What Is A Full-Stack Developer? | 2021 Guide | Wired Sussex

21 Dec 2020

21 Dec 2020

What Is A Full-Stack Developer? 

The Ultimate Guide To Full-Stack Web Development In 2021

Broadly speaking, most of us are aware that a web developer is someone who makes websites and apps functional. As the internet landscape has become increasingly complex and crowded, very specific types of web developers have emerged. Front-end, back-end and full-stack developer are just some of the different job titles that get thrown about and, quite frankly, it’s enough to leave you in a bit of a tizz! In this comprehensive guide, we’re shining the spotlight firmly on the role of the full-stack web developer. Read on to understand precisely what this job entails and the skills you need to succeed in 2021. 

Full-Stack Developer Meaning

Web development comprises of three main streams - front-end, back-end and full-stack. Put simply, the front-end focuses on how a site or app looks while the back-end determines how it works. A full-stack developer, meanwhile, is essentially a hybrid of the two. They are experienced in each stage of software development, straddling the front-end (everything users can see on their screen) and back-end (everything else that occurs behind the scenes). Daily responsibilities can include designing application architecture, using programming languages, launching new features, maintaining code integrity and implementing data protection. 

For absolute clarity, and to help aid your understanding, we deemed it valuable to discuss what a full-stack developer most definitely isn’t. Below we’ve reviewed some job roles the full-stack developer is commonly compared to or confused with.

Full-Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer

As we mentioned previously, a full-stack developer works on the back and front-end of websites and apps. As apps are a type of software, developers that work on them can be considered software engineers too. Contrastingly, a software engineer refers to those who work on some aspect of building software – so not all software engineers are necessarily full-stack developers.   

Full-Stack Developer Vs Full-Stack Engineer

So, in your job search, you might have spied that full-stack developer, full-stack web developer and full-stack engineer are used interchangeably. What’s that all about? Well, for the most part, they are indeed the same. Crucially, though, a full-stack engineer is a slightly more senior role, combining development know-how with project management skills. 

Data Analyst Vs Full-Stack Developer 

A data scientist gathers, analyses and interprets numeric data, which helps companies make informed, meaningful decisions. A full-stack developer focuses on developing functional features for users of a site or app. Both are segments of the tech industry, require technical skills and entail some analytical components - however they are distinctly different.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Being A Full-Stack Developer? 

The role of the full-stack developer is a controversial one within the web development community. Criticism is largely centred around the notion that full-stack developers are a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Indeed, some might question the quality of your coding skills if you’re not specialised in either front or back-end. On the flip side, however, many professionals believe a full-stack role opens up opportunities to work on small tech teams or start-ups (where there are fewer developer jobs). They’re also celebrated for being the bridge between front and back-end developers, plus they can solve problems in multiple areas. 

How To Be A Good Full-Stack Developer

So now we’ve cleared up what a full-stack developer is, it’s time to turn our attention to how to be a good one. To progress as a full-stack developer, you’ll need a range of skills, qualifications and languages in your web dev armoury. What are they, we hear you ask? Let’s find out! 

1. Take Full-Stack Developer Courses & Certifications 

While there is no formal training required to become a full-stack developer, some companies will prefer applicants to have a technical degree. Relevant subjects include computer science, informatics, software engineering and web design & development. Ultimately, though, it’s the ability to code that is valued first and foremost by employers and will help you get your foot in the door. To get to grips with the fundamentals, or build on your existing skills, we’ve found some of the best introductory and intermediate full-stack developer courses online. As a rule of thumb, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy are great places to start. Better yet, they’re typically courses that can be digested in bite-sized chunks, meaning, if time and flexibility is an issue, you can learn at your own leisure: 

2. Master Full-Stack Developer Languages, Frameworks & Stacks

When we talk of language skills in the context of a full-stack developer job, this doesn’t mean you need to know French, German or Spanish (although, there’s no denying they’re attractive skills in an employee)! Instead, it refers to industry-specific programming languages. 

As full-stack developers work on both ends of web development they must, unsurprisingly, know front and back-end languages. In terms of front-end languages, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are a core requirement. Relatively easy to learn, they offer plenty of flexibility and creativity. Regarding back-end developer programming languages, a full-stack developer will need to specialise in at least one and have a general knowledge of others. Unsurprisingly, the more languages you have under your belt the more employable you will be. Some common back-end languages are as follows: 

As part of the above, you will need to understand software frameworks and stacks too. Software stacks are a set of programs and languages that work collectively to support the execution of software. Which software stack you master will be dependent on your specific career goals, project and company requirements. Having said that, you will often find some crossover for different stacks in terms of architecture and design pattern. Some common ones used by full-stack developers include LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP), LAPP (Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL & PHP), MEAN (MongoDB, Express, AngularJS & Node.js) and Django (JavaScript, Python, Django & MySQL).

3. Remember To Work On Your ‘Soft Skills’ Too 

When pursuing a job in web development, or any other industry for that matter, many people believe in the old adage ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. Whilst technical skills are crucial and will certainly help you when starting out, combine them with the following ‘soft’ people skills and you can expect your full-stack developer career to flourish:

  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Discipline
  • Working well with others
  • An ability to accept criticism 
  • Problem-solving
  • Patience
  • Creativity

Finally, What Is Typical A Full-Stack Developer Salary?

Now that you’ve developed the necessary skill set for a full-stack developer job, what awaits you in terms of earnings? Well, full-stack developers are keenly sought after due to their blend of skills - which means they’re typically offered a decent salary. As a general guide, a junior full-stack developer salary in the UK is in the region of £30k. Alternatively, a senior full-stack developer salary is in the region of £55k a year. Unsurprisingly, though, your salary as a full-stack developer will vary according to whether you have any specialist skills and the size and location of the company you work for. 

Next Steps....

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