March 23, 2023
min read

What is a Full Stack Developer?

Eli McGarvie
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Over the past few years, we’ve seen a huge surge of interest in software engineering — with more people crossing into development roles than ever before. This could be for a multitude of reasons; there’s great pay, plenty of job opportunities, and lots of remote work. 

The most popular software development positions are Front End, Backend, and Full Stack. Out of these three, the Full Stack role is the most searched role according to Google. Why is there so much interest in full stack developers and what exactly do they do? In this article, we’ll explain the various aspects of the full stack role including salary, skills, job opportunities, and career path. So whether you are interested in becoming a full stack developer or just want to learn a bit more about these devs, this guide is going to tell you everything you need to know!

💡 Learn more about tech roles in our DevLexicon

What is a Full Stack developer?

A Full Stack developer is a programmer who works on the front end of an application–that could be an iPhone app, Android app, or website–and also builds the backend, working with the APIs and code related to the database. 

Software developers specialise in either the front end or backend of an application. You’re either a Front end developer or a Backend one. A Full stack developer, though, has experience and knowledge in both the front end and backend, they are the combination of these two roles. In theory, a full stack developer can build and maintain an entire software application from beginning to end. 

What does Full Stack mean?

When you build an end-to-end application or website you use a set of technologies, this is called a technology stack or a tech stack. Since a full stack developer works with the entire tech stack and not just a subset (i.e. front end, backend, or database) they are working with the ‘full’ stack.

What does a Full Stack developer do?

A Full Stack Developer works with both the server-side (backend) and the client-side (front end). They use their knowledge of software, tools, and programming to work with databases, graphic design, UX/UI management, and cloud infrastructure. 

server side vs client side, what does a full stack developer do, fullstack technologies

What does this full stack work look like? Well, in a day, a full stack developer might modify the user interface, then change the structure of a database, then they might migrate data back and forth. They could also be tasked with creating a new feature from start to finish, which means designing how it looks on a website, updating the website, and then ensuring the feature is connected with the database(s) on the backend. 

Full Stack job responsibilities include: 

  • Designing and developing software 
  • Testing and debugging software 
  • Writing clean code
  • Creating servers and databases
  • Ensuring cross-platform compatibility
  • Maintaining responsive application design
  • Work with graphic designers to develop new features

A lot of smaller companies and startups employ full stack developers because they are generally self-sufficient and can handle the entire development process without supervision. This also means that full stack developers are going to be on call for anything that happens with the application. This is not always the most ideal work situation, since development is less understood in smaller companies.  

What’s the difference between Full Stack, Front End, and Backend?

Front end, Backend, and full stack web developers each have distinct roles in web development. That being said there is a lot of similarities and overlap between these three development roles. Let’s discuss each of these roles and how they differ from each other. 

Front End Developers 
Front end developers create user interfaces and user-facing systems. That means all the visual elements on a website or mobile application. They create these visual effects, frames, navigation, and forms using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript while also using third-party libraries. Front end developers have a really strong understanding of front end technologies and can build a very pretty webpage. A front end developer might also use HTML to create emails for marketing campaigns. 

Back End Developers
Backend developers work across multiple languages to help applications send and receive data in specific ways that act as gates to protect the data from being compromised or corrupted. Backend developers also make sure interactions with the app are fast enough to provide a really good experience for the end user in a cost-efficient way. Backend developers use technologies like JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Java, and PHP. 

Full Stack Developer 
A full stack developer has cross-disciplinary skills in both front and back end web development. They deal with the overlap between the two and utilise all the coding languages of the first two roles, plus additional technologies like MySQL and machine learning. In smaller companies, they might also take the role of a DevOps engineer by managing cloud infrastructure. Full Stack Developers have the versatility to assist at all levels of the development team and are often considered a jack of all trades in the world of software programming.

Full Stack developer skills

Full stack developers are required to know and work with multiple programming languages across the front end and back end. They will also have knowledge of databases and work with current development tools like Git and SVN. Aside from these responsibilities, full stack developers in smaller companies are often given the responsibilities a DevOps engineer might have in a larger company. 

