There are many arguments around the subject of full stack development and whether or not the extra training is worth it. Of course, we can’t decide for you whether it’s a tech career worth pursuing. If you’re in two minds, this article investigates the politics around the subject and will hopefully help you decide.
What is Meant by Full Stack?
There are two sides to software engineering or web development; the front end and the back end.
Front End Developers focus on what website visitors or software users see and are often also called web designers. They are responsible for the look and feel of a website, its user interface or the user experience of a web application.
Back End Web Developers focus more on the mechanics of a website or software, or how it works. In the back end of a website are the application, a server and a database. The code written by Back End Developers tells these components how to work together to produce what the user sees on screen.
A Full Stack Developer works on all of the above.
To be proficient in full stack, the minimum programming languages, technologies and skills that employers expect you to have are:
- Backend languages such as Ruby, PHP, Java, .Net, and Python
- Server-side architecture
- HTTP and REST
- Database storage
- Design skills such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator
- Node js and NPM
- Soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, time management and attention to detail
Required Skills Vary From One Employer to Another
Of course, the skills an employer looks for depends on the nature of their business. The products you are likely to work on and the environment you work in will also influence the skills you will need.
For example, in a small company, a Full Stack Developer may work alone managing the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC).
In a larger business, they may work as part of the development team alongside front end and Back End Developers. The Full Stack Developer’s understanding of both sides will facilitate communication and understanding between the rest of the team. So while it’s unlikely they will be ultimately responsible for the entire product, their broader knowledge may speed up production.
Businesses may also want developers to be able to use more up to date technologies such as React or Angular. Alternatively, they may look for less technical but more advanced visual design skills.
Is Full Stack Development Well Paid?
Entry-level Full Stack Developer salaries in the north of England start at around £25,000 and can go up to £46,000. With a few year’s experience, the average salary in Manchester in 2021 is around £32,000.
Front End salaries start around £22,000 and go up to around £54,000 with experience. The average salary of a Front End developer in the UK is approximately £33,000.
Similarly, Back End Developer salaries start at around £22,000 but can rise to £65,000, with the average being about £31,000.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Full Stack Developer?
The time it takes individuals to acquire the necessary skills will vary depending on how much time they can spend learning. The training methods they choose may also affect how quickly learners gain new technologies and programming skills. However, from our experience working with many professionals in the industry, we offer a rough estimation below.
It’s possible to land your first entry-level job as a Front End Web Developer within six months to a year. The back end takes slightly longer to get your head around due to learning about databases, servers and frameworks. Some say this is achievable within approximately 18 months to two years.
So if we put the two together, it’s likely to take around three years to become a full stack all-rounder. But why bother to do that if you could be earning a similar salary in less time by choosing just one or the other?
The Pros and Cons of Going Full Stack
So here’s where the debate comes in: Many argue that those who focus on either front or back end web/software development are specialists. Conversely, the same school of thought considers full stack web developers as a jack of all trades but master none.
Nevertheless, many employers value full stack engineers’ skills as a hot commodity and prefer individuals with good all-around knowledge.
As you can see above, if we focus purely on salary alone, there’s not that much difference between the three. So why bother going to the effort of enhancing your skills set when you could stop after learning one side?
So Is it Worth Becoming a Full Stack developer?
The answer to this question really comes down to personal preference. The main benefit being that those who can do both sides get the opportunity to produce an entire product from start to finish. Conversely, someone who can only do one side or the other might work on bigger projects as part of a team.