How to Become a Full Stack Developer
The tech industry grows side-by-side with the increasing demand for web developers. Now, it requires more knowledge to fully understand everything that goes into creating a website or web apps. And with the industry constantly changing, having someone well-rounded that knows all aspects of web development is important.
Enter: the full-stack developer, that rare unicorn that has her hands in the full development process. Full stack developers get their hands dirty from the product design phase all the way through to the end product launch.
Our guide intends to be your primary source for getting started as a full stack developer.
What Is a Full Stack Developer?
A full stack developer is an expert in both front end and back end development. That is, these devs have a keen understanding of both “stacks.” A software stack is simply a collection of different technologies that developers use to accomplish certain goals.
These developers can create the interactive elements of a website, the same way front end developers can. They can also develop websites and applications on the server-side, as well as work with databases.
Some say “full-stack” is just a piece of business jargon and that these devs are just a myth. That may be partly true. But striving to learn all areas of web development is still a smart goal, even if you are ultimately a specialist.
What is Front End Development?
Becoming a full stack developer means understanding both front-end and back-end development. Specialization in front end development involves every aspect of the presentation of a website. That is, a front end developer had to create everything you see in your browser.
Another aspect of front end development that is becoming a necessary skill set is the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. This isn’t necessary for all front end developers, but many companies are looking for this skill.
What Is Back End Development?
Specialization in back end development involves most of the aspects of design that the front end doesn’t cover. Creating, collecting, editing, and updating data is most of what back end development encompasses, but the position may involve more than that.
Back end developers are often tasked with writing code to receive information from users. They also create systems that store this data in secure locations. These server-side developers have to learn scripting languages, such as PHP, Python, Ruby, and other programming languages. They must also have mastery over databases, such as MySQL and Mongo.
Back end web developers also have to deal with server management and troubleshooting issues. These could be things like applications loading or operating slowly or how to scale a website to handle more users.
What is Full-Stack Development Used For?
Full-stack web development is the glue between the front-end and the back-end. They help bridge the gap between client and server software to make a web application run as intended.
To be a good full-stack web developer, you need to have an understanding of programming a browser, a back-end application, and a database where data is stored.
Most full-stack developers are employed on mid-to-large teams. This is because there is a greater need for people who focus all their time on a particular topic. With that said, some smaller teams may have full-stack web developers.
You can expect to use your full-stack web development skills in some of your web projects. Say, for instance, you want to build a to-do list front-end app. You may decide to write a back-end app to store data. Such a project involves working with the front-end, back-end, and a database.
Learning Full Stack Development
A good way to think of full-stack web developers is as a Swiss Army knife. They have a lot of varying skills. Full-stack web developers do not specialize in a particular language. They get to know all of the technologies behind a web application.
Full-stack web skills are useful because they let you work across many different parts of a project. You are not constrained to just the front- or back-end. This gives you more freedom to contribute to the areas that you find most interesting on a project.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Full Stack Development?
It will take you about three months to learn the basics of full-stack web development. This assumes that you study for two hours a day. If you want to become a professional full-stack developer, expect to spend six months to a year learning the skills you’ll need for a job.
How long it will take you to learn full-stack development depends on your experience and your learning intentions.
If you’ve already got some web experience, learning full-stack development is easier. You’ll be able to draw on many of the concepts you know about web development to master the full-stack. You’ll probably know a language or two which you can use to get started with full-stack development.
You can learn full-stack web development in three months if you want to build hobby projects. Professional web development is a different story. You’ll probably need to spend time learning about specific frameworks and languages to build the skills you need for a full-stack web development job. This will add time to your learning journey.
How to Learn Full-Stack Development: Step-by-Step
Where do I start? That’s a great question. Everyone starts from different places when it comes to full-stack development. Some people already know a coding language when they start whereas others have no web experience at all.
Below we have outlined the broad steps you should take to go from beginner to expert.
- Learn a back-end language. Take the time to learn the language you have chosen to learn. Take a course or follow tutorials to help you learn that language.
- Learn about databases. In your back-end web journey, you’ll inevitably encounter databases. You should learn what a database is and how they store data. You will need to learn SQL to store data in and retrieve data from a database in your applications.
The key to learning full-stack web development is practice. Whereas front-end and back-end web developers specialize in one area, you’ll have a lot more ground to cover. You do not need to become an expert in both front-end and back-end coding overnight. It will take you some time to build your skills on both ends of the stack.
The Best Full Stack Development Courses and Trainings
You’ll find plenty of full-stack web development courses and training programs online. You’re probably asking yourself: which ones are worth my time? That’s a great question.
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Because web development is so popular, there are courses that cover all the languages and frameworks you need to know. As we discussed earlier, it’s important to consider what you want to learn first. You should do this before you enroll in any courses.
If you want to learn a back-end language, choose one to learn. Otherwise, you may end up learning a language just because it is part of a course. Do your research and find the technologies you think will be most beneficial to you.
Online Full Stack Development Courses
For beginners, this course features over 61 hours of video, 62 coding exercises, and 121 downloadable resources to supplement your learning.
Throughout this course, you’ll be taught how to link the skills you build together. This will help you see how different parts of a web application relate, an essential skill for any full-stack web developer.
This course, taught by Dr. Angela Yu, will teach you to build full-stack web applications. You’ll start by learning HTML and CSS. This course also teaches Bootstrap, a framework that lets you write more aesthetically pleasing web applications without designing your own components.
