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How to become a Full Stack Developer

6 minute read

A Full Stack Developer is someone who works with both the front and back ends of a website or application.

Front-end developers work on what the user can see (such as the finished product of an app), while back-end developers build the infrastructure that supports the app. 

These professionals are a valuable addition to any digital team, because instead of bringing in a separate Front-end and Back-end Developer, a Full Stack Developer fills the role of both. 

If this is a career you’re thinking about pursuing, you no doubt want to know how to become a Full Stack Developer. Below we cover everything you need to know.

Why become a Full Stack Developer?

Technology is rapidly evolving, which is great but the issue this poses for many businesses is that they can’t afford to hire a full team of developers.

Full Stack Developers offer the perfect solution because they work with the design aspect of software that clients interact with, as well as the coding and structuring of the server end. 

Demand for these professionals has further increased in response to the coronavirus pandemic as it has become almost essential for organisations to migrate their business to a virtual world.

In March 2020, the UK did in fact see a 10% increase in jobs posted for Full Stack Developer roles. 

Aside from being in-demand, there are a number of other benefits drawing people to this role including: 

  • Competitive salary which continues to increase with experience 
  • Variety – you could be working on different projects from week to week 
  • Plenty of opportunities to learn new skills
  • The role is constantly evolving as technology progresses

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a Full Stack Developer?

Full Stack Developers get involved with projects that range from the initial planning phase to building user-facing websites. 

Despite what the job title suggests, you don’t necessarily have to write all of a site’s code yourself. Many Full Stack Developers spend the majority of their time in either the front or back end of a site.

They do however know enough about coding that they can jump in anywhere if needed. If you’re a freelancer or the only developer working on a project, you may be responsible for coding entire websites. 

Your day-to-day responsibilities may include:

  • Using a range of technologies and languages to develop applications (such as JavaScript or HTML)
  • Assisting with the design and creation of software
  • Testing and fixing bugs and other coding issues 
  • Developing and managing databases and applications
  • Writing effective APIs
  • Troubleshooting, debugging and upgrading software
  • Creating security and data protection settings
  • Building websites and applications with a mobile responsive design
  • Working with other members of the digital team to improve software

What skills do I need to become a Full Stack Developer?

There are a number of skills which are helpful to possess in order to secure a job as a Full Stack Developer. If you don’t have any work experience, try to focus on how you’ve acquired these skills through formal education or self-teaching. 

By learning new skills in your own time, you’re demonstrating your passion and enthusiasm for the role which will really help you to stand out – even if you don’t have much work experience.  

These include:

  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript and one or more back end languages 
  • Most professionals in this industry specialise in a particular back end programming language. You may for example see a job vacancy for a Full Stack Ruby Developer 
  • Experience with databases
  • Knowledge of security concerns and best practices 
  • The ability to develop desktop and mobile applications
  • Familiarity with common stacks 
  • It’s not uncommon for Full Stack Developers to broaden their skillset to other areas such as project management, visual design or user experience 
  • Excellent communication
  • Teamwork skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Good organisation skills
  • Having an analytical mind

How long does it take to become a Full Stack Developer?

It’s natural to want to get an idea as to how long it will take to reach your goals which is why many people ask, ‘how long does it take to become a Full Stack Developer?’

There isn’t a definitive answer to this unfortunately. It will depend on the route you take (some people go to university or enrol in a course whereas others go straight into the world of work with an internship). 

It was also depend on how quickly you learn, job availability in your area and how much time you can dedicate to applying for roles. While we can’t provide a set answer for this question, below we discuss how to become a Full Stack Developer.

Knowing the route you’re going to take will help you to determine how long it’s likely to be before you can start your chosen profession.  

How much does a Full Stack Developer earn?

Full Stack Developers in the UK earn between £24,000 and £59,000 per annum with the average salary being £35,107. 

There’s potential to progress quickly in this role and you can also maximise your income through overtime and bonuses. 

To find out more about salary expectations based on your experience and location, head to payscale.com. 

How to become a Full Stack Developer

From formal education to self-learning, there are a number of ways to enter the profession based on what’s suited to your lifestyle. 

University

Because this is a technical role, it will be beneficial to have some form of education behind you. While it’s not essential to have a degree in a relevant subject such as computer science or programming, there are some companies that require it.

By doing a placement year as part of your studies, this can also help you to pick up some valuable experience as well as give you an edge when you graduate. 

Private course

If university isn’t for you, a private course is another great option. There are plenty to choose from and many can be completed online and in your own time. Some examples of companies offering Full Stack Development courses include: 

Internships and work experience 

Securing an internship or work experience is another fantastic way to get into Full Stack Development. As well as gaining valuable hands-on experience, you’ll learn new skills and meet contacts which can be useful when it comes to future job roles.

Many internships and work experience candidates end up working for the company on a full-time basis which is another benefit of going down this route. 

Self-learning

Some Full Stack Developers are self-taught. Even if you’re starting at the beginning with absolutely no knowledge, there are plenty of resources which can help you learn. 

By doing an hour of coding in your spare time every day, you can really help to improve your skills and knowledge which will look great on your CV.

What’s more, self-learning is something employers really value because it shows passion. Skills can be taught but genuine enthusiasm is harder to find, so don’t think that being self-taught will put an employer off. 

Some helpful resources for learning the skills required for the role include: 

Whichever route you choose to enter the world of Full Stack Development, it’s a good idea to work on personal projects which you can showcase when applying for jobs.

Companies like to see projects you’ve built yourself and as well as demonstrating your skills, it also shows initiative and that you’re passionate about the subject. 

If you’re excited about pursuing a career in Full Stack Development and would like to make a start on your journey, have a read of our blogs ‘The top tools budding Full Stack Developers should know’ and ‘Top 8 interview tips for Full Stack Developer jobs.’

Feeling inspired? Find out more about starting a career in Full Stack Development by listening to our THIS IS HOW podcast, where we chat to Laila Katumba, Full Stack Developer at AllSaints.