How to Become a Front End Engineer: Skills, Requirements, and Career Guide
Front End engineering is a critical component of modern web development, and front end engineers play a key role in creating the visual and interactive aspects of websites and applications. If you're interested in pursuing a career in front end engineering, you'll need to develop a strong set of technical skills and stay up-to-date with the latest front end technologies and best practices.
In this guide, we'll explore the skills and requirements needed to become a successful front end engineer, and provide valuable insights and tips to help you start your journey to a fulfilling career in web development.
What is a Front End Engineer?
Also commonly known as a front end developer, front end engineers work in various coding languages to build websites and applications. Front end engineer goals usually align with creating an optimal user experience, and they achieve this by building well-functioning application interfaces through efficient code. Front end engineers work directly with designers and product managers to build optimal user experiences for websites and applications that function beautifully and render quickly.
Front end 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. Front end engineers release new products, features and applications that are efficiently constructed to allow for optimal speed and performance.
Curious what we mean when we say "product?" Read this.
Responsibilities of a Front End Engineer
What does a Front End Engineer do?
At companies of all sizes, front end 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 Front End, Back End, and Full Stack Engineers
Front end engineers differ from back end engineers in that front end only focuses on parts of the site actively seen by users (front meaning “visible” in this instance).
The term and title of “Full Stack” 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).
Do I need a degree to be a Front End 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 front end 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 learn by bootcamp.
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 front end 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.
Our Favorite Front End Engineering Programs and Certifications
Front end 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 cost 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!
Complete Web Developer Bootcamp
This course is one of Udemy's most popular, and has had almost 800 thousand students. Learn the fundamentals of coding for building responsive websites, and finish with a completed application as a portfolio project (huge plus!).
At the price point of $24, we highly recommend this course to see if developing websites is for you!
React JS- Complete Guide for Front End Web Development
We are huge fans of React JS-- and this is a great course to learn it. Udemy covers the fundamentals of front end engineering, including HMTL5, React JS and some popular programming basics.
Salary and Career Potential
Entry Level Front End Engineer 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 big tech company. We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and entry-level front end engineers can make anywhere between 95k - 105k, depending on their location and skillsets.
Career Path of a Front End Engineer
Front end engineers have tons of options-- they can go on to be full stack 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.
- Front End Engineer, or Jr Front End Engineer: Spend about 2-4 years at either level here.
- Senior Front End Engineer / Full Stack Engineer: Spend about 3-5 years here.
- Engineering Manager / Senior Full Stack Engineer: Spend about 5-10 years here.
- Senior Engineering Manager / Senior Product Manager: This one is tricky, and there are lots of options, but most folks spend roughly 4-6 years here.
Job Requirements and Skills
Popular Job Description of a Front End Engineer
We've used AI to aggregate the top job descriptions used by hiring managers looking for front end engineers. When putting your resume together, try to mimic these listings. To learn more about this process, check out our partner Jobscan for a comprehensive resume review.
- Collaborate with the design team to create visually appealing and intuitive interfaces
- Work with the back end development team to integrate front end interfaces with back end functionality
- Optimize web applications for maximum speed and scalability
- Write clean, efficient, and well-documented code
- Debug and troubleshoot front end issues
- Keep up-to-date with emerging trends and technologies in front end development
Top Skills of a Front End Engineer
We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for front end 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.
- Experience with modern front-end frameworks such as React, Angular, or Vue.
- 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 Jest and Cypress
- Strong problem-solving skills and attention to detail.
- Good communication and teamwork skills.
Top Tools of a Front End Engineer
We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming an front end engineer, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.
Front End Programming Languages
Front End Programming Frameworks
Development Communication & Documentation
Key Traits of a Successful Front End Engineer
Problem Solving - A successful front end engineer needs to have strong problem-solving skills to identify issues with the software being developed and find effective solutions. They should be able to think creatively and approach problems from different angles to ensure the highest quality of the product. This involves not only identifying problems but also being able to break them down into manageable pieces and come up with solutions that are efficient, maintainable, and scalable.
Research - Front end engineers will often need to conduct research to determine the best solutions to product problems. They may need to complete things called "spikes" to explore different approaches to solving problems. This requires a strong understanding of web technologies, tools, and frameworks, as well as a willingness to experiment with different approaches to find the best solution.
Attention to Detail - Front end engineers need to be able to consume designs and translate them into applications and features. This requires a keen eye for detail, as even the smallest mistake can impact the user experience. They should be able to ensure that the design is implemented accurately, and that the final product is visually appealing, intuitive to use, and meets the needs of the client.
Patience - Coding can sometimes be incredibly frustrating, and patience is an extremely undervalued competency. Front end engineers may encounter bugs, unexpected errors, and challenges that require them to go back to the drawing board. They should be able to stay calm under pressure, take a step back, and find a solution that works. This also involves being able to collaborate effectively with other members of the team, including designers, product managers, and other engineers, and to be open to feedback and suggestions for improvement.
Hey, it's Billy! If you're feeling intimidated by the technical aspects of a career in software development, don't worry. I've worked with many successful developers who don't have a traditional background in the field. What's surprising is that soft abilities are highly valued in this industry.
While programming abilities can be learned through experience, it's much more difficult to teach people how to communicate effectively with stakeholders and coworkers. In my view, problem-solving and the ability to convey technical concepts in simple terms are the most essential qualities for success in this field. If you have these attributes, you'll likely excel in a career in software development.
Get Started with a Bridged Recommendation
Review: Machine Learning & AI Specialization with Andrew Ng
Front end engineering is a great career path for those fulfilled by building new things that people will actually use. We love recommending front end 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 front end engineering role?
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Check out our sources!
Glassdoor Team. “Salary: Front End Engineer (March, 2023) | Glassdoor.” Glassdoor, Glassdoor, 1 Feb. 2023, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/product-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.html