Becoming a Full-Stack Developer

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Updated September 12, 2022

Interested in a career as a full-stack developer? This guide provides information on becoming a full-stack developer, including required education and experience.

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People interested in software development careers can consider becoming full-stack developers. This relatively new type of professional uses front-end and back-end development to create entire web applications independently.

Their broad expertise may make them particularly valuable to companies, leading to higher salaries and better career opportunities than other web developers. Aspiring professionals wondering, "How do I become a full-stack developer?" can use this guide to discover full-stack developer education pathways, experience opportunities, and certifications in the field.

What Is a Full-Stack Developer?

Instead of specializing in back-end (server side) or front-end (client side) development, these developers work on the entire "stack" of applications and websites. They can often create an entire web application and are responsible for the entire software lifecycle.

Full-stack developers are unique from other computer science professionals because of their broad, versatile skill sets. As one person, they can often complete projects that would normally require multiple employees. Companies may see hiring full-stack developers as a cost-effective way to get the skills they need with just one employee.

Typical responsibilities include writing code, testing code, and analyzing user needs. Full-stack developers often work remotely as freelancers, interacting with other developers and UX/UI designers.

What Education Do Full-Stack Developers Need?

Requirements vary by position and company, but most employers seek candidates with bachelor's-level education. Common majors include web development or computer science. Full-stack developers with higher education levels may qualify for higher salaries and better job opportunities.

However, there are no concrete full-stack developer education requirements, as employers often prioritize job applicants who can demonstrate relevant knowledge and skills. A full-stack development bootcamp offers another potential route to a full-stack developer career. Consult our full-stack development bootcamp ranking to find the best programs.

Some people earn associate or bachelor's degrees in other fields and then complete full-stack development bootcamps to master advanced development skills. A full-stack development bootcamp participant usually only needs a high school diploma or GED certificate.

There are no officially recommended continuing education requirements, but full-stack developers must learn new programming languages and keep track of emerging technologies throughout their careers.

How Much Experience Do Full-Stack Developers Need?

There are no industry-wide experience standards for full-stack developers, as requirements vary among employers. These professionals may start as other types of developers or in other entry-level IT roles. For some positions, job applicants may be able to substitute education for experience requirements or vice versa.

Students can often receive real-world experience while earning degrees or attending bootcamps. Programs may offer opportunities for enrollees to participate in internships, complete capstone projects, or craft portfolios demonstrating their competency in full-stack development.

Certifications

A professional certification is a voluntary credential that demonstrates an individual possesses the specific knowledge, skills, and experience to become a full-stack developer. The industry does not require any certifications for full-stack developers. Although many certificate programs exist, certifications specifically for full-stack developers are rare.

However, earning other computer science certifications may lead to better career opportunities.

  • IBM Full Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate: This professional certificate from IBM can help launch a career in application development. It does not require prior experience and includes hands-on projects using JavaScript, HTML, and Python.
  • Project Management Professional: Individuals with this credential demonstrate their competency in project management skills. Because full-stack developers typically are responsible for the entire software development lifecycle, project management skills are essential.
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control: This credential focuses on enterprise IT risk management. It demonstrates expertise in identifying, analyzing, and responding to security risks.

How Do I Become a Full-Stack Developer?

The process and time it takes to become a full-stack developer depend on your chosen path. There are multiple routes for becoming a full-stack developer. Most full-stack developers possess four-year bachelor's degrees. However, some professionals start with two-year associate degrees before transferring to bachelor's programs.

Full-stack development bootcamps offer a pathway to gain the skills and knowledge for this career in a short but intensive time frame. The amount of time it takes to finish a bootcamp varies by program and depends on whether you enter with basic tech understanding — some last for a few weeks, while others require months of attendance.

Below, we explain the detailed steps for how to become a full-stack engineer via these different potential paths.

