Many web developers specialize in one type of development, either on the front end or the back end. They may even specialize in one type of web development framework. But full-stack developers do it all. Having full-stack development skills means you can build a complete web application from end to end, a skill that is always in high demand.
If you're interested in a career in full-stack development but not sure where to start, we'll break things down for you. If you're ready to start learning, our Full-Stack Engineer Career Path will teach you what you need to prepare for an entry-level full-stack development job.
What does full-stack mean?
Before we get into what you'll need to do to become a full-stack developer, let's take a quick look at what full-stack development is.
A web application consists of two parts: front-end and back-end. The front-end part of a web app is the code the runs in a user's browser. The backend part of the application is the code that runs on the webserver.
The term "full-stack" applies to this whole process, from front-end to back-end. It is a lot to know, but that doesn't mean you're a know-it-all. Check out the video interview below to learn more about what a full-stack developer does.
Essential full-stack developer skills
As a full-stack developer, you can specialize in a variety of technologies. There are a lot of programming languages and frameworks to choose from. You don't need to know all of them, but to call yourself a full-stack developer, you need the basics of front-end development, a back-end programming language, and the ability to write database queries.
Here are some of the skills you'll want to develop if you're on the path to becoming a full-stack developer.
Any developer should also learn version control, and the most popular version control system is Git. Version control allows a team of developers to commit code to the same project without overwriting existing code.
There are more choices when it comes to working on a back-end application. Here you will be writing APIs that the front-end part of a web application calls for data and writing SQL queries to connect to a relational database.
Back-end applications connect to databases to store and retrieve data, so knowing how to write database queries using SQL is also an important skill that back-end developers should have. If you started learning front-end coding, you should already know version control, but you will have to learn if you are starting in the back-end.
If you have your eye on a job at a specific company, you can look into their job listings to see what languages and frameworks they use to help inform what you learn.
Getting a full-stack developer job
Once you have the skills to create a web application from front to back, you are a full-stack developer. But to become a professional full-stack developer, you need a job. To find a job, you need to let recruiters and businesses know that you have skills. Here's what you'll need to do to prepare.
Create a resume
One of the first things a recruiter will ask for when applying for a job is your resume. Your resume will be the first impression many of the people involved in the hiring process will see, so you should spend time creating one. A technical resume that gets you noticed will have your contact details, work experience, technical skills, projects you've worked on, and other information related to the job you are looking for. Full-stack developer certification, for example, would look very good on a resume.
Create a portfolio
You may also want to create a developer portfolio. Resumes are usually printed out by recruiters and hiring managers when you apply for a job. A portfolio is a lasting resource that displays the skills you have for anyone to see. Instead of a piece of paper with your skills listed on it, you give employers visibility into your skills by allowing them to test the actual code you wrote or view the source code in a public code repository.
Finding a development job
Once you have a resume and a portfolio, the next step is to look for a job. A great place to start is with your LinkedIn profile. First, make sure you have one and then flesh it out with your skills, projects, education, and work experience. When you are done, you can search for jobs with LinkedIn search and connect to recruiters. Other places you can look for a job include Stack Overflow Jobs and Indeed.
How long does it take to become a full-stack developer?
There are quite a few skills you need to learn to become a full-stack developer. But each skill you learn in technology builds on the last. In the beginning, you may not know what a variable is, but once you learn, it is a concept you can apply to write code for both the front-end and back-end of a web application. Our Full-Stack Engineer Career Path will teach you the skills you need to build full-stack web applications using Node.JS, Express.JS, React, and more — and takes about six months to complete.
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