Being a front-end developer is a nice job to have. In fact, it is some of the selected few above-average paid office jobs. Many front-end developers can even work from home. So no wonder many are willing to learn to become one. I went through not knowing anything about coding to being a front-end developer in quite a short time, so I am the right person to listen to.
You can become a front-end developer in three to four months’ time. Of course, you won’t master everything yet, but it will be good enough to find yourself a first junior position job. There is a setlist of skills you need to be good enough in for that to happen.
I know first hand the skills necessary to get your first job. A few years ago I was browsing through hundreds of junior front-end developer job positions. I have noticed that the majority of them kept requiring the same list of skills needed to apply for the job.
What to learn to become a front end developer? A complete list
I divided them into 2 sections. Must-haves and those that are often desired but not mandatory – they will help you land the job easier though.
These are the skills you will need to become a front end developer:
- Version control (Git or similar)
The skills that are desired but not needed:
- CSS extension like Sass or similar
- A front end framework of your choice (currently most popular is React which I also use at work)
- API knowledge for fetching the data
- Nice code structure
College vs. Self Taught vs. Bootcamp
To become a front end developer from scratch you do not need to get a college degree. Of course, some of the government institutions or big institutional companies will hire based on the degree, but there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other companies who don’t.
For the majority of the companies looking to hire front end developers, it matters the most that you know how to do things that you are hired for. And to learn the skills required, you will have several options:
- Going to college and getting a degree
- Self taught with the help of online courses
- Joining a coding bootcamp
|Type of learning||Time to become a developer||Cost||How easy to get the first job|
|College||Years (takes the longest)||$37,000 – $91,000 (https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/software-engineering-bachelors-degree)||Easiest|
|Self-taught||Around a year||Cheapest (can even be free)||Medium|
|Bootcamp||3 months to half of a year||From a few thousand all the way up to $20,000||Easy to medium|
Going to college is the traditional way and it will cost you quite a bit of money and several years to finish. Once you finish it will not be a problem to find a job.
Becoming a front end developer by learning everything yourself is the hardest way to go but by far the cheapest. It is still faster than joining college, but longer than doing the bootcamp. You will need a lot of motivation to learn things yourself. Be aware, I tried it and I was unable to learn on my own. It got rough when I got stuck and had no idea how to find the solution.
The bootcamp is definitely the way that I would suggest to anyone. It is very beneficial to be in an environment of other highly motivated bootcamp students, pushing you further and struggling together for a few weeks. Mentors are also an invaluable part of the whole experience. If you get stuck you learn where to look for solutions, or you can ask teammates, or even ask the mentors for help. But be prepared, this is a serious time commitment for weeks if not months. I was practicing and learning for 12h per day, 6 times per week, and only taking Sunday off just to continue all the next day. On my own, I would never have been able to put that many hours in, but it actually wasn’t as hard as it sounds in a bootcamp.
How hard is it to become a front end developer?
Becoming a front-end developer is a bit complicated when you are completely new to coding, but gets substantially easier over time. One thing that matters the most is consistency. It is important you practice regularly so you don’t forget the syntax used, and your mind gets used to how to think properly.
If you practice regularly, then within a few weeks and months your brain memorizes a lot of the syntax that you are using and in a way a lot of it becomes automation. Also, you learn how to look for the things you don’t know yet on the web.
There are many nicely paid jobs available to front-end developers, so the first few weeks that might feel hard are definitely worth it in the end.
Is Front End Developer a good career in 2021 and beyond?
Being a front-end developer is one of the best careers for 2021 and beyond. There are plenty of jobs available that you can choose from, most of them nicely paid. On top of that many front-end developer job positions come with additional perks like free lunches, work from home, extra vacation time, free public transport tickets, free gym memberships, etc…
Salaries are very good with an average of around $60,000 for entry position jobs, and a lot more once you have a few years of experience. Here you can read a detailed article I wrote about salaries for developers at different skill levels.
For me personally, making a career switch was a great decision. My job is less stressful now, I get to create things that hundreds of thousands of people are using. There are constantly new technologies I get to learn and the work is almost never boring.
Is it faster to become a front end or back end developer?
You will become a front-end developer in about half of the time it will take you to become a back-end developer. Often this can be even shorter. Being a backend developer requires you to have a wider skill set than the front end. In front end development you can get away with some things that in the backend you can’t.
For example, security is very important for the backend. This is the last check where everything needs to match before you save things to the database and get the data from it.
You need to learn the database language as well.
Learning how to do things properly in the backend takes time and you really can’t rush things. You gradually learn different steps necessary for the ‘brain’ of the web apps. I would advise anyone that’s contemplating whether to learn backend or front end first, to start with front end. Once you are already familiar with the front end, adding the backend will be easier as your brain will be trained a bit already in how to think when writing code.
I started as a front-end developer, and once I worked months exclusively in the front end I started to add back end. I am glad I did. It made things a lot easier for me, and it shortened the time required to learn it if I would have just started with the backend.