How to Become a Front-End Developer
How to Become a Front-End Developer

Whenever you fill out a web form or fill up your online shopping cart, front-end developers want your task to be a breeze.

Front-end developers are the tech professionals who code the user-facing side of websites and mobile apps. Their job is to build web interfaces that are easy to use and deliver the results you expect.


Every website has two sides. Behind the scenes, back-end developers deal with the inner workings of the website, such as applications, databases and algorithms. The work of the back end developer is hidden from the user.

The work of front-end developers is meant to be seen. They code with programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create graphical web interfaces that help users point and click their way through a website or mobile app.

Front-end developers build pages that can be connected to back-end databases, making it possible for an application to display images, collect user data, return accurate search results and personalize emails.

“The front end is the portion that the user sees, interacts with and gets them to a complete transaction,” says Jeremy Zaretzky, an instructor for UW Professional & Continuing Education’s Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript. “Error prevention and user guidance happens in the front-end portion, so that all the info being posted to the back end is clean.”

Front-end developers choose the best interactive elements, such as forms, search fields, or drop-down menus. They also strive to use responsive design, so web interfaces work with any browser or device.

To that end, Zaretzky said, front-end developers look to personas and use cases to understand what they’re building, why it’s needed and who’s going to use it.

“If there’s no guidance given, they might just take the simplest, most standard approach,” he says. “Then you end up with something that just isn’t really optimal for the typical user.”


When it comes to the job market, jobs for front-end developers often overlap with those described as web developer — one of the fastest-growing sectors in the nation. According to O*NET, jobs for web developers are expected to increase 15% in the United States through 2026.

    projected job growth

Nationally: 15%
Washington state: +50%

    Median Annual salary

Nationally: $67,990
Washington state: $87,190

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET

If you want to be a front-end developer in Washington state, that good news multiplies: jobs for web developers here are expected to increase more than 50%.

Tech-centric companies, such as Amazon or Microsoft, are always seeking people with core skills in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to work on front-end development for web products, Zaretzky said. It’s also good knowledge for product owners, program managers and user-experience designers, especially at startup or growth companies, he said.

“In Seattle, many, if not most, product and program manager roles require some technical understanding,” said Zaretzky, co-founder and president of software company WireSpring. “As a UX designer or product manager, it’s really helpful to understand how the actual things your company is offering are going to be built.”

Jobs for front-end developers in Seattle are now in demand from employers like Facebook and Redfin. There’s plenty of jobs like this at companies that offer tech-enabled products and services; for example, Zaretzky said, Nordstrom relies on a big web operation to run its online retail business.

“As more and more commerce moves onto the web, I see the demand for this kind of role increasing,” Zaretzky said.


Even as frameworks evolve and change, front-end developers must master the technical skills of using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, Zaretzky said. Plus, it’s good practice to also understand back-end technology.

The Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript can be a good way to build these foundational skills.

“We want you to understand what the building blocks are,” Zaretzky says. “If you need to jump into the code or you need to debug something, you’ll have the core skill to be able to do so.”


Ready to start learning? Check out our Certificate in Front-End Development With HTML, CSS & JavaScript and other relevant programs:

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