Web Development

Entry Level Front End Developer: How to Become One?

entry level front end developer
Coding and programming are becoming more and more popular as technology advances and computer-based devices become more widespread. With this rise in popularity has come a dramatic increase in the demand for experienced programmers and developers. A lot of people with no computer science background are asking the question ‘What does a web developer do?’, with the aim of learning the necessary skills and becoming a developer. Entry level front end developer jobs are rather abundant, which makes learning programming in your spare time an attractive prospect, especially if you are looking for a career change.

Due to the increasing number of people inquiring about entry level front end developer jobs, we have decided to put this guide together to help you understand what is required to become a developer. We will begin by looking at what web developers, and specifically, front end developers do. We will look at how and why you should consider taking up front end web development, and what skills you need to become a web developer.

With this in mind, it is time to ask the first question: ‘What does a web developer do?’

What Does A Web Developer Do?

Web development is becoming an increasingly widespread profession. Web developers are responsible for building and maintaining websites. They control how a website looks, how a website performs, and what sort of actions people can take when they visit a website. In some cases, web developers are also responsible for the content that a website contains, but most larger websites will have a separate content management team.

The duties of a web developer are varied according to their exact position and role, but they can include:

  • Meeting with clients and design teams to discuss what a website should look like, how it should perform, and what sort of functionality it needs to have.
  • Scripting the code required to build the website as agreed upon. This includes creating web apps, statistics packages, and traffic monitoring algorithms, among other things.
  • Integrate videos, images, and other visual content into the website as required. These may need to be dynamic or variable according to the person who is visiting the webpage.
  • Monitoring the website and its performance, making tweaks to the code when necessary to make sure that optimal performance is maintained.
As you can see, there are a lot of things for a developer to do. Fortunately, this doesn’t all fall on the shoulders of one single person. There are two main types of web developers. Back end, or server side developers create the code required for a website to function. Front end developers are responsible for the way a website looks and interacts with viewers.

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For the remainder of this article, we are going to focus on entry level front end developer roles, but remember that back end development is always an option.

What Is An Entry Level Front End Developer?

Entry level web development jobs are becoming easier to find as the demand for experienced developers increases. Changing career and becoming an entry level front end developer is something that people are doing more and more often in the modern world. If you are sick of your career, have a bit of time on your hands to learn programming, and would like to work as a developer, then keep reading.

Now, we need to define what an entry level front end developer is for people with no web development knowledge or experience. Front end developers are responsible for the bits of a website that we see. When you navigate to a website, you will see text, images, and a complicated, interactive design. This design is usually conceived by a web designer, but the front end developer is responsible for bringing it to life.

Some of the main responsibilities of an entry level front end developer might include:

  1. Creating the code that tells a website what content to put where. This controls the site layout, what appears on which pages, and where things appear on pages.
  2. Telling a website how to display elements, including things like changing the font size and color, image positioning and borders, and background colors.
  3. Creating interactive elements like clickable buttons, scrolling panels, and other responsive parts of the site design that will draw people in and encourage them to perform actions that you want them to.
These are just a few of the things that you might have to do as an entry level front end developer. You may also have to do more mediocre tasks like proofreading content, sourcing and embedding images or videos, and maintaining previously developed websites or pages.  

Why Should I Become A Front End Developer?

Now that you know what an entry level front end developer is and what they do, you might be asking yourself why in the world you would ever want to become one. Sure, it sounds like a fun job, but it also sounds pretty hard, right?

Well sure, of course it’s hard – what sort of skilled job isn’t? However, working as a front end developer is also interesting, exciting, and it will broaden your horizons. Some of the reasons why you should seriously consider learning front-end web development include:

  1. You Will Be Much More Employable
Even if you work in a field which hasn’t traditionally required web development skills, learning them will make you a lot more employable. For example, imagine that you work for a small retail business who sells niche products. A business like this won’t be too keen on spending big dollars on a web development firm to build and maintain a website for them. However, if you have front end skills you will be able to take charge of the website, making you that much more valuable to your employer.

