What Front-End Software Engineers Do
The creation of an application requires several different skillsets, often from different professionals. While some software engineers hone their coding skills in on the back end of the application and ensure the things that the user cannot see operate properly, others focus on the consumer-facing aspects. This is known as front-end software engineering.
There is no standard hierarchy of titles in software engineering, as each company will have its own titles and requirements to ascend to the next level. For example, Google presently uses the scheme Software Engineer 2, followed by Software Engineer 3, Senior Engineer, Staff Engineer, Senior Staff Engineer, Principal Engineer, Distinguished Engineer, and lastly Google Fellow. Microsoft uses the titles Software Development Engineer, Software Development Engineer II, Senior Software Development Engineer, and Principal Software Development Engineer.
Who would enjoy a career in Software Engineering (Front end Development)?
Front-end engineers are jacks of all trades, in that they need to bring more to the table than a solid technical skillset. They have to understand user behavior and be artists to some degree as well. For this reason, a good front-end developer is someone who is always interested in learning new skills, picking up trends, and has vision. An analytical mindset is also necessary, as developers spend significant time working out bugs and reworking codes to make sure everything fits together well with what the back-end developers and other team members are doing.
Who mightn't like the career?
Undeniably, the client one is designing for will always have the final say in whether a project is acceptable, and some changes or designs that are seemingly brilliant will inevitably be denied by the client without any real cause. Because of this, those who are thin-skinned or have trouble communicating effectively will not enjoy the job. It’s also worth noting that most of a developer’s day is spent at a desk, so people who need physical activity and different tasks throughout the day may find themselves bored.
Because the title is in its infancy, there is still much discussion about whether there is a difference between a software engineer and a software developer. The exact skills required will also vary based on the needs of the employer and particular project. However, unlike other career paths, software engineers aren’t always required to have a formal degree.
Coding language-specific certifications and experience are often accepted in place of traditional schooling. At a very basic level, front-end engineers should understand:
- HTML/ Hypertext Markup Language (the bones/ layout of the application)
- CSS/ Cascading Style Sheets (the look of the application, including font styles and colors)
Having a certification in development or engineering or a degree in a computer-related field is also beneficial.
Those applying for positions in large companies should learn in advance about which languages their applications are built in and be experts in those particular languages. It’s also important to bring the right attitude and a strong portfolio to the table when applying.
Employees in larger companies, such as Google, often get a fair amount of leeway, so the hiring process can be particularly grueling as they work to find someone who is a good fit for their culture. Those hoping to work for a large enterprise should spend time learning about the company, itself, as well as about the company culture.
- A Front End Engineer’s Manifesto
- Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Front End Developer?
- Google Front End Engineer Interview Questions
- Facebook Front End Engineer Interview Questions
Moving into Software Engineering (Front end Development) from another career
Virtually anyone can transition into a career as a front end software engineer, provided they learn the essential skills and languages. In some cases, a background in a niche specialty can be an asset. For example, someone who worked in retail may be helpful when creating retail apps, or a dental hygienist may be able to help create dental-related applications. Despite this, many front end engineers come from a software engineering or user experience / user interface design background.
Role: Generally speaking, duties all involve coding and development tasks. Individuals move up the ranks as they demonstrate an ability to perform proficiently, work without direction, innovate, and eventually overseeing others. The paths for a software engineer typically involve progressing in a technical individual coding role, or moving into a people management role such as Engineering Manager where the responsibilities extend to resource planning, hiring and ensuring the career success of engineers within an organisation.
Software engineers generally have no need to travel. However, coding languages are universal, which makes it possible to work virtually anywhere in the world once skills are obtained.
Entry Level: According to data from PayScale, those beginning their careers have salaries of approximately USD $64,170 in the United States, £26,970 in the United Kingdom, CAD$52,250 in Canada, and AU$65,100 in Australia.
Mid-Career: USD$78,660, £35,960, CAD$64,350, AU$79,100.
Experienced: USD$86,940, £42,340, CAD$72,600, AU$107,800.
Because the profession is in high demand, strong software engineers across the world are able to attract high compensation packages well into the six-figure ranges.
Bonuses and profit sharing are not always a big part of a software engineer’s pay, but can sometimes amount to tens of thousands on top of one’s annual salary.
If working in a startup or technology company, it is common for equity or stock options to form part of the total package to compensate for lower salaries and the risk involved in working at an early stage venture.
Why Front-End Software Engineers move on
Most front-end developers enjoy their jobs and make a lifelong career out of it. However, some companies have the tendency to hire engineers as contractors and only keep them on for a specific project. Startups also have trouble staying in business, and the economy often determines how many engineers a company can have or if it will be developing more at all. Because of this, the future can be uncertain, even for a skilled front-end software engineer.