The Ultimate Full Stack Developer Guide
In today’s tech-enabled world, working as a full-stack developer could be one of the most rewarding career opportunities.
Businesses of any size seek the expertise of full-stack developers to ease people’s lives with emerging technologies.
Take the rise of AI adoptions across industries, such as healthcare. Using machine learning, full-stack developers can develop web applications that help doctors troubleshoot patients’ health issues faster and more accurately.
If you have the vision to become a full-stack developer, you might ask many questions: What programming language should I learn? Should I take part in coding boot camps? Where to start?
In this article, we’ll guide you through proven tips and strategies to become a full-stack developer.
What is Full Stack Developer?
A full stack developer, also known as a full stack engineer, is an IT professional in charge of both the front-end and back-end development of software or a web application. They’re involved in programming a browser, server, or database
So, what constitutes front-end development, and how does it differ from the back end?
- Front-end development refers to the graphical user interface that visitors can access in web applications.
The primary focus of front-end developers is designing user interactions that are easy to use and pleasant to see.
They have to ensure all the technologies are available on desktops, smartphones, tablets, or any device and operating system.
To become a front-end developer, one must master any of the following coding skills:
- On the other hand, backend development focuses more on the server side of a computer system application that visitors cannot access.
The end goal for a backend developer is to deliver a fully functional web application. This has to do with a range of aspects, from database management and performance improvements to network scalability and cybersecurity.
Back-end development will require proficiency in any of the following server software programming languages:
What Is a Full Stack Developer & What Do They Do?
To better understand the scope of work of full-stack developers, let’s take a look into their roles in new technologies:
- Web development. In terms of the front end, a web developer is in charge of the visual and navigational elements of web pages through menus, buttons, media, and other elements.
On the back end, they have to continuously improve server performance to avoid any downtime that can risk businesses losing customers.
- Computer system application. Web developers are concerned with the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of the application.
Additionally, they integrate computer programming to maintain the efficiency of the server software over time.
- Mobile application. A full-stack developer works on the design portion of the code so that the app is responsive and intuitive on the client side.
Full-stack developers also work on the technical portion of the code to eliminate bugs or other functionality issues.
- Game development. Full-stack developers are in charge of conceptualizing game design and monitoring game stability across platforms for a smooth gameplay experience.
- Artificial intelligence. Full stack development focuses on building AI client software that visitors can seamlessly use when they need help with day-to-day tasks.
Behind the scene, developers conduct rigorous machine learning to improve the AI’s API (application programming interface) in terms of scalability, reliability, and security.
Skills of Full Stack Developers
To keep up with emerging technologies, most developers need to be well-versed in at least one of the following full-stack developer terms:
- LAMP Stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP
- MERN Stack: MongoDB, Express, React, Node.js
- MEAN Stack: Angular.js, Express, Node.js, MongoDB
Additionally, developers need to become polyglots that are adept in at least four coding languages.
Here are the most important skills required for full-stack developers:
Front-end Languages and Frameworks
The expertise of a front-end developer goes beyond building websites as their skill set can be applied to various tech stacks including apps and software.
Still, how can full-stack developers build an engaging user-centric platform? Here are some of the programming languages to learn:
- HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the standard for creating a web application. It functions like a document that controls the structure of web content, including texts, sections, and hyperlinks. It is also generally easy to learn.
- CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a framework to style the design of web pages. CSS attributes can turn HTML code into colors, fonts, and other elements that make up a visually pleasing website. Using CSS can save lots of time in your development project as it’s easy to maintain.
- Angular is an open-source framework based on TypeScript. Run by Google, professional developers use Angular to build enterprise Single-Page Web Applications (SPAs). Angular makes it easy for the development team to work together on huge applications due to its simple management.
Start with the ones that are most accessible for you, then gradually expand as you build your web development career.
Back-end Languages and Frameworks
The front end of a website won’t render functionally if it isn’t for the strong back end. That’s why full-stack developers need to master the entire depth of software development.
As your business grows, you will need a more scalable engine to ensure optimal performance. Hosting your back end in a secure cloud environment such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) will be ideal.
To construct a steady database infrastructure, back-end developers need to have expertise in object-oriented programming languages like PHP, Java, C++, and Python.