  1. You Could Work For Yourself
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One of the biggest positive aspects of becoming a web developer is the ability to work for yourself from anywhere in the world. As a front end developer, the only physical tool that you need is a computer and a power source. This means that you can work the hours that you want, from the location that you want, as much as you want. You will be able to choose to work on the projects that you want to, which should keep your career interesting and fun.

  1. There Is No Shortage Of Jobs For Developers
There is an increasing demand for experienced web developers, which has led to a huge number of entry level web developer jobs. Once you have the skills required to become an entry-level developer, you should always be able to find work.

There are plenty of reasons why you should consider becoming a front (or back) end web developer. I mean, if you’re looking for a career change, why wouldn’t you?

What Front-End Languages Should I Learn?

Now, the first thing that you need to do if you have decided to become a front end website developer is learn the necessary coding languages. There are three main front end languages which are used almost universally – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These are all relatively simple languages which are quite simple for beginner programmers to learn. They don’t take a long time to become fluent in, and they are a must for anyone who wants to work in front end web development.

HTML

HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, is pretty much the universal language of the internet. It is used by just about every website in existence to make their content visible and readily viewable. If you want to find an entry level front end developer job, you need to learn HTML. Before we go into a full explanation of what it is and how you can learn it, I need you to discover it for yourself.

Right click in your browser window and click on the ‘view page source’ option. A new tab containing lines of code should open in your browser – this is the source code that tells your browser how to display this page. At the top of the document you will notice a line of code saying ‘<DOCTYPE html>’. This command tells your browser to expect HTML code.

Keep scrolling down the page and you might see other commands that you recognise like ‘<link>’ or ‘<video>’. I know that the code looks complicated, but don’t worry – it really isn’t. Along with HTML, this page also contains snippets of JavaScript and CSS for interactivity and styling purposes, but more on them soon.

Learning HTML will allow you to tell a webpage what content to display and how to display it. While major styling is done with CSS, HTML allows you to include things like images, videos, tables, and different sized text on your webpage, providing increased design flexibility.

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If you would like to change your career and find an entry level front end developer job, you should start learning HTML as soon as you can. BitDegree offers two great HTML courses. The first, the HTML Coding for Beginners Course, will teach you the basics of HTML in just over an hour of lessons. The second, the Comprehensive HTML5 Tutorial, will give you a more in-depth understanding of HTML code and how you can use it to maximal effect.

CSS

While HTML code tells your website what code to display and where to display it, CSS tells your website how it should look. It is pretty much the styling language of the internet, as it allows you to change the appearance of almost everything on your website.

Although CSS has a reputation of being somewhat difficult to learn and use, this isn’t necessarily deserved. If you use a decent course and take it slow, CSS really isn’t that hard at all. If you want to become a front end web developer you will need to learn it anyway, no matter how hard it is.

Just some of the things that CSS can help you do include:

  • Changing fonts. If you work with a website building platform like WordPress you will be quite limited with what fonts you can use. However, learning CSS will let you choose not only your font, but which parts of your webpage it should apply to!
  • Changing colors. CSS also lets you change the color of pretty much everything on your website. Choose your background color, the color of your text, and even things like the color of your picture borders!
  • Changing the size of elements. Once you master CSS you will be able to create stylesheets that allow you to change the size of different elements on your page. Customize the size of things like your text, your headings, and even your embedded pictures and videos.

JavaScript

JavaScript is the third essential language that any prospective entry level front end developer absolutely must learn. It is used to create interactive elements which can’t be easily built with HTML or CSS. If you are serious about becoming a decent front end developer, then you need to master JavaScript.

