What to learn next? – How to become a senior frontend developer?

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What to learn if you want to level up from a junior developer to a senior frontend developer?

What’s the Difference Between Junior and Senior Frontend Developers?

There are numerous articles, podcasts, and videos that can answer the question of what sets senior software developers apart from juniors, what experiences and skills they need to have, and how to level up from a junior to a senior. Here’s a short list of some resources: 

Some people believe that experience, insight into the whole development process, and attitude make a senior developer, while others think it’s about technological knowledge, problem-solving skills and being able to work independently. 

 

How to become a senior frontend developer?

 

In this article, we are looking for answers to questions of what a junior developer needs to learn, what programming languages, pieces of software, methodologies they need to have to be able to apply for senior positions.

How did we approach this question? 

How did we try to answer the question of what technology you should master next in this article?

  • We collected 100 junior and 100 senior frontend developer job advertisements from LinkedIn.
  • We compiled lists of “must-have” requirements and “nice-to-have” skills.
  • We collected technologies and soft skills in different groups to make it more transparent, and we looked at how many times these appear in job advertisements.
  • We summarized what junior and senior developers need to know based on how often the technologies appear in job advertisements.

If you are interested in background data as well, check out this spreadsheet with the job advertisements where we did our data analysis.

We also suggest reading our previous article about the technologies that are expected from frontend developers.

In this article, you can also find an awesome roadmap that walks you through the labyrinth of becoming a senior frontend developer. 

What is the difference between the expectations for junior and senior frontend developers?

In this article, we are going to talk about the main differences between the expectations for junior and senior developers, and what technologies are needed for each level.

 

Click on the “junior” and “senior” buttons to change between views, and hover your mouse over the graph to see the actual piece of  data

 

We will look through these in detail. Let’s start with actual technological skills:

Programming languages

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript dominate the market in the case of client-side development, so all frontend developers need to know all of these languages, but TypeScript is starting to pop up more and more recently.

In the advertisements, we saw that senior positions require TypeScript more frequently: 15% of junior positions expect you to know TypeScript, and another 5% says it is an advantage, while 36% of senior advertisements are looking for developers who know and are able to use TypeScript.

CSS preprocessors

We can find programming languages other than the basic frontend languages in these advertisements, for example, CSS preprocessors that make coding in CSS faster and more efficient are pretty common.

If we compare junior and senior advertisements, we can see that the expectation of knowing preprocessors more than doubles — one in three senior positions require you to know a preprocessor.

  • Less increases from 4% to 17%, 
  • Sass increases from 9% to 20%,
  • and SCSS from 5% to 13%.

Frameworks 

Usually, knowledge of some JavaScript frameworks and libraries is expected even from junior developers. 77% of junior positions mention being familiar with one or more frameworks—this increases to 90% in the case of senior developers.

A total of 15 different frontend frameworks and libraries appear in the advertisements, but several of them appear only once or are optional.

Let’s look at the most popular ones to see whether there are differences between expectations from junior and senior developers.

  • The most popular JavaScript framework is React, and more than half of junior, more than two-thirds of senior jobs require you to know it.
  • Up next is Angular—20% of junior jobs, and 40% of senior jobs require you to know it.
  • The third most popular framework is Vue, but it lags far behind the first two. The difference between junior and senior levels isn’t that huge, 16% of the former, and 22% of the latter advertisements require it.
  • The framework jQuery is an exception among frameworks in that all other frameworks have a higher proportion at the senior level than the junior level, but here, the reverse is true. Junior positions require jQuery more (15%) than senior positions (11%).
  • There are other frontend frameworks and libraries that only appear in senior job ads. These are Backbone, Carbon, Knockout.js and Koa. These only appear in 1 to 2% of senior job ads.
  • After frameworks, we need to mention WordPress as well, because this content management system is hard to categorize. WordPress, of course, is not a framework or a library — it is more and less than that at the same time.

WordPress is typically a junior technology — at that level, 12% of employers expect you to know it, while only 2% of senior jobs require it.

Back-end technologies

Although we are talking about frontend jobs, we can see even at the junior level that knowledge of certain back-end languages or frameworks is an advantage for a given job.

It is often an explicit requirement, and 46% of senior job ads expect you to know back-end languages and frameworks.

  • Fun fact: technologies with longer histories (such as PHP and SQL) are more frequent in junior job ads: 15% of jobs require PHP, and 5% lists it as nice to have, while it is only required for 4 to 5% of senior jobs, and it doesn’t even appear on the nice-to-have list.
  • In contrast, more modern back-end frameworks (such as GraphQL and Node.js) appear in greater numbers among senior developer jobs. The former increases from 3% to 12%, the latter from 11% to 21%.