Here are some useful frameworks based on those back-end languages:
- Django is an open-source back-end web development framework written in Python. It adopts the modal-view-controller (MVC) patterns, perfect for database-driven web architectures. It is also a NoCode framework, allowing web developers to deploy faster without writing a line of code.
- Laravel is one of the top PHP back-end frameworks best known for developing Symfony-based applications. It supports widgets such as CSS and JS, excellent for complex projects. It has a simple API and the highest standards of security features.
- Ruby or Rails is a server-side framework that runs on the Ruby program. Using Rails, web developers can build web software faster as it uses time-efficient engineering patterns such as convention over configuration (CoC) and don’t repeat yourself (DRY).
- Express.js is a Node.js server framework. It is a MEAN stack component paired with Angular JS frontend and NoSQL databases for building APIs or applications. Node.js supports a wide range of JS features, letting full-stack developers code both front-end and back-end simultaneously.
Other notable frameworks for back-end development include ASP.NET Core, CakePHP, and Spring Boot.
How To Get Into Full Stack Web Development
Now that you know a wide variety of front-end and back-end languages, how and where can you learn them?
Thankfully, there are a lot of resources and courses available to hone your skills as a full-stack developer. Let’s take a look at the options:
This method gives you the flexibility to learn at your own pace. From YouTube tutorials to podcasts, you can learn programming skills free of charge.
Self-learning will be a good starting point but can be unsustainable in the long term. It’s easy to lose motivation, especially if you don’t have someone to consult when facing blockers.
Having a bachelor’s degree or further in computer science or software engineering will prove your competence as a full-stack engineer. It may be time- and resource-intensive, but it is worth investing in.
Throughout your years of study, you can learn about full-stack development both in theory and practice, build a powerful portfolio, and make connections.
While it’s not mandatory to have an educational degree, large tech firms tend to hire full-stack developers that have one.
Full-Stack Development Courses
This is another affordable option to learn full-stack development.
Some courses are completely self-guided, while others also come with instructor support and access to an active community. It’s similar to college, but with an e-learning approach.
If you want to learn the fundamentals of full-stack development, try out Rocket’s Academy 4-week guided course – 100% free.
- Coding boot camps. Short-term but highly intensive, boot camps are an effective way to learn full-fledged software development skills.
Compared to an educational degree, boot camps are less expensive. Plus, graduates from either program can find employment in computer engineering.
Boot camps, an example is the program by RocketAcademy, can take somewhere between 4 to 8 months.
To become a full-stack developer, you’ll need certifications from any or the mixture of the programs above.
The perfect learning course will depend on individual preference in learning and the resources you have in terms of time and money.
Once you have sufficient materials for your resume and portfolio, try to look for an internship to strengthen your professional experience.
Advantages Vs Disadvantages of Becoming a Full Stack Web Developer
Becoming a full-stack developer might be tempting, but before you get started, make sure to weigh the pros and cons.
Here are some advantages of becoming full stack professional:
- One of the highest-paying occupations. The average salary for a full-stack developer is around $8,500 to $13,260 a month in Singapore, depending on seniority.
- One of the highest-demand jobs. Thanks to the rise of emerging technology, almost every company seeks a full-stack developer to develop products and features on the front and back end.
- Flexible work setup. Since being a full-stack developer is a tech-facing job, most companies don’t require you to come to the office – even more so now with the popularity of remote working.
- Freelance opportunities. A lot of front-end or back-end developers do freelance jobs, including those working full-time. There are many openings to browse around in freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr and Upwork.
- Never-ending self-upgrade. Technology will never stop evolving, and there’ll be more development skills to pick up. Most full-stack developers also improve themselves in other areas, such as data analysis and basic marketing, since all of these fields are intertwined.
- Improve project management. To reach the business’ weekly or monthly goals, developers work on a sprint basis. This will help full-stack professionals to be more agile in ever-changing, fast-paced work environments.
Amidst the advantages of becoming a full-stack developer, there are some challenges as well:
- Sedentary lifestyle. Developers spend most of their day sitting in a computer chair due to the nature of their work. Try to do some physical activities every week to prevent any health problems.
- Saturated workforce. Although the demand for full-stack developers is always there, the market is highly competitive. Web developers need to work hard in building their professional experience so they can become the best.