Since it is used for both front and back end development – among other things – JavaScript has quickly become one of the most popular programming languages on earth. The demand for JavaScript developers is huge, which means that having a decent knowledge of it should help you land entry level web developer jobs. Some of the things that you can do with JavaScript include:

  • Create interactive website elements. This includes things like push buttons, animations, and pretty much anything else which ‘looks good’ and reacts when you click on it or scroll over it.
  • Create web apps. Ok, so this is probably more related to back end development than front end, but JavaScript also lets you build web apps. This could come in handy as your career as a web developer progresses.
  • Engage more people on your website. Once you have a working knowledge of JavaScript, you will be able to build an attractive, responsive website which draws people in and makes them more likely to react in the way you want them to.
In case you haven’t realised yet, you need to learn JavaScript if you want to have a chance as an entry level front end developer!

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Head over to BitDegree and have a look at the wide range of JavaScript courses available. Something like the Interactive JavaScript Tutorial will teach you the basics of JavaScript, while allowing you to practice as you learn. Alternatively, a course like the Video JavaScript Tutorial will provide a decent introduction to the language and its functions.

How Can I Get My First Developer Job?

Now that you know what a front end developer is, what they do, and what sort of skills you need to become one, it’s time to look at how you can land your first entry level front end developer job. Unfortunately, even though there is a big demand for developers, the entry level market can be somewhat competitive – which is understandable right?

Prospective employers don’t want to waste their money on someone who is untried and untested. There are plenty of entry level developers out there who already have a decent portfolio of freelance work and projects behind them, which means that you need to take steps to make yourself stand out to prospective employers.

Some of the best things that you can do to make yourself more visible to employers and more likely to land an entry level front end developer job include:

Keep Learning & Make Sure You Know Your Stuff

If you’re serious about getting your first job as a front end web developer, you need to make sure that you know everything you can about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Learn how they are used, practice using them, and most importantly, never stop learning!

Build Your Own Website

Front end developers build websites, right? It is therefore logical that, if you want to get a job as a junior front end developer, you should build a website to showcase your skills. It doesn’t matter what sort of website you build or what you do with it. What really matters is what it looks like, how it responds, and how you have coded it. Make sure that you do your best, and then include it in your job applications when you are applying for new front end developer jobs.

Keep A Portfolio

Likewise, a portfolio of your past projects and any other work you have done will also help you get a job. A lot of people choose to keep their portfolio on a website that they have built – see above – but this isn’t a must. What is a must is that you include your best work, set it up in an attractive, engaging manner, and that you use it to showcase your skills as a developer.

Take Freelance Jobs

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Even if you don’t plan on working as a freelance developer, small freelance jobs can help you build a strong portfolio that will set you apart from other entry level developers. Choose jobs which you feel that you have enough experience for, which will give you something attractive that you can showcase, and which will be fun and engaging. Who knows – you might even decide to become a freelance developer!

Volunteer

If you are having trouble finding freelance jobs to build your portfolio up, you could begin by taking a few small volunteer assignments. Reach out to your local not for profit organisation or charity and ask them if they could use your services. In most cases they will be happy to let you do something for them – even if it’s as simple as building a HTML newsletter. I mean, who doesn’t love getting things for free?

Take Part In A Hackathon

If you enjoy building websites and coding interactive front end designs, then a hackathon could be just the thing to kickstart your career. Don’t know what a hackathon is? Basically, you will be teamed up with other coders to put together some code or program according to predefined instructions. Find out more here.

These are just some of the things that you can do as a learning front end developer to kickstart your career. If you are having trouble landing your first job then you just have to keep persevering. Stay up to date with industry best practices, keep learning, and keep practicing. The work will come!

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Conclusion

Front end web development has become a very attractive career choice over the past few years. A shortage of skilled developers has led to a large demand for entry level front end developers, which means that there has never been a better time to start coding.

There a literally hundreds of online courses and other resources which can help you get started on your journey to master developer. If you aren’t sure about exactly where to start, head over to BitDegree and look at the range of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript courses available.

Once you have learnt the basics of front end development, it all comes down to practice. Take on freelance jobs and small projects. Volunteer to build your portfolio up, create your own website, and most importantly, don’t give up!

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