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How to Become a Full-Stack Developer [Complete Guide]

Introduction to Computer Science

About 55% of developers are in the full-stack category, seamlessly taking care of both the front-end and server-side of a website.

And you’re looking to learn more about how to start.

But with over 112 million results on “how to become a full-stack developer,” it could be overwhelming to figure out what article to follow.

This is why we’ve created this “everything you need to know” guide about full-stack development — to give you insights into the steps to getting started.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is a Full-Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer is a professional who is skilled at the development of the front-end (or client-side) and back-end (or server-side) of a website or application. 

As a full-stack developer, it’s essential to understand several coding languages and be able to apply them well.

The term “full-stack developer” was first introduced (and generally referred to as “web development”) by Darcy DiNucci in 1999.

During this time, there wasn’t a major difference between front-end and back-end operations. Developers could develop apps end-to-end and easily build user interfaces.

In 2008, Randy Schmidt defined what full-stack developers meant.

And Google recorded the first search for the term, “full-stack developer,” in 2010.

(Source)

The search and numbers of web developers have since increased drastically. 

Over the years with advancements in technology, website development has become more complicated. Hence the need to categorize developers into the back-end, front-end, and full-stack.

Today, various survey insights have shown the growth in popularity and numbers of full-stack developers over the years.

This is because more companies are looking for developers who can handle various application sides (front-end and backend) effectively. Hiring a full-stack developer is faster, cost-effective, and more manageable than hiring multiple people. 

LinkedIn’s 2020 report also confirms that the job market for this developer category is drastically increasing. For example, “Full stack engineer” is number 4 on the list of top emerging jobs in 2020 with a 35% annual growth.

Skills Required for Full-Stack Developers

To become competent as a full-stack developer, there are certain skills you need to acquire. These skills for becoming a full-stack developer include:

  1. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): HTML is a front-end coding language that determines how web pages are structured in the user’s view.
  2. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): CSS is a front-end programming language that presents the design of an HTML document.
  3. Front-end Programming Languages frameworks: You should also know important client-side frameworks and libraries like React, AngularJS, Svelte, jQuery, Vue.js, and Emberjs.
  4. Back-end programming languages: Every full-stack developer needs a solid grasp of server-side languages like Java, PHP, C++, Python, Node.js, and Ruby.
  5. Back-end Programming Languages frameworks: A server-side developer should understand Django, Ruby, Express.j, Flask, CakePHP, and Ruby on Rails.
  6. Javascript: Javascript is an object-oriented programming (OOP) script that is relevant to the development of both the server-side and client-side.
  7. Version Control: This is used to track the changes different users make to a software code — without affecting the originality of the project.
  8. API Creation and Database Management: As a full-stack developer, you should create Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and manage databases efficiently.
  9. Web Structuring: A full-stack developer should have an understanding of the technical and design part — that is, how to create website layouts and designs that improve the UX.

Front End vs. Back End

What are the differences between front-end and back-end?

The front-end is the user interface(UI) — that is, what pops up on the screen when you search a website URL, while the back-end is the server-side that determines the user experience (UX).

Front-end development focuses on creating a seamless UI — website layout, responsiveness, and color pairing and design — on the client side.

The developers who specialize in this are called front-end developers.

Related: Learn more about front-end development in the Treehouse Front-End Bootcamp and guided Treehouse Front-End Tracks.

Back-end development involves using programming languages to ensure smooth front-end operations. Back-end developers specialize in this function. They are responsible for server set-up, database management, API, and data structuring.

Related: Check out the Treehouse Back-End Community Thread for a list of courses on back-end development.

Creating a Career Timeline

Now that you know what it means, how long does it take to become a full-stack developer? 

It usually takes anywhere from three months to one year to become a full-stack developer. However, the deciding factors of how long your studying will be — whether it’s three, six, or 12 months — are:

The three-month timeline is the minimum amount of time you can spend to learn full-stack properly. Fast-paced learners go into a full-time program and are committed to a back-to-back learning schedule.

However, if you have other things to juggle – like a job or family to take care of— that make you learn on a part-time basis, you can spend between six to 12 months before becoming a full-stack developer.

