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The Career Path of a Full Stack Developer

Full stack developers have a curious streak a mile wide. They don’t just want to know how to code; they want to know how to code everything — from client-facing interfaces to back end libraries. If you have a talent for programming and a habit of following new concepts down rabbit holes, full stack development might just be your dream job.

But how do you get there? What is the career path for a full stack developer, and how should you go about walking it?

Not to worry! In this article, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know for your journey — which foundational skills you’ll need to pick up, how you can prepare for your first job, and what you can expect from your career progression.

But before we launch into the nitty-gritty details, let’s talk broad strokes; what is a full stack developer?

A full stack developer is a professional who, as the name suggests, can handle a “full stack” of development technologies and have proficiency over both front end and back end coding disciplines.

Taken together, the front end and back end encompass the whole of an application. The front end — or client-side — refers to all aspects of an application that a user can see and interact with. The back end refers to the servers, databases, business logic, and proprietary software that support the application from behind the scenes.

Think of an application as a house. A front end developer serves as the structure’s interior designer; they furnish and decorate the house, making it an attractive and functional place to visit and use. On the other hand, a back end developer is a contractor responsible for building the foundation, setting up plumbing, and running electricity — all of the essential features that the people in the house would typically take for granted.

A full stack developer could build and furnish the entirety of the house from scratch. They have a comprehensive understanding of both front and back end architectural principles and command over several programming languages, including front end staples such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as well as back end standbys such as Python, Java, and R.

Their extensive cross-disciplinary knowledge makes them invaluable; not only can full stack developers readily shift between front and back end tasks, but they are also well-positioned to take a holistic view of an application’s development and draw its disparate parts into a cohesive whole.

Full stack developers are generally responsible for the following tasks:

  • Supporting development efforts from project conceptualization to launch

  • Prototyping and building applications and/or websites

  • Designing front end interfaces and user experiences

  • Conducting database and server administration

  • Fine-tuning projects following user feedback

  • Collaborating with other developers, UX designers, sales, and leadership to improve and execute projects

Full stack development is a popular and promising career for those in the software development field. Currently, a full 55 percent of surveyed developers identify as full stack professionals. A full 38 percent of hiring managers claimed that full stack development was the “#1 role to fill in 2022.”

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