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Front-end vs. back-end developers: What’s the difference?

By Fi Darby

The world of programming is an exciting one that brings fantastic personal and financial rewards

Both front-end and back-end developers are among Australia’s high earners. Back end-development attracts a higher wage at an average of $112,084 per year but front-end development is still lucrative at $106,855. When you consider that the average wage in Australia is currently $91,552, it is clear that a career as a back-end or front-end developer is going to be worth training for.

When you make a career switch to programming, you’ll be stepping into a fast-paced environment. Both back-end and front-end development offer exciting and rewarding career options but focusing on one can help you to choose exactly the right online programming course. 

Understanding the differences between the role of front-end and back-end developers is key to making this decision. Once you know more, you can see where your skillset really fits in. 

SkillsTalk have prepared an essential beginners’ guide that outlines the differences between front-end and back-end programming.

Front-end development: It’s right in front of you

Front-end development involves developing the code that creates an interaction between the user and the system. If you love gaming or graphics, for example, you’ll have a good understanding of how important front-end coding is. It is the part of the programming that makes sure people enjoy using that particular system. 

When you use an app or other software, you expect it to look great, working properly and meeting your needs. Making sure that this seamless user experience happens is the job of the front-end developer. Front-end developers need to be creative and empathetic towards user requirements. Job roles in front-end development include: Front-end development is really important to a product’s success. Technology is a competitive world with lots of business vying for market share. If a product fails to deliver on customer expectations, it will lose clients. The job of a front-end developer is to attract people, fulfil their needs and give them a reason to return. 

If you already have great ideas about how computer systems could be improved, this could be a great role for you. All you need to do is find an up-to-the-minute nationally recognised programming course that can give you the coding skills you need. 

For example, Upskilled's ICT40518 - Certificate IV in Programming includes units that introduce you to key programming languages such as .NET and C#, as well as HTML for web development and SQL for database development.

Back-end development: It’s all about communication

network security concept

Back-end development involves developing the code or business logic that keeps a system working. If you love working in a logical way and finding solutions to complex problems, you may enjoy back-end development. Even the most attractive and exciting of user interfaces won’t satisfy customer needs unless it functions to their expectations. 

Behind the public face of any computer system is the coding nuts and bolts of how the system works. Back-end developers need to understand servers, databases and system interconnectivity. Job roles in back-end development include: It’s the back-end developer’s job to make sure that communication between the front-end software, its related database and its server are functioning properly. When a customer uses a system, they won’t necessarily see the work of the back-end developer but they will notice if it isn’t doing its job. 

Programming languages for front-end and back-end development

If you want to work as a front-end developer, you need to learn programming languages that can help you create fantastic user environments:
  • HTML for web development and function
  • CSS to create fantastic looking web pages
  • JavaScript to enhance web pages with interactive elements
Once you have learned to put these three programming languages together, you can release your creativity and create amazing user interfaces to excite and please clients.

If you want to work as a back-end developer, you need to learn programming languages that can allow you to create high-functioning and dependable systems.
  • Python for high-level programming in commercial applications
  • SQL for database management
  • .NET to allow your applications to run smoothly on Windows operating systems
Although these programming skills might not sound as exciting as front-end skills, they are really important. Systems that work well attract customers. In business, it’s the customers that count.

Front-end development or back-end development: Which to choose

decision making concept

The first thing to be clear about here is that front-end and back-end developers are partners. Without the skills of one, the skills of another would be wasted. This means you need to have at least a basic understanding of the role and programming languages of both. You can eventually focus on the set of programming skills that is going to be key to your new role. 

An introductory online course to the world of programming such as Upskilled’s ICT40518 - Certificate IV in Programming can give you great basic front-end programming skills with an introduction to certain back-end programming languages. 

The great thing about online training with Upskilled is that it’s a very flexible way to learn. When you learn online, you can get the support you need from trainers and peers, and fit your learning around your daily life and existing job. If you are considering a career as either a front-end or back-end developer, this course makes a great starting point.

Career skills for front-end development

Once you have your first coding experience and initial programming qualifications, you can have more of an idea about where you want to specialise. Front-end developers need to understand website functions such as buttons, multi-media and drop-down menus. They also need to have a flair for design and understand customer needs

Upskilled’s ICT50615 Diploma of Website Development is an online course that offers flexible supported learning. It provides experience in identifying client needs and researching the latest web trends, as well as delivering key vendor courses in preparation for specific vendor exams (not included). 

One example unit that is particularly important for front-end developers is the MTA: Developer – HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals. HTML is the programming language required for web development. Ability in this language can allow you to start developing your own portfolio and applying for your first front-end development job. All front-end developers need to keep their skillset up to date. Online learning is a great way to do this because it can fit in well alongside other work or home commitments.

Career skills for back-end development

Back-end development is a specialisation that requires certain key skills. Back-end developers need to be able to think logically and solve problems. They also need to understand the details of how ICT systems work and how to troubleshoot issues. Upskilled’s ICT50515 - Diploma of Database Design and Development offers training on managing ICT projects in order to meet client requirements and provide quality solutions.

This course delivers a range of units including key vendor courses in preparation for specific vendor exams (not included). One example unit that is particularly important for back-end developers is the MTA: Database – Database Fundamentals. Database management systems are at the core of most business applications and allow users to perform multiple tasks. 

This unit is one that can help kick-start your programming career. All back-end developers need to regularly update their skills and knowledge. If you’re already programming but want to take your skills to the next level, the ICT50515 - Diploma of Database Design may well be just the course you’re looking for.

Start training in front-end or back-end development

Learn to write program code today and specialise in your own niche in one of Australia’s fastest growing industries. Get in touch with one of Upskilled’s education consultants and see how a studying a course can help with your programming career.
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