What Is a Full-Stack Engineer? Job Description

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This article explains the duties of a full-stack engineer, from software development to team leadership. Plus, learn what skills full-stack engineers need, some of the challenges they may face, and how to get started. 

[Featured image) A full-stack engineer smiles in front of two computer screens.

If you are technically inclined, a career as a full-stack engineer could be a fulfilling path for your future. In this article, we break down the duties and responsibilities of a full-stack engineer to provide an overview of the role.

What is a full-stack engineer?

A full-stack engineer is a high-level software engineer that works to design, test, and implement various software applications. They create software, applications, and scalable web services, while also providing leadership for coding teams. Full-stack engineers usually possess prodigious skills and are involved in each stage of software development. This can include data structure completion, architecture design, code review, performance evaluation, internal tool management, and updates. The term “full-stack” refers to the engineer’s ability to work on both the front-end and back-end development of an application.

What does a full-stack engineer do?

At the beginning of a project, full-stack engineers may meet with members of the software development team in order to lay out the scale and scope of the software project. After that, they will begin designing and building the software. Full-stack engineers write various high-level and low-level code. They troubleshoot errors, help design the user experience (UX), resolve bugs, and improve the overall efficiency of the software. Full-stack engineers need excellent collaboration skills because they work with front- and back-end development team members.

Full-stack engineer tools and skills

Full-stack engineers are master coders. They are typically familiar with the following popular programming languages:

  • Python

  • JavaScript

  • C

  • Node

  • HTML/CSS

  • SQL

  • PHP [1]

Often, full-stack engineers obtain a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or a related field. However, many employers may accept professional certifications or relevant work experience instead of a degree.

Work environment

A wide variety of companies hire full-stack developers. For example, software companies commonly hire them, as well as social media companies, cybersecurity companies, and others. Considering the fact that companies in a wide variety of niches have software applications, there are jobs available in many different industries. However, it is most common for full-stack developers to work in the tech industry.

Full-stack engineer salary and job outlook

The demand for computer and information technology professionals such as full-stack engineers is expected to increase 13 percent between 2020 and 2030 [2]. This figure translates into an above-average amount of job opportunities for full-stack engineers in the coming decade. Because full-stack engineers are extremely skilled software developers, the pay for this position tends to be higher than average.

The average yearly pay for a full-stack developer is $120,927 [3]. The exact salary that you can earn will depend on your experience, your skills, and the company that you are working for. For example, the average full-stack engineer salary for someone with 0-1 year of experience is $114,566. In contrast, the average annual salary for someone with 4-6 years of experience in full-stack development is $127,304.

How to become a full-stack engineer

The first step toward a career in full-stack engineering is typically a Bachelor's degree or a Master of Computer Science. A degree in computer science or a related field is one way to gain the skills you need to handle the responsibilities of a full-stack engineer.

You can also gain practical experience and professional qualifications through Professional Certificates in full-stack engineering. For example, you can earn a certificate in Full Stack Software Development with IBM's online course:

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professional certificate

IBM Full Stack Software Developer

Kickstart your career in application development. Master Cloud Native and Full Stack Development using hands-on projects involving HTML, JavaScript, Node.js, Python, Django, Containers, Microservices and more. No prior experience required.

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BEGINNER level

Average time: 4 month(s)

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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

Build a portfolio.

Another way to demonstrate your abilities is to build a portfolio. A portfolio is a collection of work that highlights your expertise. Full-stack engineers can use open-source or free development tools to independently create projects, applications, and websites. A few examples of open-source development tools include GitHub and React. With a portfolio, you have a tangible demonstration of your skills along with your resume.

Take the next step with Coursera

Start building your portfolio and gain the skills you need to become a full-stack engineer with an industry leader like Meta:

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The Full Stack

As you prepare for your role in back-end development, practice bringing together multiple skills to build a full-stack Django app. You’ll start by setting ...

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INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 1 month(s)

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Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, Production environments, JavaScript, Django (Web Framework)

Related articles

Article sources

1. Statista. "Most Used Programming Languages Among Developers Worldwide, https://www.statista.com/statistics/793628/worldwide-developer-survey-most-used-languages/." Accessed July 5, 2022.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer and Information Technology Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm." Accessed July 5, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. "How Much Does a Full-Stack Engineer Make? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/full-stack-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,19.htm." Accessed July 5, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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