Full Stack Developer vs. Front End Developer vs. Back End Developer

The role of a web developer is one that almost always makes it to the lists of high-paying IT jobs. And why not? In today’s digital world, web developers are indispensable. Whether it's a stunning website, a high-performing e-commerce site, or any other web-based application, it's the handiwork of a web developer.   

If you’re aspiring to wear the hat of a web developer, you’d be thrilled to know that full stack developer skills are in high demand. But do you know how full-stack vs. front end vs. back end web development stack up against each other? In other words, what makes these job roles different? We’ll break it down for you. In this article we will cover the following topics that will give you clear understanding of the differences between front end developer, back end developer and full stack developer: 

  • Who is a front end developer?
  • What are the front end developer skills?
  • Front end developer salary 
  • Who is a back end developer?
  • What are back end developer skills?
  • Back end developer salary
  • Who is a full-stack developer?
  • What are the full stack developer skills?
  • Full stack developer salary

But first, let’s get a couple of basics out of the way. 

Front End: This is also known as “client-side” and refers to what’s visible to the visitors and what they can interact with when they land on a website. It includes colors, fonts, dropdown menus, and sliders. 

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Back End: As the name suggests, Back End is all about what’s running in the background of a website — something that visitors don’t see or interact with. Also called the “server-side,” the back end is made up of a server, an application, and a database, which stores all of the data. For example, when you open Netflix, the backend code decides the recommendations and movie lists you see. The database stores information like your profile, view history, preferences, etc. The API ‘talks’ to the front-end code, which then decides what you see on your screen.

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Now, let’s dive into the significant differences between the three roles. 

Front End Developers 

Who is a Front End Developer?

Front-end web developers take care of the website’s style and user interface. As you’d probably know, HTML is the structural skeleton of a webpage. You can think of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as the physique or the body of the skeleton. CSS enables front-end, web developers, to modify the shape of the physique, which, in terms of websites, is like pre-defining certain sections to make the website display a specific style.  

For instance, if the website is a human body, using CSS, you can alter the build of muscles and change the way specific muscles look. Now, with regards to websites, you can use CSS to adjust specific sections of the site to define the look and style it displays. Front-end web developers integrate these "style and look" into a CSS file and include it on top of the HTML file. Whenever they need a particular style, they refer to the CSS file that contains the pre-defined styles.

What are the Front End Developer skills?

A front end developer skills involve solid knowledge of scripting languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS3. If you wish to become a front-end website developer, you need to master these three languages. 

However, by far, the most critical front end developer skill is proficiency in JavaScript. The versatile JavaScript, which works side by side with both CSS and HTML, features in various applications, including the date and time and “Add to Favorites” button.

Besides, working as a front end developer also requires skills around JQuery, Ajax, UI (User interface), UX (user experience) as well as familiarity with frameworks like AngularJS, EmberJS, Foundation, Bootstrap, and Backbone.

Front End Developer Salary 

An average front end developer in the US can make an approx. $104,893 every year. 

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Back End Developers 

Who is a Back End Developer?

The user-facing interface of a website needs to be aesthetically pleasing. But, without the software that runs in the background, the website's UI wouldn't even exist in the first place. That’s something that puts back end developer skills to test. Back end developers work on the server-side. 

What are Back End Developer skills?

The programming languages that back end developers typically need to know include PHP, Ruby, Python, and .Net to build applications. Plus, they should have good command over database technologies like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MySQL. 

Since the developer community widely embraces PHP, let’s take that as an example. A scripting language, PHP, works together with Structured Query Language, or SQL, which is the database from where PHP pulls information out to enter it into an HTML file for display. You can find examples of this process everywhere. 

For instance, when a user registers on a website, the SQL database stores the submitted information. Every time they log in, the server-side language gets the information from the database, and HTML displays it on your screen. It’s the job of a back end developer to set this process in motion.  

Back End Developer Salary

Wondering what’s the salary package of back end web developers? Compared to front end developers, they generally get a higher annual salary, which may fall within $128,880 per annum.

Full-Stack Developers

Who is a Full-Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer can be best explained as the “jack of all trades.” They are skilled in both front end and back end languages and can work with multiple frameworks.

What are the Full Stack Developer skills?

Full-stack developer skills and expertise are relevant in all layers of the web development process, starting from the planning stage of projects, to managing databases, building user interfaces to data structuring, and solving mission-critical needs. Therefore, full-stack developers must understand all levels of a website and how the web works. 

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Full Stack Developer Salary

Given their versatility and broad knowledge spectrum, full-stack web developers are sought-after professionals. The annual paycheck of an average full stack developer can fall within the $112,788 range but can go as high as $150,000 depending on their skillset and experience. 

Full-stack developers command the higher salary package than front end or back end developers. Employers are willing to pay more for a full stack developer because it makes more business sense to hire an individual with front and back end skills, rather than getting two people to do the same job. 

Therefore, for aspirants who are planning to carve a career in the tech industry, the role of a full stack developer is a lucrative option. 

Your Next Step

The demand for skilled full-stack developers is at an all-time high and shows no sign of slowing down. Over the next ten years, job opportunities for web developers will grow by 13 percent — that’s much faster than average for any other profession. Plus, with millions of websites adding every year to the 1.5+ billion sites existing globally, more web developers are needed to build them. There is no job shortage for web developers for sure. So, it’s not hard to see why web development is a popular career choice. 

While web developers are getting good salaries and being viewed as valuable assets, they need to be on their toes, always learning and adapting to new trends and technologies. If you want to be part of a fast-moving career, being a full-stack developer can be a rewarding experience for you. An online full-stack developer course will set you on the right track, and fortunately, you can start learning the strands of full stack development easily and effectively right now. So, what’s the wait for?

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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