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Front End vs Back End Developer: What’s the Difference?

If you’re looking into a career in web development, you’ve probably heard about front-end and back-end developers. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between the two, discuss the roles and responsibilities of each position, and the skills and coding knowledge required. We’ll help you decide which role is right for you and show you how Coding Dojo can help you get there. 

What is a Front End Developer?

A front-end developer is a programmer who works on the front-facing parts of a website. These workers affect the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) that customers will interact with. This type of role requires a mixture of programming languages, design skills, and other similar tools to create a consistent experience that is easy to navigate.

As a front-end developer, you can expect to work on these frameworks:

  • Vue.JS
  • React
  • Angular

Front-End Development Languages

  • CSS – While you may not be working directly on the design, it’s important to have CSS knowledge so that you can share your vision with the actual designers. CSS allows you to change a webpage’s text size, color, font, layout, and style.
  • HTML – HTML is the standard programming language for all websites’ general content and structure, so a front-end developer must know how to use this programming language to make changes to the website.
  • JavaScript – JavaScript is needed to integrate features on websites based on interactions, such as videos, audio, and animation. It also uses extensions and plugins on websites to add functionalities and help them run faster.

Most In-Demand Front End Developer Skills

Development requires a lot of technical ability, such as knowledge of specific development tools and an understanding of programming languages. However, there are also important soft skills needed to succeed as a front-end developer.

  • Communication – Communication is vital when you have multiple moving parts. While communication is an essential aspect of any role, it’s crucial in development as you need to be able to work with other departments to implement the vision for the final product. 
  • Creativity – A front-end developer needs to be able to envision the layout of a website and make necessary changes to it to enhance the UI and UX. 
  • Technical abilities – A degree in Computer Science is always a plus. Still, as long as you can work with very technical concepts (such as working with code), you’ll be a great candidate for a front-end developer role. 

Common Front-End Developer Roles and Responsibilities

Depending on your area of expertise and the type of role you land, your front-end developer career can look slightly different. The average front-end developer salary ranges from $40,000 and $80,000. Ultimately, this will depend on your experience, the seniority of the role, and the company’s location.

Some of the most common types of front-end developer jobs are:

  1. Front End Web Developer. This web developer focuses on building responsive, interactive, and user-friendly, focusing on UI and UX. If you’re interested in learning more but have minimal coding knowledge, check out Coding Dojo’s Intro to Web Development workshop.
  1. Web Designer. While many front-end developers don’t worry too much about the website’s design, they need to know how to communicate with designers to bring the final vision to life. Web Designers are the ones who help polish and enhance the website’s appearance. In addition, they often work with graphic design software and general web development skills.
  1. UX Designer/Developer. A UX Developer works solely on the user experience portion of a website, which encompasses more than one might think. They need to research and propose strategies that can help improve analytics, such as conversion, designing wireframes, and coding/testing website functionalities for web optimization, faster load times, improved scroll and search functionality, and more.
  1. Full-Stack Developer. This type of developer is proficient with both front-end and back-end development coding languages, allowing them to do everything from prototyping to working with databases. This role can help you move up to a more senior role. 

What is a Back End Developer?

A back-end developer is somebody responsible for the back-end server where websites are hosted. They work behind the scenes to ensure websites stay up and running, work smoothly, and can be accessed by users. Back-end development relies on various server-side programming languages such as Java, Python, and Ruby to build applications.

As a back-end developer, you’re most likely to be working mainly with these frameworks:

  • Django
  • Flask
  • Ruby on Rails

Back End Development Languages

  • PHP – This programming language is considered the most widely used open-source scripting language. This is an essential language in back-end development because it allows you to collect, set, and receive cookies, which is an important part of gathering website data from customers. 
  • Ruby – Ruby, or ‘Ruby on Rails,’ is another open-source language needed for back-end development. It has full-stack web capabilities that can merge back-end and front-end work, required when building a website. Ruby also allows for more creativity than other programming languages.
  • Java – Java is an integral programming language for back-end development because it handles the back-end functions of a website needed to keep it running, such as authorizing users and routing URLs.
  • Python – One of the best, most beginner-friendly programming languages right now, Python is versatile and open-source. It’s easy to read and has vast libraries and frameworks that make it easy to implement for back-end development.

