Full-Stack Developer Career Overview

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Updated September 13, 2022

Interested in a career as a full-stack developer? This guide explores the history of this profession, required skills, and salary expectations.

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Aspiring computer science students and professionals may wonder, "What is a full-stack developer?" These programmers design and build entire applications and websites, including the visual aesthetics and infrastructure. These software engineers are well-versed in multiple programming languages, mobile and web applications, user interface design, and web architecture.

While full-stack developers are proficient in both the front and back ends of application creation, a web developer focuses solely on client-side development, making full-stack programming a higher-paying career. Industries that employ full-stack developers include information technology, computer software, banking, financial services, and telecommunications.

This page explores full-stack developer careers, including required education and certifications, job outlook, salary expectations, and professional resources. Read on to learn more about common career pathways in the field to decide if this career is right for you.

History of Full-Stack Developers

Before internet use became heavily mobile-intensive, there was little difference between full-stack development and web development, as websites were simple enough to be created by one engineer. With the rise of the internet and increasingly complex technologies, companies needed multiple specialists to work on applications' hidden and client-facing sides.

The term "full-stack developer" became popular in this period as these professionals began designing for mobile and web platforms.

What Does a Full-Stack Developer Do?

Since full-stack developers possess front-end and back-end development skills, their role involves overseeing a project from conception to culmination. Typical tasks for these developers include fine-tuning existing programs, optimizing sites for web and mobile platforms, designing APIs, and testing application functionality.

Full-stack developers work alone but often collaborate with other engineers, developers, designers, and project managers. Learning new skills and staying up to date on programming techniques, tools, and industry trends is part of a full-stack developer's job.

The following list details some of the key skills full-stack developers need to succeed in this fast-paced profession.

Key Soft Skills for Full-Stack Developers

  • Attention to Detail: Developers must pay close attention to the code they write to ensure smooth and accurate functionality.
  • Problem-Solving: Challenges and obstacles are common in full-stack developers' careers, and they must know how to solve problems without breaking existing code.
  • Creativity: Full-stack developers juggle aesthetics with logic, and creativity is required for designing a visually pleasing digital product.
  • Communication: Effectively communicating with team members and superiors can solve technical issues faster and create a comfortable work environment.

Key Hard Skills for Full-Stack Developers

  • Software Development: Full-stack developers design and execute software programs, so they need to be proficient in software development skills.
  • Programming: Full-stack developers must be fluent in front-end and back-end programming languages, such as JavaScript, Python, C++, and HTML.
  • Design: Along with functioning properly, websites and apps need to look good. Design skills are a vital part of full-stack development.
  • Analytical Skills: These skills help developers process large sets of information.

A Day in the Life of a Full-Stack Developer

The daily duties of a full-stack developer depend on the project and position. Whether working remotely or in the office, these professionals typically attend team meetings, fix bugs and glitches, review existing code, and write new code for their projects.

Full-Stack Developer Salary and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), full-stack developers — included within the broader category of web developers and digital designers — have a median annual salary of $77,200.

Payscale data from June 2022 indicates that the bottom 10% of full-stack developers make an average of $48,000, while professionals in the 90th percentile earn an average salary of $113,000. Several factors contribute to full-stack developer salaries, including location, experience, educational background, and industry. The BLS projects a faster-than-average growth rate of 13% from 2020-2030 for web developers and digital designers.

Annual Median Salary


$77,200

Source: BLS

How to Become a Full-Stack Developer

A full-stack developer usually needs a four-year bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field to pursue employment in the industry. However, if they already possess technical experience, candidates may be able to substitute formal education with programming bootcamps and coding certifications.

Proficiency in programming is essential for a career in full-stack development. Though there are many programming languages, full-stack developers can find their niche and specialize in only a few instead of trying to learn all of them. Employers may seek three or more years of work experience and awareness of the latest advances in the field.

The following links offer more details on getting started as a full-stack developer.

1

How to Become a Full-Stack Developer

Learn how to jump-start a career as a full-stack developer.
Learn More
1

Day in the Life of a Full-Stack Developer

Explore the daily tasks of a full-stack developer.
Learn More
1

Web Development Degree Programs

Boost your tech skills with a degree in web development.
Learn More
1

Online Bachelors in Web Development Programs

Get a bachelor's degree in web development from home.
Learn More
1

Web Development Bootcamps

Prepare for a tech career with a web development bootcamp.
Learn More
1

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Advance your skills ahead by pursuing a computer science certification.
Learn More

Similar Specializations and Career Paths

As a subset of computer programming, full-stack development can often provide opportunities in related careers. With experience, full-stack developers can progress to more senior roles as project managers, programming consultants, and computer scientists.

Similar careers for full-stack developers include:

  • Web Developer: Web developers design websites and oversee their functionality. They fix bugs, monitor traffic, and refresh content according to needs.
  • Computer Programmer: These professionals write codefor applications, fix system errors, and design computer structures.They commonly collaborate with software engineers and web developers.
  • Software Engineer: Software engineers design new applications as well as modify and refresh existing programs. These professionals are fluent in programming languages and handle organizations' core network systems.
  • Project Manager: In the computing industry, project managers lead teams, set project goals, brainstorm with developers, and handle communication among departments. They oversee each stage of the project and assign tasks to team members.
  • Network Architect: Network architects specialize in the communication networks side of computer engineering. These systems include local area networks, company-wide networks, and cloud computing. Their daily tasks include designing networks, analyzing data traffic, upgrading hardware, and troubleshooting information security issues.
Career Required Education Required Experience Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)

Web Developer

Bachelor's degree

1-3 years

$77,200

13%

Computer Programmer

Bachelor's degree

1-3 years

$93,000

N/A

Software Engineer

Bachelor's degree

3 years or more

$88,660

N/A

Project Manager

Bachelor's degree

5 years or more

$95,330

N/A

Network Architect

Bachelor's degree

5 years or more

$116,780

5%

Source: BLS; Payscale, June 2022

Resources for Full-Stack Developers

Professional organizations offer resources and networking opportunities. The following list includes some of the best resources for full-stack developers.

Professional Organizations for Full-Stack Developers

  • American Webmaster's Association: Established in 2003, AWA is a professional organization for connecting and supporting website developers. Members can receive training courses, resources, and lifetime learning opportunities to enrich their careers.
  • The American Institute for Graphic Arts: AIGA was founded in 1914 to connect designers and the public. This association organizes programs and initiatives through 70 chapters to provide its members with professional development opportunities.
  • Computing Technology Industry Association: CompTIA provides training opportunities and professional certification for the computing industry. Membership is free for students and certification-holders, and a paid option is available for networking opportunities.
  • International Web Association: IWA offers certification standards and educational opportunities for web development professionals. The association counts over 300,000 members across 106 countries.

Common Questions About Full-Stack Developers


What is a full-stack developer?

A full-stack developer is a programming professional capable of handling client-facing and server sides of websites and applications.

What is the difference between full-stack development and web development?

While web development covers programming for either the front end or the back end, full-stack development encompasses both sides of the process.

What can a full-stack developer do?

Some of the duties of a full-stack developer are writing code, debugging and upgrading existing programs, optimizing applications for all platforms, and conceptualizing new projects.

Is full-stack development a good career?

The BLS projects the web development industry, which encompasses full-stack development, to grow by 13% from 2020-2030. These professionals earn strong salaries and can anticipate continued growth in the sector.


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