Full stack developer hard skills:

  • Front end: HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Back end: Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, Node.js, R 
  • Databases: MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL
  • Version control: Git, SVN 
  • DevOps tools: Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins

These skills are usually summarised as stacks. For example, a job advertisement might say they are looking for a MERN full stack developer, this means the developer is skilled in MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js. This is a typical JavaScript stack, it consists of a front end web framework, a backend framework, a server environment, and a database program. Aside from MERN, the other popular stacks are MEAN and LAMP. 

Popular technology stacks:

To excel as a full stack developer, you also need to possess certain personality traits and soft skills. Since full stack developers work across teams and technologies they have to be very agile, resourceful, independent, and knowledgeable in a lot of different areas. Full stack developers are not expected to understand a framework or styling as well as a developer who’s specialised in the front end or backend, but they should be able to find the answers. 

Full stack developer soft skills:

Time management skills – full stack developers need to be experts in multitasking and context switching since they are constantly moving between front end and backend development and handle multiple tasks simultaneously 

Curiosity – they stay up-to-date with the latest technologies, trends, and best practices to create the most efficient and innovative web applications

Attention to detail – full stack developers are meticulous in their work and double-check everything to ensure their work is error-free

Creative thinking – willing to think outside the box to develop innovative solutions to solve problems across the entire application. If you’re a one-man team, you’ve got to work smart and find agile solutions to complex problems

Clear communication – since full stack devs are the bridge between backend and front end developers, they must be skilled communicators to keep everything cohesive. This includes documentation. If you’re going to be updating and changing things across multiple teams, you need to document this information so that everyone is on the same page and no knowledge is lost

How to become a Full Stack developer

If you’re thinking of becoming a developer and the full stack role seems interesting, well, you’re in luck because there are multiple pathways into full stack development. But before we dive into career pathways, it’s important to understand that there are a lot of misunderstandings about the role. 

Some senior developers suggest that the only people hiring junior full stack developers are small startups with limited funding. Larger companies are not going to want a junior dev messing around in the backend where there’s a lot of sensitive data. This is also why companies might be hesitant to hire junior backend developers as well. 

When we are talking about freelance and contract work, full stack development is great. There are plenty of opportunities for this since can outsource to one person who can handle all development requests. That being said you need to have the skills, knowledge, and experience — although the barrier to entry is going to be much lower.   

Generally, it’s recommended that beginners start with either front end or backend. A lot of developers seem to recommend starting with front end development first then once mastered switching to backend technologies and mastering those. It is recommended that you don’t start with a full stack boot camp for obvious reasons. Although that’s the general advice from experienced developers (some might disagree) you should still do your own research. The best thing to do would be to speak with full stack devs and get their advice.  

Here’s a quick overview of the steps toward a career in full stack development: 

  1. Learn about software development: before you spend any money on education, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Software development is not for everyone. So take a free course and build some projects so you understand the process and what’s going to be involved.

  2. Get a degree or certification: With the internet and YouTube, you can learn everything about software development for free. A degree or a boot camp is obviously an easier way to go about this learning process. And as we mentioned before, it’s probably best to go either frontend (preferably) or backend instead of going for a straight-up full stack boot camp.
  1. Learn a language & pick a stack: Learn a language and skill very well. A good place to start would be to learn JavaScript and start building and designing web pages. JavaScript is a great starting point because the language is used on the front end and backend. Which is great for those working towards a MERN or MEAN stack. 
  1. Build a portfolio: These days it’s basically a requirement to have a portfolio of your work even as an entry-level developer. There are plenty of great examples of developer portfolios out there to take inspiration from. The most important thing is getting involved and getting project experience so you can add to your portfolio.   
  1. Experience: If you’re confident at this point, it might be time to apply for an entry-level software role. If you need a bit more experience, then seek out an internship or work experience role.  

If you’re serious about becoming a software engineer then read Career Path Guide for Developers in 2023. For those who don’t want to get a computer science degree, we’ve got a separate guide on becoming a Software Developer Without a Degree.  