Most In-Demand Back End Developer Skills

Like front-end development, back-end developers need to have a technical aptitude and the ability to work on different programming languages. Since they’re more focused on ensuring a website works and can be properly hosted, technical skills are even more important for back-end developers than front-end developers.

  • Problem-solving – Because you’ll be working with code, servers, and databases, you’ll need to be able to solve technical problems that may arise during the website creation process. This may include debugging and testing apps or systems.
  • Programming languages – Python, PHP, SQL, Java, and Git are among the most important languages you’ll need to know as a back-end developer.
  • Knowledge of APIs – APIs have become an essential part of back-end development, so being familiar with APIs and how they work will give you a leg up when you’re looking for jobs in this field.

Common Back-End Developer Roles and Responsibilities

The roles, responsibilities, and salary you get as a back-end developer will vary depending on a few factors, including your actual job title and location. Generally, you can expect a salary of between $85,000 to $140,000, representing entry-level to senior-level salaries. Because of the technical nature of back-end development, pay is often higher than front-end development.

Some of the most common roles you can have as a back-end developer are:

  1. Back End Developer. This role is relatively general and will have you working on the website’s server side, including writing web services, and APIs, and working with front-end developers and designers to build websites.
  1. Back End Engineer. This position is more specialized, focusing more on building the structure of software and websites. In this role, you may commonly be working on writing server scripts and APIs that front-end developers and even UX designers use.
  1. SQL Developer. This is a very specialized role that works on executing, debugging, testing, and documenting database programs and databases that websites, and their information will be stored. SQL Developers work with many technical tools to run queries, export data, and generate execution plans that other developers can use.

The Difference Between Front-End and Back-End Developers

In short, front-end developers focus more on the website’s design, functionality, and appearance. They can work closely with designers to change and set the visual aspects of a website, such as text, typeface, font, size, layout, graphics, and animations. They need to know programming languages that more directly relate to the design of a website.

Back-end developers are much more focused on the structure and integrity of a website from the back end. Behind the scenes, websites are hosted on servers and have information stored in databases, which back-end developers help manage and keep running properly. Their roles are generally more technical and require skills in more advanced programming languages.

Front vs Back-End Developer: Which is Right for Me?

Reasons to Choose Front-End Development

  1. Front-end development is a great starting point, especially if you want to work up and eventually become a back-end developer.
  2. The programming languages and skills needed to succeed in this role are less technical and more beginner-friendly in terms of learning.
  3. You can be more creative as a front-end developer because you help shape the visual aspects of a website.

Reasons to Choose Back-End Development

  1. If you’re a person who enjoys logical thinking and working with analytics, APIs, and server management, back-end development consists primarily of that.
  2. If you’re experienced with the programming languages needed for front-end development, learning new languages and frameworks can be an exciting challenge to prepare you for back-end development.
  3. Back-end developers make a much higher income than front-end developers, particularly at a senior level.

Learn Web Development at Coding Dojo

At Coding Dojo, we know what it takes to learn a programming language, apply what you’ve learned, and land a job in programming once you’re ready. Our coding bootcamps are designed to challenge you and help you build the skills you need to get a job as a front-end or back-end developer.

If you’re new to coding, we’d recommend checking out our intro to web development workshop – it’s free! – to get a feel for working on a website. Once you have those basics down, you can delve into one of our effective training courses (like our software development coding bootcamp or data science bootcamp).

We’ve got plenty of resources and a dedicated instructor to keep you accountable and help you. Check out Coding Dojo today if you’re ready to work towards your new career.