Steps to Becoming a Full-Stack Developer

Bachelor's Degree Path

  • 1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree. A full-stack developer typically holds at least a four-year bachelor's degree. Popular majors include web development and computer science.
  • 2. Complete an Internship. Candidates can use the experience gained in internships for a leg up in applying to jobs while still in school or after graduation. Internships can provide networking opportunities and lead to future job offers.
  • 3. Apply for Industry Certifications. The industry does not require certification for full-stack developers. However, earning a relevant certification demonstrates competency in relevant skills to employers.
  • 4. Complete Continuing Education. Due to their work in an evolving sector, full-stack developers need to continually learn new programming languages and remain current with new developments in the field. Developers can find professional development opportunities through industry organizations or independent study.

Associate Degree Path

  • 1. Earn an Associate Degree. Some full-stack developers start by earning two-year associate degrees in related fields like information technology or web development. Later, they can transfer to four-year bachelor's programs.
  • 2. Complete an Internship.
  • 3. Earn a Bachelor's Degree.
  • 4. Apply for Industry Certifications.
  • 5. Complete Continuing Education.

Bootcamp Path

  • 1. Complete a Bootcamp. A full-stack development bootcamp can prepare participants for new careers through short-term, intensive training. Most bootcamps accept high school graduates, although you may need to complete pre-work requirements if you lack relevant tech experience.
  • 2. Complete an Internship.
  • 3. Apply for Industry Certifications.
  • 4. Complete Continuing Education.

Should I Become a Full-Stack Developer?

Interested developers can pursue lucrative jobs in a growing and emerging field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 13% job growth rate for web developers from 2020-2030. With experience and education, full-stack developers can advance to higher-level roles as computer and information systems managers.

Successful full-stack developers understand front-end development, back-end development, user experience design, and databases. Key personal qualities include creativity and strong problem-solving, communication, and programming skills.

These versatile developers can complete projects quickly and efficiently. However, their broad and generalized knowledge may cause employers to have unrealistic expectations for their work. Sometimes, a project needs other, more specialized developers.

The Job Hunt

To find a job as a full-stack developer, consider your ideal employer, work environment, and industry. Look for openings at job fairs, networking events, and annual conferences. Also, pursue opportunities through professional organizations and mentor recommendations.

Students and recent graduates can often receive help through their schools' career development offices, which may provide access to job boards, resume-writing tips, and mock interviews.

Job-seekers can also search for openings through online job boards. Below, we describe five of the top job boards for full-stack developer positions.

  • Fullstack Jobs: This job board posts openings specifically for full-stack professionals. Users can search for roles by skill, country, or language and filter for remote positions.
  • Indeed: Aspiring developers can use Indeed to search for full-stack developer positions on one of the largest job sites in the world. Individuals can also post resumes, find openings, and research prospective employers.
  • ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter connects millions of employers and job seekers. The website uses artificial intelligence technology to improve the job search experience.
  • We Work Remotely: This job board only includes remote work opportunities. Many companies post developer roles.
  • LinkedIn: The networking site also features job listings and allows employers to view your profile and resume.

Questions About Becoming a Full-Stack Developer


How long does it take to become a full-stack developer?

The amount of time it takes to become a full-stack developer depends on your career path. Many full-stack developers earn four-year bachelor's degrees. However, others get their training by completing full-stack development bootcamps, which take significantly less time than a traditional degree.

What is the best full-stack bootcamp?

Many schools offer coding bootcamps that prepare participants to apply for full-stack developer jobs. The best option for you depends on factors like budget, location, and curriculum. Use our guide to find the best full-stack coding bootcamps.

Can I teach myself to be a full-stack developer?

The type of education needed to be a full-stack developer varies with the individual and employer. Some companies prefer applicants with formal training and education. However, some people can teach themselves full-stack development skills and demonstrate their proficiency to potential employers by submitting portfolios of their work.

Can I become a full-stack developer with no experience?

Yes. Employers hire full-stack developers with no professional experience. However, you can improve your chances of landing a job by getting practical experience in internships and capstone projects.

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