Our world is constantly evolving, and it might happen that constantly staying up to date with all the relevant changes might be very difficult.
Lately, the most important change has been digitalization, which forces many people to conduct their daily activities via the Internet. For example, most restaurants nowadays no longer offer a physical menu, but ask you to scan a QR code to visualize it through your internet browser.
While this is just one example, such a process has entered every aspect of our lives and is a game changer that everyone and every business must adapt to. In some cases it is possible for the business owner or an individual to create a website or a simple software program, but in most cases a developer must be hired for more complex activities.
In this article, we will discuss what front-end developers do and how they can be helpful in this digitization process. Then we will discuss the 7 best alternatives for front-end developers based on demand and average annual salary.
Which Are The Skills and Responsibilities Of A Front-End Developer?
A front-end developer is the person responsible for developing the client side of a software program, application, or website.
So, they are responsible for making sure that an application or other digital project being developed is easy for users to navigate, nice to look at, and also efficient and optimized for algorithms and computers.
The main tasks of a front-end developer therefore include gathering feedback from user tests and other developers, making sure that the user interface and user experience are optimized, monitoring the website’s performance and traffic, occasionally developing codes and libraries together with back-end developers, and much more.
However, front-end development is not only a demanding professional job in terms of responsibility, but it also requires a number of skills. Key skills include in-depth knowledge of coding, programming, and scripting, familiarity with libraries and frameworks, knowledge of graphical tools, and user interface and user experience design.
Finally, a front-end developer must be proficient in troubleshooting and debugging, as it is common for technological improvements and structural changes to be incompatible with older versions of an application or software program. In these cases, front-end developers must be able to identify which part of the application is generating an error and how to fix it.
What Are the Pros And Cons Of Being A Front-End Developer?
The main advantage of working as a front-end developer as opposed to a full-stack developer, for example, is the fact that these professionals are specialized in their respective niches and therefore have more experience and a deeper understanding of the tools and methods that need to be used to achieve the end result.
For this reason, a front-end developer can be faster and more effective at troubleshooting and problem solving than a general developer or a full-stack developer.
On the other hand, a front-end developer will not be able to develop a software program or application from a black site as a full-stack developer could. So this could mean double costs for a company that needs to hire both front-end and back-end developers to achieve its goals.
Also, since front-end developers specialize only in the client side of the program, they might have difficulty interacting with back-end developers who are discussing the server-side part of the program. However, since this interaction between the two parts is crucial, companies often hire middleware developers to bridge the gap between these two categories of developers.
Which Are The Best 7 Alternatives For Front-End Developer?
1. Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)
A Software Development Engineer in Test, also called Developer in Test, is a IT professional who combines their skills and expertise with quality assurance and bug fixing. The primary role of an SDET is to create and maintain automated tests. This is a set of software programs that execute controls over an existing program under development.
So your main task is to write a code for the software for automated tests. However, they must also constantly look for bugs in the software and ways to improve its efficiency. In addition, they must be able to convert the results of the automated tests into a non-technical format so that they can be communicated to other developers and stakeholders to improve the product.
Since this position requires a very good understanding of coding, programming, and scripting, and this activity is crucial to the efficiency of the final result, software development engineers in testing earn quite a lot of money.
More specifically, the average annual salary of a test developer in the United States is $131,080, but it is not unlikely that these professionals will earn well over $200,000 as they gain experience.
2. Customization Developer
A customization developer is a front-end developer who has experience creating and maintaining custom plugins and software programs required to create a one-off product.
Even though there are many online platforms that assist in creating websites and applications, these platforms rely on libraries that contain various elements that users can choose from. However, it may happen that a company or an individual needs a specific tool that is not available on this platform and that must be specially created by a developer.
For example, if someone creates a website using the world-famous WordPress platform, but finds that they want to add a dynamic tool to their website that is not available as a WordPress plugin, they will need to hire a customization developer to create such a tool.
Although their role may seem very insignificant for a small company, in a larger company with a large-scale development project, their role is essential to ensure a final result that is significantly different from the competition. Therefore, the average annual salary for a customization developer is $149,630.