Full Stack developer job description

If you are looking for a job or recruiting, you might be wondering what a typical job description for a software engineering position looks like. Unfortunately, engineer job descriptions are often over-the-top and unrealistic since they are written by HR professionals. Don’t worry if descriptions on LinkedIn or Indeed seem insane, apply anyway and just hope that the hiring manager is also reading CVs🤞

Here’s an example of an entry-level full stack job description: 

We are seeking an Entry Level Full Stack Developer to join our dynamic team. As a Full Stack Developer, you will work closely with our team of experienced developers to design, develop, and maintain web applications and features across the entire tech stack. The ideal candidate should have a passion for software development and be comfortable with both front-end and back-end technologies.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Participate in the design and development of web applications and features using modern web technologies and frameworks
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to define, design, and ship new features
  • Write clean, efficient, and maintainable code following industry best practices
  • Troubleshoot and debug applications to identify and fix issues
  • Participate in code and design reviews to ensure quality and consistency
  • Stay up-to-date with emerging trends and technologies in web development


  • Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering or related field
  • Strong understanding of front-end technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Experience with at least one modern front-end framework such as Angular, React, or Vue
  • Familiarity with back-end technologies such as Node.js, Python, or Java
  • Understanding of database systems and experience working with SQL or NoSQL databases
  • Familiarity with version control systems such as Git
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment and communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders
  • Strong problem-solving and analytical skills

Full stack developer salary 

Where can full stack developers make the most money? Let’s take a look at full stack salaries based on the country a developer is working in. The average salary of a full stack developer in the U.S. is $79,000 whereas the average salary in the United Kingdom and Germany is £52,000 ($64,000) and €61,000 ($66,000). 

The average salary of a full stack developer by country (USD):

You might think that a full stack developer earns more than a front end or backend developer because they are working across the whole stack. Well, that’s not really the case. Backend developers, who are working with the most sensitive company data, are paid the highest when compared to front end and full stack devs. These are worldwide estimates based on the salaries collected from over 37,000 developers. 

The median salary by developer type (USD):

Full Stack developer jobs

With the right skill set, a career in Full Stack development can be incredibly rewarding, there are plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement plus an increasing supply of jobs around the world. 

If you’re a full stack developer looking for a new career opportunity, we’ve got some great options in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We partner with Europe’s top tech companies to match them with software engineers like you without the hassle of traditional job-search. Head over to our job board to see what’s waiting for you!


What is meant by full stack development?
Full stack development refers to the process of developing a complete web application from the front-end user interface to the back-end server-side logic and database management. A full stack developer is someone who has the skills and knowledge to work on all aspects of the development process.
Is a software engineer the same as a full stack developer?
No, a software engineer is a more general term that can refer to someone who works on any aspect of software development. A full stack developer is a more specialized role that specifically refers to someone who is proficient in both front-end and back-end web development.
What are the most popular front-end frameworks for full stack developers?
The most popular front-end frameworks for full stack developers are React, Angular, and Vue.js. Each of these frameworks has its own unique features and advantages, so it's important to choose the one that best fits your needs.
What are the challenges of being a full stack developer?
One of the main challenges of being a full stack developer is the constantly changing technology landscape. New frameworks, libraries, and tools are being developed all the time, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices can be a challenge. In addition, the breadth of knowledge required to be a full stack developer can be daunting, as you need to be proficient in multiple programming languages and technologies.
What is Python full stack?
Python full stack refers to the use of the Python programming language for both front-end and back-end web development. This can include frameworks such as Django for back-end development and Flask for front-end development.
What is JavaScript full stack?
JavaScript full stack refers to the use of the JavaScript programming language for both front-end and back-end web development. This can include frameworks such as Node.js for back-end development and React or Angular for front-end development.
Which language is best for a full stack developer?
There is no single "best" language for a full stack developer, as the choice of language will depend on the specific needs of the project. Some popular languages for full stack development include JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and Java. Ultimately, the most important factor is to choose a language that you are proficient in and that will allow you to build a high-quality web application.


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