How to Become a Frontend Developer: A Complete Guide

Changing careers can feel like a big deal.

Rest assured, though, it’s completely normal to take more than one career path in your lifetime. If you’re here, you probably think that maybe the next best step for you is frontend development. 

You might be wondering how to become a frontend developer, and if you can do it without a degree. Read on to find answers to these questions and more.

In this article, we’ll cover what a frontend developer is, how to become one, and check out some of the top skills you’ll need.

If you’d like to skip ahead to a particular section, simply use the clickable menu:

  1. What is frontend development?
  2. What does a frontend developer do?
  3. What frontend developer skills do you need?
  4. How much does a frontend developer earn?
  5. How to become a frontend developer: A step-by-step guide
  6. Final thoughts

1. What is frontend development?

The frontend is the part of a website or application that users interact with. The frontend is sometimes called the client side.

 “Client” refers to the device or browser through which a user is accessing your website, app, or software. You can learn more about this in our guide to the difference between frontend and backend development.

2. What does a frontend developer do?

A frontend web developer creates what users see in their browsers. They’re responsible for the look and feel of a website or application. They use design, coding, analysis, and debugging skills to build the client side of a website. 

While frontend developers are also expected to have some knowledge of the backend and web design as well, they don’t need to know everything—that’s a full-stack developer’s job. But understanding various languages, tools, and design conventions can go a long way on a team. 

Frontend developer tasks

Frontend developers are typically tasked with writing code, analyzing code, debugging applications, and implementing designs. The result of these tasks? Ensuring a seamless user experience. 

In some ways, frontend developers work where design and functionality combine. They’ll decide how interactive an element may be or work on how things are laid out. But they also focus on how things are coded and ensure other developers can understand their work. 

3. What frontend developer skills do you need?

Frontend developers need to know technical skills like specific types of code, digital tools, and fundamental industry conventions. Soft skills are just as essential as these technical skills, though. 

Here’s an overview of what someone wondering how to become a frontend developer should know. Dive deeper into our full guide to frontend developer skills to learn more about each skill.

Technical skills

Frontend languages

Frontend developers should know the coding languages that make up the client side. These include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML is used to create the website’s skeleton, then CSS, sometimes referred to as the “clothes,” is used to style the website.

If you’d like to get started coding with these three languages, check out this video tutorial from our free short course:

Frameworks

A frontend developer must also be familiar with frameworks.

New frameworks are created every year, but the most popular ones typically have longevity. These include Angular.js, React.js, jQuery, Node.js, Backbone.js, Ember.js, and Vue.js. They might also find learning Bootstrap (a JavaScript toolkit), to be helpful. 

Industry conventions

Frontend developers can code a website with these languages and frameworks, but there are still a few more skills they’ll need to know. This is where the industry conventions come in. They should understand how to create responsive designs, debug and test their code, and build websites that work in all browsers. 

Plus, they should be familiar with APIs and working in the command line. Every developer must know how to use and explain the differences between Git and GitHub, too. 

Soft skills

As a developer, you’ll need to be able to communicate with both your technical team and the client or company you’re working for. That means you’ll need strong written and verbal skills.

For written communication, you may be tasked with creating slide decks of proposals, wireframes, or progress reports for your projects. You may need to present your projects or speak on conference calls for verbal communication. 

Frontend developers should also be strong communicators within their code. Whether they’re writing comments for themselves to reference later or creating documentation for their teammates, this skill is a must. If you or your colleagues need to come back to your code a few months later, they’ll be glad you explained your program while you were building. 

Problem-solving and attention to detail will go hand-in-hand for frontend developers. The end user will see everything the frontend developer does so it needs to be well-executed. 

Lastly, frontend developers need to be adaptable and creative. Tech will continue to evolve throughout your career. You’ll need to learn new programming languages and libraries and stay on top of tech developments as they arise. 

4. How much does a frontend developer earn?

Now that you know how to become a frontend developer, it’s time to get to the good stuff—how much you can earn as one.

We’ve rounded up the average salary for a frontend developer in countries worldwide. These figures are based on the latest data from Indeed, Glassdoor, and CWJobs:

  • United States: $102,402
  • Canada: $84,611
  • United Kingdom: £53,489
  • Germany: 63.325 €
  • India: ₹3,73,555
  • Australia: $122,663

Like most jobs, frontend developers’ salaries will depend on where they live, their skill level, and the type of company they choose to work for.