- Overwork. Depending on the culture of the company, web developers tend to work longer than the intended shift, often without any compensation. Make sure to find a company that can guarantee work-life balance.
Full Stack Developer Job Overview
If you’d like to land a job in full-stack development, prepare yourself for the following responsibilities.
Full Stack Developer responsibilities
- Coordinate with engineer and product teams to come up with software solutions.
- Develop the front-end web architecture, such as user interactions on the website.
- Develop the back-end infrastructure, such as creating and maintaining databases and servers for functionality.
- Ensure responsiveness for all operating systems and cross-platform optimization for all devices.
- Design and develop robust APIs and systems.
- Ensure the performance, stability, and scalability of the system with code and application optimization.
- Identify, troubleshoot, and fix any bugs or bottlenecks in the program.
- Ensure software efficiency by conducting regular tests of the software.
- Implement security and data protection.
Requirements to Become a Full Stack Developer
Requirements in the full stack development field may vary on the seniority level of the job you apply to.
While some requirements are set in stone, there are a couple of factors at play:
- Educational background. Most tech firms look for full-stack developers with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or relevant fields. Some recruiters also accept applicants with non-educational certifications from boot camps or other courses and training.
- Previous experience. If you’re signing up as an intern, you’re not expected to have any proven experience. However, if you’re signing up as a full-timer, you’ll need a minimum of 1-2 years of experience.
- Programming language knowledge. Understanding multiple front-end and back-end languages, libraries, and frameworks will be a must. Companies may also look for specific coding skill sets, depending on their tech stack.
- Soft skills. Full-stack developers should have excellent communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. They also need to have great attention to detail and an analytical mindset.
Full Stack Developer Salary
In Singapore, a full-stack developer can earn somewhere from $6,760 to more than $11,474 a month.
The amount of salary you make as a full-stack developer will rely on factors such as the location of the city, the size of the corporation, and the length of your experience.
Personality Traits of a Full Stack Developer
A full-stack developer should combine business logic and a tech-first mindset. Therefore, having the following personality traits will be helpful for personal and professional advancement:
- Teamwork. Developers are the backbone of the company. They need to work with product managers for product ideations as well as inter-departments, from marketing to even accounting, to support their technical needs.
- Communication. As you’ll be coordinating with internal teams, leaders, and clients, superb listening and speaking skills are crucial.
- Problem-solving. The main job of a web developer is to solve people’s problems with technical solutions. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll also encounter a lot of bugs in the system, so you’ll need to fix problems quickly and effectively.
- Creativity. To stay ahead of the competition, a developer’s ability to think outside of the box is essential in coming up with an original product or feature.
Get Started Today With Rocket Academy!
If you’re looking to jumpstart your web development career, check out Rocket Academy.
Our 4-month part-time or 8-month full-time program is complete with an expert-designed curriculum, project portfolio development, and full career support to secure you a bright future in tech.
Get Program Info
Ready to engineer your tech career? Find the program that works for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a full stack developer?
Here are the steps to becoming a full-stack developer:
- Start with basic languages and frameworks
- Expand your skills by taking educational courses
- Put your knowledge into practice through personal projects or internships
- Build your network to streamline your career search
- Build a strong portfolio
- Apply for your dream web development job
What is it like to be a Full Stack Developer?
Being a full-stack developer can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. Throughout their working years, developers build plenty of amazing technology that contributes significantly to a company’s growth.
When can I call myself a full-stack developer?
The moment you start designing the front-end and back-end functions of a software product is when you can proudly call yourself a full-stack developer. You’re involved in end-to-end aspects, from designing and coding to hosting and deploying.
How is a day in life for a full-stack developer?
The day of full stack web developers is the same as any other employees. They start with a morning stand-up, and fill the rest of the day with debugging, code writing, and sprint meetings. They also have lunch and dinner breaks in between.
This article was contributed by Rocket Academy’s founder and CEO, Kai Yuan Neo. He completed his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science at Stanford University. He started Rocket Academy because the world still lacks software engineering talent, and people that had not studied Computer Science but wish to become software engineers have few good ways to do so. Check out how our Coding Bootcamp Singapore community has grown!