Software Engineer vs. Full-Stack Developer: All You Need to Know  The difference between a software engineer and a full-stack developer

Software Engineer Full Stack Developer
Nov 16
Read 5 Min

Those pursuing new job opportunities, whether they’re beginners or seasoned industry experts, must be clear about the terms & roles. This knowledge will help them land the best possible job quickly. But there’s a group of people who need a word to the wise on this topic even more. Business owners can get jammed trying to figure out whether the roles of a software engineer vs. full-stack developer actually differ. And if so, why and how? 

Well, you’re in the right place, regardless of your category. This simple guide will tell you about the duties and knacks both roles imply. We’ll cover the similarities and distinctions between the two. 

What is a full-stack developer?

Regardless of whether you’re in favor of insourcing or outsourcing software development, you must be in the clear regarding your actual needs. And that means getting familiar with all the tech terms along the way. So, if you have wondered – is a software engineer and full-stack developer the same, this brief guide is all you can possibly need. 

A full-stack developer is a person proficient with both Front End and Back End technologies and best practices. Managing the Front End part includes everything that’s visible, while the Back End implies the infrastructure of a website or application. They design, code, and interact with clients. Also, they work on databases, application programming interfaces (APIs), and servers.

Full-stack developers usually know how to work with various programming languages, and they can also work with multiple frameworks. As for the Front End, many of them use React, Vue and Angular. Sometimes they oversee projects, and they are influential in both client consultation and server design and development. 

Full-stack developer skills

All developers and engineers must possess various types of skills. Primarily, it’s crucial to look into their technical knowledge and expertise. But it’s essential not to neglect the soft skills they’ll need to operate & collaborate smoothly. In addition, being a full-stack developer sometimes entails leadership roles. So, they often need a few project management skills up their sleeves. Now, here’s a brief list of everything they must cover:

  • HTML, CSS & JavaScript,
  • Git and GitHub,
  • Back End programming language (or languages) like Python, PHP, Ruby, or Java,
  • Web architecture,
  • Database storage,
  • HTTP and Rest. 

Finally, it’s expected of them to have at least basic design knowledge. The skills we listed are non-negotiable. If you’re screening tech talent or canvassing BPO companies, keep them in mind.  

Unlocking the secret: do full-stack developers get paid more?

There is another important aspect that each business owner has to explore. Budget always plays a substantial part. And whether you’re planning on outsourcing development or keeping it in-house, knowing the range you’ll be spending is the key to successful planning. So, let’s have a look at a software engineer vs. a full stack developer salary

Due to reducing many operational costs (and efforts), full-stack developers are kind of bound to gain attractive salaries. Their vast sets of skills combined with profound knowledge of different programming languages get them high pay. With the help of their technical experience, companies save a lot of time and money – which must be rewarded. Still, is their salary higher?

Not necessarily. Surveys and studies show that DevOps, Data Engineers, and some Back End devs in the US and UK actually earn more. The European market is pretty similar – and this is the new hot area every entrepreneur should explore. 

So, this is no myth: ultimately, developers’ salaries often depend on the region they live and work in. According to Stackoverflow data from 2019, hiring developers and engineers from the US was the most pricey. But also, the more hands-on experience they have, the higher their incomes will be. 

Pro tip: Building a core team from scratch or finding the best countries to outsource to – Europe is the land to have a glance at and embrace the possibilities it offers. 

Now, what exactly does a software engineer do?

A software engineer is a tech professional who has a thorough knowledge of one or more programming languages and operating systems, and can understand and cover the entire software development lifecycle. Their main mission is to apply engineering principles and build customized systems for clients. For instance, a software engineer can create a native app for different platforms, including desktops, mobile devices, or even TV sets. The programming languages they often use are Java, C#, and Swift, as well as more general languages like C++.

Software engineer skills & key responsibilities

Each role and the precise duties that accompany it can vary. Organizations pursue different goals and ambitions, plus the complexity of projects always differs. It’s much like with a role of a project manager – the list of their key assignments and daily efforts in one company won’t be an exact duplicate as in another one. The same goes for software engineer skills and responsibilities. However, some of them are always considered core competencies and cannot be neglected. So, here are the main skill sets a professional software engineer unquestionably possesses: 

  • Programming knowledge and proficiency with languages like Java, Python, Ruby, .NET,
  • Software testing and debugging,
  • Object-oriented design. 

Finally, excellent organizational skills, problem-solving mindset, attention to detail, and communication skills are what every software engineer needs. 

So, in short, their key responsibilities would entail researching and analyzing user requirements, writing and testing code, creating new programs and refining and integrating the existing ones, and more. 

So, what is better: a full-stack developer or software engineer?

Before you proceed and start hiring, make sure to determine which is best, a software engineer or full-stack developer. Actually, both roles are pretty great – and utterly beneficial if you encounter the right professional, that is. Still, one can be a precise match for your business and current state of affairs more than the other. And to spot the difference, you must start by assessing your needs. Go for a full-stack dev if you:

  • Need an MVP,
  • Lack a product manager,
  • Want to hire a prospective CTO.

Now, here’s a disclaimer: many say that full-stack devs possess some sort of superhuman ability. To be more specific, they’re mentioned as equally efficient as two, three, and up to ten engineers. That’s not much of a tested theory, but rather an intent to cut down on costs and boost productivity. Sure, they are super methodical, skilled, and dynamic. They’ll speed up the processes, cut down time-to-market, and enhance the results. But don’t take them for godlings and make them work their fingers to the bone if you’re actually short on staff. 

Benefits of hiring a software engineer VS. full stack developer

Yes, both roles have substantial perks & will enhance your workplace by a lot. But here’s the breakdown of main advantages of hiring a software engineer vs. a full-stack developer:

  • A software engineer is proficient with the languages, tech tools, and frameworks used to develop an app that a user can download and install on personal devices,
  • They can solve all kinds of issues faced throughout the software development process, 
  • Their expertise can fill in the blanks and even combine perfectly with the job done by a full-stack dev. 

Now, here are a few noteworthy advantages a full-stack dev will bring into the team:

  • They’re packed with the knowledge of all the latest frameworks and platforms and can fit into any development project,
  • They also learn new things at every stage of the software development life cycle, which will bring the company brand-new expertise for future endeavors,
  • These professionals ensure that the planned project workflow and the timelines are being met by the team members.

Cover the basic ground & make sure to choose correctly between a software engineer vs. a full-stack developer

Knowing the difference between a software engineer and a full-stack developer is essential. That way, once you start expanding your dev team or building it from scratch, you will be sure who you need on board. Understand the differences between these tech positions, get familiar with the sets of benefits each can bring, and start hunting talents according to your company’s precise needs. 

Also, if you choose to skip the lengthy hiring processes and bounce straight into digital success, you might want to consider working with a BPO company. But be sure to make the best choice. Pick a leading outsourcing company & get ready for triumph. 

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Tatjana Zotovic