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Riddhesh GanatraCo-founder at Code-Bauthor linkedin

Difference between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer

Difference between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer

Are you considering a career in tech or computer science but unsure whether to explore development or engineering? That's perfectly fine if you're still navigating your options. It's helpful to understand the distinctions between full-stack developers and software engineers.

These roles might look alike in the professional world, but you can't easily swap one for the other. They differ in multiple aspects, ranging from the nature of projects they handle to their depth of expertise.

This article breaks down the distinctions between full-stack developers and software engineers, helping you decide which career path suits you best.

What is a Full-Stack Developer?

A Full-Stack Developer is someone with expertise in both the visual aspects of a website or application that users interact with (front-end) and the behind-the-scenes functionalities and databases that make it work (back-end). They're like all-around engineers who can do everything needed to create software or websites.

Full-Stack Developer is a versatile professional who excels in both front-end and back-end development, covering the entire spectrum of creating websites or applications. They are like tech-savvy architects, designing the visible parts that users interact with and simultaneously orchestrating the complex infrastructure that powers the software behind the scenes. This dual expertise enables them to seamlessly integrate design and functionality, ensuring a holistic approach to crafting user-friendly and efficient digital solutions.

In essence, Full-Stack Developers play a pivotal role in the world of technology, serving as all-in-one specialists capable of bringing a digital project to life. Their ability to navigate both the visual and technical realms of software development makes them valuable contributors to every stage of creating robust and engaging web applications.

 Types of full-stack developers

  1. Full-Stack Web Developer Specializing in both front-end and back-end development for web applications.

  2. Full-Stack Mobile Developer Proficient in developing both front-end and back-end for mobile applications.

  3. JavaScript Full-Stack Developer Expertise in using JavaScript for both client-side and server-side development.

  4. MEAN Stack Developer Specializing in the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, Node.js) for web applications.

  5. MERN Stack Developer Proficient in the MERN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js) for scalable web applications.

  6. Full-Stack Python Developer Utilizes Python for both front-end and back-end development.

  7. Ruby on Rails Full-Stack Developer Specializing in the Ruby on Rails framework for web applications.

  8. Full-Stack PHP Developer Focuses on using PHP for server-side and client-side development.

  9. Full-Stack .NET Developer Proficient in using the .NET framework for both front-end and back-end development.

Full stack development technologies in demand

What do Full-Stack Developers do?

  1. Front-End Development Designing and implementing user interfaces to enhance the visual aspects of a website or application.
  2. Back-End Development Handling server-side logic and databases to ensure the functionality and performance of the software.
  3. Database Management Managing and optimizing databases to store and retrieve information efficiently.
  4. Server Management Overseeing server configurations and ensuring the seamless operation of web applications.
  5. Coding and Programming Writing code for both the front-end and back-end of applications, often using a variety of programming languages.
  6. Integration of APIs Incorporating external APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to enhance the functionality of web applications.
  7. Version Control Using tools like Git to manage and track changes in the source code.
  8. Problem-Solving Identifying and resolving issues or bugs in the software to ensure smooth operation.
  9. Collaboration Working closely with other team members, including designers and project managers, to achieve project goals.
  10. Continuous Learning Staying updated on emerging technologies and trends in both front-end and back-end development.

What is a Software Engineer?

Software engineering is the application of engineering principles to create, develop, and maintain computer software. A software engineer utilizes coding, testing, and problem-solving skills to design and build functional software solutions. The work involves managing the entire software development lifecycle, including implementation, testing, maintenance, and continuous improvement.

In addition to their foundational role in creating software, Software Engineers often specialize in various domains such as front-end or back-end development, mobile applications, or systems architecture.

They collaborate with cross-functional teams, ensuring that the developed software aligns with project goals and user requirements. Moreover, Software Engineers stay abreast of evolving technologies, participate in code reviews, and adhere to best practices to enhance the efficiency and security of software solutions. Their expertise is crucial not only in building reliable applications but also in addressing dynamic challenges, making them integral contributors to the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

Software Engineer working

Types of Software Engineers

Software engineering is a diverse field, and professionals often specialize in specific areas based on their skills and interests. Here are some common types of software engineers:

  1. Front-End Developer Specializes in creating the visual elements and user interfaces of software applications that users interact with directly.

  2. Back-End Developer

    Focuses on the server side of software development, managing databases, server logic, and ensuring the smooth functioning of applications.

  3. Full-Stack Developer

    Possesses expertise in both front-end and back-end development and is capable of working on all aspects of a software project.

  4. Mobile App Developer

    Specializes in creating applications for mobile devices, often working with platforms like iOS or Android.

  5. DevOps Engineer

    Focuses on the collaboration between development and operations, automating processes to enhance software development, testing, and deployment.

  6. QA Engineer (Quality Assurance)

    Responsible for testing and ensuring the quality and functionality of software through various testing processes.

  7. Security Engineer

    Specializes in identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities in software, ensuring that applications are secure against potential threats.

  8. Machine Learning Engineer

    Works on developing algorithms and models for machine learning applications, often in fields like artificial intelligence and data science.

  9. Embedded Systems Engineer

    Focuses on developing software for embedded systems, which are specialized computing devices within larger systems.

