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What is a Frontend Engineer?

Reviewed By Engineering Expert and Coach
Bill Coloe
February 9, 2023
Also commonly known as a frontend developer, frontend engineers work in various coding languages to build websites and applications. Frontend engineer goals usually align with creating an optimal user experience, and they achieve this by building well-functioning application interfaces through efficient code. Frontend engineers work directly with designers and product managers to build optimal user experiences for websites and applications that function beautifully and render quickly.

Frontend engineers build the code seen and interacted with by users. They often work directly with UX designers to make sure the product is looking and functioning as expected. Frontend engineers release new products, features and applications that are efficiently constructed to allow for optimal speed and performance.

This role does require hard skills, meaning frontend engineers need to be able to program in HTML, CSS or Java to be effective. The most popular way for people to learn these skills without a degree in computer science is to enroll in a bootcamp, which usually lasts 3-6 months and can be taken full or part time. These languages can also be self-taught, though it does take motivation to keep it up.

Curious what we mean when we say "product?" Read This.
View Backend Engineer Job GuideView Fullstack Engineer Job Guide

What does a Frontend Engineer do?

At companies of all sizes, frontend engineers will often work in a pod structure led by a product manager to decide what order to prioritize development tasks. It’s the product managers’ role to decide prioritization of development work based on a function of importance, function and visibility. 

An engineer is usually responsible for completing a certain number of tasks– often referred to as “tickets” or “user stories” within a set timeframe (often referred to as a “sprint”).

Difference between Frontend, Backend, and Fullstack Engineers

Frontend engineers differ from backend engineers in that frontend only focuses on parts of the site actively seen by users (front meaning “visible” in this instance).

The term and title of “Fullstack” engineer showcases the ability to work on either the front or back end of the product (hence, full stack engineers are capable of managing the company’s FULL tech stack).
View Fullstack Engineer Job GuideView Backend Engineer Job Guide

Do I need a degree to be a Frontend Engineer?

Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need a CS or otherwise technical degree to be any sort of engineer. In fact, no degree is required for an associate/entry level frontend engineering position. Hiring managers focus primarily on previous products built, which are usually on display in a portfolio like Github. Job applications will usually leave space for a Github link for a recruiter to review. Engineers can be self-taught, as long as they have a decent number of projects featured and can pass a coding interview. This is also an incredibly popular role to do a bootcamp to learn.

Job descriptions will often mention a requirement of something STEM related, but more often than not these roles are filled by bootcamp graduates or those with impressive portfolios.

We've seen these people be incredibly successful frontend engineers:

  • Data entry and receptionist professionals
  • Restaurant servers and managers
  • Accounting and budgeting roles
  • Truck drivers (truly!)

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. Learn more here.

Our Favorite Frontend Engineering Programs and Certifications

Frontend engineering certifications are a dime a dozen. Many of the reviewer sites recommending programs get significant kickbacks for the $3,000+ certifications they're reviewing, and while we respect their hustle, and also love money-- that's a little shady.

Our criteria for these programs were that they costed under $300 for completion. Some dev programs come with a job guarantee after placement, which is pretty neat. But for developers, the absolute best thing you can have is a snazzy portfolio of impressive projects. This can absolutely be self-taught if you're motivated enough.

The most relevant certification (meaning you could stick it on a resume) is the Software Engineering Specialization by Duke. It's only $49/month, so theoretically you could blitz through the program for under $100. Good luck!

Career Path of a Frontend Engineer

Frontend engineers have tons of options-- they can go on to be fullstack engineers, managers, or even product managers. So while this path is common, the #1 thing to keep in mind is this is a great path to get your foot in the door at a tech company.

Frontend Engineer
2-3 Years
*Or Jr. Frontend Engineer
Senior Frontend Engineer/
Fullstack Engineer
3-5 Years
Engineering Manager /
Senior Fullstack Eng
5-10 Years
Senior Engineering Manager /
Product Manager
4-6 Years

What is an Frontend Engineer's salary?

Engineers are some of the highest paid roles in the tech community. A high-level senior engineer can make an upwards of $500k+ at a bit tech company. We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and entry-level frontend engineers can make anywhere between 95k - 105k, depending on their location and skillsets.

Top Skills of a Frontend Engineer

We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for frontend engineers to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.

Remember: there are not many soft-skills required for frontend engineering, and these skills reflect that. Familiarity with programming and language frameworks is key, which can be shown off through a portfolio on Github or Bitbucket.

  • Experience with modern front-end frameworks such as React, Angular, or Vue.js.
  • Strong understanding of web development principles, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and responsive design.
  • Experience with cross-browser compatibility issues and ways to work around them.
  • Experience with Git and version control systems.
  • Write automated end-to-end tests via Testcafe and Cypress
  • Strong problem-solving skills and attention to detail.
  • Good communication and teamwork skills.

Top Tools of a Frontend Engineer

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in frontend engineering job descriptions, which are primarily coding languages and frameworks. If you're serious about becoming an frontend engineer, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

Programming Languages

  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • CSS

Programming Frameworks

  • next.js
  • react.js
  • gatsby.js
  • vue.js
  • angular.js

Communication & Documentation

  • Jira
  • Confluence
  • Trello

Bug Tracking

  • Bugzilla
  • DataDog

Key Traits of a Successful Frontend Engineer


Frontend engineers need to understand various coding languages and frameworks to complete their work.


Coding takes a lot of problem solving to make sure products are run as effectively as possible.


Frontend engineers will complete things called "spikes" to research the best solutions to product problems.


Frontend engineers need to be able to consume designs and translate them to applications and features.


Often frontend engineers will have to make some calculations on the frontend based on API data. it's helpful to have an analytical mindset.


Coding can sometimes be incredibly frustrating, and patience is an extremely undervalued competency.

QA Engineers will work closely with:

Product Managers
Learn more
UX Designers
Learn more
Project Managers
Learn more
Backend Engineers
Learn more


Frontend engineering is a great career path for those fulfilled by building new things that people will actually use. We love recommending frontend engineering, but often encourage our users to self-teach and practice building sites for real experience.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a frontend engineering role?

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How to Get a Job as an Frontend Engineer

We love a stepped process for quick and specific results. The 3 tiered process is best.

We recommend starting out by documenting things about you, how you like to work, and how these things might tie into your next job. For example, a person with motion sickness should not become a trucker. Same deal here.

Learn more
  • decorative heading

    do your research.
    Check out our list of relevant core competencies and skills. Research other jobs in the field to see if any of those appeal to you more.

  • decorative heading

    identify skills.
    If those sound good, look at our job descriptions. Identify and check off what skills you already have, and start thinking about ways to target the ones you don't.

  • decorative heading

    take classes.
    we recommend classes and certifications to get familiar with specific, relevant job requirements. Learn from your home with no more fluff or expensive bootcamps.

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