Note: Once you become a full-stack developer, your learning shouldn’t end. Technical needs are always evolving and that means you need to keep yourself informed of the growth from time to time.

If you’re looking for a quick-paced learning program to become a certified full-stack developer, check out Treehouse Full-Stack Tech Degree.

Choosing Your Resources

There are several resources out there that teach you to become a full-stack developer and we’ve classified them so you can decide the best choice for yourself.

Coding Boot Camps

Boot camps are intensive, interactive, fast-paced courses that teach you the expertise you need to become a professional developer. 

Coding boot camps are highly structured to suit individual learning and offer more flexibility and affordability than a formal four-year college tech degree. 

A boot camp lets you learn the necessary skills, build a portfolio, connect with others, and prepare for employment.

The Treehouse Full-Stack Javascript Tech Degree is an interactive boot camp that provides certification in front-end and back-end development skills. It also allows you to:

Self-Guided Courses

There are relevant courses and libraries of courses you can learn from at your own pace based on self-set goals.

Self-guided courses offer more affordability and flexibility than boot camps. And since the process of learning is coordinated by you, you can focus on learning progress.

The Treehouse Full-Stack Javascript Tracks are a guided curriculum of courses and workshops on programming, web design, and full-stack Javascript development.

Community Resources

Joining a community of other developers makes it easy to find resources, questions, and answers to learn.

In today’s world, this community could be a Slack forum, Facebook Group, Subreddit, or the Treehouse Community.

We’ve designed our community to provide support and insights to developers, programmers, and designers of different skill levels and backgrounds. 

You can easily collaborate on projects, get feedback, ask questions and share relevant resources.

Books

Here are some of the best books you will find on how to become a full-stack developer on the web:

However, as explanatory as a book might be, it’s still mainly theoretical. So, it’s always a good idea to read books as a complementary resource while taking a course.

Finding a Career in Full-Stack Development

You know what it takes and you’re ready to become a full-stack developer. But, how do you find a career in this field? 

Create Your Resume and Portfolio

How do you set yourself apart during a job search for a full-stack developer role, impress the hiring manager, and land the position?

Create a resume and portfolio.

These two resources are the first things recruiters will peruse before deciding to hire you.

Tips for creating a good resume:

While it’s easier to create a resume, building an impressive portfolio generally requires more hardwork. This is because your work has to showcase your design and programming excellence as a full-stack developer.

To create your portfolio,

Search and Apply to Jobs

After you’ve created your resume and portfolio, start searching and applying to jobs.

Here are some ways to find and land good full-stack development gigs:

Prep for Interview Questions

Landing yourself an interview means your application content did an impressive job. It’s your turn to assure potential clients that you’re as good as your work shows you are.

This means preparing for the interview. Here are five of the common interview questions for a full-stack developer position:

  1. What is your favorite part of full-stack development?

[As a full-stack developer, you shouldn’t show that you’re more competent in the development of one side]

  1. What projects have you worked on in the past?

[This is to know your experience with full-stack development]

  1. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made during a project and how did you fix this? 

[This is to understand how skilled you are at your full-stack-related problem handling] 

  1. How do you keep yourself updated with new industry trends?

[This is to find out how current and involved you are in tech development]

  1. What are the most important skills you should have as a full-stack developer?

[This is to see if you understand what your job is all about and will deliver on your promise]

FAQs About Becoming a Full-Stack Developer

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about starting a career in full-stack development:

Can You Get a Job in Full-Stack Without a Degree?

You can. What you need to get a job and earn a good salary is: the right skill set.

You need to have a solid grasp of front-end and back-end codes and other skills for full-stack development.

Who is Eligible to Become a Full-Stack Developer?

Anyone — as long as you’re ready to equip yourself with full-stack development skills.

A full-stack developer is versatile and has skills that include: understanding a variety of coding languages, UI/UX management, and designing.

Become a Full-Stack Developer 

With our guide above, you now know everything you need to become a full-stack developer.

Becoming a full-stack developer offers great career opportunities and allows you to take a unified approach to website or app development.

You can efficiently tie your projects — the user interface and logic data — end-to-end to create a smooth experience.

Ready to become a professional full-stack developer? Join the Treehouse Techdegree for Full-Stack today.

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