Front-End vs Back-End Developer: Which Path is Right For You?
Front-end and back-end development are two of today's most ubiquitous specialization areas of web development. However, for those new to development, it may be challenging to decide which path is better for you. With that, we thought it would be important to discuss the differences between front-end and back-end development and help provide some clarity on which path might be right for you.
How to Gain Development Skills
Becoming a developer requires learning programming languages. Which one you choose to learn first depends on whether you want to be a front-end or back-end developer. And you shouldn't stop at learning just one language. Especially if you aspire to be a back-end developer.
Front-End and Back-End Development
The terms front-end and back-end development might seem straightforward enough. Front-end development accounts for all aspects of web development that influence user experience, whereas, back-end development influences all things that influence backend processes. However, this oversimplification is only scratching the surface of everything involved in these two specializations. Before we dig into exploring which path might be right for you, let's formally define both front-end and back-end development.
Front-End Development: Front-end development is a development specialty that focuses on any part of a web page, software package, or web application that a user interacts with. This speciality of web development, is also known as client-side development and applies to anything a user interacts with on a webpage or application including images, themes, graphs, buttons, text, tables, and a variety of other on-page graphical components.
Back-End Development: Back-end development (also known as server-side development) is a development specialty that focuses on the back-end engine that powers the website or application. Websites require server infrastructure, applications, and databases to run properly, this is where back-end development comes into play. This behind-the-scenes- process is responsible for running the website or applications, storing and serving data via databases, and facilitating all of the user requests.
The Front-End Developer
A front-end developer is a programmer who is tasked with writing code that integrates visual aspects of a webpage or applications such as images, themes, graphs, buttons, text, tables, and a variety of other on-page graphical components. This role is typically great for a developer who also enjoys the visual aspects of development. Here, having a knack for visual design, is a great value for developers considering becoming front-end developers.
The Back End Developer
A back-end developer is a programmer who builds and maintains all of the technology required to power and run the website. Here, the back-end developer configures and maintains the server infrastructure, applications, databases, and security packages, including all of the data migration processes affiliated with supporting the website.
Programming Languages for Front-End and Back-End Development
Because front-end development and back-end development cover such unique aspects of the web development process, it's understandable that the programming languages required to perform front-end and back-end development are going to vary significantly.
Understanding which programming languages align to each web development specialty is critical for students early in their web development education so they can learn the appropriate languages that align with their career aspirations.
Programming Languages Used by Front-End Developers
There are a few languages that are staples of front-end development that every developer pursuing a speciality in the front end needs to know. The most common languages include high-level programming languages and scripting languages such as:
These three languages are the code of front-end development. Mastery of these three languages will set developers up for a career in front-end development without a doubt.
Programming Languages Used by Back-End Developers
Programming languages for back-end developers are more geared toward supporting application design, communication between a website and the backend server as well as supporting an array of back-end functions. Some of the core languages for back-end development include:
What Experience is Needed to Become a Front-End and Back-End Developer?
With so many bootcamps, and courses available to aspiring developers, it can seem overwhelming to say the least to get an understanding of what's required to become either a front-end or a back-end developer. To help bridge this gap, we'll discuss what experience is required to become a front-end developer and what experience is required to become a back-end developer.
Getting a career in development has substantially changed over the past few years. Even as little as five years ago, it was the common sentiment that a person had to get a four-year degree in computer science to lock down a career in web development. However, with incredible velocity, the industry has changed to give opportunities to those who graduate from accelerated bootcamps, or even don't hold any type of degree or certification, but have the chops to handle the development work.
1. Four-Year College Degree
As mentioned, there is no single path into front-end development, however, there are some development considerations to take into account. If you're ready to commit to the long haul, a four-year degree in a specialty such as Computer Science is a great way to strengthen your chances of getting a job in front-end development. Our suggestion is to augment this approach with online courses and certifications to help accelerate your education.
For those uninterested in going the route of a four-year college, bootcamps may be a great option. Bootcamps offer accelerated training programs to get students ramped up in development in as little as 12 to 18 months. And even though these boot camps are considerably shorter than the four-year commitment when attending college, there is a considerably high success rate for graduates getting an offer to become a front-end or back-end developer.
3. Online Courses & Certifications
Another phenomenal way to get ramped quickly and to get your foot in the door is through online courses and certifications. For those who don't want to spend the hefty fees associated with the four-year college or even the bootcamp, but still have as high a likelihood of getting an offer, this path may be perfect for you.
In this path, you'll really be taking your education in your own hands. With this path, students will want to start taking courses and certifications and building their portfolio of work along the way. Here, by building a portfolio and applying for roles, many companies will be eager and willing to give young developers an opportunity in an entry-level development position.
How to Become a Developer
If you're ready to get your career started in front-end or back-end development, consider checking out some of our foundational courses such as HTML, CSS, and JS for Web Developers Online Training and Full-Stack Development. Here, you'll have access to world-class training by some of the best teachers in the web development space.