In the second part of the course, you’ll learn how to use Express.js and Node.js to build a back-end. You will also learn how to use SQL and MongoDB to store the data you collect from the back-end of your site.
The full-stack web developer Nanodegree is a complete online course for web development. In this course, you’ll learn how to build an API, manage identity, and more.
This course is more focused on the back-end and server deployment aspect of full-stack web development. You are expected to have a basic understanding of Python and front-end development to succeed in this course.
The premium price point is down to the personal career coaching and technical mentor support accompanied with the course. You’ll be able to ask a mentor any questions you have as you start learning.
You will also have access to career services like resume and GitHub profile reviews so you can learn how to best present your full-stack skills to employers.
Online Full Stack Development Books
This book features several examples of a chat application built using different web technologies. You can use the code you write for this book to kickstart your own full-stack applications.
This book covers topics like Backbone.js, Node.js, and MongoDB. You’ll also be guided through how to install all of these technologies.
This book is a comprehensive guide to using Python Flask. Flask is a back-end Python web development framework.
In this book, you’ll learn the basic architecture of a Flask app. You will then go on to learn about templates, forms, and databases, which are all crucial parts of a Flask app. Later, you’ll discuss topics like user authentication and roles.
By the end of this book, you’ll have all the skills you need to build and deploy a full-stack Flask application.
The Full Stack Developer is an essential introduction to working with the full stack. You’ll learn both technical and non-technical topics you can expect to use in a full-stack job. For instance, you’ll learn project management and quality assurance in the context of full-stack.
In this book, you’ll learn how to translate user experiences into code. You will also cover system architectures, designing an API, and planning out a front-end.
The audience for this book is people who plan to become a professional full-stack web developer and who already have some web skills.
Online Full Stack Web Developer Resources
Become a Full Stack Web Developer Guide is a list of tutorials and beginner resources for people who want to learn the full-stack.
This guide is open sourced on GitHub. While it has not been updated in three years, many of the tutorials on this site are still relevant today. This guide covers topics like Python, APIs, Git, HTML and CSS, and React.
Career Karma Web Development Tutorials
On the Career Karma website, you’ll find hundreds of articles that cover languages you’ll use in web development. Click on the links below to see our tutorials for common web programming languages:
Udacity Free Web Course
Full Stack Development Programming Languages and Technologies
Full stack developers have a well-rounded skill set, knowledge of multiple programming languages, and the ability to use various libraries and frameworks. Here are a handful of the most common programming languages, skills, and other technologies full stack developers use.
1. HTML and CSS
Every web developer, whether back end, front end, or full stack, should know at least the basics of HTML and CSS. HTML provides the semantic structure for a web page or document, while CSS provides the visual styling.
PHP is a popular backend scripting language that is often used to make pages dynamic. It is also the backbone of many popular content management systems like WordPress and Drupal.
Over the past few years, Python has become one of the most popular and easy-to-learn programming languages.
6. Other Programming Languages and Technologies
Those were just the tip of the iceberg. Here is a list of even more technologies and skills you’ll likely encounter in full stack development.
- Ruby on Rails
- User experience design
- User interface design
- Django stack
- AWS Cloud
- Cloud technologies like Docker and Kubernetes
Other Full Stack Developer Skills
Any good developer needs to master a variety of “soft skills” in order to thrive in any business, organization, or development team.
Since full stack developers have so many skills and abilities, it can sometimes be a challenge not to lose focus on your current task. Your ability to focus completely on finding one solution or deploy one thing at a time will be a crucial component of your success.
2. Willingness to Accept Feedback
Your role as a developer is to take part in an iterative process. As part of that process, you have to be a committed learner who can take constructive feedback gracefully. You should make it a point to seek out advice at every step of your journey as a learner of web development.
3. Understanding of People
A skill that is often overlooked by students is the ability to truly understand people–that is, users. If you don’t have an understanding of what people want and how they use technology, you’ll have a hard time finding solutions for them.
4. Understanding of Business Concepts
No matter what organization you work for, you’re ultimately working for a business. Having some level of understanding of business techniques and components will be an enormous asset in your role as a developer.
Full Stack Developer Career Prospects
The average full stack web developer salary in 2020 is $91,123 per year. The amount of money these developers earn can be more, based on their location, experience, and the company. Depending on the company, developers may even receive a yearly bonus, and regularly receive raises based on their performance. Indeed, the earning potential for full stack developers is considerable.
There are opportunities for people who want to work in the front end or backend. While this position is growing in popularity, you can still find success working in any part of the web design and development field.
However, large tech companies are looking for versatile developers, people who know all aspects of the design process. If you want to work with the largest tech companies but lack experience, pursuing full stack development might get you in the door. As the industry grows, the demand for full stack developers grows too. That means you will have more career opportunities in the future.
Your knowledge of full stack development also allows you to work in multiple career fields. You can also transfer these skills into other tech career paths or more easily learn new things to add to your skill set.
Should You Study Full Stack Development?
There are many benefits to being a full stack web developer. While it isn’t necessary to become one to work in the industry, it does give you many opportunities.
Full stack developers understand the entire design structure of websites and web applications and that makes them great for problem-solving. A significant aspect of any programming or design job is debugging. When there is an issue with your website or application, full stack developers can look over every aspect of it to find the issue.
When it comes to working in tech, being able to tackle any web development job makes you a vital asset to a company. Full stack developers can hop onto any task for a project. If images need to be added to a web page, full stack developers have the knowledge to do so. On the other hand, those developers can jump to a different project where their tasks involve working with servers.
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