Find a detailed breakdown of many different kinds of web developer salaries in other countries and cities in our full guide.

5. How to become a frontend developer: A step-by-step guide

Step 1: Come up with a plan for your learning

Over the past decade, education requirements have loosened across the tech industry.

Once upon a time, it was impossible to land a frontend development job without a degree. Now, employers are much more flexible! You can take a few approaches to get a web developer’s education. 

  • Bootcamp Certification: With CareerFoundry’s web developer certification, you can become a web developer in under ten months. The cost of bootcamp is less than university but might cost more than self-learning. Financing and scholarships are often available from bootcamps.
  • Self-Learning: Self-learning can include free coding courses, affordable self-paced coding courses, or books. You can also learn from YouTube tutorials or a platform like freeCodeCamp. Self-learning ranges from free to a few thousand dollars, depending on what you choose for resources. It can take as little as ten months or multiple years. 
  • University: University is by far the most expensive and longest path to becoming a developer. Unless you live in a country where university education is free or low cost, this can cost more than $40,000. University programs are typically 4 years. 

Step 2: Gain experience

To get your first job, you’ll need to build a web development portfolio. But you can’t build a portfolio without any experience

You can gain experience by building projects specifically for your portfolio or working on open source projects through GitHub. If you attend a bootcamp, you’ll likely leave with multiple portfolio projects when you finish the program. 

In some countries, you can also find apprenticeships or internships to gain some experience. These can be great opportunities to get portfolio pieces. Apprenticeships are usually paid and sometimes even pay for your bootcamp. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

Another great way to gain experience is to offer your services to a charitable organization or NGO. That way you’ll be able to show off and develop your skills, add a project to your portfolio, and help a worthy cause, all at the same time!

Step 3: Start building your frontend portfolio

Most frontend developers create a website to showcase their portfolios. 

Don’t hesitate to use templates to build your portfolio website. However, if you don’t have three or more projects to showcase in your portfolio, it doesn’t hurt to document the process of building your portfolio site itself

Add a few bells and whistles like dark mode, animations, and case studies to push your site over the top and include it as a project in your portfolio. 

Be sure to include who you are as both a developer and a human. Your technical skills are essential, but so is your personality! In addition, include links to source code and a Loom video overview of your project for good measure. 

Don’t forget to prominently display links to your LinkedIn, GitHub, and StackOverflow accounts, as well as any other social networks you want to share.

Not sure how to create your frontend developer portfolio? Check out our step-by-step web developer portfolio guide with some stunning examples. 

Step 4: Apply to jobs

You’ve learned how to code, you’ve gained experience, and you’ve created a portfolio. Nice work! You’re well on your way to becoming a frontend developer.

Now, it’s time to apply for jobs. We’ve created a full guide to how to get your first coding job, but here’s some guidance for now.

Firstly, as a developer candidate, expect to go through multiple rounds of interviews and at least one coding challenge

You can find frontend developer jobs all over the internet: 

Once you’ve applied to some jobs, wait to hear back! 

You’ll have to go through a lengthy interview process, so it helps to be prepared. Make sure to read up on web developer interview questions before your first interview!

6. Final thoughts

It’s entirely possible to become a frontend developer in less than a year. If you’re ready to take the leap, learn how to code first! HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the best places to start for frontend developers.

With CareerFoundry’s fully mentored Intro to Frontend Development course, you’ll learn the core essentials of the discipline in a month, as well as soft skills.

Whether you choose to attend a bootcamp or learn on your own, you’ll be able to find community and support along the way. The developer community is growing rapidly every year, and so is the demand for developers.

If you’d like to learn more about the world of web development in general, check out these articles:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to web development and build your first website from scratch with our free, self-paced Web Development Short Course.

  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online web development events with industry experts.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and find out what it takes to become a qualified web developer in just 4-7 months—complete with a job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering the first 100 students reduced tuition—worth up to $1,385 off our Full-Stack Web Development Program. To secure your spot, book an advisor call today.

What is CareerFoundry?

CareerFoundry is an online school for people looking to switch to a rewarding career in tech. Select a program, get paired with an expert mentor and tutor, and become a job-ready designer, developer, or analyst from scratch, or your money back.

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