Should you become a full-stack developer?

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What type of developer should you be?

As technology advances and more people join this exciting field, more and more companies need web developers.

Web developers were once a luxury for “technology” companies. Now, every business needs a website, and every website is getting more complex.

Smaller and smaller companies are hiring full-time web developers, and skilled programmers are constantly creating new and exciting opportunities for themselves.

At some point in the career of every web developer, they must face a simple question.

Should I become a full-stack developer?

The question is simple, but the answer may not be.

For some, this is the perfect career choice. But, for others, it might be a one-way ticket to misery.

What is a full-stack web developer?

The term “full stack,” whether it refers to programs, programmers, or web development, indicates something (or someone) that interacts with the entire system.

Front-end developers typically optimize the visible parts of an application or website, like the user interface.

A backend developer typically concentrates on the parts that the typical user won’t see, like database management, APIs, and similar things.

Both sides appeal to different types of skilled developers interested in different skills.

Both front-end and back-end development can be fulfilling, lucrative, and exciting careers to pursue.

A full-stack developer is someone who brings the two sides together.

Not only will they be able to work on both sides, but crucially they will be able to integrate the two for a better, safer, and seamlessly integrated final product.

Like everything, there are both pros and cons to becoming a full-stack developer.

So, in this article, I’ll list some pros and cons of full-stack development to help you decide if it’s the right career path for you.

Pro: Full-stack developers are always in demand.

As I already mentioned, all software developers are in high demand, but full-stack developers are even more so. Why?

Any company working on a product will likely need both developers with front-end and back-end skills. They’ll either have two people who can only work on one side or one person who can work on both. It’s usually cheaper and simpler to hire one person who can do both.

But, their decision doesn’t just come down to the amount and type of work needed.

Developers have high rotations, so what happens if your FE developer leaves the team or if the BE developer leaves? If you don’t have other people available to fill in the new gaps, it can bring everything to a halt.

Generally, companies consider full-stack programmers a safer and better investment because of the flexibility they bring. Full-stack developers might not be as fast or have as much expertise in specific skills, but they bring a broader set of skills into the workplace.

Full-stack skills are almost always preferred, even in diverse environments like small start-ups or massive teams of 50+ developers. Even when they “specialize” in BE development, knowing they can jump into FE coding if needed is a huge advantage.

Companies often place a higher priority on flexibility than they do on specialization, putting full-stack developers ahead of other candidates .

Going full-stack is an excellent choice if you want to increase your chances of landing a job.

Con: Full-stack developers need to have a lot more knowledge.

You’ll need to be knowledgeable about more languages, technologies, and applications if you want to pursue full-stack development. This could be the perfect thing for you if you are always curious. However, staying up-to-date on advances and developments for everything involved in full-stack development means you need to know more to start and spend more time learning throughout your career.

To help get around this, many full-stack developers make a case for languages like JavaScript/TypeScript because, with one language and one set of tools, you can work on both the front-end and back-end.

Everything doesn’t transfer 100% from FE to BE development, but it’s easier to work with languages that help on both sides than have to learn different sets of tools for each end.

So, there are ways to get around this. You just have to be clever and choose your tools wisely.

Pro: There are a lot of avenues for growth

As an accomplished full-stack developer, you have a lot of control over your career. You can manage a team of developers, become a consultant, build your own company, or become a freelancer. Your strength lies in bringing different technologies together in valuable and interesting ways. Once you learn these skills, there are a lot of possibilities that open up for you.

Con: Multitasking

We all know that multitasking can seriously cut productivity back. So, full-stack developers switching between different stacks throughout the day often struggle to get as much done as someone focusing on only one stack.

There are ways to overcome the multitasking challenge, but it requires discipline and experience. It’s different for everyone, so you’ll need to experiment and find the right balance for you.

Some of it has to do with how our brains function. Some love the challenge of switching between different stacks. Others find it very difficult “switch gears” mentally into another programming language or task every few hours.

When I’m working on projects involving both, I like to set times and work on things separately. It requires a bit of planning to ensure things are done correctly, but it works best for me.

I know other developers that have both projects open at all times, and they code both simultaneously as they test features. I tried that, but my productivity suffered a lot.

Ask yourself, do you do better working on one thing for extended periods, or do you enjoy jumping around?

Pro: Full-Stack developers have the highest pay.

Full-stack developers are typically paid more than their counterparts because they bring more diverse skills. As the “Swiss Army Knife” of developers, they have tools and skills applicable for most jobs. They can jump in and solve problems or help with a wide array of situations. Your utility as a full-stack developer means that in many (though not all) cases, your value (and resulting pay) to a company or employer will be higher than a specialist who can only work on certain projects.

Pro: You are constantly solving new and different problems.

Full-stack developers are always solving problems. Bridging the gap between different software solutions, different programming languages, and different technologies is a constant puzzle that’s never quite finished. Often, the minute you’ve solved one problem, three more arise. This is one of my favorite parts of the job, and I’m not alone.

All developers deal with this to some degree.

Full-stack programmers, in particular, have a more diverse set of challenges to overcome. For example, after working for a few hours on the FE and fighting with CSS, you may need to jump to the BE and solve those caching issues affecting your product’s speed.

Con: You may not become an expert in any one thing

The choice between full-stack development and specialization comes down to whether you want to be good at a lot of things or great at one thing. An expert full-stack developer chooses competence in several areas over mastery of a few.

For this reason, many full-stack developers are not 100% full-stack. Most developers are either FE or BE developers, but they are comfortable if they need to jump to the other side to fix a bug or build a feature.

It is common to take one specialty and have enough knowledge of the other to help if needed.

And perhaps this is a good balance. Just be aware that if you keep working on both at all times, you likely won’t be as good as a BE or FE developer if you focus on just that.

Pro: You take on more responsibility

As a full-stack developer, you generally have more influence over the end product and more responsibility for delivering it. There’s nothing quite like seeing a site you helped build go live. There’s an immense satisfaction knowing that you helped shape it into something people use. As a full-stack developer, you generally have more impact on how the final product ends.

Should you be a full-stack developer?

There’s no one right or wrong answer. And, here’s the good news. You aren’t locked into one particular career trajectory. You can start as a blockchain technology or database management specialist, decide you want to try full-stack development, and make the transition! Or, you can go the other direction. It’s really up to you.

You can develop your skills in all kinds of ways.

  • Focus on BE development, but maintain skills in FE development to help your team when needed, or do it the other way around.
  • Learn a programming language favored by full-stack developers to make it easier to work on both sides of the equation.
  • Start as a FE developer and move to BE development to discover which appeals more to you.

As a web developer, the world is yours, and all kinds of career opportunities are available for you. The most important decision is to go out and start.

Thanks for reading!