What Is a Full-Stack Developer?

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A full-stack developer helps build and maintain both the front-end and the back-end of a website. Learn about full-stack developer skills, salary, and how you can become one.

[Featured image] A full-stack developer wearing a blue and red-striped sweater sits at a wooden desk in a home office working on a desktop computer.

A full-stack developer is a developer or engineer who can build both the front end and the back end of a website. The front end (the parts of a website a user sees and interacts with) and the back end (the behind-the-scenes data storage and processing) require different skill sets. Since full-stack developers are involved with all aspects of the development process, they must have expertise in both.

A full-stack developer can work in-house or at a computer development company that engineers websites, software, and other components for other businesses.

What does a full-stack developer do?

Full-stack developers design and create websites and applications for various platforms. A full-stack developer’s job description might include the following:

  • Develop and maintain web services and interfaces

  • Contribute to front-end and back-end development processes

  • Build new product features or APIs

  • Perform tests, troubleshoot software, and fix bugs

  • Collaborate with other departments on projects and sprints

The world of full-stack development is large, and many new and evolving technologies continually push the limits of what a full-stack developer can create. Staying on top of cutting-edge technology and techniques in the full-stack development field is one of the many exciting aspects of working in this role.

According to LinkedIn's 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, the industries with the most full-stack developer jobs are:

  • Computer software

  • Information technology and services

  • Internet

  • Financial services

  • Higher education

Full-stack developer skills

Full-stack developers may be creative, graphically inclined, internet- and tech-savvy, and have excellent attention to detail. You’ll want to learn the following skills to have a career in full-stack development:

  • Front-end development is the process of creating the interface of a website. It entails coding details like drop-down menus, fonts, colors, and page layouts. Full-stack developers should also know how to work with front-end technologies like HTML, CSS, and scripting languages such as JavaScript to make websites and applications visually viable and appealing. If you want to transition into full-stack development from back-end development, you might consider earning a Professional Certificate in front-end development from an industry leader like Meta.

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Meta Front-End Developer

Launch your career as a front-end developer. Build job-ready skills for an in-demand career and earn a credential from Meta. No degree or prior experience required to get started.

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Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, UI/UX design, React, JavaScript, Web Development Tools, User Interface, Front-End Web Development, HTML and CSS, Responsive Web Design, Test-Driven Development, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Linux, Web Development, Bash (Unix Shell), Github, Version Control, Debugging, React (Web Framework), Web Application, Application development, Unit Testing, Web Design, User Experience (UX), Accessibility, Pseudocode, Algorithms, Communication, Data Structure, Computer Science

  • Back-end development skills entail using back-end programming languages like Python, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and CakePHP and understanding how algorithms and business logic work. You can enhance your back-end development skills to prepare for a full-stack developer role with Meta's Back-End Developer Professional Certificate.

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Cloud Hosting, Application Programming Interfaces (API), Python Programming, Computer Programming, Django (Web Framework), Linux, Web Development, Bash (Unix Shell), Github, Version Control, MySQL, Database (DBMS), database administration, Build a data model, Design a web application, Debugging, Authentication and authorization, REST APIs, Filtering and ordering, Serializers and deserializers, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, Production environments, JavaScript, API endpoints, Pseudocode, Algorithms, Communication, Data Structure, Computer Science

  • Web design includes using software such as Photoshop to create and design graphics and themes. It’ll be helpful to familiarize yourself with basic UI (user interface) design principles to help you create navigational elements, backgrounds, and audio and video elements.

  • Database management skills are required for full-stack developers, though it is part of the skills needed for back-end web development. A full-stack developer should be able to design, understand, and manipulate database queries and web storage.

As a full-stack developer, you may need to know your way around some of the following programming languages and tools:

  • Angular JS

  • Apache HTTP Server

  • AWS

  • CSS

  • Ember.js

  • JavaScript

  • jQuery

  • Laravel

  • Microsoft SQL Server

  • MySQL

  • Nginx

  • Node.js

  • PHP

  • Polymer

  • React

  • Ruby on Rails

  • Vue.js

Why pursue a career in full-stack development?

A career in full-stack development combines creativity with analysis. As a full-stack developer, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn and implement innovative principles in your work.

Average salary and job outlook

As of October 2022, the average annual salary of a full-stack developer is $81,188, according to Glassdoor. This figure does not include bonuses, commissions, or other additional payments that may be offered to a full-stack developer on a yearly basis. The estimated additional pay for this role is $5,915 per year [1].

The job outlook for full-stack developers is bright. According to LinkedIn's 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, rapid changes in technology have made full-stack developers valuable assets in companies. The profession has grown 35 percent a year since 2015 and appears to continue on that trend into the near future, LinkedIn reports [2].

Read more: Full-Stack Developer Salary: Your 2022 Guide

How to become a full-stack developer

Consider earning a degree.

72% of software developers hold a bachelor's degree, although it’s not a strict requirement [3]. Full-stack developers typically study computer science, computer engineering, or a related field. A degree can hone the technical and workplace skills necessary to be an effective full-stack engineer.

Research entry-level roles.

There are various levels of full-stack development jobs. Search for junior or entry-level positions on job sites to understand what skills employers are looking for in applicants. 

Develop your coding skills.

To be an effective full-stack developer, you should acquire and continue upgrading your knowledge of applicable programming language skills. Consider taking courses in relevant languages like Python, HTML, CSS, and Javascript

Build a portfolio.

It can be challenging to showcase your skill set on a resume without hands-on experience. A portfolio shows potential employers what you’re capable of by highlighting your best work. Gather projects you’ve completed through coursework or previous jobs. Include screenshots, and describe the technologies you used and your role in each. 

Practice technical interview questions.

Interviews for tech-related roles often include a technical portion. During this part of the interview, you may be asked to complete a live coding exercise, design challenge, or take-home assessment.

Glossary of full-stack developer terms

Full-stack development is full of unique terms. Below you will find a few of the frequent ones:

Angular JS: An open-source web application framework that Google maintains

API: Software that allows two applications to exchange information, short for Application Programming Interface

Bootstrap: An open-source collection of front-end tools to create websites and apps

Flask: A micro-web application framework, written in Python

Framework: A layered structure that provides a foundation for developing software applications

MEAN stack: A free, open-source JavaScript software stack to build websites and apps

Open-source software (OSS): Software that has a source code that can be modified, distributed, or integrated into other projects freely

PHP: Short for Hypertext Preprocessor, a server-side (back-end) scripting language for web development

Python: A general-purpose, high-level programming language 

Stack: A set of tools and technologies that developers use to do their jobs

Become a full-stack developer with Coursera

Continue building your expertise by earning a Full-Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate from IBM.

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Skills you'll build:

Cloud Native, Devops, Iaas PaaS Saas, Hybrid Multicloud, Cloud Computing, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, Git (Software), JavaScript, Cloud Applications, Distributed Version Control (DRCS), open source, Version Control Systems, Github, Web Development, User Interface, React (Web Framework), Front-end Development, back-end development, Server-side JavaScript, express, Computer Science, Data Science, Python Programming, Data Analysis, Pandas, Numpy, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Web Application, Application development, Flask, Django (Web Framework), Database (DBMS), SQL, Kubernetes, Docker, Containers, Openshift, Serverless Computing, Microservices, Function As A Service, Node.Js

Article sources

1

Glassdoor. "How much does a Full Stack Developer make? https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/emerging-jobs-report/Emerging_Jobs_Report_U.S._FINAL.pdf." Accessed October 5, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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