 

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Click on the “junior” and “senior” buttons to change between views, and hover your mouse over the graph to see the actual piece of  data

 

Build Tools

This category contains module bundlers, package managers, and task runners. At the junior level, knowledge of these is not a common requirement. Webpack and Gulp appear in 6% of junior job advertisements as a requirement.

One-third of senior jobs mention building tools as requirements, but it depends on a given company, which pieces of software and which methods they prefer.

  • Gulp appears in 8%,
  • npm appears in 9%,
  • And Webpack appears most commonly, in 19% of ads.

Infrastructure

As part of a development team, it is important to know the infrastructural background — 7% of junior developers, and 20% of seniors need to know it.

Experience in AWS and Azure is the norm. Babel, Jenkins, and Kubernetes all appear only once in junior job ads. In senior ads, Babel appeared in 4%, docker in 6%, and Kubernetes in 7%.

Software development management methodologies

Developer methodologies that bring together and systematize software design processes, planning, organization, feedback, iteration increasingly appear at the senior level.

These are usually the tasks of project managers, but 32% of development jobs require them, and another 7% lists it on the nice to have a list.

The agile development methodology is especially useful, but the ads list Scrum and Kanban as well (though that appears fewer times).

Testing

Testing becomes more and more important for frontend developers. One-fourth of junior developer jobs require you to have testing skills, and another 9% list it as a nice to have skill.

In senior positions, 37% of positions require you to know to test, and another 5% list it as a nice to have skill. The most frequently mentioned technologies are Jest and Jasmine.

What about soft skills? 

Besides technological knowledge, there are other skills that support teamwork and individual work as well.

Openness and lifelong learning, familiarizing yourself with new technologies, proactivity and precision — are all important characteristics of an efficient development team.

Not all employers highlight soft skills that are important for the work of the company in addition to technological expectations in their advertisements — 55% of junior ads, and 64% of senior ads list attitude, social and communication skills as expectations.

 

How to become a senior software developer?

 

Soft skills can refer to a wide variety of skills, personality traits, or attitude characteristics and are articulated in a variety of ways in job advertisements, making them difficult to assess and compare.

In general, more than half of junior jobs and two-thirds of senior jobs have expectations of soft skills.

Within the vague and hard to grasp category of soft skills, the most common expectation is having good communication skills, and that is equally important on any level.

Communication with customers rarely appears in development job ads, since in most companies, communication with customers is not the job of members of the development team or not all members.

It is completely absent from junior ads, and only 8% of senior ads have it listed. Ability to learn appears in 11% of both categories.

It seems logical to expect management skills or good leadership skills to be mentioned more often in senior job advertisements, but that is not the case.

There is no significant difference between positions—management appears 11% in junior job ads, and 12% in senior ads, and leadership skills increase in senior jobs from 1% to 5%.

There is one soft skill that is significantly different between junior and senior positions — teamwork: only 18% of junior frontend developer ads list teamwork, while this percentage increases to 32% in senior ads.

How many years of experience are needed?

To get a junior frontend developer job, you usually need 1 to 2 years of practice, but there are many job advertisements that can even require you to have at least 4 years of experience.

For senior jobs, you usually need at least 5 years of experience or more, but it can even be more than 8 or 10 years.

 

Click on the “junior” and “senior” buttons to change between views, and hover your mouse over the graph to see the actual piece of  data

 

Do you need a degree to get a senior frontend developer job?

You might be interested in whether you can only get a job if you have a degree in IT. According to the job advertisements we analyzed, we can say that you don’t necessarily need to have a degree, because only a quarter of employers require it.

Interestingly, this ratio is the same for both junior and senior positions—about 25% for each.

 

How to become a senior software developer?

What to learn next? 

If you already have the basics needed for frontend development, you might wonder what to learn next. We created a list based on our findings in the job advertisements, so you can see what other technologies you should look into:

  • Back-end technologies: 
    • GraphQL
    • Node.js
  • Build tools: 
    • Webpack
  • CSS preprocessors:
    • Less
    • Sass
  • JavaScript frameworks:
    • React
    • Angular
    • Vue
    • Redux
  • Management methods:
    • Agilis methodologies
    • Scrum
  • Programming languages:
    • TypeScript
  • Testing tools: 
    • Jest 
  • Improve your soft skills, especially teamwork

If you are interested in an actual course where you can improve your JavaScript skills, practice intermediate and advanced tasks, and prepare for job interviews, try out our Advanced JavaScript course that we created with exactly this goal in mind so that you can move beyond the basics and address issues that are really relevant in the job market.

If you’d like to see more programming tutorials, check out our Youtube channel, where we have plenty of programming video tutorials in English.

In CodeBerry Programming School’s “Basics of Programming” series, we discuss programming-related topics and everything you need to know to get started. Stay tuned for new articles and find the answer to every “what”, “why”, and “how”, you may have had about coding!

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