Starting front-end career as a self-taught front-end developer

Front-end developers create website interfaces that we interact with every day. There are thousands of businesses with their own front-end development teams, so there’s no shortage of vacancies for front—end developers. However, there is a shortage of qualified front-end developers who can write clean, error-free code. In this article, we will discuss how to start working as a front-end developer in 2022.

Learn necessary skills

Many companies are expecting front-end developers to have a college education, but majority of companies will hire you without one. One main important prerequisite is that you must demonstrate a strong knowledge of necessary skills.

To get a basic front-end developer job, you need to be proficient in three programming languages: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

You can start learning via online courses, go to bootcamp or even hire a developer to mentor you. There are literally thousands of options for learning front-end development.

Practice writing code

Being an effective and efficient web developer comes down to writing error-free code. Debugging and fixing errors can take too much time. You can achieve mastery of any programming language by practicing it.

HTML is fairly easy, but CSS and especially JavaScript require many hours of practice to fully master.

Gain a competitive edge

Front-end development is a lucrative career, which means that there are a lot of candidates competing for junior positions. Starting a job as a junior developer is especially competitive because all employers are looking for experienced front-end development. There are only few positions where companies want to invest time and resources into developing a junior talent.

Having a competitive edge over other junior front-end developers can help you get the job and then advance your career faster than others. For example, it’s a very good idea to specialize in one JavaScript framework like React. You can go even further and learn features of React. For example, concepts like Virtual DOM, rendering, component reusability, or get current url in React.

Get experience

Experience doesn’t have to be of working at a full-time job. Start working on your own personal projects or, in ideal scenario, contribute to open-source projects. Becoming a contributor to one of the open-source projects can be prestigious and interviewers will look at it favorably. These projects usually have requirements for maintaining codebase and gradually adding code. Creating these open-source projects is a team effort, and if you’ve successfully established yourself as a member of a team, it means you can become a productive member of their developers team as well.

Create a portfolio

Having a portfolio of projects you worked on can be beneficial. You can show hiring managers the code you wrote and your CSS designs, for example. Needless to say, your portfolio should include the projects you’re most proud of. Creating projects for your portfolio can be an opportunity to practice. It takes time, but a good portfolio can significantly improve your chances of landing a job.

Have online presence

The most common problem of beginner front-end developers is that they don’t have online presence. Having a strong portfolio is only a part of that process. A blog can be a great tool for making yourself known and noticed on the internet. If you plan to become a contractor or freelancer, it can be a source of clients for you.

I personally ran a web development blog for 10 years, and I can say it has been one of the best decisions for my career. Let’s go over few reasons why blogging is good for your development as a web developer and obviously for the community as well.

Opportunity to learn

You don’t have to be an expert to start a front-end development blog. Everyone has expertise in certain area of front-end development. And in case you don’t think you are knowledgeable about anything, even better – it could be an opportunity to learn.

There’s a saying that you can only truly know something if you can explain it to others in simple words. Blogging is an easy way to explain things you think you know. If it turns out that you’re not as much of an expert as you thought, then writing about it will be an opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge.

More importantly, keeping a blog can be an opportunity to learn writing as well. It is a useful skill because web developers not only have to write code, but also comments for one another.

Stay up to date on programming trends and technologies

Blogging about front-end development is a great way to stay updated on latest changes in your technology. It can also be an opportunity to explore other tech stacks and see if there’s anything else for your application.

Sometimes you will learn a new language or a new concept and have recruiters reach out to you. This is a guide that explains ternary operators, one of the most important concepts to understand.

Keep it focused

If you want people to follow your blog, write about one topic consistently. The focus of your blog can be very narrow, like one specific front-end framework. You could focus on React, for example. Alternatively, you can dedicate your blog to front-end development in general.

Be consistent

If you decide to publish weekly blog posts, stick with that plan. There is nothing more frustrating than expecting a new blog post and not getting it. If you anticipate that certain time will be difficult for you to write, then write in advance.

Writing technical tutorials in advance also gives you time to proofread them before publishing. It’s a bad idea to write something the day you plan on publishing it. It’s much better to proofread it the next day, or even three days later, to look at it with a fresh perspective.

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