How to Become a Front-End Web Developer

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about the typical requirements associated with a career as a front-end web developer. Additionally, explore the usual tasks you will perform, the education and skills you need, and the earning potential for this position.

[Featured image] A front-end web developer sits at a computer wearing a headset and chats with a client about creating a new website.

Web development careers can take one of three paths. This article will focus on how you can become a front-end developer responsible for building a website's user-facing and interactive components. Alternatively, back-end developers specialize in the behind-the-scenes features that help a website run. In contrast, full-stack developers perform the duties of both front-end and back-end web developers.

Front-end developers possess various skills, including coding and working with multiple languages like JavaScript and SQL. You have several options for how you go about acquiring them. Let’s explore this career and the paths you may take if you’re considering becoming a front-end developer.

What are the typical tasks of a front-end web developer?

The front-facing component of a website that the user interacts with is the work of a front-end web developer. Front-end developers build anything you view on your computer or device screen. Ultimately, a quality final product should look great, have aesthetics that match the project’s objectives, and provide user-friendly functionality. Here’s a look at some of the everyday responsibilities and tasks you will perform as a front-end developer:

  • Debugging to maintain a website’s functionality

  • Designing components for mobile sites and various browsers

  • Using programming languages to find ways to improve user experience

  • Ensuring websites can operate at high speeds

  • Collaborating with back-end web developers 

  • Designing aesthetic graphics using various design software

  • Building  website prototypes

What are the steps to becoming a front-end web developer?

Setting yourself up for a successful career as a front-end web developer requires a combination of the right skills, education, and the ability to demonstrate your experience. Follow these steps to learn how:

Step 1: Get an education.

Although front-end web developers typically hold a bachelor’s degree, you can enter the field without one. Earning a bachelor’s degree in an area of study such as computer science is a great way to gain coding skills, learn theoretical concepts, and develop a portfolio. However, spending several years in school isn’t the best option for everyone. You can accelerate the process of becoming a front-end web developer by enrolling in a boot camp, either full-time or part-time. This will allow you to develop in-demand skills over six months or less. Another way to acquire front-end web development skills is through online classes where you can learn at your own pace.

Step 2: Develop skills

Qualifying for a front-end web developer position primarily comes down to acquiring the right skills to do the job. This position requires a skill set filled with technical abilities and various workplace skills.

Technical skills

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for creating dynamic web pages. These are three of the programming languages considered vital for web development. 

  • SQL and NoSQL for interacting with data within relational and non-relational databases.

  • GIT for version control allows you to work with other team members and document projects.

  • Graphic design tools like Photoshop and Figma and prototyping tools like InVision and Pidoco.

  • Knowledge of various libraries and design frameworks, including React and jQuery.

  • User experience design to ensure a functional, user-friendly website through communication with other developers, as well as clients.

Workplace skills

  • Customer service to provide a website that meets the end user's needs.

  • Communication for effective collaboration with back-end web developers.

  • Time management is essential for completing projects on time while working on multiple projects simultaneously.

  • Self-learning will support you in following along with advancements regularly occurring in this field and maintaining an up-to-date skill set.

Step 3: Build a portfolio.

Building a portfolio is a great way to demonstrate to employers that you have the necessary skills and experience working on relevant projects. In your portfolio, you can show projects highlighting your front-end web developer skills, websites you built, and other relevant information. Any examples that help illustrate your experience with programming, design, and various technical skills would be helpful when you put together your portfolio. 

Step 4: Earn certifications.

Another way to demonstrate your technical prowess to employers and stand out amongst other candidates is by earning certifications. Several universities offer opportunities to earn certifications like Harvard's Front End Web Development Graduate Certificate or the University of Washington's Front End Development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript certification. You can also earn front-end web development certifications on Coursera, such as the Meta Front End Developer Professional Certification.

Salary and job outlook

According to data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average front-end web developer salary is $80,730 [1]. This field also boasts a strong outlook, with web development positions projected to grow sixteen percent from 2022-2032 [1]. Some top locations for web developers looking to earn a high income include Washington, Delaware, California, and Maryland. Other ways to increase your earning potential include completing certifications, such as the Certified Web Professional (CWP) credential offered by the International Web Association or a Professional Software Developer certification from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  Additionally, you might consider furthering your education with an advanced degree and gaining more experience over time.

Front-end web developer career path

When beginning your first entry-level front-end web development role, you'll potentially start as a junior web developer, where you will help other team members with tasks such as testing code and assisting with creating visual components.

However, with more experience, opportunities should present themselves to progress to more senior-level positions. In a senior front-end developer role, you will potentially lead your own team, share knowledge with junior developers, and contribute to the planning and development of advanced coding projects.

Learn more with Coursera.

On Coursera, you can find highly-rated courses to continue learning about front-end web development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers from Johns Hopkins University is an excellent course if you want to develop your programming skills in foundational front-end programming languages. Another option, Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development and Coding from the University of Michigan, can help you develop the skills needed to build websites for various devices. These courses and any others you choose may also provide opportunities to build your professional portfolio.

Article sources

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Web Developers and Digital Designers,” Accessed February 11, 2024. 

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