However, you'll want to add some other skills like HTML, CSS, Node.js or databases, depending on your area of focus.
It's easy to learn, and very widely used today for controlling web page behavior and application logic, which makes it a popular beginner programming language.
It is not to be confused with Java, which is an entirely different programming language (despite the similarity in name).
Front-end developers are responsible for building the visible, user-facing parts of a website or application. They work closely with designers, taking a visual design and transforming it using code to produce the interface that end users see and interact with in web browsers.
If you enjoy visual work and have an eye for design, this role might be for you.
The line between front-end developer and front-end engineer is often blurred in the industry, but it's useful to know that not all front-end roles are the same.
Front-end engineers also work on the front end of web applications, but this role tends to be less visual, and more focused on the application logic. They might use an existing component library which takes care of all the markup and CSS, or they might not touch this at all, only working on things like fetching and manipulating data, and managing application state.
Full-stack development is about breadth of knowledge. You're expected to understand multiple layers of the stack, but not to the same level of expertise as a developer that specializes in one particular area. That said, most full-stack developers do have a slight preference for either front or back-end development.
If you like to be able to do a bit of everything, you'll probably enjoy full-stack development. It's also useful if you ever want to work for a small startup, where wearing multiple hats is often necessary.
You'll need the skills of any other back-end developer: the ability to design and build APIs, deploy services with AWS or similar cloud infrastructure, and have strong database knowledge.
Node.js isn't suitable for every type of application, so you'll need to look for companies that make heavy use of it. It's well suited to data streaming or chat-based applications, but is also often used for simple web back ends serving JSON APIs, or applications using serverless functions.
Freelance Web Developer
If you want to freelance but offer more than just front-end services, a common request for back-end work is often for WordPress sites, and that means PHP may be a more useful skill to learn than Node.js.
- Version control using tools like Git and GitHub: Whether you're working on your own or in a team, you need a way to track the history of your code changes. This lets you keep a record of your progress and revert any mistakes back to a previous working state.
- Knowledge of agile development methodologies: Software development teams need some kind of way to manage projects and predict when they will be able to deliver which features. Agile is one of the most popular ways of doing this today.