What is a Full Stack Engineer?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

In today’s Information Age, countless websites and digital tools we use to do tasks like online banking and shopping are developed and maintained by highly-skilled professionals called "full stack engineers." If you’re contemplating a career in this field, you’ll likely encounter favorable job prospects due to growing demand for professionals who oversee all aspects of a website’s architecture. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects demand for web development professionals to grow by as much as 15 percent through the year 2026.

What is a Full Stack Engineer?

Full stack engineers, who are sometimes referred to as full stack developers, are professionals who work across all layers and stages of the web development process. In other words, full stack engineers possess fluency in both back-end and front-end technologies.

Front-end involves the part of the web application that users see and interact with, such as a web page. Back-end handles tasks including host and server configuration, user authentication and database integrations. For example, back-end encompasses functions that store and validate usernames, passwords, payment information and other personal data you provide on retail websites.

How to Become a Full Stack Engineer

So to become a full stack engineer, where do you start? Performing a quick search on a job website will reveal that many employers prefer candidates with a college degree in either computer science or engineering. Moreover, companies look for core programming skills and relevant software engineering experience, including:

  • A solid foundation in both front-end programming languages (e.g., HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and back-end programming languages (e.g., C#, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.).
  • The ability to build interactive web applications using popular development frameworks. Common frameworks include Ruby on Rails and AngularJS.
  • Familiarity with business logic, relational and non-relational databases and application architecture, as well as package management and data visualization tools.
  • The ability to work closely with technical teams including web designers, developers and project managers.
  • Excellent problem-solving and troubleshooting skills.

However, if you’re a professional with a non-technical background who’s looking to cross over into full stack development, there are educational options beyond earning a college degree. The web offers a wide range of free and subscription-based tutorials and courses that teach programming foundations for aspiring developers. In addition, coding bootcamps—short, full-time programs that teach students coding skills and offer job placement services after graduation—tend to have lower price tags and shorter time commitments than computer science programs at top universities.

Where a Full Stack Engineer Can Work

Organizations of all sizes and industries are on a constant hunt for qualified full-stack engineers. From big software companies to small tech startups, technology companies tend to attract full stack engineers due to the depth and breadth of their experience in building software products. Furthermore, businesses ranging from retail companies to auto manufacturers and financial institutions are among the numerous employers that also recruit full stack engineers.

Average Salary of a Full Stack Engineer

Due to the high level of skill and comprehensive knowledge in software and application development required for full stack engineering jobs, average salaries for these positions are competitive. According to a February 2018 report on, the average salary for a full stack engineer in the United States was $110,589 annually. As of January 2018, Glassdoor reported the average salary to be $115,960 for full stack engineers in the U.S. Average salaries for full stack engineers also differ depending on factors including years of experience, education level and geographic location.