What Is a Full Stack Developer?
A full stack developer is an individual with the knowledge and diversity of skills to assist all levels and at all stages of web development. They are a “jack of all trades”, essentially, and can handle the “full stack” of Front-End and Back-End development.
But what do they actually do? Where are they needed? This guide from recruitment specialists Oakleaf Technology, Change, and Transformation takes you through everything you need to know.
What does a full stack developer do?
A full stack developer, who might also be called a “full stack web developer” or a “full stack net developer”, is an individual who can work in both Front-End development, or the “client side”, and Back-End development, or the “server side” of a website.
The Front-End, or client side, includes everything that a client or a person viewing the website can see and interact with. Meanwhile, the Back-End or server side refers to all the servers, databases, and other internal architecture that drives the application. These are the parts of the website that the user doesn’t see or interact with.
Full stack developers have to be able to shift seamlessly between working on both, to handle any task required of them. This normally results in them having a wide range of responsibilities in their job description, including:
- Helping with the design and development of software
- Managing databases and servers
- Testing and debugging software to keep it optimised
- Writing clean code for the Front and Back-Ends of software
- Designing user interactions on the web application itself
- Creating servers and databases for the Back-End of the software
- Ensuring cross-platform compatibility and optimisation
- Testing and maintaining the responsiveness of applications
- Working with graphic designers to design new features
- Developing APIs and RESTful services
- Staying up to date with the latest technologies to optimise software
- Communicating effectiveness of emerging technologies to decision makers
- Prototyping minimal viable products for communication with stakeholders
- Considering security, maintenance, and scalability when developing
When is a full stack developer needed?
In most cases, the need for a full stack developer will depend entirely on the size and scalability of the software. For instance, a small independent organisation or group aiming to create a small simulator may only require one Front-End developer and one Back-End Developer. A group that is even smaller than this may only require one full stack developer to handle the entire application. On the other hand, a large web application from a larger organisation that has strong potential for scaling is more likely to need all three positions filled by many people.
Demand for full stack developers
Full stack developers are very much in demand across the UK, owing to their versatility of skill. This is the case in a range of different sectors of industry, including computer software, IT and related services, the internet, financial services, and marketing and advertising.
Full stack developers vs front and back-end developers
There is a significant amount of overlap between what full stack web developers do, and what Front-End developers and Back-End developers do. Technically, the former is where the two latter meet in the middle. Understanding the responsibilities a full stack developer will have to undertake on both sides requires understanding what each of these developers do as well.
This is the practice of producing an interface that end users can view. The primary goal of a Front-End developer is to develop a platform that’s visually appealing and easy to use. However, the work associated with this has become more complex as users are now able to interact with websites on different devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Developers have to ensure a website will render correctly across different browsers, operating systems, and device types.
The requirements and responsibilities expected of a Front-End developer are constantly evolving with new technologies, but there are some universal skills a full stack developer will need:
- DOM Manipulation
This refers to the work that focuses on the underlying architecture of the product. This encompasses the database, server, and other intermediary proprietary software. Back-End developers must know how to organise the system so that the program or website is able to run properly. All frameworks and libraries must be integrated into the application and organised in a way which allows other developers to maintain it over time.
To help achieve this, a full stack developer will need the same foundational skills as a Back-End developer:
- Object-Oriented Programming
Becoming a full stack developer
There are certain standards that will need to be met to become a full stack developer. Many of these will depend on the organisation, but the most common ones are dependent on levels of education and work experience.
To become a full stack developer through the university route in the UK, you will need either a foundation degree or a Bachelor’s degree in web design and development, or another related field. Degrees in computer science, software engineering, or digital media development are also usually accepted.
It’s also possible to become a full stack developer by taking a college course if you demonstrate exceptional talent at coding. Some of the courses that can help to further your career as a full stack developer include a Level 3 Diploma in Web Design, T Level courses in design and development, and a Level 4 Diploma in Software Development.
If you are good at programming and have basic coding knowledge and skills, you can join an apprenticeship scheme and become a trainee developer.
Skills associated with full stack developers
There are a variety of hard and soft skills associated with being a full stack developer. As well as knowledge related to the skills we have mentioned above, an individual in a full stack web development role will normally need to:
- Use Git and have a GitHub profile
- Have knowledge of other programming languages, such as Ruby and PHP
- Be adept in database management
- Have basic design skills, including understanding of basic design principles such as user interactions and user experience, prototypes, and scalability
- Understanding of NPM
The full stack development position also requires a range of soft skills:
- Excellent time management
- A curiosity for learning
- Meticulous attention to detail
- An analytical mind
- Problem solving skills
- A creative vision and ability to think outside the box
- Good communication skills (both verbal and written)
The average salary for full stack developers
Depending on years of experience and knowledge and skills developed in the role, a full stack developer can most likely expect to earn somewhere between £50,000 and £60,000 per year. The highest of these salaries will usually be found in London, where the job is more in demand and salaries are more competitive.
There are also locations in which an individual may earn less or more than this, though most of these salaries will be based on level of experience and the size of the organisation. Starting and junior salaries are also likely to be on the lower end of the scale, with some beginning at around £30,000.
For full stack developers with many years of experience in the job and having reached a senior position within their organisation, salaries may increase to £90,000 or more.
Work environments for full stack developers
Working in a full stack development role will mean working in an office environment, surrounded by computers. It will normally not involve travelling unless the individual is attending a conference or a training workshop. They may also have to meet clients if working in a technology consultancy firm.
Working in this job may mean working alongside:
- Front-End developers
- Back-End developers
- Software developers
- Mobile developers
- Web developers
- UX designers
- Cloud managers
- Cloud engineers
- Project managers
- IT specialists
The job will normally involve working 35 to 40 hours per week, from 9am to 5pm. However, an individual may be required to work longer hours, evenings, or weekends to complete projects.
Hire or become a full stack developer
If you are interested in becoming a full stack developer, or require talent to fill the role within your organisation, we can help. Our Technology Division is strategically positioned to work cross-sector within a range of Technological disciplines. Get in touch with us today to receive specialist recruitment services and advice on finding your ideal working solution.
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