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How to Become a Full Stack Developer

A career as a full stack developer requires a wide range of technical skills. You will need to develop capabilities for both front end and backend development. With tech companies looking for more versatile employees, having flexible skills is the way to go in 2021. This guide will teach you how to become a full stack developer and what is needed in this highly competitive field.

What Is a Full Stack Developer?

A full stack developer is trained in both front end and backend development, with advanced coding skills. You must know how to code a variety of programming languages useful for software and web development. In full stack development, you are overseeing both the interface and server side of a web application or software program.

For front end development, you need to achieve the best possible design for a smooth user experience. You'll make sure the key features and interfaces are user friendly. Backend development requires good database management skills. You'll work with databases and servers to ensure the accurate flow of information and data security.

Full Stack Developer Job Description

A full stack developer works on both the front end and backend of web development, software development, and mobile applications. You need to have advanced skills in backend and front end languages and an innovative mind to create modern web applications. The job also requires problem-solving skills to test apps and solve issues such as bugs.

Full Stack Developer Salary and Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that web developers earn a median pay of $77,200. Software developers earn an impressive salary of $110,140. Salary will also depend on things like your experience, location, and industry.

The job outlook for careers in this field is high, so it’s a secure career pathway. BLS predicts professionals in full stack web development will see a job growth of eight percent between 2020 and 2030. Software developers have an even brighter outlook, with a projected job growth of 22 percent.

Top Reasons to Become a Full Stack Developer in 2021

Professionals in this field enjoy a range of benefits, from good benefits to working on exciting and varied projects. If you’re interested in programming, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider entering the field.

  • High salary. Web and software developers earn a higher than average salary. The more skills you have, the more you can increase your salary potential.
  • Job outlook. The job outlook for professionals with full stack development skills is high, ranging from eight to 22 percent depending on your specialization. As industries increasingly invest in their digital platforms, the need for these skills is also rising.
  • Innovative projects. You’ll have the opportunity to work on exciting new projects and create innovative applications and programs.

Full Stack Developer Job Requirements

There are certain skills and requirements that you must meet, whether you want to pursue full stack web development or software development. Education, essential skills, knowledge, and experience are all important. Below are some common requirements you must meet.

  • Education and training. To become a professional in this field, you must have an appropriate level of formal education or training.
  • Coding knowledge. Advanced skills in backend and front end languages are vital. You need to know how to write front end and back end code. Developing your basic understanding of the popular languages for full stack web development will be helpful.
  • Problem-solving skills. You must be able to solve problems with either the front end or backend. Tech issues are a common occurrence, so you must always be ready to troubleshoot and find a solution.
  • Database management skills. You'll be responsible for maintaining databases and servers, so a strong background in creating and managing databases and running database queries is essential. You'll work with specific databases for software applications such as SQLite.
  • Work experience. You’ll typically need some work experience, either paid or unpaid, before gaining an entry-level job in the field. Having sample projects you’ve worked on will help demonstrate your skills to employers.

Types of Full Stack Developer Careers

With full stack skills, you can follow any number of career options. Though most perform similar tasks, each specialization has something unique about it. Below are just some of the jobs that you can pursue.

Software Developer

Software development involves creating and maintaining computer-based applications for enterprise or commercial needs. As well as the development process, they also oversee the quality of each application and provide necessary upgrades if needed. They are expected to test applications and resolve issues that arise in this process.

Full Stack Software Engineer

A full stack engineer oversees the end-to-end process of creating software. They oversee everything from creation to implementation. Project management is an essential skill, as full stack engineers manage the entire process until the web or software application has been launched.

Mobile Developer

Mobile developers focus specifically on creating apps that run on mobile phones. They’ll have an expert-level understanding of iOS and Android operating systems. They are responsible for making sure mobile apps are user friendly, playing a key role in testing and updating apps.

Full Stack Developer Meaning: What Does a Full Stack Developer Do?

Knowing your duties as a full stack developer should help you consider whether it's the career path for you. As you gain experience, you will earn more responsibilities. We’ve listed some key duties of a full stack developer below.

Design Applications

You will design and develop a variety of applications such as websites, software programs, and mobile games. You’ll use your backend skills to create the software and databases on which the apps are built. Your front end skills are then used to develop the visual design and key features of the app.

Test and Maintain Applications

You are also expected to constantly test the applications and look for opportunities to improve the application. It is your job to debug source code and provide solutions to resolve and prevent any issues.

Meet Client Needs and Expectations

The role is extremely client-oriented so you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with the client to understand their needs. You must meet the specifications requested by your client while considering the intended user of the applications.

Essential Full Stack Developer Skills

Full stack developers need essential skills to grow and succeed in their careers. Below are some of the core skills that are necessary for full stack development.

Coding Skills

A full stack developer should have skills in coding languages used in front end development such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. As for server-side language, you should be familiar with Python, Ruby, and Java. Full stack development also requires you to be familiar with database technologies such as MySQL and MongoDB.

Analytical Skills

Full stack development also requires problem-solving and analytical skills. Issues that arise are not restricted to the source code alone, but also their impact on user experience. Your analytical skills will help you identify the cause of the problems and provide an immediate solution.

Communication Skills

Working with a client requires effective communication skills so that their briefs and needs are clear. This is also helpful for collaborative projects such as working with other developers in the development team, as well as various stakeholders.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Full Stack Developer?

Some companies prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees when hiring full stack developers. The average time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree in a field like computer science or information technology is about four years.

However, an associate degree or vocational course takes about two years. Alternatively, you can enroll in a coding bootcamp program on full stack development, which takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Full Stack Developer?

