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DCE Magazine

Winter 2022

Building a Full Stack Career

From healthcare to finance, more companies are hiring versatile full-stack developers to build web apps from the ground up.

So, you’re looking to flex your tech-savvy skills and launch a career in software programming but can’t decide which role would be the best fit. Maybe you have a flair for front-end design but want a solid background in back-end coding. Maybe building back-end frameworks is more your thing but you’d also like more creative input over the entire product.

Why not do it all and become a full-stack web developer, a highly coveted career that’s sort of a jack of all trades? A growing number of companies are streamlining operations and saving valuable time and money by adding versatile, expert full-stack engineers to take on multiple stages of software and web development, freeing specialized teams to focus their resources elsewhere.

“Full-stack web developers are primarily front-end engineers, but they also understand and can work on the full-stack, building Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and databases,” said Lucas Krause, instructor for the UCI Full Stack Web Development certificate program. “They are especially valuable to organizations because they are simply more versatile, saving time to develop and fix issues, and also keep teams highly utilized on other issues.”

Full-stack pros make it easier for organizations to move resources around as needed, from team to team, enhancing team performance and making for a faster time-to-market, Krause added.

Before full-stack developers, companies would rely on separate teams to build APIs and User Interfaces (UIs), slowing down development and straining resources, but a single full-stack expert addresses all these needs, adding considerable value to an organization. And when software defects are found, full-stack engineers can investigate the front-end and back-end, getting straight to the root cause without involving other teams.

No surprise that full-stack developers are in great demand in a wide range of fields. There were more than 153,000 job openings for web developers in the latest annual figures from Emsi Burning Glass labor market data, with 14% growth projected through 2029. Median salary ranges from $77,000 to $146,000 for highly experienced professionals.

“There is a severe shortage of programmers and especially full-stack engineers,” Krause said. “It’s simply a unique skill set. If you can build working software and have the ability to do root-cause analysis, there are jobs out there for you. It is the curiosity and value-added through full-stack skills that is in highest demand.”

In our current economic climate, technology hiring has grown exponentially in virtually every field, “but some of the most popular and highest-paying industries are financial, health, and high-tech,” he added.

“Everyone needs engineers, and in my 20 years’ experience it has always been recession-proof. The beauty of technology is that it is everywhere, usually everyone has some area of passion or expertise, and you can find a job in technology supporting that industry or projects.”

Stacking skills and success

The Full Stack Web Development certificate program provides a strong background in the technical and creative skills needed to expertly program, code, develop and design websites and apps from the ground up, beginning with a foundation in basic web development — learning front-end languages and then a deep dive into sophisticated back-end coding frameworks.

The program can be a perfect entry point to a new career for a wide range of candidates, including career changers, recent grads and tech-savvy hobbyists, as well as marketing professionals and other business pros who want to learn this versatile skillset. Along the way, students get the opportunity to build a solid web development portfolio.

“This is a well-designed program sets students up for success with skills currently most in need in the industry,” said Krause, a successful technology executive. “All of the classes add a unique element needed for a successful career in full-stack development.”

“There is a severe shortage of programmers and especially full-stack engineers. It’s simply a unique skill set. If you can build working software and have the ability to do root-cause analysis, there are jobs out there for you. It is the curiosity and value-added through full-stack skills that is in highest demand.” Lucas Krause, Full Stack Web Development instructor

Krause’s course, Advanced React, dives into essential programming concepts with an array of web-building applications, showcasing student skills using the latest React web framework. Students get hands-on experience building web and mobile applications, learning advanced server-side framework skills to integrate with APIs.

Besides learning frameworks such as React and knowing how to program and understand different languages such as Java, JavaScript and SQL, full-stack developers also learn the skills needed to diagnose software problems and find their root causes, Krause said.

“Building software is highly complex and it is really a miniature example of empiricism or the scientific method. The process is to usually break things down into small steps, or experiments, then implement the easiest solution to that problem, until it is fixed or implemented, then continue until you have a finished program.”

Web design skills aren’t essential to be a successful full-stack developer, but they’re definitely “value-added skills,” along with some background in User Experience (UX), Krause said. “Web developers mostly focus on the implementation of a design rather than building it, similar to an architect designing a house and a contractor building it. Sometimes people can do both, but it is becoming less common as the skillsets become larger and more specialized.”

In other words, a full-stack web developer doesn’t really need a background in design but can rather take designs from tools such as Figma or Adobe XD and apply these styles to web applications. Technical proficiency aside, perhaps the most essential skill sets are simply curiosity and a drive for continuous, lifelong learning, Krause added.

“The biggest value is learning how to keep learning and understanding, so that when things change next year or the year after, you will have a solid foundation to understand what changed, why it changed, and how to stay current. Technologies are changing constantly, so the ability to learn how frameworks work and why they change is essential to programming and problem-solving.”

Learn more about the Full Stack Web Development Certificate Program.