Need to learn back end (Node, MongoDB, etc.) to land first front end job?

Hey guys. I’ve been learning to code to land a job since December 2017, and I graduated college in December 2018 with a degree in Spanish Education, which I no longer wanted to have a career in. I work full-time at Walgreens now outside of learning to code. I feel like a lot of my time is spoken for so I want to make sure I’m going down the right path here while learning technologies and building projects.

I’ve been through a few web developer interviews this year, but only after I had a decent handle on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React. They all turned me down, one saying I need to work on my data structures & algorithms, another just vaguely saying I’m still too green with React and I need to learn to build more stuff with API’s.

I’m wondering now looking at all these job postings in my area (I want to work in Madison, WI), and I see front end roles that prefer people with familiarity in Node and SQL and other back-end technologes and databases. I get distracted by these “extra credit” skills and I’m just not sure if I should be giving them so much focus.

Is it really going to be necessary for me to learn these in 2019 in order to be competitive, or should I just get super skilled in everything on the front end? Just getting difficult to wonder what my best bet is to get hired, since I haven’t made any unique personal projects yet. I want to know if I need to start building in MERN stack or just make quality client-side apps.


If you’re weak in the areas of algorithms and data structures and you don’t have a lot of practical experience, then knowing some back-end technologies won’t compensate for that. Those are skills that employers need to feel confident in. Beyond that, learning full stack development will significantly increase the number of jobs that you can be considered for.

Familiarity and proficiency is not the same thing. You don’t have to be an expert, but most of the time, being totally ignorant is unacceptable.

Don’t constrain yourself to just the front-end, there is a limit to what you can do armed with just the knowledge of the front end. These technologies are everywhere, and even as a front-end developer, you have to work closely with these technologies because they provide the data and operation to power your front-end.

Is it necessary to know backend technology to get a job in 2019? Maybe not, but will you have to learn something about these technologies to be a competitive employee? Absolutely.

I’m seconding what @ArielLeslie said here.

If they specifically told you to brush up on your DataStructures and Algorithms, then that’s a good starting point. API’s have nothing to do with DataStructures or Algorithms… so you saying “structures & algorithms, another just vaguely saying I’m still too green with React and I need to learn to build more stuff with API’s.” is itself confusing and doesn’t make sense.

I feel like you really need to stop and listen to what people are telling you. You can go off and learn all the things you think you need to learn, but really the only thing that matters is what the people interviewing you care about.

Listen to what the market (and the people who have interviewed you) tells you, and give them what they want. It’s as simple as that.