Yes, a coding bootcamp can definitely help you become a full stack developer. Coding bootcamps often boast impressive career results, with many bootcamp students securing jobs in major tech companies with weeks or months of graduating. For instance, Flatiron School has a job placement rate of 86 percent, with its graduates earning an average salary of $74,962.

Can I Become a Full Stack Developer from Home?

Yes, you can become a full stack developer from home. There are accelerated computer science degrees available online to help you pursue this education pathway from the comfort of your home. Coding bootcamps offer programs on web development, software engineering, and UX/UI design at affordable rates, and are often taught through online learning.

How to Become a Full Stack Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

The process to becoming a full stack developer may be different for each person. However, there are key steps you should follow to ensure success. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure that you are on the right track for your career.

Step 1: Build Your Skills in Programming and Development

Through different programs and degrees, you can build and strengthen your programming skills and web development capabilities. It is important that you have mastered both front end and backend languages.

Step 2: Work on Real-World Projects

Working on real-world projects is very important. It helps you hone your practical skills and your soft skills. If you are a bootcamp student, you’ll typically work on capstone projects as part of your program. Internships are also a good option because you have the chance to be involved with the real-world projects your company is working on.

Step 3: Earn a Certification

There are certifications available for full stack web developers that you can acquire once you have enough hands-on experience. These certifications will test and validate your knowledge with the basic tools and techniques in full stack. They can give you a competitive advantage when looking for a job. Many offer free prep courses to help you prepare.

Best Schools and Education for a Full Stack Developer Career

There are many different types of institutions and programs that can help you pursue this career. Your choice will depend on your preferred mode of study. You should also consider perks like career services and recognized certifications when deciding on the best pathway for you.

Full Stack Developer Bootcamps

Full stack web development bootcamps are one of the best options to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge. With an average length of 12 to 36 weeks, you can become a certified full stack web developer ready for a job at a tech company. What’s more, coding bootcamps offer comprehensive career services to help you prepare for your career.

Many bootcamps also offer free prep courses, to help you get your coding knowledge up to speed. For people with busy schedules, some providers also offer self-guided courses where you can learn at your own pace.

Vocational School

A vocational school is another education route. Coding and other tech skills are taught in vocational schools. These schools offer a hands-on approach to learning. Some vocational schools offer apprenticeships through their partner organizations so that students can gain practical working experience.

Community College

If you are only looking to complete an associate degree, then a community college may be the right learning environment for you. Within two years, you can earn an associate degree in computer science or information technology. An associate degree may also help you decide if you want to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Full Stack Developer Degrees

It’s common for full stack developers to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or another relevant field. Degrees can also be earned online. These programs will cover essential information to help you launch a career in tech. Some employers require you to have a bachelor’s degree for more senior roles, but this is becoming less widespread.

The Most Important Full Stack Developer Certificates

Obtaining a certificate or certification is a great way to make your resume stand out to potential employers. Certificates show you have attended a particular training course. Certifications can only be obtained after passing a certification exam, so validate your skills further.

IBM Full Stack Cloud Developer Professional Certificate

IBM offers its full stack cloud developer certification through Coursera to individuals without prior experience. This certificate involves working on capstone projects. It’s a great way to show you have learnt about full stack web development from a reputable tech company. It can also serve as a prep course if you're looking to pursue higher certification.

JavaScript Certification - International JavaScript Institute

JavaScript is an integral part of full stack web development. This certification is intended for experienced developers looking to gain higher positions. The 70-question exam will test your knowledge of everything related to JavaScript programming, from foundational principles to more advanced skills. The exam is composed of 70 questions.

CIW Database Design Specialist

Having an in-depth understanding of database systems is integral to full stack development. This certification is offered by Certified Internet Web Professionals and will test your skill in SQL and Oracle. It is intended for IT and web development professionals, software application developers, and software programmers.

How to Prepare for Your Full Stack Developer Job Interview

If you’ve been invited to an interview, it’s likely it will be highly technical as well as asking you about your experience and goals. Take this chance to demonstrate your practical skills and other in-demand skills that companies look for in a candidate. Below are some potential interview questions to prepare for.

Full Stack Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • Which programming language are you most proficient in?
  • Can you describe a recent development project that you worked on?
  • What are the basic tools and technologies you usually use to complete a project?
  • Can you describe your level of knowledge when it comes to maintaining databases for a software application?
  • What are your long-term career goals?

Should I Become a Full Stack Developer in 2021?

Yes, full stack development is an exciting and promising career choice. Industries are becoming more digitally-centric, meaning there are lots of job opportunities now and in the future. It’s a varied job where you get to build innovative new software and get highly compensated, so if you have the right skills, this career may be right for you.


Can You Become a Full Stack Developer Without a Degree?
Yes, it is possible to become a full stack developer without a degree. You can complete a coding bootcamp to learn the necessary skills. Most bootcamps offer job placement through their career services. There is no educational requirement for many professional certifications either.
Is It Hard to Become a Full Stack Developer?
Not necessarily. The difficulty of becoming a full stack developer will depend on your background and capabilities. There are specific curriculums and programs of study designed to help hone your skills through coding exercises and other projects.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Full Stack Developer?
Your primary responsibility as a full stack developer is to create a web, mobile, or software application. You will oversee the application architecture from the start to end of the project. You will use both front end and backend development skills. It is also your duty to demonstrate excellent soft skills in communication to foster good relationships with clients.
How Much Does a Full Stack Developer Make?
Web developers earn a median pay of $77,200, according to BLS, while software developers make $110,140 per year.
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