3. DevOps Developer
DevOps is a new phenomenon that emerged as recently as 2009 in the search for a solution to make the development process more efficient. DevOps is composed of the terms Development and Operations and represents a combination of people, technologies and processes to increase the efficiency of the development process.
Before 2009, development was usually done individually by a niche expert and only at the end were all the pieces put together. DevOps, on the other hand, combats this idea by fostering an environment of collaboration and coordination that inevitably leads to a product that meets customer needs more efficiently.
A DevOps developer is tasked with ensuring this coordination and communication between developers and organizing the software development process.
There has been a high demand for DevOps developers since 2009, and according to a recent Glassdoor survey, the annual salary in the U.S. for this position is $157,192.
4. Customer relationship management (CRM) developer
Another developer position that has been in high demand lately is that of Customer Relationship Management Developer. This IT professional is an expert in the development and maintenance of CRM software, often used in large corporations and e-commerce stores to track either the progress of potential customers, traffic, lead acquisition and more, or the progress of internal developments and activities.
CRM is the heart and soul of most businesses today, as it allows for a simplified and organized presentation of all the information that exists about a particular business activity.
Despite the fact that there are hundreds of ready-to-use CRM software programs, many companies offer unique solutions that do not fit into the given format of CRM. In these cases, CRM developers have to create special plugins or develop CRM software from scratch.
The average salary for a CRM developer in the United States is $121,141, with the possibility of rising to over $130,000 if the developer is promoted to the senior level.
5. Graphic Developers
Graphic developers are the professionals who are responsible for creating visual representations for the company with the help of technology. Most often, they are tasked with designing the company logo, creating a website layout, designing stock images for a website, and designing posts for social media and banner ads for Google and Facebook.
Typically, programming and coding language requirements are less stringent for this category of developers. However, in this case, a strong inclination towards design, color theory, proportion, and digital art is a must.
Graphic developers must also be familiar with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and many other programs. Finally, graphic developers must be able to appeal to their target audience and use the right color palette, images, and layout in any situation.
In the U.S., the average annual salary for a graphics developer is $53,141. However, there is an opportunity to benefit from an annual salary of over $100,000 if the graphic developer is promoted to the position of “Principal Graphic Developer.”
6. Full-Stack Developers
Full-stack developers are those IT professionals who are responsible for both the front-end and back-end phases of the development process. Full-stack developers are thus able to build software programs, applications, and websites from a blank page.
Becoming a full-stack developer could be a great opportunity for a front-end developer, as it increases your job choices. And even if you choose a job in front-end development, you’ll have a better understanding of back-end development, so you’ll be able to achieve greater efficiency and coordination with all the other developers working on the project.
However, front-end developers who want to extend their job to back-end development must be willing to study and deepen their knowledge of scripts, coding, libraries, frameworks, and more.
On the other hand, such an expansion could be more than motivated by a hefty increase in annual salary. A front-end developer earns an annual salary of $84,541 in the U.S., while the average annual salary of a full-stack developer is $97,154 due to the higher demands and responsibilities.
7. Embedded Developers
Embedded systems developers create and maintain software programs that are specifically tailored to an embedded system, that is, a system that has a specific function within a larger electronic device and that can run on its own computing power without requiring an external source.
Embedded systems come in all sizes and functions, from MP3 players to home appliances to aircraft avionics. What they have in common, however, is their very specific function and their ability to operate without an external processing unit.
Because of the very specific function, developers of embedded systems must not only be extremely well-versed in programming languages, coding, scripting, and much more, but also understand what the function of the embedded system is and how the hardware works.
Due to the complexity of back-end development and the need to know the underlying hardware intimately, the average salary in the U.S. for this profession is $118,882 per year.
In conclusion, there are many different jobs a front-end developer can do, either to differentiate their work or to gain more experience and earn a higher salary. In addition, if a developer does not have a passion for coding or programming, it might be beneficial to change jobs and perhaps work as a freelancer or self-employed to increase variety and have more fun with it.
Also, if a developer is more interested in design and digital art, they may be more inclined to work as a graphics developer, a position that has high requirements for a digital art software program like Adobe Photoshop, but also requires less programming and coding skills.
On the other hand, if someone enjoys programming and scripting, as well as front-end development, they might decide to expand their skill set into full-stack or embedded development, which can earn them a much higher salary on average.
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