Skip to content
Developer salary

Front end vs back end developer salary – 2021 US comparison

Developer salary

Which job title has a higher salary: a front end developer or back end developer?  If you’ve ever wondered what the difference was between front end vs back end developer salary, we’re happy to clear it up for you.

In this article, we’ll analyze the front end and back end salaries in the US. We’ll cover the following topics:

What is front end development?

The front end is all that the users can see, click, and touch. It’s all about interaction, the visuals, interfaces, and, of course, user experience. Often called the “client-side” software, front end consists of graphic elements, pictures, and links. Thanks to software maintenance and support, all of these parts need to work quickly and efficiently to help the user complete their tasks.

What are the most essential front end developer skills when determining front end vs back end developer salary?

Front end developers work with HTML code and CSS (CSS, the newest version being CSS3). Advanced visual effects and interactions are often created using JavaScript. Knowledge of JavaScript-related frameworks, such as Angular and React, is highly valued, too.

Average front end developer salary in the US

Front end salary Indeed

Source: Indeed

As of August 30, 2021, Indeed claims that the average front end developer salary in the US is $103,981 per year- with a possible additional $2500 in bonuses.

According to Glassdoor, the average front end developer salary falls slightly higher at $86k annually.

Front end salary Glassdoor

Developer Experience

Unsurprisingly, a front end developer’s salary depends heavily on their experience.

According to PayScale:

  • an entry-level front end developer salary is around $61,000 per year
  • a developer with 1-4 years of experience earns around $73,000 per year
  • a mid-career front end developer (5-9 years of experience) receives an average total compensation of $84,000
  • an experienced one (10-19 years) earns $89,000 per year on average
  • a front end developer in their late-career (20+ years of experience) earns $93,000 on average


When it comes to developer salaries, it matters a lot whether you’re close to Silicon Valley or another major tech hub.

According to PayScale, front end developer salaries in San Francisco are 51% higher than the national average. In Chicago, on the other hand, the salaries are only 4% higher than the average. What’s more, front end developers can expect a higher-than-average salary in Seattle (+20%), New York City (+14%), Los Angeles (+5%) and Boston (+8%).

Pay difference by location US

High-paying skills

Tech trends change fast, so it always makes sense for a developer to keep an eye on IT skills in demand right now. Some of the most sought-after skills for front end developers in the US include:

CSS and HTML5 are essential for every front end software engineer. Knowledge of JavaScript frameworks, such as React and Angular, correlates with higher pay (according to PayScale).

Now that you know what the situation is for front end developers in the US. What about back end developers?

What is back end development?

Back end development, on the other hand, creates “server-side” software. Back end developers take care of all server logic, databases, and client-server data flow. Even though most of a back end developer’s work can’t be seen at first glance, it remains the core of the application. Their code communicates the database information to the user or other back end systems.

What are the most important back end developer skills?

Some of the most popular programming languages among back end developers include Ruby on Rails, Python, .NET, PHP, and Java (not to be confused with JavaScript). Knowledge of database management tools, such as Oracle or MySQL is also very much in-demand.

The average back end developer salary in the US

Popular opinion is that back end positions come with higher salaries. We’ve checked a couple of different sources and it really depends on who you ask!

PayScale claims that the average back end developer salary in the USA is around $81,161 per year.

On the contrary, ZipRecruiter reports a much higher number of $100,281 per year.

Similar salaries data is stated by Glassdoor, with the national average of $79,518 per year. reports the highest numbers of all, as it claims that back end developers in the US earn on average $118,813 annually.


Same as with the front end, back end software engineer salaries depend on the developer’s experience.

PayScale reports that:

  • an entry-level back end developer in the US typically earns around $61,042 per year.
  • an early career (1-4 year of experience) back end engineer can expect a salary of $75,000 per year.
  • a back end developer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average $95,000 per year.


Once again, back end developer jobs in San Francisco are paid 11% more than the national median. Back end engineers can expect a higher-than-average salary in Chicago (3%) and Boston (-8%), while in Orlando, Florida the earnings can be up to 38% lower than the average.

Mobile and web back end developer salaries

As we’ve mentioned above, a back end developer’s job involves working with different databases. There are some differences between the mobile and the web development approach.

To connect the client with the server, back and web developers typically work with an Object Relationship Manager (ORM). When it comes to mobile back end development, engineers commonly use Application Programming Interfaces (API). According to Glassdoor, working with API comes with higher salaries – mobile web developers earn as much as $113,721 per year, while their web development counterparts earn around $68,524

High-paying developer skills

As stated by PayScale, knowledge of JavaScript is usually highly valued, as many back end developers work with Node.js, JavaScript’s runtime environment that comes with APIs suitable for back end software development. If an engineer is familiar with these two, it makes their work with the front end a whole lot smoother. Other popular skills among back end developers include PHP, Python, and Git.


In the end, when comparing front end vs back end developer salary, the question is, is back-end developer a higher paid career path?

According to some sources, the difference is as little as 1%, while other sources (such as Glassdoor) suggest that back end engineers can earn even 25% more than front end developers! There is definitely a pattern suggesting that back end software development comes with higher salaries.

Get started with
DevSkiller today

Discover how DevSkiller can help you grow.