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How to Become a Full-Stack Developer


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.

On the front-end, you would use HTML to structure web pages, CSS to style those pages and JavaScript as the programming language that adds dynamic features to the HTML. On the back-end, you can use a variety of programming languages to serve data when a web browser requests it. These back-end services may need to connect to databases, another back-end technology, to retrieve and update stored data.

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.

Front-end

The bare minimum you need to know to work on the front-end application is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the building blocks of web pages. But learning these three technologies should be where you start.

jQuery may be a good thing to learn after that. It is one of the most widely used JavaScript libraries that interact with web pages and creates simpler dynamic effects. But modern front-end web development is usually done using one of many available JavaScript front-end frameworks. This will be where you should spend most of your time learning. React, Vue.js, and Angular.js are all popular in-demand frameworks. Learning one, to begin with, is all you need to do. There are plenty of jobs available using any one of these frameworks.

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.

Back-end

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.

If you already know JavaScript from working on front-end code, the quickest way to learn back-end development is to learn Node.js. It is also written in JavaScript, so you won’t have to learn a new language. But you can learn to write back-end code in Python, Ruby, PHP, or C#. There are also web development frameworks for back-end code, and it definitely helps to know those also. For Node.js, learn Express.js. For Python, learn Django or Flask. And for Ruby, you will want to know Ruby on Rails.

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.

Curious about learning more? Join the Skillacademy community to connect with other learners, hear about their journeys, share your own experience, and ask questions.

June 10, 2021

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