Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer: Which One Should You Choose?

Full Stack Developer vs. Software Engineer


Any company that has ever needed a programmer to develop websites, apps, databases, etc., must have confused full stack developer vs. software engineer during the hiring process. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but how much do they differ? Or do they differ at all? 

You may have questions regarding the said jobs and the nature of the skill set required. 

It’s obvious that the two positions have a clear connection, as full stack development is a subset of software engineering. Still, it begs the question – Why are job titles different? And whom should I hire for my project development? 

This article will differentiate between a full stack developer vs software engineer on various parameters so you can choose which is right for you. Before we begin, let’s ponder over the most common question.

Is a Full Stack Developer a Software Engineer?

Full stack developer vs. software engineer are two job titles we use interchangeably. But there are differences between both job roles. As we said, full stack development is a subset of software development, and there are similarities between the two. Still, there is a difference between Full stack developers and software engineers. 

The distinction may vary and sometimes overlap per the project or the industry. Major projects with a large team may project a definitive difference between the two. However, the two positions might have common duties in a small team.

But note that both Full stack developer vs software engineer specialize in different development aspects and require different skill sets. Let’s understand both of them in detail.

What is A Full Stack Developer?

Full stack developers manage and develop both the front-end and back-end of a website or application. The front end includes the visible parts, and the back end comprises the website’s infrastructure. They design and code websites and applications, work on application programming interfaces (APIs), databases, and servers and interact with clients.

They have a thorough grasp of application and website development principles. They often know how to work with multiple languages, such as front-end- HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while Python and Ruby for backend-end frameworks. They also work with front-end frameworks like Vue, React, and Angular. Depending on the project, full stack developers may work on cross-mobile, web, or native application development, server development and design, and client consultation.

What Does a Full Stack Developer Do?

Full stack development covers every technological element required to build and maintain a functional website or application, including front-end design and implementation, user interface (UI) layout, network monitoring and surveillance, server setup, and more. 

Other obligations include: 

  1. Consulting with clients
  2. Developing software prototypes
  3. Designing applications
  4. Software testing and bug fixing. 
  5. Cooperating with designers and other teams to synchronize development.
  6. Leading product development teams
  7. Writing back-end code  
  8. Writing and optimizing code for front-end operations
  9. Monitoring the performance of web architecture
  10. Creating and managing APIs, databases, and servers. 

So that was an introduction to the first topic of our debate on full stack developer vs software engineer. Now let’s learn about the second individual.

What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer is a specialized expert who has extensive knowledge of software development, programming languages, and operating systems. They apply engineering and mathematical principles to build customized systems for clients. A software engineer may create native applications for a variety of platforms, including desktops, mobile devices, consoles, or even television sets. They typically use programming languages such as C#, Java, and Swift as well as more general programming languages like C++.

software engineer creates and develops software for a variety of platforms, including PCs, mobile devices, and tv sets, using statistical modeling and computer science concepts. They can decide which algorithms to use to address a given issue in light of limitations like memory capacity, processor speed, and operating system interoperability. Software engineers frequently collaborate with business analysts, programmers, and web designers in development teams. 

What Does a Software Engineer Do? 

A software engineer is generally competent in many coding languages, has a solid understanding of how various systems work effectively and is driven to provide innovative solutions that support organizations in a competitive market. 

Here is a list of some tasks software engineers perform:

  1. Software system testing
  2. Manage software development cycles
  3. Communicate and coordinate project details with clients and team members
  4. Apply engineering and mathematical principles to software development
  5. Monitor system performance
  6. Develop project plans and proposals
  7. Analyze data to improve existing systems
  8. Designing and implementing systems
  9. Enhance apps by testing their issues and fixing them. 
  10. Control of software documentation development.

So that was the introduction of both full stack developer vs software engineer. Now let’s start with their differences.

Difference Between Full Stack Developer and Software Engineers

The primary difference between full stack developers and software engineers revolves around the work duties, specialties, skills, programming languages, and phases of development each of them requires. The major difference between full stack developer vs software engineer are: 

Full Stack Developer vs Software Engineer: Work Duties

We have already listed some essential tasks of full stack developer vs software engineer in their introduction in detail. Some basic differences and similarities in their duties consist of:

  • Throughout the project development, full stack developers frequently handle design and implementation duties. Generally, software developers only perform one of the two, never both.
  • Full stack developers and software engineers both work to achieve project goals and meet client objectives.
  •  However, full stack developers often hold leadership roles, while software engineers may work under the supervision of full stack developers and use their expertise to develop specific project features. 

Although these professionals often work as part of a team, many full stack developers and software engineers work as freelancers or contractors.

Related Post: How To Hire Full Stack Developers: An Easy Guide to Find Full Stack Experts

Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer: Skills

Full stack developer vs software engineers typically requires distinct skill sets to excel in their jobs. Both jobs require specialized technical skills, programming languages, and soft skills to succeed. Compared to software engineers, full stack developers may require additional project management skills.

