, the program offered by Revature may be the right fit for you. Learn how Revature prepares its associates for an exciting new career and discover if a future in technology is right for you.
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