6 steps to becoming a full stack developer

Full stack developer has become one of the most sought-after positions in the technology domain. The boom in this area has led to the mushrooming of both web-based and in-class training centers, which help individuals become full stack developers (and this has nothing to do with piling up a stack of pancakes at IHOP!). Some of these centers also support trainees to get plum coding jobs at the end of the course.

Who is a full stack developer?

A programmer skilled in coding both the frontend and the backend parts of a web application is called a full stack web developer.
The frontend: This is the part of the web application that the user sees and uses.
The backend: These are parts of the application that function behind the scenes and execute the commands issued by the user. This usually includes:

  • logical processes
  • database-related processes
  • validation of users
  • server configuration

A full stack developer is not expected to be an expert in all areas pertaining to the frontends and backends. The individual needs to be knowledgeable in all the technologies involved and should be able to understand the processes happening within the entire application.

You can become a full stack developer by following a few simple steps, such as:

Step 1: Learn the necessary programming languages

A full stack developer needs to know the following technologies:


The web is built on these technologies. HTML is the tool that helps developers input content into a website and CSS is a designing tool used to alter the appearance of web applications. Both are essential tools for a full stack developer and are taught in all courses, whether online or in-person.


This is a must-have for any full stack developer. This can be used in both front-end and back-end processes. Browsers are built on it and JavaScript can be used as a server-side language as well.

Backend technologies

After mastering HTML/CSS and JavaScript, you need to learn at least one language used for coding backend processes. The functions occurring in the backend of a web application are database operations, user validation, and logical operations.

Any course, whether online or otherwise, most often will teach you backend technology — PHP, Java, Python, or SQL. Learning one of the languages should suffice but you should attain proficiency in it.

Step 2: Refine the knowledge

  • To understand complex concepts, you need to be sure about the fundamentals. JavaScript & HTML/CSS form the base of web development. For any novice, you should be clear about all aspects of these technologies.
  • Test your knowledge. Create test web pages and apply the concepts learned in the course. JavaScript can be found in 99 percent of all web applications. Become proficient in its use.
  • Knowledge of programming concepts can help improve coding skills. Some theories/knowledge to acquire before pushing ahead are:
  1. Servers and their functioning
  2. Networks and their nuances
  3. Web-hosting environments
  4. Algorithms and their formulation
  5. Data structures (types, properties, and use)
  6. Programming technologies
  7. Databases and their management
  • You should be able to piece together the different parts of the application and create a whole out of the parts. For this, you should understand how each part works, its role in the bigger scheme of things and how one part connects to the other.

Step 3: Become familiar with all technologies but a master of one

As the scope of your leaning expands, you will realize that there is much more to learn than you possibly can master. Most programmers fail because they try to learn too much of too many things. There is no need for such efforts. Master one and understand the rest. Learn how to work in them and that should be good enough.

As your experience grows, your ease with the technologies will also improve. Take pains to specialize in one technology. Choose a technology popular among clients. This should help you compete effectively with others in the field and produce outstanding work. And with the way this economy is growing with lower taxes, you should have a bright career ahead and be able to relocate other states if you wish to.

Step 4: Take a course

Even the best prepared should be willing to keep learning new things to remain relevant. New technologies join the foray frequently — no one knows everything. A full stack developer needs to stay abreast of these changes. Taking online or virtual courses is an easy way to keep upskilling. Among the many organizations offering technology courses online are:

A word of caution: Avoid costly courses that promise to teach everything in a matter of hours.

Since the objective is to learn theory and get practical exposure within the shortest time possible, choose courses that offer:

  • Mentoring by knowledgeable coders.
  • Flexible schedule that matches yours.
  • Projects as part of the curriculum (see the University of Phoenix, which incorporates teamwork into the curriculum with acumen).
  • Tutoring to clarify doubts (either individually or in groups).

Step 5: Get practical exposure

The most challenging part of the process is when you have a thorough understanding of all the necessary technologies—HTML/CSS, JavaScript, back-end programming, databases, and HTTP/REST. Time has come to use all this knowledge in an application. For this, you need to know:

  • The right way to structure code.
  • Means to separate files.
  • Environment to host large media files.
  • The right data structures to use.
  • Location of each computational task (client-side or server-side).

Theoretical knowledge can be obtained by reading online materials, but to understand application architecture properly, you must implement an actual web application.

Working with a team is the ideal way to accomplish this through an individual can also develop an application alone. This exercise adds the all-essential practical exposure to the technology toolkit of a full-stack developer.

A few companies may insist on an applicant having a degree in computer science to apply for the position, but most will overlook education if a candidate can exhibit the necessary coding abilities.

Step 6: Take up additional assignments

Join additional projects in your company that work on technologies outside your expertise. This way you will upskill and add extra value to your organization as well. Most companies will appreciate these types of initiatives — just don’t try to show anyone up and courteous in your pursuit of learning.

Not as hard as it may look

In the beginning, the journey to becoming a full stack developer might appear herculean. But experience makes the process easier. Continuously upgrading your skill-set is not as daunting as it may appear at first. Moreover, being able to understand all aspects of a project will make you an indispensable part of your company or department.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Benjamin Roussey

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master’s degrees and served four years in the US Navy. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006). Currently he lives in the Phoenix area after living in Cabo San Lucas, MX for 3 years. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online.

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