  10. Game Developer

    Specializes in creating software for video games, involving aspects like graphics, physics, and gameplay mechanics.

These are just a few examples, and within each category, there can be further specialization based on technologies, frameworks, or industries. Software engineers often choose a path that aligns with their interests and career goals.

What do Software Developers do?

  1. Design and Develop Software engineers create computer programs and applications using coding languages.
  2. Testing They ensure the software functions correctly by identifying and fixing any bugs or issues.
  3. Collaboration Work with cross-functional teams to align software development with project goals.
  4. Lifecycle Management Oversee the entire software development process, from initial design to ongoing maintenance.
  5. Problem-Solving Apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address challenges in software development.
  6. Quality Assurance Ensure that the software meets quality standards and user requirements.
  7. Continuous Improvement Engage in ongoing efforts to enhance and optimize existing software solutions.

Difference between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer-2

Key distinctions between full-stack developers and software engineers include


Full Stack Developer

Software Developer

Job Focus

Works on the entire web application.

Focuses on specific software parts.


Collaborates extensively with teams.

Has less interaction with teams.


Manages server-side, client-side, databases, and website design.

Develops software/apps, ensuring functionality.


Learned in system engineering, databases, and client/server development.

Proficient in multiple programming languages.

Team Role

Often leads teams, and assists in building web applications.

A team member contributes to software components.

The distinction between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer lies in their areas of expertise and the scope of their roles within the realm of software development.

Full Stack Developer

A Full Stack Developer is a specialist who possesses skills in both front-end and back-end development. They are proficient in creating the visual elements of a website or application (front-end) and managing the underlying functionality, databases, and server configurations (back-end). Full Stack Developers are like all-around engineers capable of contributing to every stage of a project, from design to implementation.

Software Engineer

Software Engineer is a broader term encompassing professionals who apply engineering principles to design, develop, test, and maintain computer software. While some Software Engineers may specialize in specific areas like front-end, and back-end, or even focus on domains such as security or machine learning, the term is often used in a more general sense. Software Engineers collaborate across various aspects of the software development lifecycle and may work on diverse projects beyond web development.

In essence, a Full Stack Developer is a specialized type of Software Engineer with a specific skill set focused on both front-end and back-end development, while a Software Engineer is a more encompassing term that may include professionals with various specializations within the broader field of software development.

Difference between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer-4

Now let’s explore some commonly asked questions,

Is a full-stack developer the same as a software engineer?

Full-stack developers handle both designing and building tasks in software development, while software engineers typically specialize in either designing or building. Full-stack developers have a broad skill set and do a bit of everything, while software engineers usually focus on specific areas like back-end architecture or testing.

No, a full-stack developer is not the same as a software engineer. While both roles involve software development, a full-stack developer is versatile and works on both front-end and back-end tasks, covering a wide range of skills. On the other hand, a software engineer may specialize in either designing or building aspects of software. Understanding these differences can help in choosing the right professional for your specific project needs.

Which is better full stack developer or full-stack engineer?

The key difference between a full-stack engineer and a full-stack developer lies in their roles and responsibilities. Full-stack developers often take on leadership positions and oversee various aspects of a project. In contrast, software engineers typically work under the guidance of full-stack developers, applying their skills to build specific features within the project.

the choice between becoming a full-stack developer or a full-stack engineer depends on your interests and career goals. Full-stack developers usually have a broader skill set and may take on leadership roles. 

Full-stack engineers often focus on specific project features under guidance. It's recommended to explore both roles, understand your preferences, and choose the path that aligns with your skills and aspirations. Both roles offer valuable growth opportunities, so consider the specific responsibilities and tasks each entails before making a decision.

What is the salary of a full-stack developer or software engineer?

The average salary for a full-stack developer is typically between $70,000 and $120,000 per year. For a software engineer, the salary range is around $80,000 to $110,000 per year. These figures can vary based on factors like experience, location, and the specific company.

Are full-stack developers coders?

Yes, full-stack developers are coders. They possess skills to code for both the front end (user interface) and back end (server-side) of an application.

Full-stack developers not only write code for the visible parts of a website or application but also handle the server-side logic, databases, and overall architecture. They are versatile coders capable of working on all aspects of a software project.

Do big tech companies hire full-stack developers?

Yes, many big tech companies do hire full-stack developers. These developers are valued for their ability to work on both the frontend and back end, making them versatile contributors to various aspects of software development. Many tech companies appreciate the comprehensive skill set that full-stack developers bring to the table.

Difference between a Full Stack Developer and a Software Engineer-4

In conclusion, choosing between a full-stack developer and a software engineer depends on individual preferences, interests, and career goals. Full-stack developers have a broader skill set and may take on leadership roles, overseeing various aspects of a project. On the other hand, software engineers often work under the guidance of full-stack developers, specializing in specific project features.

It is recommended for individuals to explore both roles, understand their strengths and preferences, and align their choices with their skills and aspirations. Both paths offer growth opportunities, and the decision should be based on a thorough understanding of the specific responsibilities and tasks associated with each role.

Ultimately, the key is to make an informed decision that aligns with individual career objectives and provides the most fulfilling and rewarding professional journey.