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Full Stack Developer Salary in California

Trent Fowler - September 03, 2020

With its beaches, bars, food, and music scene, California is a gorgeous place which many people would love to live in and work in. But how do salaries there compare to the rest of the U.S.?

In this article we’re going to discuss the exciting prospect of a career as a full stack developer , and compare the average full stack developer salary nationwide to that of California.

Do Full Stack Developers Make More Money?

Full stack developers are highly-skilled professionals that command good salaries.

A full stack developer can be distinguished from a front end or backend developer in that they tend to be fluent in a broader range of technologies.

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If we take building a website as an illustrative example, a front end developer would use Javascript and Ruby on Rails to try to build a functional and responsive page that people enjoy using. A backend developer would work with Node.js, php, or other tools to make sure the website is correctly interfacing with databases and servers. A full stack developer, on the other hand, could fill either of these roles or might focus on tasks which require a truly comprehensive view of the requisite technology.

For this reason, you might expect full stack developers to command larger salaries. As always, what you ultimately end up getting paid depends on experience, background, the particulars of the company that hires you, and a number of other factors. But we can still look at aggregate data to get a sense of the relative pay scales (all figures are from ). In the United States

  • Full stack developers average $80,000 a year, with $54,000 a year on the low end and $116,000 a year on the high end.
  • Front end developers make $77,908 a year on average, with $56,000 a year on the low end and $111,000 a year on the high end.
  • Backend developers make $117,000 a year on average, with $101,000 a year on the low end and $139,000 a year on the high end.

I’m inclined to suspect something is skewing the numbers for backend developers. But if we take them seriously, full stack developers make more than front end but less than backend developers.

Do Developers Make More Money In California?

California is a haven for technologists.

The comparison I usually make is to average salaries in Denver, Austin, New York City, and California. I threw in Los Angeles because this is an article about full stack developer salaries in California. Here are the figures:

  • San Francisco: $100,000 a year.
  • Los Angeles: $81,000 a year.
  • Denver: $78,000 a year.
  • Austin: $106,000 a year (though Glassdoor notes that there aren’t enough reported salaries to make a distribution, so this probably isn’t very accurate)
  • New York City: $86,000 a year.

We see that San Francisco loses to Austin (though there’s reason to believe that this isn’t really true), and Los Angeles comes in ahead of Denver and a few grand short of NYC.

Before you pack your bags and head off, remember that a huge part of what drives up those salaries in California is the staggering cost of living there. This has to be factored in to any compensation packages.

Truthfully, though, you can make a great living in California as a full stack developer. And the weather is famously nice, so no excuses for not getting outside every week or so!

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Trent Fowler

About the author: Trent Fowler is a data scientist and writer with an interest in machine learning, blockchain technologies, and futurism.

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