Here are some of the key differences:


Business intelligence (BI), data management, and data governance are just a few fields in which full stack developers frequently have expertise. 

Software developers, on the contrary, typically focus on just one area of expertise. 

Programming languages

Coding languages like HTML/CSS for front-end applications, SQL for database administration, and Python/JavaScript for back-end frameworks should all be comprehended by full stack developers. 

To interact with various software programs, software engineers need to be proficient in numerous programming languages, such as C, C, and Java.

Development stages

Full stack developers are in charge of designing the user interface, developing the logic, creating the code, and testing a program. 

Software engineers concentrate on creating front-end or back-end design concepts. 

Project Management Skills (Full Stack developers)

Full stack developers often hold leadership roles for application development projects. They may use project management skills to oversee projects—from the initial planning and consultation stages to a project’s execution and completion. Project management skills include the ability to manage tasks and a project’s budget. Other project management necessities include knowing how to properly lead a team, communicating with clients and resolving problems, and agile project management.

Soft Skills

Along with proper leadership, communication, and interpersonal abilities, full stack developers often possess additional soft skills, including time management, creative thinking skills and attention to detail. They often prioritize tasks and work to meet client deadlines. Working with code also requires careful attention to detail. 

Software engineers often work both independently and as part of a team. Their roles require skills such as time management, attention to detail, the ability to think analytically and organization to meet strict deadlines. Software engineers also use communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills to work with other team members.

Design Skills (Software Engineers)

Effective software engineers develop skills in visual design and web design. They have a thorough knowledge of proper web design principles, such as content, usability, aesthetics, visibility and interaction. Software engineers may work directly with clients to develop application designs that meet their needs.

Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer: Program Accessibility

Full stack developer vs software engineer may have different levels of access to program resources for a project. Here are the differences in the level of program accessibility for full stack developer vs software engineers:

Full Stack Developer Program Accessibility

Since full stack developers oversee most, if not all, parts of a project. They often have access to all program resources which allows them to assist team members when solving problems. This access may reduce time spent troubleshooting from those who don’t have the same access.

Software Engineer Program Accessibility

Software engineers often don’t possess full access to all of a program’s resources. They typically only require access to programs that apply to their particular stage in the software development cycle. However, when working with team members, software engineers may gain access to relevant program resources.

Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer Salary

One thing that factors into everyone’s decision professionally is the reward earned for the work given. In our world, that reward is one’s annual salary. Fortunately, the software industry is one of the better-funded industries in the world and the positions of a full stack developer vs software engineer are paid accordingly.

Full stack developers earn more than software engineers as per Glassdoor’s salary estimates:

Software Engineer: Per Glassdoor’s salary estimates, a software engineer averages $92,046.00 a year.

Full Stack Developer Salary: Per Glassdoor’s salary estimates, a full stack developer averages $105,813.00 a year.

While the higher average of a full stack developer salary is a very appealing prospect, one should always keep in mind that the salary comes from the additional responsibilities a full stack developer has over a software engineer.

Full Stack Developer Vs Software Engineer: The Similarities

The business responsibilities, testing standards, programming approaches, and professional experience that full stack developer vs software engineer share are their respective fields of expertise. 

1. Business Role

To plan, design, create, and implement new technologies for businesses, full stack developer vs software engineers collaborate closely with computer scientists, coders, data scientists, as well as other technical professionals. Both of them design, construct, analyze, and maintain the infrastructure. 

2. Testing

Both groups design testing environments that mimic real-world circumstances so that items may be tested in various settings before production. Both positions must be familiar with the different test formats and best practices. 

3. Methodologies

These two positions require a thorough knowledge of Agile, Scrum, and Kanban programming approaches. Software developers use these approaches to boost cooperation, efficiency, and the quality of their work. 

4. Education and Experience

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or some other STEM field like math, science, or engineering is required for both positions. Both disciplines can benefit from attending accreditation training and gaining practical programming expertise in related languages. Look for a Full Stack Software Engineer course online to learn how to design and create interactive websites using advanced tools.

Difference Between Full Stack Developer And Web Developer

Web development is the process of designing and building a website using the programming languages HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is a very broad term that encapsulates a lot of different things, including web design, web development, and web programming. 

Full stack development is a term that is used for development in both the front-end and back-end of the website. This is a more specific type of development. Examples of full stack development are web development and software development. 

The Decision

Now we come to an end, where you must consider all the industry details and ask yourself, “do I want to hire a full stack developer or a software engineer?” While it may not have been the easiest decision when you first clicked this article, the differences between the two positions hopefully gave you some additional insight.

Choosing between the team-based, singular mission goals of the software engineer and the eagle-eyed live service goals of the full stack developer all comes down to the kind of project you are working on and your company goals.

Either way, both full stack developer vs software engineer are a long-term investment for your enterprise. This is an industry of growth and hardship but full of tools and resources to help build your dream product a reality. If you want to hire full stack software developers, you can consult us.



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