The process of designing, building, testing, and maintaining websites is handled by full-stack developers. It’s an extremely diverse role that covers many different responsibilities. To make it in this field you’ll need graphic design skills, technical coding know-how, together with strong soft skills like communication and organization.
Learning such a wide range of skills can be challenging. Conventional education like formal degrees is the traditional path most aspiring developers take. However, in recent years tech companies have favored candidates that can hit the ground running. Employers want to hire developers that have a strong understanding of the specific skills required for the role.
We'll discuss how you can kickstart your career in full-stack development. We’ll go over some of the skills you’ll be expected to master and the best ways to learn these skills. We’ll also look at full-stack development bootcamps which are a more focused alternative to traditional education programs.
Before learning about what skills are necessary for this role, let’s understand what it means to be a full-stack developer.
What does a Full-Stack Developer Do?
A full-stack developer is responsible for both front-end and back-end development.
Front-end (or client-side) development is concerned with anything the user can see or interact with. It includes site design, navigation, layout, and structure.
Back-end (or server-side) development is focused on the functionality of the site. Back-end developers have a technical background and work on data storage, server configurations, and site logic.
A full-stack developer has to master the technology that’s involved in both of these processes. Some job responsibilities of a full stack developer include:
- Developing the front-end design
- Developing back-end applications
- Working with development teams
- Writing effective APIs
- Troubleshooting and debugging site functionality
- Building and testing the responsive design
- Writing technical documentation
- Developing and managing databases
- Improving and maintaining code
These are just some of the tasks tackled by full-stack developers. The actual responsibilities may vary depending upon the industry and size of the company.
Hard Skills Essential for Developers
Full-stack developers use many different technologies on a daily basis. Here are some of the core skills you’ll need to be successful:
- HTML/CSS: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is used to add structured content to web pages. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) allows developers to apply consistent styles and themes to a site. You can change fonts, colors, margins, images, and layouts using CSS. HTML and CSS work together to form the basic building blocks of a website. They’re fundamental to the web development process and are a must-have skill for any aspiring full-stack developer.
- Databases: Almost all web applications need databases to store and handle data. It’s therefore essential that you learn fundamental database concepts to be successful in this field. You’ll need to understand effective database design, how to optimize databases for speed, and how to read, write, delete, and update data within a database. The programming language used to do this is called SQL (Structured Query Language). Some common database systems include MySQL, MongoDB, Oracle, and SQLServer. You should also be familiar with caching mechanisms like Memcached, Redis, and Varnish.
- Design Skills: The website not only needs to function but needs to look great too. This is where design skills come in. Your goal is to create a great user experience. Anything that frustrates or confuses the user can seriously harm the company brand and ultimately affect sales. Understanding user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design is a key part of this. Learning how to prototype, test, and iterate your designs will also be required.
- Web Architecture: A full-stack developer is expected to be able to structure code, separate and store files, understand storage methods for large files, perform computational tasks, and optimize data in databases.
- GitHub Experience: This is an open-source repository hosting service, where you can track changes and modifications made to applications, code, documents, and websites. It’s an extremely useful platform in the developer community and is widely used by programming teams to collaborate on projects. It includes a powerful version control system that allows you to effectively work with other team members. Most tech companies prefer candidates with GitHub experience.
Soft Skills Required to Rise up the Ranks in Software Engineering
Soft skills are also important to make it in the development world. They include social, interpersonal, and business skills which are sometimes harder to define than technical skills. Let’s take a look at some of the soft skills needed:
- Communication Skills: It’s rare that you’ll work alone as a full-stack developer. You may need to meet with clients, talk with other developers, and report progress to company stakeholders. In order to do this effectively, you’ll need to be a strong communicator. Both listening and speaking skills are required to present ideas in a passionate and persuasive way.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Running into coding errors and bugs is a common occurrence in this profession. You should be able to solve them quickly without wasting time and move forward. You’ll also need problem-solving skills to tackle new challenges you’ll face when building web applications. A client may request an original idea that needs to be planned out and implemented effectively.
- Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and come up with original ideas is important for full-stack developers. Creative branding can set your site apart from the rest of the crowd. You can also be creative when working on the back-end by coming up with an original approach to data storage. Efficient handling of data can improve site loading times resulting in a better experience for the user.
- Time Management: Most companies work with strict schedules and timelines. As the daily tasks of a full-stack developer are varied, you must learn how to prioritize and manage your time effectively.
- Attention to Detail: To create a stand-out website that appeals to users, you have to pay attention to every single detail. If your left margin is 10 pixels wider than your right margin, the whole site will look off. Along with the visual appeal, you also need to take into account the functionality of the website.
How to Learn Web Development
Many aspiring developers think a degree is the best way to get started. But the prospect of 4 years of study, plus up to $30,000 per year in tuition fees isn’t for everyone. Considering full-stack developer positions don’t actually require a degree, many candidates are now opting for alternative education routes.
Bootcamps are becoming increasingly popular in the tech world. They’re more affordable, more focused, and more intensive than a degree course. In some cases, students can transition from complete beginner to hired in less than a year.
Enroll in our full-stack developer bootcamp to fast-track your tech career. You’ll receive expert mentoring from experienced developers as you learn all the necessary skills required to land a well-paid developer job. As part of your training, you build a stand-out portfolio of work to wow prospective employers.
Tips to Improve Your Full-Stack Development Skills
No matter what your experience level, learning is a never-ending process. You’ll soon fall behind if you take your foot off the gas. If you already have some of the skills mentioned, then you should work on improving the skills that you lack. Below are some tips which can help you:
- Devote plenty of time to coding: If you’ve already mastered one language, start learning another. You’ll find that the more languages you learn, the easier it becomes. The best way to learn is by practicing on real-life projects.
Even if you can complete the task with a language you already know, try to use a new language instead. It’ll take you slightly longer to complete, but by the end of the project, you’ll have added another string to your bow.
Coding is always going to be a part of the job. The more languages you can master, your more valuable you’ll be to your employer.
- Communicate with your team: This will build team spirit, transparency, and harmony. Plus, you’ll be able to learn from your team members. This is one of the best ways of working on your soft skills.
- Stay on-trend: There are plenty of online resources you can use to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques. Read online web development blogs, check out tech-related YouTube channels, and stock your shelves full of software engineering books.
- Know your weaknesses: Don’t be afraid to admit that you lack a certain skill or don’t understand something. You might run into problems that you don’t have solutions for. This is a good opportunity to learn something new. Not acknowledging it, will slow down the learning process.
- Teach others: Mentoring someone new to the field will give you a chance to refresh your skills. Also, teaching can be a good way of learning and improving your own skills. You’ll gain insight into someone else’s perspective, thought process, and ideas.
Your Tech Career Starts Here
A future in web development can be immensely satisfying for the right candidate. The world will always need more developers, so you can expect job security and an excellent compensation package if you head in the web dev direction. We wish you the best of luck for your future tech career and hope this article helped you on your journey.
If you want to learn more about advancing your skills in fields like web development, UX/UI design, and product management, we offer several online courses you might be interested in. Schedule a call with our admissions team and we’ll happily answer any questions you may have.