Career Insight

15 Skills You Need to Become a Front-End Developer in 2020

15 Skills You Need to Become a Front-End Developer in 2020

You can think of front-end development as an art form. Through code, developers can create platforms that communicate meaning and function. Like with any art, developers need a unique set of skills in order to be successful. But, what Front-End Developer skills do you need to be successful in the tech industry? 

Let’s look at the specific development and soft skills Front-End Developers practice so you can figure out if this is the right career for you. 

Here’s what we’ll explore today: 

  • What Front-End Developer skills do I need to be successful? 
  • What is front-end development? 
  • What do Front-End Developers do? 
  • Is front-end development a good career? 
  • How can I become a Front-End Developer? 

What is front-end development? 

Front-end development is a type of computer programming that focuses on the side of a website the user can see and interact with. In other words, Front-End Developers work on what’s known as the client-side of a website. 

What do front-end developers do? 

A Front-End Developer works to build the visual aspects of a website, the side of a website a user would actually see and interact with. A Front-End Developer takes the visual designs a User Interface or User Experience (UI/UX) Designer created and brings them to life, making them functional through the use of coding. They typically work in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

Unlike Back-End Developers, Front-End Developers are more focused on the user interface and making sure the customer-facing part of a website is functional. They don’t work on the server-side of a site, the side that users can’t see. Learn more about the difference between front and back end by checking out this blog on the topic. 

Front-End Developers use code to build web elements like: 

  • Buttons
  • Layouts
  • Navigation
  • Images 
  • Graphics
  • Animations
  • Content organization 

What Front-End Developer skills do I need to be successful? 

Front-End Developers need a mix of web development skills and soft skills. These are the Front-End Developer skills you need to cultivate if you’re considering entering the field. 

Soft Skills 

1. Creativity

While you may not be doing the design heavy lifting as a web developer, you still play a huge role in the creation and deployment of a website. Thus, it’s essential to be able to think creatively in order to implement the vision given to you by UI/UX or Web Designers. This is where development becomes an art form as there are usually multiple correct ways to create a functional and beautiful front end.

2. Communication Skills

As a Front-End Developer, you’ll likely be working on a team. So, you’ll need to be able to communicate well in order to properly build and deploy a site. You’ll likely work with UX/UI Designers, a Back End Developer, and a Project Manager.  Additionally, your work on the front end needs to communicate important information with users—another reason development can be thought of as an art form.

3. Teamwork 

Like we mentioned above, web development is a team effort. Contrary to popular belief, your job won’t just consist of sitting in a dark room staring at code all day. You’ll work with others to make sure each web development project goes smoothly. Ensuring optimum web design and web performance is a team effort. 

4. Growth Mindset 

Growth mindsets are essential in most roles these days. A growth mindset is believing you can develop and grow your skills through dedication and hard work. It’s what keeps people from getting discouraged and giving up when something goes wrong in an academic, professional, or personal project or situation. Having a growth mindset is especially important for Front-End Web Developers because they need to know how to learn and grow from their mistakes to produce better user interfaces and level up in the field. As with anything, dedicated practice leads to improvement.

5. Problem-solving 

As a web developer, solving technical problems often falls on your shoulders. This means you should be a solutions-driven person who isn’t afraid of a little pressure on the job. A good way to gauge your solution-finding abilities is to think of a time where something went wrong at work. Did you spring into action mode and come up with ideas on how to fix it? Did you panic? Thankfully, most soft skills can be developed with a little practice and self-awareness. If you feel like you might be lacking in any of these areas, know that it’s not too late to gain these skills. 

Technical Skills 

6. CSS & HTML

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (HyperText Markup Language) are the foundations of web development. With these tools alone you can build a website. CSS is what’s used to style the visual layout while HTML provides structure to the webpage. These languages and all the other technical skills listed here are a developer’s tools of the trade, allowing you to create from a blank canvas (or remix an existing platform).

7. JavaScript 

While you can build a basic website using CSS and HTML, you need JavaScript to make the website interactive. If you know all 3 of these languages, you’re well on your way to landing developer jobs. A good way to remember what JavaScript does is to think about some of the interactive sites you’ve visited. Things like online gaming, quizzes, and animations need JavaScript to run. 

8. JavaScript (JS) Frameworks and Libraries 

There are a few different ways to make your coding game faster. One of them is with JavaScript frameworks and libraries. For example,  jQuery is a JavaScript library. Similar to the kind of library you’re probably thinking of, this kind of library is a collection… but instead of books and films, you’ll find plugins and extensions. You can use these to add prefabricated elements to a project. 

JavaScript frameworks serve the same purpose, except they provide your JavaScript code with pre-made structures. Some of the most popular JavaScript frameworks include AngularJS, Backbone, Ember, and ReactJS. Frameworks and libraries help kick off your coding process by minimizing the amount of work you’ll need to do in the beginning. 

9. CSS Frameworks

Much like JavaScript frameworks, CSS frameworks help take away some of your workload. The only difference is that they work within CSS instead of JavaScript. They’ll minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do upfront and make your coding process faster. Bootstrap and Foundation are 2 common CSS frameworks you’ll hear about. 

