How to Become a Full Stack Developer: Salary and Skills Required

If there’s one thing you can say about today’s digital age, it’s that there’s a vast array of different careers to choose from. New innovations and developments give birth to an increasing number of positions to support them. It’s truly a job-seekers market out there.

That’s why we’re going to devote some time to explore one of those fascinating and rewarding positions in today’s IT industry: the Full Stack developer. We will touch upon what that entails, why you should become one, and how to go about doing it. This article is also useful for those of you who are already developers but you’re interested in upskilling. After all, there’s no such as having too many skills, right? The more versatile a developer, the more sought after they are to businesses and organizations.

What is Full-Stack?

To the non-technically inclined, “Full Stack” may sound like someone’s description of a large pile of pancakes. Although the term sounds like a delicious breakfast idea, the reality is a little less tasty. Full Stack is a term used to describe developers, though sometimes it’s used in the context of engineers.

There are three parts to this kind of development. There’s the Front End, which covers the parts of a website/application that users interact with, and the Back End, which includes the parts of an app that no one sees, but essentially run things. Back end details include user validation, server configuration, logical processes, and database-related processes.

Finally, there’s Full Stack, which covers both the front and back end of an app or website.

What is a Full-Stack Developer?

Put simply, and working off the above definition of “Full Stack”, a Full Stack developer is a programmer who works equally as well with both the front and back end of development. While a full stack developer doesn’t need to be an expert in all of the front-end and back-end technologies, they should at least have a working knowledge of the entire process.

As a rule, a Full Stack developer may find themselves working exclusively on a site’s back or front end code, but by the very nature of the position, they should be ready to jump in on any part of the development process. Consider them a jack-of-all-trades, a utility infielder, or an all-purpose resource.

The bottom line, a Full Stack developer is someone who understands everything that’s happening that every stage of the development process and can make it all work smoothly.

Full Stack Web Developer Certification

Full-Stack Developer Skills

You may guess that given the versatility implied by the Full Stack developer position, that there’s quite a bit of skill involved. Well, you would guess right!  It takes a certain set of skills, combined with particular personality traits, to make a good Full Stack developer.

A good full stack developer is characterized by the following traits:

  • Discipline
  • An analytical mind
  • A love for learning
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Creative vision

Bear in mind, this doesn’t mean that you need to possess all of the above traits in equal measure, but you should at least have some noticeable level in all if not most of them. Furthermore, you don’t even have to possess each and every single one of the above traits in order to be a Full Stack developer; it’s simply that having them all makes it easier to succeed at the position. One may also argue that it’s not so much a case of “I want to be a Full Stack developer so I better cultivate these traits,” as it is a case of “I have these traits, what kind of position am I best suited for in today’s high-tech job market?

Now, as for Full Stack developer skills, buckle up; this is going to get interesting and extensive.

1. HTML/CSS

Let’s start with the fundamentals. These two tools are the basic building blocks for web development. HTML enables developers to add content to websites, and CSS enables developers to alter the look of applications or websites.

2. JavaScript

Yet another crucial basic, this is a mandatory language for any Full Stack developer worth their salt. According to a 2016 survey of developers, it’s the number one programming language. An absolute must!

3. Back end Languages

Since a Full Stack developer needs to know how to code back end processes, you will need to master one of the following languages, ranked here courtesy of Indeed.com.

  • SQL
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • C#
  • Python
  • C++
  • PHP
  • IOS
  • RUBY/RAILS

Naturally, the more back end languages a developer knows, the better. But at the end of the day, a good Full Stack developer should strive for proficiency in one chosen language. For those who want to go the extra mile and gain an added edge, the developer could choose to gain a small familiarity with a few more languages in order to round out their skillset. Just don’t try to learn them all; “jack of all trades, master of none” won’t take you too far with a prospective employer.

4. HTTP/HTTPS

These application protocols are important for communication between clients and servers. In this age of increased concern over security, HTTPS is especially valuable.

5. Databases/Web Storage

Building websites and applications mean that you will need web storage in order to store all those new data. Therefore, a good developer grasps the concepts of relational databases and memory storage, as well as understanding how to best link a database with your chosen back end language.

6. Web Architecture

Now we are getting into a more advanced skill. A good Full Stack developer must become familiar with how to structure their code, how to separate and store certain files, large file storage methods, how to structure the data in databases, and where each computational task should be located (and that’s for both the client AND the server side!). The very nature of design project complexity makes these sorts of skills mandatory.

A good Full Stack developer must demonstrate proficiency in all of the above skills in order to make themselves a viable candidate for a good position. Lock these up and you will have mastered the requirements for becoming a web developer and be ahead of the pack.

Web Development as a Career

The term “Full Stack Developer” can be applied to either software/app developers or web developers. But we’re going to take a few moments here to highlight web developers specifically.

The chief difference between software developers and web developers is that the former designs builds and maintains software, while the latter focuses on working with websites. That’s pretty straightforward, although there are occasions where the two specialties appear interchangeable.

Web development as a career choice has skyrocketed these days, since every business, organization, group, and yes sometimes even individuals rely on websites to get their message across, conduct business, or make a name for themselves. In this increasingly digital age, having a website has gone from an interesting extra to an absolutely essential part of 21st-century marketing.

The need for web developers becomes even more acute when you factor in the mobile computing boom. With hand-held usage exploding exponentially, there is an increased need for web developers who can create mobile-friendly websites. In fact, many businesses have two websites: a mobile website and a desktop site, the latter also known as a “full” website.

This Forbes article extols the virtues of becoming a web developer, calling out advantages such as the huge demand for websites as well as the generous compensation involved. And speaking of compensation…

Full Stack Developer Salary

If you’re just starting out as a Full Stack developer, you can earn a $60,263 in an entry-level position. Salaries for the average Full Stack developer in the United States are in the $112,000 range. There are companies out there that will go as high as $150,000 USD for developers who have a particular set of skills best suited for the hiring organization.

Naturally, those figures can vary by geographical location and the level of skills the applicant brings.

So whatever your reasons for doing it, either improving your current skill set or making yourself more marketable while pursuing a better position, it’s clear that becoming a full stack developer is a sound career strategy.

Become a Full Stack Developer

Fortunately, there’s an easy and effective way for you to get the skills you need in order to become a full stack developer and enjoy the position’s challenges and rewards. Simplilearn’s Full Stack Web Developer - MEAN Stack Master's Program can take your career as a web developer to the next level. You will become an expert at the front and back-end JavaScript technologies of the most popular MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node.js) Stack. You will learn how to create applications from the ground up and start down one of the most lucrative and fast-growing web development career paths.

The course gives you access to over 100 live instructor-led online classrooms, more than 90 hours of self-paced video content, over seven industry-based projects, more than 10 simulation exams, and more. Once you have taken the five courses in the program, you will earn that coveted master’s certificate and you’ll be on your way!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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