10. CSS Preprocessors 

Knowing how to work with CSS preprocessors will make your development job easier. Sass and LESS are among these preprocessors and you’ll find them on most job listings. A CSS preprocessor processes code before it’s published to a website. It ensures your code is well-formatted and cross-browser friendly. 

11. Responsive/Mobile Design 

With so many people browsing the web via our mobile devices these days, responsive design skills are a necessity for developers. Responsive design refers to how a website’s functionality and content can change based on the device it’s being viewed on. A Front-End Developer job will often require the ability to create adaptive mobile designs, so you’ll need to have responsive design skills in order to be successful. 

12. Content Management Systems (CMS)

Content management systems, or CMS for short, are where you build your website. The most popular CMS is WordPress; it currently hosts a whopping 60% of websites. There are plenty of content management systems to choose from but learning about WordPress (as it is clearly the most popular of them all) will help you a lot. 

13. Testing & Debugging

Testing and debugging processes help ensure your website performs well and without your users encountering any issues while they’re exploring all of the awesome content on it. There are several types of testing methods, such as UI testing and unit testing, that help spot errors (or bugs). 

Debugging is figuring out where any errors originated and fixing them. You’ll want to be familiar with these processes as they’ll be a reoccurring web dev task (and the butt of many developer jokes). 

14. Cross-Browser Development 

One aspect of web performance you may not think of is how a website performs across different browsers. While most browsers today are able to keep consistency when displaying a site’s content, there are still times you may see small differences. That’s why cross-browser development is still considered one of the many important front end skills to know. Along with the idea of responsive design, you can think of this concept as an artist being able to work across different canvases. 

15. Git/Version Control 

Version control helps you stay on top of all the changes you’ve made when working on a site. If you mess something up, version control lets you go back to an older version of your code. One of the most common version control systems is Git. You’ll definitely need to learn how to use it if you want to land a web dev job. It can be a life-saver.

Is front-end development a good career? 

In short, yes. With the web industry booming, thanks to so much of our lives being lived online now, front-end development is here to stay and can easily make for a fulfilling career choice. 

Front-End Developers also have high earning potential, so you could make bank if you decide to pursue a front-end development role. As of publishing, the average salary for a front-end developer in the United States is just under $77,000. Of course, this figure changes quite drastically depending on your experience level and location (like with any job). Glassdoor lists $48,000 to $131,000 as the current salary range for Front End Developers in the U.S. 

In addition to being an in-demand field with high salaries, another reason to consider front-end development careers is for the flexibility and opportunity for creative growth they provide. 

Many tech companies offered remote working benefits even before the COVID-19 pandemic. As a tech worker, chances are you’ll have some freedom and flexibility in where and how you work even after the pandemic ends. 

As a web developer, you’ll get to flex your creative problem-solving muscles, which can be especially rewarding for those who like to feel challenged in their work. Like we said earlier: usually, there’s no single right answer to a web development problem. You can use your tools, best practices, and a metaphorical canvas to create and communicate.

Considering all of these factors, it’s easy to say web development is a good career option for anyone who wants to be a lifelong learner, enjoys flexibility, and wants to grow in an in-demand career. 

How can I become a Front-End Developer? 

Thankfully, our world is quickly changing and employers are becoming more open to alternative forms of education. The technology sector has been incredibly helpful in innovating in this way, opening up job opportunities to people from all walks of life and educational backgrounds. 

As tech work like front-end development is more skills-focused, you can take a few different routes to become a developer. Currently, there’s the traditional bachelor’s degree route, the self-learning route, and the bootcamp route. 

There are definitely pros and cons to all 3 of these options. But here at Kenzie Academy, we believe the most cost and time-effective option is taking on a bootcamp or upskilling program. Here’s why. 

Bootcamps offer a structured environment and you’re often learning from industry practitioners as opposed to academics. While higher education professors have a lot to offer students in terms of learning skills and knowledge, they may not be as on top of industry trends as a practitioner. Bootcamps and upskilling programs go beyond theory as you learn practical workplace skills needed to have a successful career in tech. 

But, not all bootcamps are created equal so it’s important to do your own research to figure out which one works best for you. We recommend choosing one that offers live instruction and dedicated facilitators (as opposed to pre-recorded lessons) so you can get your questions answered in real-time by someone you actually know. 

As a Kenzie Academy Software Engineering student, you’ll gain the skills needed to be a Front-End Developer, Back-End Developer, or Full Stack Developer. The choice is yours after you finish the full-stack engineering curriculum. Our Software Engineering program will teach you HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, React, Python, and Django. 

There’s no need to stress about finding a job afterward either because our Placement Team and national network of Employer Partners will guide and work with you to help find the perfect role for you. 

Even better, you can get certified for a Front-End Developer position without having to shell out all your savings. Our programs are affordable and designed to make a career transition a breeze. 

Ready to work towards landing a developer job and launching your tech career? Apply now or contact us to learn more.  

Additional resources: 


Ready to jumpstart your career as a UX Designer or Coder? Learn more about our Software Engineering and UX Design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins is the Content Marketer at Kenzie Academy. Before she joined the field of higher education marketing, she worked as a journalist and taught English in the South of France. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading non-fiction works, doing embodiment yoga, or planning her next trip to Paris. You can find more of her work at www.alexagoins.com.

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  • Date
    October 19, 2020
  • Posted In
    Career Insight
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